Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Gluing Tubulars - The Belgian Method - PART 1

One of the reasons that people are turned off by tubulars is the so called "hassle" involved in mounting them.

Remember those commercials for stainmaster carpets, where it showed the clumsiest of the clumsy - reaching for that red wine and splattering it everywhere, eating ice cream only to have it mashed into the carpet while trying to clean it up?

Same goes for tubulars - people envision some guy in his basement, completely high on glue fumes, with his hands stuck together and a screwdriver glued to his face, completely delirious from the horrors he had just experienced.

Like anything, preparation is key.  That, and having a very good idea about the process you're about to undertake.  Hopefully, what I'm about to write will help.  Keep in mind that I did extensive research on methods and materials before I tackled this project.  My decision may not have been the correct one - only time will tell.  I could only go by what I have read and what others have told me.  So obviously, take it with a grain of salt.


Like almost everything, there are many ways to skin a cat.  With tubulars, your choices are pretty limited - GLUE, TAPE, or BOTH.  Some swear by one method over another - usually based on their experiences.  I for one have yet to race on my setup, so the method I used is UNPROVEN for me - but it has been proven for many others.

TAPE - When I say tape, I mean TUFO tape.  TUFO tape is a robust 2 sided tape, meant to replace glue, whereas Belgian tape (which I will address in a bit) is meant to supplement glue.  TUFO says to only use it with their own brand of tires.  How well does it work?  I don't know - never tried it.  What have I read about it?  Quite frankly, according to most, it doesn't work as well as glue.  Have I seen it in action?  Yes.  Last year, the local LBS guy (who happens to be this year's Canadian MTB Champion in the Masters category) rolled his tire off the rim and it cost him the race.  So what are the pros of using TUFO tape?  Less mess maybe?  Less hassle?  That may be true, but its also very hard to remove once you take the tires off.

GLUE - Tubular cement is the formal name for this stuff.  Available from many manufactures - Continental, Vittoria, TUFO.  This stuff dries quick, and if you're not careful, gets EVERYWHERE.  Its quite viscous, making it slightly difficult to work with if you don't have the right tools.  But when it dries, whatever you have glued together, stays together.  Comes in tubes and larger cans.  It typically takes about 2 tubes per tire (at $4 per tube).  A can ($20) can probably do 10-15 tires.  The can is re-sealable.

BOTH using GLUE and BELGIAN TAPE - Another style of 2 sided tape, but not meant to work on its own.  Its not strong enough.  This tape is meant to be used in conjunction with tubular cement.  You apply layers of glue, then tape, then glue over the tape.  There seems to be only two "go to" brands out there:

1)  The stuff from Cyclocrossworld.com - This is the tape that Stu Thorne, mechanic for the Cannondale team, uses and swears by.  It comes in huge rolls for multiple sets of rims.  But that is the problem, you can ONLY get it in the huge roll, so its expensive (about $30 plus shipping).

2)  JANTEX tape by VELOX - Velox is well known for their premium rim strips, so no doubt that their tubular tape is good too.  One roll does a pair of rims - which is much better cost wise.  A roll can easily be found on EBAY for about $7 shipped to your door.

So my method - Glue (Vittoria) and Tape (JANTEX).  Known as the "Belgian Method", this process is said to have the maximum adhesion that meets the demands of cyclocross.  A cross tire is subjected to a lot of violent forces - lateral during turns, linear during acceleration and braking, and impact.  You need good adhesion to prevent that tire from rolling off the rim at the most inappropriate time.

To be cont......

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