So, like I said before, prep is key. Which means know the process, and have the right tools. So lets talk tools - here's what you need:
1) Tubular rim
2) Tubular tire
3) Tubular Glue
4) Belgian Tape
6) Cloths or rags
7) Acid brushes
8) Medicine dropper needle thingy (someone help me out here)
9) Wheel stand
10) Gloves (optional)
11) Apron or a crappy T-shirt
12) Masking Tape
If you don't have a wheel stand, like me, you can rig one. If you have a vice, or a bike mechanic stand with a clamp, put a small diameter screwdriver in the clamp/vice by the handle, so that the shaft sticks out horizontally. You can slide your rim (with skewer/axle removed) over the screwdriver shaft so that it spins freely. Voila.
Pictured above Left to Right
- Acetone - bought at Canadian Tire for about $8. Used for cleaning/prep of the rims and tires before gluing
- Vittoria Mastik One Tubular Cement. This is the stuff the pros use. Bought off Ebay for about $20 shipped.
- In front, acid brushes. A pack of 5 is $2 or $3 at Canadian Tire.
- Medicine thingy. $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart.
- Jantex Tape by Velox. A more economical alternative ($7 on Ebay) than the $30 super roll from Cyclocrossworld.com
You need to pre stretch your tubular tires. This will save you later on when you are playing beat the clock with drying glue. Mount them on the rim (no glue or tape), and pump them up to 80 psi. Leave them overnight.
Once you're stretched the tires, deflate and remove them. Apply masking tape to the brake surface of your rims. This will prevent glue from getting on them.
Break out the acetone. Using a rag soaked with the stuff, wipe down the gluing surface of the rim. You'll be surprised how much stuff you'll pick up. Also, wipe down the base tape (the beige gluing surface) on your tires. This stuff dries almost instantly, so use generously.
Pump up the tires to about 40 psi. This causes them to roll almost inside out, so that the basetape is turned outwards. From here, you can fold the tire so you can hold it in one hand, like so:
Take the medicine thingy and suck up some glue until its full. Apply a thin bead of glue along the centre of the base tape. Then, using an acid brush, spread the glue over the entire base tape. TIP: Do this in sections along the tire. Don't put glue on the entire tire, then try to brush it. The glue dries too quickly and it become too tacky to brush. I did a quarter section at a time. Glue, then brush. Glue, then brush....you get the idea. Be generous with the glue. The base tape of the tire actually absorbs quite a bit of glue. You'll be surprise once dry, how much is actually left on the surface of the tire. Repeat with the other tire until both tires have a generous coating of glue on the base tape. Hang the tires up to dry - ensuring the base tape isn't touching anything.
With your rim now sitting on your fancy wheel stand (or rigged screwdriver jobby), apply a thin bead of glue along the centre of the rim bed. Take the acid brush and spread the glue over the entire inner surface of the rim. Make sure you get right to the edges. Again, do this in sections, the glue dries to fast. You might get some clumps of glue into the spoke holes. No biggie, just a fact of tubular life. HOWEVER, make sure you don't allow glue to accumulate in the valve stem hole to the point where its obstructed!! Repeat with the other rim. Hang up the rims to dry.
DAY ONE is complete. Allow both rims and tires to dry for 24 hrs.
Today is a little different. Day one, you did both tires, then both rims. Today, you work with 1 tire/rim combo at a time. Take your first tire, and marvel at how much glue was absorbed by the base tape. Told ya!! Apply a second coat of glue to the tire - same as day one. Work in sections again. Set the tire aside, but not too far. You're going back to it shortly.
Take your rim, apply another coat. Same as yesterday.
With that rim glue still tacky, take your JANTEX tape and start applying it to the surface of the rim bed. Start at the valve stem hole and work your way around, making sure the tape is centred. Press hard with your fingers to make sure there are no air bubbles under the tape. This is where the optional gloves come in handy. Once the tape is on, leaving a space for the valve stem hole, peel off the paper backing to expose the 2nd sticky side.
Apply ANOTHER layer of glue on top of that tape you just applied. Same as before.
Here's the make or break step. Time to mount the tire. PAY ATTENTION TO THE TREAD PATTERN DIRECTION OF THE TIRE!!! Take a minute to think which way it goes. There's no going back if you mess that up. Place a clean rag on the floor. Take your rim with glue/tape on it, and stand it up vertically on the rag, valve stem hole pointing up. Take that tire that you put a second coat of glue on minutes ago - deflate it. Right about now you'll thank me for telling you to pre-stretch the tire in STEP ONE. Insert the valve stem into the rim hole. Now, working left and right of the valve stem, grasp the tire with your hands, and using your body weight, push down on the tire, stretching it downwards as you work the tire onto the rim. Try to get the base tape centred on the rim as much as you can. Work fast, that glue dries quickly. If you put your weight into stretching that tire downwards, pick up the rim/tire off the rag, you'll have enough slack to pop the final portion of the tire onto the rim with minimal trouble.
Immediately pump the tire to 20-30psi - enough so that it takes shape, but it should still be very flexible. Work around the tire, shifting and manipulating it so that it is centred on the rim. Your first visual cue is that there is equal amount of base tape or sidewall showing on each side. Also, spin the wheel and hold it in front of your eye - you'll be able to see the tread wobbling back and forth if the tire is not centred. Again, work quickly. By now, you've already noticed that glue dries quickly. In my opinion, the tire doesn't have to be absolutely perfect. You'll be running at low pressures anyway, so the tire is tread is going to confirm under your weight anyway.
Once you are satisfied that the tire is centred, pump it up to 80psi. Then place the rim/tire on the floor vertically. Using your body weight, press down on the tire to give it that final "seating". Work your way around the entire tire. Remove the masking tape from the brake surface. Set aside for at least 24 hrs to allow for a complete cure/drying process.
REPEAT STEP SIX THRU TWELVE WITH THE SECOND RIM/TIRE.
And you're done!! Now go enjoy the awesomeness that is tubular.
Now, you're probably going to find somewhat similar methods online. Take mine as it is. As the race season progresses, I'll know better if my choice of methods was the correct one.