Second Ride: Tubular Tyres

I went for a longer ride to further evaluate the Vittoria Corsa SC tubular tyres I glued on last week.

This time I used some roads I am very familiar with: some good, some awful. Conditions were mixed; it had rained the night before but the sun was shining: the tarmac was damp where sheltered and dry in the open. I mostly used tarmac redways, with occasional forays onto gravel paths, tarmac roads and brick paving. I bunny-hopped to try and avoid kerbs on four occasions. In addition to the gravel-surfaced paths there was a section of road with sand- and gravel-overspill from someone’s concreting project and several sections of redway with fallen twigs/branches. To give you an idea of how bad the conditions were: I had gravel in my left shoe and down the neck of my jersey by the end of the ride.

My expectation, from other people’s whining on the internet, was that I would get at least a punctured rear tyre and this would become a review of my first use of Vittoria Pit Stop tyre sealant. Since that did not happen I can contribute a counter-anecdote: I rode in conditions that caused me to expect a puncture and did not get one.

I can directly compare several sections of road I have ridden recently on clinchers and re-rode today: the ride quality on the tubulars is noticeably better. It is sufficiently better that it makes a very noticeable difference to the amount of, let’s call it jiggle fatigue, that I experienced. I suspect that this is why the pros generally use tubular tyres: their races are many hours long and if they arrive at the finish in better condition than if they had used clinchers that will more than compensate for the reported deficit in rolling-resistance.

I found the handling very pleasant and predictable, although I must mention that the only descents I rode were on dry surfaces. It is also important to acknowledge the difference in hub designs which should act to stiffen both ends of my bike and in theory thereby improve the handling. So this part of the mythology of tubular tyres has to remain unconfirmed for now: it is unlikely that I will ever be in a position to test it.

In terms of a conclusion then, I am going to continue to use tubulars for the foreseeable future. I will probably try gluing the next set with proper tubular glue rather than the double-sided tape I used on this set. Those who know say that it is better; I have so far found that they know what they are talking about so it seems wise to at least evaluate the glue option.

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