Tubular, or sewup, tires provide the ultimate ride for a modern road racing bicycle. Because the tire is sewn together around the tube considerable weight is saved in the tire’s construction — no beads of sturdy wire or cord are needed to grip the rim, and in the rim — simplified because the tire is bonded by cement. Its use is critical to the reliability and performance of the system. Over 100 grams are usually saved per wheel between equivalent tubulars and demountable clincher wheels.
Because the tubular wheel system predates our era of user-friendly, danger-free engineering there are numerous idiosyncrasies related to their use that you might not expect.
There is no adequate way to “teach” all the important practices and exceptions that one needs to fully utilize tubular tires. However, we wish to state some of the more basic and obvious do’s and don’ts. Just remember, only a lengthy and detailed “apprenticeship” to a practicing expert in a club or team setting will cover the many considerations you should know.
Few technical skills in cycling will bring you so close to the experiences of our forefathers than mastering tubular tires. And little else in equipment can so transform and invigorate your riding. Read more →