Reverence? Tubs

Photo: rivieracycles

We can mimic the pros in many ways; kit, bikes, shaving our legs. Even if we’ll never ride like them, we can try (mostly in vain) to look like them. We’ll buy a piece of equipment because our favourite pro endorses it, or even adopt trends that the peloton have, such as alloy classic bend bars, slamming a 140mm stem, or putting those plastic sticky things across the bridge of our noses (yep, I actually did this in the mid 90’s when Tinker Juarez was rocking them on the mtb World Cup circuit. It didnt help a bit, and I looked like a twat). There are many pro traits that are certainly frowned upon and should never be attempted, like wearing the rainbow bands or maillot jaune. Then there are things we would love to be able to do, like snort cocaine with 18 yo models, but there’s as much chance of that as Cav finishing the Vuelta. And finally, there’s things that we can do, but are probably too cautious or conservative to do.

Like running tubs.

We know that every pro bike has the tyres glued to the rims, but how many of us actually own a set of tubs?  How many would like to own a set? How many get the fear of Merckx put up them at the mere thought of getting caught miles from home with a flat? Ok, I hear you say, they’re only for racing, but how many of us are good enough to benefit from the reduced chance of a pinch flat on the cobbles, or the decreased rolling resistance from a 100 gram weight saving? I’m not seeing many hands… anyone, anyone? But still, I want some!

I’ve been on a mission to find a light set of wheels for Il Profetta, and scouring eBay and TradeMe has coughed up quite a few sets of tubs. Some going pretty cheap too. Several times I’ve been poised to push the ‘buy now’ button, but like a kid too scared to jump into the river from the highest bridge in town, I keep pulling back from the edge. It’s like, I might hit the water wrong and break my neck, but probably won’t. At worst, my shorts might fall down while scrabbling back up the bank to dry land, with the other kids pointing and laughing. It’s a risk I’m not willing to take. Clinchers are like having extra-strong elastic in the trunks, plus a drawstring for back up. Tubs on a punter’s bike are like a pair of Speedos on a fat bastard.

Just as I was ready to give up the idea of tubs altogether, we received an impassioned email out of the blue from an enthusiastic sew-up fan going by the moniker of “Tubolari”. He suggested in no uncertain terms that it was less than hardcore to ride clinchers or even to use tyre levers to remove them. The most surprising thing was, he wasn’t a grizzled old Italian mechanic or former Belgian domestique, but has only been riding for a year. Is it merely a case of wet-behind-the-ears zeal, or is he onto something? Should we all be digging out under the house and storing a stash of tubulars in there to age them? Let’s see…

Tubolari’s reasons for riding tubulars:

  1. You get to say you ride tubulars with a smug grin.
  2. It is an appropriate procedure to simply ask for tubulars in determining whether or not a bike shop is a REAL bike shop even if you don’t plan on buying tubulars.
  3. Tubulars are generally relegated to the lightly used sections of a store thus making you more hardcore because you need to blow dust off of the packaging just to read the specs that you’ve already read online.
  4. Personally, I use tape (Velox Jantex 76 Competition tubular tape) and that pretty much takes the hassle out of it. I think though, it makes me less hardcore than those who use glue.
  5. I love it when a machine breaks (tubbie flats), it shows that a machine is just as vulnerable as a human. I love to bring my machine back to working order like a doctor. It also gives me a reason to don my Campy cap and sing Italian tunes like in Breaking Away.
  6. Subjective qualities:
    1.  I take a corner at speed with tubs (Gommitalia Challenge $30 a pop) and feel the bump (I begin to panic) but the tubbies have already deflected around the rock and I’m safe, I grin and press on.
    2. I take a corner at speed with clinchers (Continental Grand Prix 3000, $75 a pop) and feel the the bump (I begin to panic) and jump about what feels like half  a foot sideways (I check my shorts, they are dry), I press on.
  7. I joined a charity ride as a volunteer (ride guide), I am the official tubular tire repair/changer mechanic and get my own car, walky talky and office. The office I use will be for participants to drop off their tires and wheels for spares so I can SAG them on the ride. Not bad for starting road biking last year right?
  8. Piling spare tubs in your jersey gives others a conversation piece when on tours with your local club.
  9. Merckx rode tubulars so it seems only fitting ;).
  10. Tubulars are like wine, you like some, you don’t like others. Some go well with Steel and some go well with Carbon Fiber.

Some compelling points for sure, and it’s hard to argue with his passion. Or is it? Keeper Gianni loves an argument, and can refute the strongest of opinions with a sneer, or just by hitting the reply button;

Yeah, yeah, senor Tubolari,  talk to me in a year when you have peeled off, opened up, patched, re-sewn, re-glued, and re-glued more a bunch of tubolaris. Sure you may get laid more often riding tubulars, but trying to get a girl’s bra off with all that tubasti glue on your mitts is tough.
I’ve done my time with them and moved on, tubless road clinchers is where I’m heading, the great beyond. Come with me.
Cheers, Gianni

Think I’m gonna sit on the fence on this one for a while longer, and leave my pro tyre-emulation to these or these for now…

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274 Replies to “Reverence? Tubs”

  1. @Rob
    just checked online – they are a bit cheaper here I think (how much is a euro nowadays?) – so, how many do you want exactly?

  2. @Rob

    @frank
    +1 Frank you should write all the posts!

    He does. In fact we are all just figments of Frank’s demented, demented imagination.

    Actual picture of Frank at this very moment:

  3. So, if I understand correctly you have NOT yet tubulars on all your bikes ?

    …. and you cal yourself a “Keeper of the Cog”

    oh the shame.

  4. But back to the discussion of tires…
    I loved my Vittorias and Continentals when I was riding tubs, but I remember my best mate got a supply of Dourdoinges because they were so light.
    It was laughable because he really did need a supply as they would puncture at the slightest provocation.
    I can’t think of how many races he isn’t finish because he ran over a pebble.

  5. Cripes. A bit of Googling has brought me this:
    I had no idea of the history behind this tire.
    Seems a shame that the craft of making tubs is under threat due to the apparent dominance of clincher tires in the marketplace.

  6. I’m telling you. Discussing tubular tires on the internet is starting a coversation with a group of cyclists not gifted with communication skills.
    Thread archive for this one? It’ll just keep getting bumped.

  7. @Salsa_Lover

    So, if I understand correctly you have NOT yet tubulars on all your bikes ?
    …. and you cal yourself a “Keeper of the Cog”
    oh the shame.

    No, and I’ve never won a Grand Tour or a cobbled Classic, so I probably shouldn’t even ride a bike really…

  8. @frank
    That was a nice dissertation to @cam, really. I feel the same way. That said, I’ll pound a Budwiser if he comes back correct. And believe me, that’s about the worst thing I can think of.

  9. Well, and dudes that look like chicks, racing in rolled up jeans. But I’m done with that business.

  10. good to hear you lads are passionate about your bikes, we could do with some of this down in ‘straylia as we are over run with the fixie hipster brigade, heck they’re even wearing aero helmets now!!! biggest problem? they have jacked up the prices on the old track stuff that kids would normally buy to get started. that’s the crime right there!!!!!
    and they’re still singles…hahahahahahahaaa

  11. Oh God you’re Australian, not another one! I get the feeling, all the educating I’ve done on Marcus, is going to have to begin all over again…
    And Straya is the only place I’ve heard tubs being called singles.

  12. @cam

    good to hear you lads are passionate about your bikes, we could do with some of this down in ‘straylia as we are over run with the fixie hipster brigade, heck they’re even wearing aero helmets now!!! biggest problem? they have jacked up the prices on the old track stuff that kids would normally buy to get started. that’s the crime right there!!!!!
    and they’re still singles…hahahahahahahaaa

    That explains a lot. You think you have hipster problems, I live in Portland OR. It’s like a roach problem here. I’ve posted this before, but I’m guessing you’ll appreciate it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3nMnr8ZirI

    Guess now I’ll fuck with the LBS by asking for singles after my next flat.

    @G’phant

    @cam
    Hey, Scaler, how’s that Bud shaping up…?

    I’ll get to it after work.

  13. @Minion

    Oh God you’re Australian, not another one! I get the feeling, all the educating I’ve done on Marcus, is going to have to begin all over again…
    And Straya is the only place I’ve heard tubs being called singles.

    What, you couldn’t tell? I saw the corks dangling from his bush hat a mile away…

  14. @scaler911
    that clip is GOLD!!!! is the whistle thing fair dinkum? luckily we haven’t got that here I think if the whistle started to appear our government would reverse the ban on semi automatic weapons and declare open season!!!

  15. @Cam

    @scaler911
    that clip is GOLD!!!! is the whistle thing fair dinkum? luckily we haven’t got that here I think if the whistle started to appear our government would reverse the ban on semi automatic weapons and declare open season!!!

    Funny thing about that clip, is they’re making fun of Portland(ers), but the comedy is in the fact that they didn’t make anything up. That’s just how it is. Ask McSqueek (who lives here too).

  16. @Cam

    @scaler911
    that clip is GOLD!!!! is the whistle thing fair dinkum? luckily we haven’t got that here I think if the whistle started to appear our government would reverse the ban on semi automatic weapons and declare open season!!!

    Also, since I don’t speak Aussi, can somebody translate “fair dinkum”??

  17. @Scaler911 It means ‘for real’ and can be used to add emphasis as in, “Fair dinkum that hipster chick looks hot.” or as a form of inquiry as in “Fair dinkum, is that a dude ?”

  18. I have a question – since when did Bud become a premium beer? The only reason I’d ever drink that garbage is if it were cheap. But, it seems like it’s gotten really damn expensive. Who the hell pays that much for shit beer? If I’m drinking cheap beer it kind of defeats the purpose if it ain’t cheap. I’ll take Schlitz or High Life or Busch over Bud any day. And Tecate has gone up in price too. And actually so has Schlitz since they have a new box/can design.

    As for fixsters jacking up prices, hell yeah they’ve been doing this for years. Any old nice saddle on ebay is artificially high in price because some fucker wants to put a Regal on his POS rattle-can sprayed Schwinn. Saddle costs more than the whole bike.

    My fixster tale of woe: there is a couple around town who ride their “fixies” in boat shoes. No helmets, platform pedals, one set of pink rims, one set of orange. What twats.

    And since I’m letting it all out – when the hell did fucking boat shoes become cool? I see all these damn teens walking around in boat shoes. Holy fuck. The first and only time I wore those was at my first communion. Damn you Catholic mom, damn you! (I got over it though & love her again.)

  19. @frank

    @scaler911
    Via the irrefutable source of wisdom and truth:
    Fair Dinkum –
    1) Australian Slang Word to express suprise.
    2) Statement of acknowledgement.

    I reckon I have heard people calling tubs “singles” more often than people use the phrase fair dinkum in the last 20 years – which is to say not that often.
    I have

  20. @Marcus

    Streuth cobber, don’t come the raw prawn on here, or are you just havin’ a lend of us.

    Scaler911 might not know a map of Tassie when he sees one, but fair suck of the sav, we’ll learn him some Strine and she’ll be apples.

  21. @ChrisO

    @Marcus
    Streuth cobber, don’t come the raw prawn on here, or are you just havin’ a lend of us.
    Scaler911 might not know a map of Tassie when he sees one, but fair suck of the sav, we’ll learn him some Strine and she’ll be apples.

    Sounds like something my uncle would say when he’s been to the bottom of a bottle of Jack.

  22. @Ron

    I have a question – since when did Bud become a premium beer?

    Right around the time PBR became the hipster beer of choice, though the hipsters in Seattle prefer the 20oz cans of Rainier beer, complete with beer cozy.

    when the hell did fucking boat shoes become cool? I see all these damn teens walking around in boat shoes.

    They’re not.

    By the way, we don’t condone the use of the word “fag” but that notwithstanding, the spirit behind the linked site is spot fucking on. Also note the concise naming of the post: “Fuck this plaid shirt boat shoe rolled up jean motherfucker…”

  23. @Ron

    And since I’m letting it all out – when the hell did fucking boat shoes become cool? I see all these damn teens walking around in boat shoes. Holy fuck. The first and only time I wore those was at my first communion. Damn you Catholic mom, damn you!

    Har har har. First communion in boat shoes! That is some funny shit right there. Father Flavin would not approve.

    What was Catholic mom thinking? Blue blazer too? Chinos? I need more information.

  24. @Ron
    I’ve always thought Bud marketed itself as crap beer for people trying to think of themselves as respectable. That’s why it costs more than any other domestic sold in a can.

    @frank
    Do they still make Olympia up there?

  25. Getting very fucken Bruce Banner round here.
    Brakeless track bike and cobbles. Someone’s never having kids

  26. @Minion

    Getting very fucken Bruce Banner round here.
    Brakeless track bike and cobbles. Someone’s never having kids

    Not cobbles, pavers… the hipster’s cobbles.

  27. Has my lockring tool arrived yet?

    PS I have man crush on Oli. It’s not fair how men who manage to keep their hair past ‘a certain age’ automatically become the default for ‘attractive’. ;)

    And his workshop rules.

  28. Nup. Visited his workshop the other day, to pick up some wheels, and what can I say, he’s a handsome man. More silver fox that sweaty hipster.

  29. @minion

    Has my lockring tool arrived yet?
    PS I have man crush on Oli. It’s not fair how men who manage to keep their hair past ‘a certain age’ automatically become the default for ‘attractive’. ;)
    And his workshop rules.

    Just reading what you wrote.

  30. @frank
    Ok, let me count the ways that video gives me the shits:

    1. Vacuous model stares
    2. Subliminal crotch shots. Cringeworthy.
    3. Seatposts must always be extended by a minimum of 5cm. No exceptions. Ever
    4. Bikes down corridors? WTF? Apparently too unsafe to get the muppets to ride outside due to their apparent engorgement.
    5. Models writhing on the floor in psuedo sexual inflammation. WTF?

    Kill em all and let god sort em out.

  31. @mouse

    @frank
    Ok, let me count the ways that video gives me the shits:
    1. Vacuous model stares
    2. Subliminal crotch shots. Cringeworthy.
    3. Seatposts must always be extended by a minimum of 5cm. No exceptions. Ever
    4. Bikes down corridors? WTF? Apparently too unsafe to get the muppets to ride outside due to their apparent engorgement.
    5. Models writhing on the floor in psuedo sexual inflammation. WTF?
    Kill em all and let god sort em out.

    Pretty sure Frank was just fucking with me. What with my idiocy in the last few days, I thought the same, but, again, I’ve got some more shit to take. Ha!

  32. @scaler911

    @mouse

    . Models writhing on the floor in psuedo sexual inflammation. WTF?Kill em all and let god sort em out.

    Pretty sure Frank was just fucking with me. What with my idiocy in the last few days, I thought the same, but, again, I’ve got some more shit to take. Ha!

    OK so you know that game of quoteing and putting what you said into bold type? Even I’m blushing I just can’t do it.

    @mouse

    Fken A. Don’t know if I’m getting more sensitive to this stuff but today one of our big news websites featured 2 stories, one about a fashion show featuring women in suspenders and f all else, and another claiming that breast size is increasing with a commensurate image. Since when was trying to read the news NSFW?

  33. Tubulars, sew-ups, tubbies or tubs as they’re known here in the land of wind, rain and Wiggins. Call them what you will, but they have an undeserved reputation for causing a lot of peeing around and hassle. Let us go back to the mid 1970’s, when Merckx was still winning, when only the odd climbing genius like Ocana and Van Impe rode anything other than a steel frame and cycling was far from popular, certainly not trendy and yet there were more races, bigger fields and a greater sense of community and guess what, anyone who raced, and I mean anyone; whatever their level rode tubs. All year round, racing or training, tubs were the answer. Most folk knew how to repair them, if not, there was always some kid in the club who needed a few bob who did. We all knew how to put them on, using glue or shellac if they were for the track.
    Then along came Michelin with a tyre that was well, lightish, quickish and about as puncture resistant as a non-racing tub. Rims were still heavy. The tyres got lighter, the rims too then along came ‘leisure riders’ and (hush ma’ mouth), triathletes. These were in it for the ride, not for them the joy of the build, the patient ritual of tub-glueing, or weekly fettling. Like Homo sapiens against the neanderthals, our day was done, we were beaten back by into the forests and mountains by the next generation, taking with us our tub-carriers, flint catchers, and stop watch clips.

    But beware! We’re still here and we’re corrupting your children, perverting them to the cause of the silky ride, safer cornering and the singing sound of a silk tyre on a perfect morning.

    Seriously though, tubs are a great ride, they aren’t a big deal and really are that much different to ride. Personally I haven’t raced in years and still ride mostly tubs (or handmade cottons if I have to ride ‘pressures’). I just checked in my man-room, and out of 15 pairs of wheels hung up or on various bikes, only 3 have high pressures on. Guess which ones puncture most often? In fact, I’ve only punctured once on tubs in the last 10 years.

    One last thing, get some with creamy side-walls. Black side-walls look like a kids solid tyred trike.

    Tubs roule!

  34. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    Everyone should descend on a pair of sew-ups that they themselves glued. DESCEND AT LUDICROUS SPEED. Nothing quite gives you a sense of accomplishment like gluing on your sew-ups, descending on them, and not dying from a rolled tire.
    Everyone should learn how to patch a sew-up. Mind you, there’s sewing involved.

    So, so true. Getting into a two wheel drift as you hit an unexpected wash across Germantown road and then feeling the sewups bite as you move onto dry pavement – that’ll put your heart in your throat, it will… and make you damned grateful for FastTack and a bike with miraculous handling

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