Monthly Archives: January 2015

Clincher vs Tubular Smackdown

Dear Rouleurs,

I’ve been having bike model/part upgrade envy for a few months. On my usual ride along Port Phillip Bay, I’ve been seeing lots of new road bikes. This combined with my growing obsession with road bikes with disc brakes has made me very twitchy. So rather than fork out thousands for a new carbon fibre cyclo-cross number eg GT, Giant, Trek etc…, I’ve locked onto the idea of buying a set of second hand carbon fibre rims. However, even this relatively simple decision has had me oscillating wildly on the key issue of clincher vs tubular tyres. For nearly 33 years of life I’ve been happily riding around on clinchers blissfully unaware that any other alternative existed. In a word….bugger 🙂

So here’s the Marv 101 on Clincher vs Tubular Tyres.

A clincher is what most of the cycling community would consider a ‘normal wheel’. It has a separate tyre and inner tube. The tyre has what is called a ‘bead’ ie a reinforced lip, running around the inside edge. This presses the tyre on to the rim as it’s inflated by the inner tube.

A tubular is a tire that is stitched around an inner tube. The tyre is glued to the rim bed using either special tub glue or double sided tape.

So onto the beauty contest.

Aspect Assessment The winner is..
Puncture Puncture are one area where tubular tyres are a clear winner. Tubular tires run higher tire pressure than clincher tires and tend to be less prone to pinch flats and punctures. From a safety perspective, apunctured clincher is highly likely to come off the rim where as a flatted tub will stay in place, glued to the rim. This is the primary reason that tubs are still favored for racing by professionals. Tubular
Versatility The versatility of clincher wheels makes them the go-to choice for the majority of cyclists, from regular sportive riders to weekend club riders. For example, a set of clincher wheels can, with a simple tire change, cover everything from a gravel ride, to summer crit, and then cyclo cross. Clincher
Maintenance From what I’ve read, the merits of ‘on the side of road’ maintenance’, tubular gluing is only marginally more difficult than trying to get off and on a tight fitting tyre. However what is beyond argument is that its cheaper to fix a clincher and that its much easier to carry spare tubes with you on the road. Clincher
Braking Braking from high speed puts a lot of heat into a bike wheel rim. On a long descent, this can raise the temperature of the air inside a clincher, increasing its pressure and blowing the tire off the rim. Or, it can soften the cement or glue holding a tubular tire to the rim; in the worst case, the tire may creep around the rim or even roll upside down, leaving the cyclist riding on the base tape. Neither is a good outcome. None – It’s a tie
Weight Even the lightest clincher wheels are usually a couple hundred grams heavier than their tubular counterparts as tubulars don’t require the heavier hook bead rim construction of a clincher.,Rotating mass, especially at the perimeter, is more valuable weight than static mass (like frame weight) and thus wheels can be a good place to save weight, especially on hillier courses. Tubular
Aerodynamics Tires and rims are narrow enough that the biggest aerodynamic variables tend to relate to tire width and how smooth the tire transitions to the rim.In general, clinchers on the newer wider rim profiles offer the smoothest transitions as they don’t have the interference of a tubulars base tape. Clincher
Rolling Resistance It’s a difficult question to resolve, since there are so many variables involved.,The best evidence suggests that a road clincher rolls slightly faster than a directly comparable tubular and the reason is that the cement, tape, or glue holding the tub to the rim is soft and compressible but not very elastic. It allows the tub to flatten against the rim at the point passing over the ground but slows its return, so some of the energy absorbed as the tire compresses is lost to slow recovery. Clincher
Durability/Reusability Tire durability and wear is about the same between equivalent level clincher and tubular tires for the same reasons why traction is similar – brand technology is usually shared in both styles. Clinchers do have the advantage of being able to have a staple or small nail removed from the casing and being ridden again while a tubular can be more difficult to repair if the casing is cut. Clincher..just
Cost The best quality tubular tires will cost $35-$50 more than the best clinchers. Clincher

The winner is:
Clinchers…I think.
If you want maximum performance through the lowest weight, most aero profile and smoothest ride for racing and events I would still look at the tubular version of many carbon aero wheels.  However if, like me, you are looking for one wheel set to race and train on, the overall performance of clinchers wheels is closer than ever to their tubular counterparts.

The cost of cycling is…bananas

Dear Rouleurs

I bought a new bike rack on Saturday from 99 Bikes in Port Melbourne.  I’ll write about it in February once I’ve been on a few road trips.  On the way out, I spotted this on the door.

20150111_CostofCyclingI assume its been there for while and in need of an update.  Especially as falling petrol prices have been in the press over the Christmas break.

As someone that lives close to bay, I’m a bit perturbed by the thought of rising sea levels caused by Global Warming.  That’s a serious cramp in my personal style.  I can understand why people in places like Kiribati are very edgy about their homes disappearing into the Pacific in near future.

Consequently, I’m not sure that falling petrol prices are a good thing….ever.

So with aid of Google, Comparethe and Coles I’ve updated the figures on the door:

 Fuel Cost per Litre Density Cost per Kg
Petrol $1.10 0.75 $1.46
Diesel $1.40 0.83 $1.68
LPG $0.60 0.58 $1.03
Bananas $7.00

Which has lead me to the horrible discovery that it would be cheaper to drink petrol or diesel than eat bananas to fuel my daily commute 🙂  Just may be we don’t pay enough for our pollution creating fossil fuels.

On a different tack – I’ve completed 132km in my first week in attempting to complete 5000km in a calendar year….woo hoo 🙂

Pedestrian crossings and the cyclist…what Marv has learned.

I have to say that I’ve been absolutely gobsmacked in the last 24 hours. Let me explain.

Yesterday I had a series of near misses, all within about 5 minutes of each other, on Williamstown Road. Its a fairly busy road on the fringe of Melbourne’s CBD. The first near miss I consider to be a mutual “faux pas” between myself and a black Audi driver emerging from a laneway. We were both:

a) surprised by each other’s co-incidental use of the laneway entrance/exit, and
b) fortunate enough to the travelling slowly to avoid an embarrassing bingle. No harm done.

The next incident had me fuming. I slowly ride onto a pedestrian crossing that bridges Williamstown Road. I’ve seen drivers with tunnel vision routinely speed through the crossing ignoring pedestrians. It’s a wide crossing which may explain why some drivers may not see a pedestrian on the curbs, on either side of the road. I’m about a third of the way across, when a white van zips right through. I’m annoyed and wave my hands at the offender.

What happened next is the bit that really threw me. I pull up at the lights next to the van, I give the driver an evil stare and he completely ignores me. He’s away somewhere in his own head. Little wonder he didn’t see me, he’s in ‘auto-pilot’ mode. A motorcyclist, one lane over, had seen what occurred and shakes his head at me disapproving. I’m pretty sure he said something like – ‘You’re a f$%#king idiot, you were on your bike”. I replied “Doesn’t matter I’m on the crossing and have right of way”. They both speed off, presumably, to important matters.

The van driver is the typically selfish professional road user and I should know better having seen that kind of behaviour, repeatedly, in the vicinity of this crossing. On the other hand, the motorcyclist irritated me. One would have thought that the motorised two wheel variety of commuter would have empathy with the non-motorised kind. After all how that that possibly be right??

So this morning I did a quick search of the web and found this:

Vic Roads A-Z of Road Rules

Which didn’t really answer the question ie Did I have right of way on a pedestrian crossing whilst mounted on a bike? As with ‘public-friendly’ interpretations of the law, its about what’s not explicitly stated that’s important. Which lead me to read:

2009 Road Safety Rules, Part 15 – Additional Rules for Bicycle Riders

And specifically Rule 248 on page 307 of the 2009 Road Safety Rules, and the following:

248 – No riding across a road on a crossing
(1) The rider of a bicycle must not ride across a road, or part of a road, on a children’s crossing or pedestrian crossing.
Penalty: 3 penalty units.

Which means the motorcyclist was right….WTF and I mean WTAF?? Gobsmacked.  I’m sure that the bloody van driver didn’t know this 🙂

Welcome back to 2015

Dear Cyclists,

I’m afraid to say that the last 2 weeks have been, much to my chagrin, bicycle 🙂  However, the premium service provided at Freedom Machine [shameless plug…apologies :-)] has polished up my Villier and my wife’s Giant a treat. So I look forward to many happy kilometres of pedaling. So as part of my usual set of new year’s resolutions I’ve resolved to achieve two inter-related personal goals.

1) To complete 5000 km this calendar year.
2) To commute to work 4 days a week.

I’m pleased to report I’ve started both today with a liesurely 3 km ride to work this morning. My Henty Wingman was packed full of work clothing and stuff so that ride was a bit harder than the distance would indicate. I also note that the current tram track work in Spencer St is playing havoc with tram timetables on the Route 109.

So I’m pleased to report that I’ve only 4997 kilometres left to complete my goal.

On a different note, just before Christmas I became a bit OCD about retro cycling jerseys. I saw and later purchased this care of Stolen Goat.

Awesome Tri-colour Jersey

Whilst the UK pound-vs-AUD conversion will always be a painful, the 20% discount I received on signing up and VAT exemption took a good portion of the sting out of purchasing experience. I have to say the jersey is of superb quality and fitted perfectly. I can’t wait for some cooler weather in April/May.

I continue to be mystified by why some enterprising company can’t make a similar jersey in Australia. After the wool is sourced from Australia or New Zealand.