As you probably know many classic bikes come with tubular tyres fitted as standard. So what is the difference and what as a cyclist do you need to know?
First lightness. It’s impossible to build a clincher rim (a rim that is used by a tyre with an inner tube) as light as a tubular, because the U shape of a clincher requires more material than the box shape of a tubular. Basically a deeper rim is heavier which adds to the overall weight of the bike, which you may notice when accelerating and climbing.
Tubulars can be far more resistant to puncture than clinchers. Pinch flats, where the tube gets caught between the rim and the tire bead, are non-existent, because the tube is completely surrounded by the tubular’s tire casing. Also you can run on a tubular tyre if you gets a flat. Professional racers often choose tubular tyres because they have a higher tread count and can wear extremely well and ride better than a standard clincher.
Fitting a tubular can be challenging when you first attempt it before but once you have done it a couple of times it is pretty straightforward.
First inflate your tyres to around 100psi and leave them to stretch, overnight is good if you have the time. You can use either tape or glue on the rim prior to putting on the tyre. My preference is glue which is easy to apply. I wrap my finger in cling film and then smooth the glue over the rim. Allow that to dry and then reapply 15 minutes later. If you have been able to pre inflate the tyre you will find it goes on fairly easily. Put the valve in first and then roll the tire on. Once on pull and stretch the tire so it is sitting on the tire straight.
You will then need to let the tire settle and the glue to harden. Read the instructions with you glue to find out how long you need to wait before it is safe to ride.
So what’s the downside? If you get a puncture, which it is far less likely than with tubed tyres, a roadside repair is less straightforward than just swapping or patching an inner tube. But saying that you can run on flat so you may not need to do a roadside repair in the first place.
An interesting article here.