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  1. #1
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    Any personal experience: Tubular vs Successful Tubeless Setup?

    For context: I switched over to disc brakes on my CX bikes and immediately started using my (nicer) 29er wheels. I've been running tubeless the past two years and am happy with it - but there are always quirks.

    My question:

    Do any of you have experience riding both a well set up tubeless wheelset as well as a tubular wheelset? How would you compare the experience?

    I am planning to run tubeless for 90% of my riding, but is it worth getting a nice set of tubeless wheels for races?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    If you're getting separate wheels for racing only, get them in tubular. Tubular tires are the best thing out there performance wise, but the downside is that they're a pain in the ass to glue and the tires cost a fortune. A good tubeless setup (I used Stan's Crests with Michelin Mud2's last year) is better than a regular clincher setup, but you still can't drop the pressure as low as a tubular because the tire wants to roll off if you do. For comparison's sake: I'm about 185 pounds, and I ran ~45 min on my tubeless setup, any lower and I'd burp. I ran 35F/38R on a borrowed fango/grifo tubular setup. Here's how I see it:

    Convenience:

    Regular clincher>tubeless>tubular

    Rolling Resistance:

    Tubeless>Tubular>Regular Clincher

    Cornering Grip:

    Tubular>>Tubeless>Clincher

  3. #3
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    I wouldn't say the regular clincher is more convenient than tubeless unless you just like changing tubes often due to pinch flats. The only way to avoid pinch flats with tubes is to run the pressures so high you lose all cornering grip. It always amazes me the number of people running tubeless who don't use tubeless ready CX tires and then complain because they can't lower the pressures. msrothwe, try the Specialized Tracer Pro 2bliss Ready on those Stan's Crest rims and I bet you can run way lower pressure than the non tubeless tires you're trying to use. Specialized Bicycle Components

  4. #4
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    Any personal experience: Tubular vs Successful Tubeless Setup?

    Oh I definitely can run lower pressures with tubeless than clincher, the issue becomes less about pinch flats and more about the tire staying on.

  5. #5
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    I used Arch EX wheels for my cross bike last year, never had a moment's problem with them, whether using tubeless-specific tires or not. My race weight was ~190lbs and I was running pressures in the very low 30s with no burping at all.

    For a boat-load more money and a bunch of hassle, I could maybe have dropped 5-6 psi with tubulars, but it wouldn't have made my racing any better.

  6. #6
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    I have done both also. Tubulars are night and day difference in performance and reliability. Especially using something that you can add sealant too. This is of course for racing. For streets/gravel grinding etc tubeless wins just like it does on the mtb. The problem with the Tubeless is blurping at the low pressure that you will want to run.

    Also the velocity major tom on a novatec hub is pretty cheap build that should be reliable.

    Or spend some more and use a dt350 or 240.. So many upgrade possibility's for later with easy change of the cassette body and axle types.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by need4gforce View Post
    I have done both also. Tubulars are night and day difference in performance and reliability. Especially using something that you can add sealant too. This is of course for racing. For streets/gravel grinding etc tubeless wins just like it does on the mtb. The problem with the Tubeless is blurping at the low pressure that you will want to run.
    When comparing the performance of a tubular vs tubeless, which aspects stand out?

    If I got a tubular wheelset, I was thinking Major Tom's - which would actually be slightly heavier than the carbon 29er wheelset I use for tubeless. Even with a slight weight penalty, do you still think they'd be an advantage?

    Thanks!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jester6578 View Post
    When comparing the performance of a tubular vs tubeless, which aspects stand out?

    If I got a tubular wheelset, I was thinking Major Tom's - which would actually be slightly heavier than the carbon 29er wheelset I use for tubeless. Even with a slight weight penalty, do you still think they'd be an advantage?

    Thanks!
    Yes. You need to do a bunch more reading/googling or you wouldn't be asking these questions but the gist is that there is a level of "suppleness" in tubulars that tubed/tubeless are not able to achieve - and probably won't for quite some time.

    Major Toms are good rims although I don't think they're as robust as the Heds. Next season I'm looking at the Light Bicycle carbon hoops (tubular) that are allegedly out but not on their website - thats another thread too.

    Weight is another overblown/misunderstood fallacy but that's another thread altogether.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Disney's Frozen Head View Post
    Yes. You need to do a bunch more reading/googling or you wouldn't be asking these questions but the gist is that there is a level of "suppleness" in tubulars that tubed/tubeless are not able to achieve - and probably won't for quite some time.

    Major Toms are good rims although I don't think they're as robust as the Heds. Next season I'm looking at the Light Bicycle carbon hoops (tubular) that are allegedly out but not on their website - thats another thread too.

    Weight is another overblown/misunderstood fallacy but that's another thread altogether.
    Yes, thank you for your reply Mr. Frozen Head. I've done quite a bit of reading on the subject. What I have not found are recent articles comparing the ride characteristics of successful tubeless setups to the ride qualities of a tubular tire. If you have any sources answering this question, please enlighten us.

    Have you had a chance to see/test/ride both the Major Toms as well as the HED's? Why do you say that the HED's are more robust?

    Also, I would love to hear your thoughts on the fallacy of taking weight into consideration when comparing wheels - especially with the repeated accelerations needed in a cyclocross race. Feel free to link to the other thread you are planning to start.

    Thank you very much for your useful input!

  10. #10
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    didn't mean to sound snarky

    IMO, tubeless is on the verge of becoming a good option. For tires that means both consistent in bead diameter and availability of proven treads (e.g. Rhino, grifo...). Same gist for rims. I don't remember how long it took mtb but the adoption didn't happen over 1-2 seasons.

    I actually have both Major Tom and Hed Belgiums. Keep in mind this is very anecdotal but I have more dents on my major toms (as do others). They've been relegated to training wheels for a few years in anticipation of failure.

    as for weight and the accelerations... the actual math is way over my head but check out Analytic Cycling, Interactive Methods for Estimating Cycling Performance Parameters. Tom Compton

    oddly enough, that site was created by Katie Compton's father. The short story is that your accelerations aren't as severe (from a physics point of view) as the feel.

  11. #11
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    Heh, thanks for the follow up! The last couple of seasons tubeless has definitely been a crap shoot, but there are a ton of tubeless ready tires coming out this year which should add more reliability.

    Really good to know about the Major Tom's - and that others experienced the same issue. Are you riding the HED's now?

    And thanks for that link, love to see actual data. I totally agree that arguing over 50grams in a wheelset is overblown, but it's always part of the discussion.

    Thanks!

  12. #12
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    Any personal experience: Tubular vs Successful Tubeless Setup?



    My Chinese 30x30mm 29er tubs. A low profile tubular at the proper pressure can grip better than a Nobby Nic.

    Rims were $290 for the pair on EBay.


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  13. #13
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    Cripes, that's a thick rim. I can't see the hub very well, are you using disc brakes or rim brakes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post


    My Chinese 30x30mm 29er tubs. A low profile tubular at the proper pressure can grip better than a Nobby Nic.

    Rims were $290 for the pair on EBay.


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  14. #14
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    Any personal experience: Tubular vs Successful Tubeless Setup?

    Disc hubs. These are actually for MTB use.


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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Disc hubs. These are actually for MTB use.
    Nice. Whats the spoke count -24/28/32? I had been thinking those would make excellent CX wheels with 24-hole rims and hubs that use straight/direct drive spokes.

  16. #16
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    Any personal experience: Tubular vs Successful Tubeless Setup?

    32h. I've been very pleased.


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  17. #17
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    there are a few fast local mofos who used the enve 29'er tub rims and love(d) them. Don't quote me on this but something like 27mm width - from my failing memory.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Disney's Frozen Head View Post
    there are a few fast local mofos who used the enve 29'er tub rims and love(d) them. Don't quote me on this but something like 27mm width - from my failing memory.
    The ENVEs are significantly lighter, and probably more durable, but they are "only" 24mm wide. If you're running a fat, juicy Tufo XC6, at a true 2.2", that's a bit narrow for my taste.

    A 30mm wide rim provides a pretty nice gluing surface.

  19. #19
    dcb
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    I think the hassle associated with tubulars is overblown. Probably like all of you, I run tubeless on my mountain bikes and have for years. Some tires air up and seal up super easy, and others are a pain in the ass with leaky sidewalls and loose beads.

    I'd put gluing up tubulars in the middle of the "hassle factor" comparing them with all the tubeless tires I've set up. The main thing is you need some time to set them up right the first time. I've had one puncture when a nail went through one. That nail would have screwed up any tire I've owned. I pitted and put on my spare for that race and then used sealant for the hole. No problems after that.

    I've seen way too many tubeless set ups in cross blow off the rim during races in the last couple of years for my comfort. I know some people have good set ups that work for them, but right now it's still too much of a crapshoot I think. CX season is short, the races are short and I'd rather use the tried and true method until the tubeless set ups get all the bugs worked out.

  20. #20
    little mad riding hood
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcb View Post
    I think the hassle associated with tubulars is overblown.
    agree mostly, although over the last few years it's become something I'm more than willing to pay someone else to do properly for me (we have a well regarded CX specific pro shop here tho). Your mileage may vary but I'm over sniffing glue and racking up swear points getting the bloody things on straight.

    I'd put gluing up tubulars in the middle of the "hassle factor" comparing them with all the tubeless tires I've set up.
    mmmh, fair enough altho tech is rapidly catching up, so it entirely depends on the system, see below.

    I've seen way too many tubeless set ups in cross blow off the rim during races in the last couple of years for my comfort. I know some people have good set ups that work for them, but right now it's still too much of a crapshoot I think.
    while I agree that the tech here is still maturing, I think it's getting to the point that there are indeed enough proven systems out there to justify considering it as a valid option from now on. Case in point - my husband and I just got a pair of the '15 model year Crux E5 singlespeeds. They came stock with a Roval / Terra Pro 2Bliss setup that's got the new style hookless rims. Counterintuitively, because of the way a tubeless tire mounts with the bead clinging to the base of the rim channel, not the top of the "hook", hookless actually does work better to seal the tire.

    My husband set up both of our singlespeeds tubeless the day we brought them home, and it took him less than an hour total - in other words, roughly about what it would have to swap a pair of MTBs with tubeless ready kit. He had one tire that slipped the bead at first, and it was not because the system was bad, it was user error - he got a bit careless with the rim tape mounting and it slipped during inflation. Took it off, reconfigured the rim strip, remounted everything and it was fine. He would have had the same problem had it been a Stan's 29er rim he was mounting a 2.2 tire tubeless on, which is something he and I have done countless times, and cleaned up a few sealant spills from, too. I chalk it up to the same burden of care you take gluing tubies to ensure you don't get glue on the sidewalls, or carpet fuzz / grass clippings / dog hair in your glue job, tbh.

    In the month we've had them, we have ridden both of our bikes tubeless for a couple hundred miles apiece on grass, dirt, pavement, gravel, fire roads, and some moderately technical rocky local singletrack. I have hit my rims pretty hard on a fast descent due to hidden rock ledges, etc; something that would surely have been a pinch flat had I been running them tubed. We've both done hard and fast cornering in the pump track over at the local bike park on them, too, and used them for doing some hot lap skills at race pace with the Wednesday Worlds crew here in Boulder. tl;dr: we've now ridden them enough to pretty well know what we can get out of them, and I trust them at least as much, if not more, than tubed clinchers, and way more for things like goatheads and not pinch flatting on rim impacts, etc.

    So I'm sure the question you have is: Would we trust them for racing? Absolutely - we are both planning to race SS on the rigs as they currently stand. Would we switch out our carbon tubulars on the geared bikes for tubeless? No way. Bottom line, they do work great and ride nice, but you still can't run ultra low pressures you need for slick courses and snow that you can with tubulars, and you still don't have the uniquely supple feel of a completely round high TPI casing.

    caveat: we do run Stan's sealant in our tubulars as well, because goatheads.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonefrontranger View Post
    and you still don't have the uniquely supple feel of a completely round high TPI casing.

    Ding ding ding

    2/3 of a tire is never going to feel the same a 1/1 of a tire at lower pressures
    *** --- *** --- ***

  22. #22
    dcb
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonefrontranger View Post
    So I'm sure the question you have is: Would we trust them for racing? Absolutely
    Reports like this are great and the more of it I see the more likely I am to try tubeless for CX at some point. Realistically though, since I don't have much aversion to setting up tubulars I'll probably start setting up a tubeless set for CX when I switch to a disc break CX bike. That way I can swap my tubeless mtb wheels onto my cx bike. I have no pressing plans to switch to disc at the moment so it will probably be a while.

  23. #23
    little mad riding hood
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcb View Post
    Reports like this are great and the more of it I see the more likely I am to try tubeless for CX at some point. Realistically though, since I don't have much aversion to setting up tubulars I'll probably start setting up a tubeless set for CX when I switch to a disc break CX bike. That way I can swap my tubeless mtb wheels onto my cx bike. I have no pressing plans to switch to disc at the moment so it will probably be a while.
    yep. if you've already got a nice tubie setup and are skilled at / fine with gluing them? I absolutely wouldn't bother switching. This is more of a question of "in the absence of either, can I save some money/time/hassle by going with a known tubeless brand?" and I'd say the answer now is: yes, assuming you stick to established / proven brands and don't try to cheap out and / or roll your own. Stan's Iron Cross for CX have a good reputation when used with the right tires and say what you will about Specialized, they do have the 2Bliss system locked.

    Both our 2014 Crux Pros and our 2015 Crux E5 SS bikes are hydro disc. The Crux Pros came stock with 2 sets of wheels each - a cheap alloy clincher pair and a nice carbon tubular pair. The singlespeeds came with the 2Bliss ready setup, so we decided to ditch the tubes and see if their hookless rim tubeless concept works, and it does.

    Will we go out and buy a set of tubular rims for our singlespeeds? No; they're nice bikes and fun to ride but it's one of those diminishing returns deals where they're already slated to be our pit / commuter bikes, so why bother throwing more money at them?

  24. #24
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    Well, you CAN buy 1300g, carbon, 24mm wide tubular disc wheelsets off eBay for less than $400.

    No, they aren't Zipp, Easton, Reynolds or Enve. But they'll get you that 95% solution.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Disney's Frozen Head View Post
    but the gist is that there is a level of "suppleness" in tubulars that tubed/tubeless are not able to achieve



    Weight is another overblown/misunderstood fallacy but that's another thread altogether.
    Talk about an overblown fallacy: suppleness

    Is that anything like "vertical compliance"?

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