Welcome to our Ask a Mechanic column where our expert mechanic Daniel Slusser answers your bike maintenance questions. If you have a question for Daniel, please post it on our Facebook Wall or e-mail Daniel directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. In this installment, Daniel reviews how to glue tubular ‘cross tires.Question
Cyclocross season is just around the corner and I am ready to step up to tubular tires and wheels. I have heard some horror stories about tires coming unglued. How do I glue the tires so that they don’t come off the rim when cornering or going through a rough patch on the course? From: Jackson
You have nothing to fear Jackson if you glue your tires correctly. Our resident tubular expert and former Team HTC Highroad Pro mechanic Greg O’Keefe recommends this process:
Start by stretching the dry tire over the dry rim with about 15psi in it. Once mounted, inflate the tire to 50psi and leave it overnight to stretch. This will help when it comes time to mount the tires. The next step is to begin gluing. I prefer to use either Vittoria Mastic One or Continental tubular glue. They both work equally well in my opinion. Apply the glue with an acid brush that can be found in the plumbing section of your local hardware store. The brushes are typically used for applying flux to copper pipes for sweating.
Begin the process by putting two thin coats of glue on the tire or until the basetape is fully saturated with glue. Then put two to three thin coats of glue on your rim (usually three for new rims and two for re-glues). Make sure that you give each coat at least 4-6 hours to dry before applying the next one. This will help to prevent all of the glue pulling off in one big layer and taking the tire with it.
Once you have all the base coats of glue done on both wheels, it is time for your wet coat. The tire should have about 15-20psi in it for this step. Put a heavy coat of glue on the rim and then insert the tire valve into the rim. Then with the opposite side of the rim rested against the ground on a piece of cardboard (to catch any glue) stretch the tire with your hands away from the valve as you press the tire into the rim. Then work the tire over the end and make sure that it is centered on the rim by giving the wheel a spin to look for any irregularities. Once you get those straightened out, inflate the tire to 50psi and let it dry overnight.
As you can see, the whole process takes 2-3 days to really do right but your tire will be safe and secure. All the work is definitely worth it for the velvety ride that only tubulars can provide. If you haven’t chosen tires yet, I recommend the Dugast Rhino as the hands down best all around tubular you can buy. Pros sponsored by other tire companies have been running Dugasts for decades with the logo blacked out or with another label placed over top of it.
Daniel Slusser is a professional bicycle mechanic with over ten years of experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from HSU and a master’s degree in history from Cal Poly University. When he is not riding, wrenching, or writing he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children