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So two days ago I bought this Peugeot vintage bike (from the '80s) and it has tubular tires on it that aren't usable anymore. Is it possible to install a normal tire on the same rim instead? I'm a student and don't have a budget to buy tubular tires and from what I saw the installation was complicated with the glue n stuff.

Thanks in advance.

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    Tubular tyres do not have to be significantly more expensive than other tyres. Try Tufo S33 Pro. Vittoria Rally is more expensive but easier to find. You can use a tape for gluing it on. – Vladimir F Feb 28 at 16:34
  • Not quite a duplicate, but there are some relevant answers at bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/63317/… which will help you learn the differences. I remember spending a lot of time on the picture in one of those answers :-\ – Criggie Feb 28 at 21:06
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    Please check the sidewall of your existing tyre for sizing info. Specifically looking for a number like 622-23 or maybe the othe r way around, 23-622. I'm pretty sure that tubulars never came in the larger 630 size, but this affects your brake's "reach" – Criggie Feb 28 at 21:41
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No, as offered by @NoCo, is the correct answer. This merely offers some additional information.

When you're talking about "normal tires," you mean clincher tires with tubes. These will require new wheels. Unfortunately, if you bought a 1980s bike, you may have an older standard rear wheel - current bikes are 130mm in the rear dropouts, as are current rear hubs for rim brakes.

You could likely get a new front clincher wheel for cheap on eBay or through local classified ads, since rim brake wheels are not the most current technology. You may be able to find a rear wheel to match the rear spacing, but that might take some searching. This is the best route to take. I would measure the dropout spacing with a ruler. See this page for more information.

You could also keep those tubular wheels and change the tires...

If you talk to tubular aficionados, they may state that tubulars aren't that hard to glue to rims. This is true, but you have to learn how, and the logistics chain is quite different from clincher wheels. You'll need glue or glue tape, and you'll ideally want to carry a pre-glued spare tire to deal with flats. You'll ideally want an unused wheel to stretch new tubular tires on before mounting. Furthermore, if you don't glue your tires properly, your tire could roll off while cornering and you will crash.

You may want to remove some old glue first. With wet glue, you'll definitely have to apply several coats of glue to your rims and new tires, letting the glue dry between coats, and you have to guide the tire onto the rim. If you stick with tubular wheels, tubular tape alone will be easier, but this leaves open the question of what to do if you flat - you'll still want to prepare your spare with wet glue, as a taped spare would stick to itself.

If you stick with the tubular rims, you should be able to find training tubulars for relatively cheap if you look. Most of the tubular tire users are professional road and cyclocross racers, and some weird aficionados. Actually, it so happens that I'm one of them - I have a pair of tubular cyclocross wheels, although I use clinchers on all my other bikes. Nevertheless, you are likely to mainly be seeing very expensive racing tubulars when you search.

There are relatively cheap ones, you just have to keep searching. Just as one example, the Continental Giro training tubular is selling for $40 per tire at this online store. You could get a bike store to help you mount tubular tires as well. However, this may be a lot more hassle than you're willing to put up with, and I don't blame you - I get a store I trust to mount my tubulars, and in my experience, not all the mechanics at bike stores are going to be experienced with mounting tubulars.

Why on earth do people still use tubies?

This is just for information and is tangential to your question. In the past, clincher technology was clearly behind tubulars. Until perhaps the mid 2000s, tubulars had lower rolling resistance and a better ride than clinchers in general. In addition, if you puncture, tubular tires are more controllable than clinchers. You can actually ride a flat tubular tire, albeit carefully, for some distance, whereas a clincher tire (tubed or tubeless) is liable to come off the rim. For example, Abraham Olano (Spain) won the 1995 men's World Championship road race despite a flat in the last kilometer. This article doesn't explicitly say that he was on tubulars, but tubies were de riguer for all pros then. If you doubt me, you're invited to keep Google searching.

In cyclocross, very low pressure (15-20 PSI) can help with tire traction on loose surfaces. At that pressure, tubed clinchers will pinch flat. Some tubeless clincher tires are liable to burp (that is, the bead may come partly off the rim, and you will lose air) at that pressure. To my knowledge, although tubeless clincher use among pro CX racers is rising, tubulars are regarded as the optimal equipment.

On the road, best current standard clinchers with latex tubes and the best tubeless clinchers have lower rolling resistance than the best current tubular tires. Pro road cyclists seem to be relatively slow to change their practices, and they have many mechanics who are trained in tubular tire mounting, plus they still desire the safety factor if they flat. Nevertheless, the use of tubed and tubeless clinchers is rising among pro roadies.

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    Thanks for taking the time to answer. I'll try to install a tubular tire. Do you know whats the recommended tire pressure? I think my problem was using it with high pressure that the tire got a bump on the side and the glue fell off. – enniius Feb 28 at 17:21
  • @enniius I'd use this site, but I bet you could start at 90 PSI. I've edited the question: I really don't recommend that you glue tires, especially considering that you're new to bikes. If you glue a tire wrongly, you will roll a tire off in a corner and you will crash. If that happened in a race, you'd get a stern talking to, btw. info.silca.cc/silca-professional-pressure-calculator – Weiwen Ng Feb 28 at 18:43
  • You did leave out that a flat front clincher tire is almost totally uncontrollable whether it rolls off the rim or not. You might be able to stay upright, but controlled turns are just about impossible. Front flats with clinchers are NOT fun. – Andrew Henle Feb 28 at 19:10
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No. Tubular rims only work with tubular tires which must be glued or taped on. (added "taped" to be more complete)

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I've been down the tubular route on an old 80's road bike I picked up.

As already said, the rims are not compatible - tubular rims are curved in the cross section, with no bead; whereas hooked rims (crochet rims / "normal" rims ) have a complex cross section that goes back on itself.

As for costs, it depends on your time, technical ability, and what's available in your area.

I had a set of loverly Mavic tubular rims with old tyres. They held air, but were in poor condition. So I added sealant and rode them. Exactly half-way home I flatted, and ended up walking. A 30 minute rest-of-ride became a 3 hour walk (so I cruise 6x faster than I walk)

Own work
Eagle-eyed might notice the spare tubular strapped to the frame. Not ideal because it gets road dirt off the rear tyre which will interfere with sticking if required.
Also the bike is wearing clincher wheels here, the tubs are just displayed.

Option 1 Fit new tyres. I ended up buying one nice but cheap Vittoria tubular training tyre, and it was approximately the same cost as a Conti GP4000, about $50 NZ at the time. Additionally I needed a packet of Jantex rim tape, which was about $15 NZ. I then cut the old tyre off the rim and threw it out.

Fitting the new tyre was a learning experience, but not hard. I inflated the bare tyre to ~15 psi and left it for a couple days.

In the meantime I used a heat gun and some rags to melt the old glue off the rim, which took a couple hours. I'd focus on one sector between two spoke holes and heat it until the glue bubbled, then quickly wipe it off. Yes I burned myself several times on the hot metal of the rim.

I did all this wheel work in an old fork which was mounted in a bench vise.

Then I used acetone and paper towels to clean the rim again, including the rim brake track. Finally a light sand with fine sand paper to give the adhesive the best grip possible.

The rim tape was put on as per instructions, and pressed home firmly with a roller. The peel-off layer on the tyre side was left in place for now.

When it came time to fit the tyre, I deflated it and put the valve stem through, and secured with the nut. Then you "tease" the two ends of the peel-off layer out so they can be pulled. Then you feel the tyre onto the rim. It is not hard but you need to maintain some tension all the way around. DO NOT USE TYRE LEVERS.

Once the tyre is on, you add a little air to help with alignment. Use some feature on the tyre to make sure its perfectly aligned and there's no wobble when you spin the wheel. The tyre is easy to move around and tweak at this time. (which shows how bad it would be without an adhesive)

Then pull the tabs of peel-off layer out the side. The tyre won't move if you're gentle. Then inflate to full pressure and leave it for another day. This lets the tape's adhesive grip better. Then fit your wheel and ride.

Comments:

  • Tubulars are no more puncture resistant than clincher tyres. So you might consider adding latex sealant through the valve. Almost all tubular tyres have removable valve cores to facilitate this.
  • You may consider how you intend repairing a puncture while riding. Without a team/support car, you're packing your spares. For me, I carry that second old tyre and a pump, and some rim tape in my on-bike tool kit. Or you have an alternate plan, be it "the phone call of shame"

Option 2 Replace the wheels. I was fortunate enough to pick up a pair of old Mavic clincher 8 speed wheels with freehub for $4 NZ off a local auction site. I bought a knock-off 7 speed cassette for $20 NZ and some new skewers for $(can't recall) and mounted that with several freehub spacers in the back. And these tyres are 28mm Conti "ultrasport" which is a heavier puncture-resistant training tyre. I've not flatted since installing these. Could even have gone to 32mm tyres I think, there's a lot of tyre clearance on these older road bikes.

Comments:

  • I was fortunate that the bike has ETRTO 622 sized wheels to begin with. There is some chance your bike has 630 sized wheels, which are very hard to find tubular tyre. If so, your brake arms may not reach far enough to get to a 622mm rim (the standard modern size) so this gets really expensive quick.
  • On strava, I have two bikes listed. Theres "Vince with Tubulars" and "Vince with Clinchers" and I have to log my rides with the correct bike. This means shared items like chains have mileage in both places. An inconvenience but workable.

Upshot - you should do whichever makes you feel most comfortable. I can swap clincher tubes on the roadside, but swapping a tubular is harder. Also, once your tubular is punctured, you either replace the whole tyre or you have to unpick the stitching to get the inner tube out and patch that, then reassemble. Not impossible but a lot of fiddling.

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    There is at least one place that repairs tubular tires: tirealert.com As for sealant, I just realized that sealant may mess up the inner tube once it hardens - but you can just add sealant after a puncture. – Weiwen Ng Feb 29 at 0:34
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    That is what people with tubs do here, add Tufo Sealant Extreme after the puncture. – Vladimir F Feb 29 at 17:53
  • @VladimirF fair enough - do they carry a bottle on the bike? Or do they make the phonecall-of-shame for a ride home ? – Criggie Feb 29 at 21:00
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    @Criggie One carries one bottle with the sealant and one spare tub. The bottle is just 50 ml. – Vladimir F Mar 1 at 8:41

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