Here are the disclaimers: 1) Everyone has their own method that they think is the best. If your method works for you, great. Keep doing it. 2) Josh Snead turned me on to this method so I can’t claim to “own” it. 3) This method works well for me and I race in the PacNW and (usually) experience a significant amount of mud and water each season. 4) This method works well for aluminum rims. I haven’t got any tips for carbon since I don’t run that shit.

Now that’s out of the way, I’ll move on to tape. I’ve tried it. I won’t use it again. First, the Tufo tape sucks. Literally. It sucks up water. And water is going to get to the tape — through spoke holes, around the valve stem, through any tiny gap in the outer glue. And once that water starts bloating the tape, the bond rapidly deteriorates. The Mastik tape is pretty good though. The problem comes when you have to remove the tire and want to reuse either the rim or tire. Cleaning either is a nightmare! Believe me, since I had to do it this year.

A good glue job will hold as well as a glue plus tape job with less hassle and mess. I just found a cut in the sidewall of a Tufo Flexus so I have to trash it. I’ve used that tire/wheel combo for about 30 minutes in the worst mud I’ve ridden in. It was a course full of mud the consistency of pancake batter. Awful. That tire also saw about four hours of full-on racing on dry ground. Oh yeah, I run the pressure in the mid to high 30’s. Anyway, I went to pull the tire off the rim and the base tape was coming off the tire, not the rim. The bond with the rim was solid.

Okay, so here’s the drill. Get a pot of Vittoria Mastik (Conti cement is a good substitute), some acid brushes (plumbing supply at the hardware store), and your truing stand. A handy tip is to cover the braking surface with electrical tape so you don’t have to clean it afterward. This method works best when gluing a wheel set. If you are doing a single wheel, wait fifteen or twenty minutes between applications. Make sure you’ve stretched the tires on some rims for a couple of days.

  1. Apply a uniform coat to each rim. I don’t goop it on but I’m also pretty liberal with the glue. Make sure to get all the way to the edge of the rim.
  2. Apply a uniform coat to each tire’s base tape. I make sure to get a liberal amount around the valve stem.
  3. By now, that first rim you coated should be dry enough for another coat. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
  4. I like three good coats on my rims so do step 1 once more.
  5. You should now have tow coats on the tires and three on the rims. Let stand overnight or until you get around to mounting the tires.
  6. Hand stretch the tires. I’ll step on the tire and pull with my hands. I’ll repeat this at a few positions around the tire.
  7. Goop up a thick coat of glue on the base tape and mount the tire. To mount the tire, place the rim on a hard, clean surface with the valve hole pointing up. Correctly orient the tread direction and stick the value stem through the hole (aligned properly). Grasp the tire at 10 and 2 and push it down onto the rim, trying to stretch it around the rim. Continue this action around the tire until you can slip it over the bottom. If you stretched the tire properly, this should be pretty easy.
  8. Roll the newly glued tire along a broom handle to set the glue along the rim channel.
  9. Repeat for the second tire/rim.
  10. Inflate to maximum PSI (I do 70) and let stand 24 hours.
  11. Race.

If you’ve used enough glue for the final coat and haven’t scraped it all off on the side of the rim, the broom handle trick should have caused some glue to ooze out along the rim/tire interface. That’s awesome because it indicates a good seal around the perimeter

Some more notes:

  • If the rim already has some glue on it, I like to smooth it out a little with some Acetone. Let that sit for a day then layer up some more glue (one or two coats) and you are good to go. In fact, building up the channel with glue will increase the integrity of the bond in that area — which can be a weak point.
  • If you are regluing and there is dirt or mud on the tire or rim, wash it off with a stiff bristle brush and dish detergent. Let dry and go to town.
  • Don’t use and chemicals to remove glue from a tire. You will compromise the bond between the base tape and the tire.

And finally, gluing up tubulars is pretty easy. It’s not rocket science and it doesn’t take much mechanical aptitude.

21 Responses to “Gluing tubulars”

  1. cdb says:

    Great writeup. So you prefer to put the final “wet mount” coat of glue on the tire casing, not the rim huh? Do you feel there is any advantage either way?

  2. Brooke says:

    I’m on the fence regarding whether to do the last coat on the tire or rim. I don’t like putting it on the rim because I set the rim on the floor — even though I make sure the floor is clean. When I put it on the tire, I inevitably scrape some glue off on the rim when mounting. Dunno. Swings or roundabout really. I make a mess either way.

    One more piece of advice … don’t wear clothes you care about when mounting tires to rim.

  3. Daniel Porter says:

    Tubulars – Bah….Way to much work. Stans NoTubes system is (in my opinion) the way 2 go. I’m finishing up my second season on the same tires I mounted last year. The only maintenance that I’ve had to do, is add some more stans fluid at the begging of the season.

    The big advantage, is that if I have a catestrophic failure out on a training ride (ala a sliced tire) I can use a tube to get me home. Plus, I can pretty much run whatever tires I want and the whole process of putting on a new tire takes about 15 minutes and only requires: an air compressor and about 2oz of Stans fluid.

    I ran 35 PSI this weekend at Estacada.

  4. Martin says:

    I’ve had good luck with my Stans setup also (Velocity Fusion rims, 700c rimstrip, Mud 2s). At Estacada, I did laps on my Stans setup and my Grifos (34s, new tread), and chose to race the Muds/Stans. The grip in the slimy corners was FAR superior, IMO. I pushed the envelope and ran about 30psi because there were few hard-edge impacts lurking out there. Even at that pressure I don’t recall bottoming out. I preferred my Grifos at Alpenrose, Hornings, and Astoria. At Rainier I raced my Grifos but had an inkling that my Muds would have been better.

  5. cdb says:

    I did a test lap w/ the Muds, set up fairly low “clincher pressure” (albeit w/ tubes – 40psi). I did a few practice runs and was washing out on the dry off-camber turn around the tree (first entry into the bowl after the powerlines). It surprised me, considering the amount of cornering knobs on that tread pattern. Then I did some practice runs on my other bike w/ the tubie Grifo’s at about 34-35psi. I was hooking up way better w/ the tubies. I could see that the Muds would be good if the pressure could be dropped down like that tubeless setup.

  6. Martin says:

    You are probably right about that particular corner – the Grifos rock on a dry off-camber, while the muds tend to squirm. In the slimier stuff (particularly that slippery wet left around the tree in the big field), I kept losing the front wheel with the Grifos. The Muds really are great at 30psi – that probably made the difference.

  7. markwelder says:

    whatev. tape. tape it up. do it.

  8. stevef says:

    where can you get more info on setting up the Muds with Stans? I’m all for tubulars as an option, but the Muds /w Stans seems like it may be cheaper?

    Oddly enough, I didn’t have any problems washing out on that dry off-camber on the Muds @45 psi… I just washed out everywhere else.

  9. Martin says:

    I use a 700c rimstrip available from Notubes, but you have to ask for it. Lots of soapy water is required to get it seated in the rim properly. Then, you just follow the instructions from Notubes. They do tell you to not exceed 40psi.

    I’ve used this setup for 2 years and it’s been very reliable. But I was also standing in the Hood River HS parking lot after the race last year, when CDB’s Mud blew off his Ksyrium in a guyser of sealant. YMMV

  10. Patrick says:

    CDB wasn’t using the rim strip from Notubes when that happened.

    I’m using both the Mavic Stan’s set up and the Stans Rim, Stans set up. Using the Stans rim by far is the way to go.

    Brooke, just wondering how much money you’ve thrown into tubulars this season? And as Porter mentioned how much time to set them up? Just wondering, I know some guys like the “craft” of gluing tubulars during the season.

    Finally, PSI isn’t reliable to compare, it’s corelates with rider weight. Seems like it’s more of a status symbol to toss around how many BAR you run so here goes: I’ve run as low as 28PSI/2.6 Bar and I’m a big fella.

  11. Patrick says:

    Oops, I mean under 2 bar.

  12. Brooke says:

    Patrick, I’ve spent about $200 each on the three tubie wheel sets I own. I pick used ones up cheap. All have DA hubs and two of them have Reflex rims. The other one has an old set of Mavic Classics. I bought two sets of Challenges this year for $280 total (four tires). I’ve also got a set of Flexus which I bought for about the same amount.

    Truth be told, I’m considering swapping out the rims on one of my wheel sets for the Stans rims. Still, at $80 bucks a rim it ain’t completely cheap even if I build my own wheel. I wonder if I can use the same spokes?

  13. stevef says:

    Ah! its so late in the season, I’m not sure I could justify giving Stans a go at this point. Next season for sure. Maybe If I’d known all this on Monday I could have tried Stans and tested it out for this weekend. Nice low pressure wheels in the upcoming slogfest would have been nice.

    Brooke, could you go back and post this last Friday?

  14. Brooke says:

    Steve, go to Erik V.’s blog and search for “tubeless.” He’s got a real trove of information.

  15. stevef says:

    Ok, forget it, does anyone know where to get a No Tubes kit here in town? I may try this tomorrow. Bike tweaking a day before the district championships is totally irresponsible, but I want to try.

  16. Patrick says:

    Shameless Plug: CYCLEPATH

  17. Martin says:

    Stevef: Don’t do it! Stans can be tricky to set up even if you’ve done it a few times. I’ve done it dozens of times between my mountain and cross bikes and I wouldn’t change a tire before a big race unless I had to. Wait until you can dork around with it for a while – less risk.

  18. patrick says:

    Swapped my tyres front to back today before a ride with T-bone today in less than 15 minutes with no problems. We’re not talking rocket surgery here fella’s.

  19. tre says:

    I ran tubies for the first time this year, on carbon rims. I had major heartburn about the carbon rims, but my shop sponsor talked me into it and got me a great deal. At Estacada I ran 32 in the rear and 30 in the front. Yeah, I bumped the rim a few times, but I stuck like glue and the tires, knock on wood, have stayed on.

    Mounting took a little time, but it was relatively simple. I used brushes. But most importantly, I covered the brake surfaces with electrical tape to avoid cleaning hassle. It also allowed me to reapply glue in any spot that didn’t get a good bond to the edge of the rim. I did 2 coats on each and then a goopy last coat on the rim and apply.

    My only complaint is that the tires look a bit hammered after a season of cross. I am thinking I will need new ones next year, which is not cheap. Anyone tried running a set of tubies for two seasons?

  20. Fred says:

    Regarding Stans, the no-tubes rims with his bead hook are fantastic for mountain biking… since switching to Stans rims from Mavic 717s i’ve had no burping and am running lower pressures. So his 355 29er rim might be the ticket for clinchers and cross. My last attempt at cross was a disaster with clinchers (goatheads and pinches) so now I’m going to try tubulars.

  21. Josh Snead says:

    That’s pretty funny that this guy mentioned me in this how-to. I was pretty active on the RBR cyclocross forum over the years and I guess he must have picked up some of this info from stuff I posted there but this isn’t really the way I glue tires. I do not use tape on the braking surface of the rim- there’s really only a risk of getting glue on there if the tire isn’t well stretched, or if you’re putting the final layer on the tire like he recommends. Don’t put the final layer on the tire! Put it on the rim! I NEVER have recommended “hand stretching” the tire, you run the risk of damaging the tire and you can’t stretch a tire effectively this way anyway. Here is the trick to having a well stretched tire and making zero mess as you install the tire- put 2 layers of glue on the tire, let it dry and then put it on a stretching rim until the final wet layer of glue has been applied to the rim and you’re ready to do the sticking. Pop the tire off the stretching rim and directly onto the glued rim without hesitation. It will go on really easily and you won’t make a mess at all. If you stretch a tire and then take it off the stretching wheel for a few hours, it will shrink back down to it’s original size. Finally, after aligning the tire as best you can, deflate the tire and use your thumbs to press the bast tape of the tire into the glue all the way around instead of using the broomstick trick- the broomstick usually only presses the outer edge of the glue. Inflate to about 20 psi when you’re done- low pressure during curing prevents the middle of the base tape from pulling away from the rim if the rim shape isn’t the same as the tire shape.

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