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.
- 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.
- Apply a uniform coat to each tire’s base tape. I make sure to get a liberal amount around the valve stem.
- By now, that first rim you coated should be dry enough for another coat. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
- I like three good coats on my rims so do step 1 once more.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Roll the newly glued tire along a broom handle to set the glue along the rim channel.
- Repeat for the second tire/rim.
- Inflate to maximum PSI (I do 70) and let stand 24 hours.
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.