Of late I find myself riding my track bike less and less in favour of a freewheel and 12 gears. Maybe it’s my age and me suddenly worrying about the future of my knees or maybe it’s simply the ease of a freewheel and it’s allure, I don’t know.
So, there sits my track bike, with it’s deep section rims, sealed bearing hubs and clincher tyres – the perfect set up for a commuter and a summer slammer. But as I said I hardly ride it these days so just recently I made the decision ( anal as it is ) to take this 1976 hot rod back to it’s former glory and hook it up with what it has no doubt been yearning for since it’s purchase over a year ago. Low profile tubular rims and tyres laced to cup and cone and easily servicable campagnolo pista hubs.
Such a beautiful sight to behold is a track bike in period correct attire. There is one problem, however. In my haste I did not fully appreciate the rigmorole involved in applying tubular tyres to their rims.
Last night, I spent well over an hour trawling websites and blogs trying to find a definitve answer as to the best method of attaching tyre to rim and, well, by far the funniest explanation and in some ways the most truthful came from the Bike Snob… Totally lulled into thinking he was actually being serious I read on until he began talking about the best method of tyre stretching “The best method is to slip the tire over a street sign and then fasten it to the bumper or ball hitch of your car. Then put the car in gear and slowly accelerate. Once the street sign begins to bend the tire should be sufficiently stretched”. Duped. So I headed over to Jim Langley’s webspot and had a read, until he points out the tools I will need: good tubular tires (this is crucial because crummy tires can be very difficult to install properly, often wear prematurely and develop glitches such as the basetape separating from the tire) ,glue (clear or white glues are easier to use and less messy than red ones; my favorite is Wolber, if you can find it) , plastic baggies ,used sew-up rims or wheels, cone wrench, medium emery cloth, acetone, spoke or piece of wire, flux brushes (available at hardware stores for next to nothing) . Far too complicated for me and in one of his opening paragraphs he speaks of rolling tyres off rims – scary.
The best website I found with a no bullsh*t approach was Park Tools. Straight to the point with factual info on how this task is to be done, for new rims and used, I found this article very helpful, although now I am looking to read more about tub tape… maybe that is an easier, less messy and less fiddly solution?
Tubular tyres on the road it seems is most certainly an acquired taste, but it is a fact that they have their benefits, of which we will not speak of at this point because I think overall, clinchers will always win, simply because of their versatility. That said, my track bike does not need versatility right now, what it does need, though, above all is to look pretty, standing in the corner of my dining room with the wheels that were meant for it.
I am not a ‘fixie’ skidder and I do not plan on riding it that much in the near future so once I have attached these tyres to their rims using either glue or tape I think I’ma be alright, plus overall, the Raleigh will thank me for it.