Monday, September 12, 2011

21 years and 10 days

Wow, it was 20+ years since I last glued (for myself) tubular wheels. The same goes for motor pacing. I somehow managed to do both this weekend.

The tubular thing kind of cracks me up. I was one of the last people to stop using them back in the mid 90's and now I've pretty much been the last person to start using them again. In fact I think the last time I even rode a set of tubulars was back in '96 when a did a comparison test for Bicycle Guide magazine during the Cali years. My buddy Gus and I got the call up to work with then editor Patrick Brady, now of Peloton and the Ride Kit Prayer blog. We rode identical wheels (Specialized Tri-Spoke) one set of tubular, one set clincher. Nothing beats the feel of tubulars, nothing.
The prep started about a week ago when I ordered up the tried and true Vittoria Mastik One glue. I've used Vittoria for as long as I can remember. One of the golden rules of tubular gluing is always use the same brand glue, never mix. I also dry mounted the tires on the rims and inflated them to 80 psi. This stretches the tires and makes them easier to mount when the time comes.

Next it was off to the hardware store. A handful of acid brushes and a couple rolls of vinyl tape. I was gluing up three pairs of wheels this first round. We're still waiting for our last wheelset, the new Aeolus 3 from Bontrager. The shopping list went as follows.

  • (8) Tubes of Vittoria Mastik One
  • (10) Acid Brushes
  • (2) Two Rolls of Vinyl Electrical Tape
  • Latex Gloves
Until this weekend I'd only ever glued road tires, and the conditions between road and cross are a wee bit different. For starters, tire pressure is about 70 psi lower, which means you don't have near as much pressure to help keep the tire on the rim. Second, traction and leverage. With sharp knobbies on grass you've got a lot more leverage that wants to rip the tire from the rim.

So with that in mind, I abandoned my usually 3 layers of glue and upped it to five. It's quite a long drawn out process that goes something like this. You start with one thin layer of glue on the rim bed and tire base tape then let it cure for 24 hours. Then you add another thin layer to each and let cure for another 24 hours. Finally, you add one more thin (working) layer to the rim bed and then mount the tire.

A place to hang freshly glued tires and wheels is critical, I use my workstand with a pvc pipe mounted in it
Of course before you do any of this you've got to prep the rims. I start by covering the braking surface of each rim with vinyl tape. This eliminates any chance of getting glue on the braking surface.

UPDATE: I missed a vital step here when dealing with carbon rims. Can't believe I did this but... When dealing with carbon rims it is very important to rough up the smooth resin surface of the rim bed. If you don't do this, the glue won't adhere to it. I found this out the hard way and spent the better part of last night cleaning the rim, sanding it, and re-gluing. Luckily most of the glue stuck to the tire and not the rim so cleanup was relatively easy.

After realizing my mistake, I ran back to the hardware store and picked up some 60 grit sandpaper, more acid brushes and acetone. After scraping the glue off the smooth resin surface, I cleaned any glue residue off with acetone. Next, I took the sandpaper and sanding the entire rim bed. Carbon dust is pretty nasty stuff so you might want a face mask and some latex gloves. After you're done sanding, clean, clean and clean again the rim surface. You don't want any carbon dust contaminating your glue. Now you can pick up where we left off :-)

Second, on new rims, I clean the rim bed with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils from the manufacturing process or skin oils from handling, just an extra precaution to ensure a solid hold. One technique I tried this time was using an acid brush for application. I loved it. It spreads a nice even layer across the surface. Some folks like using a can of glue. I really liked using the brush and tube technique as I could squeeze just the right amount of glue onto the brush for each application. I imagine it's a bit cleaner too.

I almost enjoyed gluing as much as I enjoy building wheels, it's an art form that is all but lost from most bike shops today. I enjoy the challenge of perfecting my technique.

In between all of this, I got out for another good sprint workout on Saturday and followed it up with some motor pacing on Sunday. I haven't motor paced in 20+ years either. I was meaning to start about 6 weeks ago but with all the flooding in the Missouri Valley there isn't a very easy place for us Midtown folks to do it. So Anne and I loaded up the Honda and drove out to Yutan to ride the 17 miles between Yutan and Ashland.

Motor Pacing is so much fun. Didn't even seem like 17+ miles. Anne did a stellar job keeping the pace between 25-30mph. I definitely need to find a scooter for this. There is no other way to train for the sensation of riding that fast and pushing that big a gear.

And with that, there's just 10 more days before the start of the season. We'll be heading east, back to St. Louis in a week and a half's time for the Gateway Cross Cup, then straight up to Madison (Sun Prairie) for the opening round of the USGP.  Don't know if I'm more excited to race or watch Bart Wellens and the euros race. Both will be awesome for sure.


T-bone said...

MOD 2.0 said...

If I can sell my yellow Hakkalugi I'm all in. Keep your eyes open for me.

Mark Studnicki said...

How do you handle the goat-head situation out there running tubies? There sort of a problem out here. I couldn't get a mile from my house in any direction without 20 of them stuck in either tire or both, essentually ending the ride. I know from a pinchflat standpoint, the tubies rule by design, but there's nothing preventing any sort of puncture. Sealent in a traditional tubie is hit and miss. the Tufo and Clement style tubies with no separate tube seem to be the way to go. running ghetto tubeless now and it's bomb-proof, cheap, and convenient. Performs good enough to support my physical ability at the moment.

MOD 2.0 said...

The Challenge tires have removable cores so I'm going to drop some Stan's or CaffeLatex in them. Helps them hold air better too.

Fingers crossed, I've yet to puncture from a thorn. Knock, knock...knock on wood.