Let's talk about tubulars

Discuss light weight issues concerning mountain bikes & parts.

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by mentok

I'm trying to collect some knowledge on tubulars to weigh up my options for buying/building a set. I need a second set of wheels, preferably race only, and I'm fortunate enough to live in a place where i can be rescued by the team car from my local trails within minutes if i have a tubular-related mechanical so i'm keen to give them a try. Problem I'm having though is identifying all my options.

ax lightness (26 and 29)
xtr (26 and 29)
dt swiss xrc950 (26 and 29)

ax lightness (is this available as a rim only?)
drc tubolites
Major Toms (road/29er)
Hed Belgium/Ardennes (road/29er)
BHS ??? (road/29er)
Chinese carbon (various suppliers, road/29)

Tufo XC2, 3, 4, 5 & 6
Geax Segauro
Schwalbe Racing Ralph
Challenge MTB One

one of the big problems i'm seeing is finding a source for rubber that isn't going to cost the earth. the best i can seem to find is about AUD100 for ralphs from wiggle or tufos on ebay

can anyone help add to these lists? i'd really like to hear if anyone has a good source for cheap rubber and also if anyone has tried running the road/cyclocross rims such as the major toms, heds or even chinese carbon rims on a full on XC bike.

Thanks :D

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by Martin.F

You would want the XC specific rims. Road rims are usually 20/24 drilling and narrower than their MTB equivalent. And you don't want to cheap out on the rubber. Good tubular rubber is half the fun. Get some nice Dugasts with tan sidewalls, or send your preferred tire down to them and have them stitch it up to a tubular.

Regarding wheels, you also have the aluminum versions. B.O.R makes them. You can also check out Alchemy rims from r2.
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by solarider

I run ENVE tubular XC rims on Tune King/King hubs with CX Rays (28hole).

Just over 1100 grammes. ENVE's tubular XC rims is actually amongst the lightest rims of any fort that they make.

I can't recommend a tubular since these are my CX disc rims, so I run Dugast CX tubs, but I can recommend them if you can get hold of some.

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by mattr

If you are worried about the cost of tubs, and looking for the cheapest you can find......
A. Don't bother, mtb tubs are new enough that none of the cheaper manufacturers have got a nose in yet.
B. You'd be better off with expensive tubeless, riding cheap tubs removes much/most of the benefits.

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by jooo

This is one of the open mold tubulars (29er - from Eliflap's blog). They seem to be available from a few different places:

FRM/BOR and Ambrosio also make some good MTB tubular rims.

The RaRa's and some Tufo options are good tyres, but selection of treads is just quite a bit more limited compared to running tubeless.

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by robgall13

The AX set comes as a complete wheelset option only (Tune or Extralite hubs and CX-Ray spokes I think).

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by Geoff

Being a bit of a 'tubular fanatic', I have been on MTB tubulars for quite a few years. Beside the lighter weight, the real benefit of tubulars of MTB is the ability to run pressures much lower than other tire systems (i.e., without the same risk of either burping or pinch-flats). You will be able to run very low pressures, affording remarkable traction.

I have been running Tufo rims laced with Sapim CX-Rays to DT disc hubs (I chose DT, because I run Campagnolo and DT could accomodate the Record freehub). If you have browsed our little Tubular thread in the Wheels subdirectory of the Road threads, you will note that people are always on about how bad Tufo tubulars are. The MTB Tufos are quite acceptable. They are very durable. I have not flatted them yet, but will try the Dugast offering when they become too well-worn, as I suspect they will not flat.

If you want a set of durable tubular MTB wheels, the Tufos would do quite well. I am sure there are lots of lighter offerings, but not anything more durable.

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by LeDuke

I have two sets of carbon tubulars, 29" size.

DT Swiss XRC 950Ts and the open mould chinese carbon rims shown above.

Both are rolling on DT 240s, 100x15mm and 142x12mm axles.

Tufo XC4 on the DTs, Challenge MTB One on the chinese open mould rims.

The Tufos are a true 2.2" wide and have absolutely amazing grip, with great rolling speed to boot. The Challenge tires are right at 2.0" and are a bit finicky in terms of operational pressure range. Just 1-2 PSI too high or too low and they are either threatening to roll off the rim and strike the rim with every rock, or they are bouncing all over the place. When you DO get them dialed in, they roll VERY well, but with their incredibly thin sidewalls I have a hard time using them on rougher terrain.

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by mentok

those 30x30 chinese rims look like they might be a good thing. i've had good experiences with a couple of different chinese carbon vendors so i'd be willing to go again. 380g a pop though seems like i'll be struggling to get down to weight - i'd really like to get under 1500g without needing to sacrifice spoke count or go for particularly pricey hubs and it might be borderline with these. LeDuke: your thoughts on these rims?

@Geoff, do you have a source for the tufo rims only (not wheelsets). the alca would be cheap and probably not much heavier than the above chinese carbon.

tyre-wise, ironically starbike were one of the last places i found - they carry a few of the tufo range and their prices are definitely competitive. i'd love to go with dugasts, but i don't want to waste such a nice set of tyres on a relatively experimental build. also, their longevity has been called into question and i don't want to feel guilty for just rolling to the trailhead. maybe next time.

how do people get away with 25-26mm gluing areas under 2.0-2.2 tyres? it seems like going from a 32-34 cx tubbie on a 25mm bed to a big 50mm+ tyre without increasing gluing area might be a problem. is this a valid concern?

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by jooo

I don't think weight would be a problem with the 30mm rims. They're pretty similar to a lot of Crest 29er rims weight wise eg:

A 'stock' 28/28 hole build using aluminum nipples/Revo's and Novatec D771SB/D772SB (which could be purchased straight from one of the rim sellers) should be right around 1500 grams using the 30mm rims and cheap components.

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by the_marsbar

But you'll have to factor in the higher weight of the tires as well.... 1500 g for a tubular (carbon) wheelset is not light.

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by jooo

I never said 1500 grams was 'light', I was just responding to this (hence the budget friendly build):
mentok wrote:i'd really like to get under 1500g without needing to sacrifice spoke count or go for particularly pricey hubs and it might be borderline with these.

Pretty easy to drop some weight with King/Kong hubs for example.

Sure the wheelset may not be particularly light especially compared to some cheap aluminum rimmed wheels, but they're going to be so much stiffer and almost certainly a lot stronger. Tubular tyres may also weigh more than clinchers, but that's not exactly the point of using them in a MTB environment is it?

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by hjb1000

I'm still on 26, but I'm building up a set of Ambrosio alloy rims to DT Swiss 350 hubs/Revolution spokes. I'll give the Racing Ralph and Tufo XC4 a go.

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by krzysiekmz

I chose Tufo XC2 for weight and ability to run sealant in them(removable cores). Good tires but quite narrow. Next I may try Tufo XC4 or Schwalbe Racing Ralphs.

I had Dugasts for a while before I flattened. Fast birds were superior to the Tufo XC2 as far a ride quality and grip goes. Not that the XC2 is a bad tire, but Dugasts were superb.

You may not cut a lot of weight going tubular from a light set of clincher rims/tires but the ride rewards it.

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by bm0p700f

I have 26" setup currently for racing. XTR hubs on Geax rims and geax saguro tyres which quite frankly are brilliant. I run them at 30 psi and the grip is endless almost. The off camber grip is good too when going through ruts, roots e.t.c. The ride quality is superb also I no longer get blister forming on my hands in a race. The tyres are quite heavy though and are only 2.0" wide. I have not flatted them yet in 7 races. I carry Geax pitstop with me just in case.

If you did a 28 spoke DT Swiss 240 build with the straight pull hubs and chinese carbon rims it would be 1500g in weight but it would be very stiff. I have some lightweight (1350g) alloy clincher 26" wheels using DT Swiss 350 rims and they are abit on the flexible side.

A DT swiss build on chinese carbon rim or FRM carbon tubular rims if I could afford them would be my choice.

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