My most recent tub flat was last week. I train and race on tubs, so I have a good sense of their durability. In urban NY, you can expect to flat. I flatted a 25mm Conti Sprinter Gatorskin last Tuesday after a piece of green glass dug a burrow through the tread and the breakers. It was a front puncture, and it expressed itself in a fast downhill bend, so +1000 for tubular safety. I'd be typing this from my hospital bed or not at all if that had been a clincher.
My routes are an antique road show of busted beer bottles, torn cans, shattered automotive anatomy, displaced tarmac nuggets, and occasional contributions from hypodermic enthusiasts. In other words, crap. I rode Veloflex Criteriums for years in West Florida on vacant rural roads and suffered only one puncture that leaked slowly enough to ride home.
In general, you will *puncture* flat a tubular as often as you puncture flat clinchers. Your road conditions will determine that, so you probably have a good feel for your roads and propensity to puncture tubs if you are riding significant miles on a comparably protected (corespun? vectran?) clincher.
Pinch flats will occur far less frequently, with or without a latex-tubed tub. Both are excellent for running low pressure with assurance, but the latex will have the edge if you want to try Roubaix-style pressures below 5.5 bar.
Broadly, I think that tubulars are not a WW option unless you are building a pretty high-end carbon tubular wheelset and using more puncture-prone race tubs. GP4000s on Kinlin XR200s with Sapim CX-Rays and Tune or Extralight hubs will be extremely WW if that is your only goal. My Sprinter Gatorskins weigh 325g each (not counting about 60g of glue!), and I'm running them on 32 hole Nemesis Rims with Aerolite spokes and King R45 hubs. It's not a WW setup, it's a real world tubular setup for races and roads that include crap and monster potholes. A GP4000s and a latex tube could ride just fine and weigh 260-270g combined. For WW purposes, clinchers may be your best bet at reasonable budget levels. For feel, read on.
"Tubular feel" is 90% tire pressure. Because tubs -even butyl- can run such low pressures without pinch flatting, they can be inflated (or deflated) to feel extremely supple. That last 10% is a function of casing thickness, tpi, latex casing, latex tube, and tire volume. Even huge men like Boonen and Cancellara can run 4.5-6 bar at Roubaix on latex/latex 27mm FMBs because the pinch resistance of that setup is stellar.
I run the 25mm Sprinter Gartorskin for all applications in NY and use 4.5 bar front and 5 bar rear over my local Bosnian roads. I weigh 61kg and I've never had a pinch flat on this arrangement. My ti bike rides like a Cadillac on this setup.
Now, about those punctures. I am trialling Conti Revo sealant in both tires. I had purchased this new sealant option with a view to installing it after the first puncture rather than filling the tires immediately. It came out in the last year, and it doesn't contain ammonia like Stan's and some others. Conti endorses it for their tires and won't void warranties if you use it in tubs, and it seems like an option that could be safe for latex-tubed tubs as well. I removed my valve cores to install it, but Conti says it can be piped though presta stems without congesting the mechanism if your cores can't be removed. Personally, I wouldn't tempt fate, but it's nice to know the possibility exists. I contacted Conti and they advised 60ml per tire.
So far, it resolutely sealed the 2mm hole and has returned me to the road. I'm curious to see how it responds to a real-time puncture on the road. Since I haven't seen any 'net evaluations of the product by tubular riders, I plan to post a full review of my experience with Revo as a tubular option once I have a good feel for its qualities. I know many here would like to run tubs full time, would take the plunge if flats were less likely, and would love to have a good sealant option.
Only ride tubulars which are all Vittoria CX.
And I even ride them down so far that I can start to see the casing in one place - then it's time for a new one.
Riding approxamately 5K miles / year (not as much time to ride as in my younger days)
i've heard nothing but good stories on the Veloflex Carbon, which seems to be an overall perfect tire, in combination with an extreme in front.
The Vittoria corsa evo was less puncture resistant, but the new isogrip compound should be way better. (and they finally lost their annoying upside-down removable core as well, from my best of knowledge)
One undeniable drawback of using Vittoria and Veloflex race rubber is that they will wear quickly. I've found that the rears lasted only about 1750-2000 km under my 60ish kg on clean roads. I aged most of my Veloflex for about six months before riding them, so it's not as though these were green casings. It's a price you have to pay in order to ride a very supple casing and a very nice tire.
These days, I accept that 25mm Gatorskins are my only viable option until my sealant experiments are borne out by time. I'll take the 4.5-5 bar pressure and consider myself lucky to have a fairly supple tube option on roads that occasionally kill car tires.
If the Revo is a huge success and manages to seal punctures in real time, while I'm riding, and holds full pressure once reinflated... I'll probably set up a second set of tubs with FMB PRP 27mm or Veloflex Arenberg 27mm, carry a small bottle of Revo and a core tool, and take this experiment to the next level.
The bottom line: decide your personal tolerance for punctures. Keep in mind that re-gluing and relatively more difficult field repair procedure applies to magnify the PITA factor of a tubular puncture. Sealant might be the solution (pun intended), but that remains to be seen.
serum wrote:The Vittoria corsa evo was less puncture resistant, but the new isogrip compound should be way better. (and they finally lost their annoying upside-down removable core as well, from my best of knowledge)
Indeed they have. No more removable valve stems, now just good 'ole removable cores for 2013 (also note they have dropped the "Evo" designation).
And to answer the original question - one flat in three years. But the roads out here are exceptionally well maintained and debris free.
On clinchers, I used to suffer a decent amount of pinch flats due to the numerous pot holes we have over here.
In my experience, tubulars are really durable. The only other time I flatted a tubular was a similar double-flat about 10 years before. Come to think about it, it would have been about 30km down the same road...
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