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Hi folks

It's time to upgrade from clinchers, so I'm looking for recommendations for tubeless or tubular wheelsets. I'm getting a lot of peer pressure from friends to go with tubeless but I also see those same people having beads popping off during races, and needing to do lots of "experimentation". I just want wheels that work right the first time. Here are the parameters:

  • cost: $500 (without tires)
  • rim brakes
  • rider weightL 165 lbs on the high side. Will use it for cross racing, but still training on my clinchers
  • I don't want to do a tubeless conversion unless I can be convinced it will "just work" the first time, in keeping with my cross racing philosophy of always keeping it simple.

Opinions? Thanks in advance!

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Marc,

A bit self-serving, but I have a nice set of Velocity Major Tom / Ultegra tubulars for sale (ad in the forum) as I am going tubeless myself.

 

Tubulars are great and the performance winner.  But frankly, I don't have the time, money, or patience for them. 

 

I'm in the same boat, looking for a set-up that just works.  Tubulars are that for sure, I just can't swallow the price long-term personally.

 

So, I've taken a bit of a chance on the WTB new tubeless rim "ChrisCross i19" and will be building up a set with their tubeless ready tire.  The rim has "shelf lips" (for lack of a better term) that I am hoping will reduce the chance of the dreaded burp while allowing me to run lower psi than I can with a straight clincher set-up.  I don't think the rims are available in a factory wheelset, but could make a nice custom option for you and should make your price range with some smart spec elsewhere.  They come 32 hole only though, if that is a deciding factor.

Thanks, that's really useful. The fact that I can get two tubular wheelsets for what one tubless would cost is a pretty compelling argument.

I was hoping tubulars would be the less aggravating solution though. Why were tubulars a bust - was it gluing them up or something worse? I really do want to keep things simple, and tubeless seems awfully finicky.

Tubulars are a great option.  And after set up they aren't a pain.  Glue them "Belgian" style and you wont have to worry about rolling tires off.  I run my Challenge Fangos at 24psi front and 27psi rear and haven't had an issue for 2 seasons (and I'm a bigger rider, 200lbs).  I'm also running a set of Major Toms (on DA hubs).  They aren't deep or sexy, but they're wider (easier for gluing and great braking), pretty cheap (retail is around $80 per rim) and build up light weight (my set up is just under 1500g, without tires).

I'm going full on tubular this year, multiple sets for all conditions.


Hope this helps!

You can pick up a tubular wheelset for ~$250, maybe less. I haven't paid any more than that for any of the 6 wheelsets I have. So think about that in you budget. Gluing wheels is a reasonably easy thing to do. There are a lot of good tutorials on line.

I'll catch heat for it but I have not seen tubeless wheels work.  Maybe this combination works for this rider but I don't have an across the board recommendation.

I'd start shopping for wheels now. Gives you plenty of time to find a set at ~$200. Pay what you're going to pay for tires (recommend Challenge for a balance of price and performance) and then figure out if you need to glue them yourself or not.

Thanks Chris, I hear tales of tubeless working but I've yet to see the critical mass of riders using them. I actually bought a set of Grifos last year but never got the wheels to go with them. If I could find a set of wheels on the cheap, I'd be good to go. And with the money I save I could just pay someone to glue them on for me...  

I agree with Chris, I have not seen tubeless work with my peers, the faster one goes the more they roll off.  Sure there are a bunch at the races, but when asking what other guys are running for pressure they are considerably higher than what those of us running tubbies are, and on our courses covered with gopher holes lower pressure is better!  My wife and I switched this past season, tubulars are not a little better, they are superior. I have heard rumors in the industry that the disc brake revolution on the road/CX will lead to more 'real tubeless' rims, and the tire (hopefully CX) makers will respond with more choices in bead dimensions that will stay on at lower pressures and hard cornering on hard pack terrain, and that stay on down into the low/mid 20s.

As for gluing, I had never glued tubulars of any kind and it is really no big deal. After reading everything on the internet and watching vids I mounted 4 sets of wheels in late August. First couple were frustrating as I wanted them to run straight, so I started with all the rears and by the time I got to the fronts I was getting pretty good. I did use Clement MXPs and PDXs and they mount straighter than some others and being tubeless tubulars a little sealant 2x during season kept air in the tires against our goat head thorns. We did loose a couple tires with big punctures during the season, so, I ripped the torn tire off and picked off the biggest glue boogers and after a layer of glue on the new tire and a wet coat on rim popped fresh tires on. Done. I did not sweat the partially torn up layer of glue left on the rim from tire #1, just made SURE that there was good glue all the way to the edges. Love tubulars.

David

if you've got tires, buy  Kris Fleming 's wheels.   It's a great set up and you'll be happy you did!  And you can still play with tubeless conversions and see if they work for you.

Ahh, a sticky situation.

First, if you're going to use tubeless, use dedicated tubeless tires and rims. Any other setup will disappoint you.

Tubeless tires WILL burp, just how much will depend upon your style and how much you value low (tire) pressure.

Tubulars will cost you more for tires, are a pain to glue, and a huge pain to reglue.

Tubulars are the tire of choice for traction.

I use tubeless for training and general riding, and tubulars for racing.

These are of course my OPINIONS (like assholes, everyone has one) but are based solely on my experience from racing and training 'cross.

Yes, Emil is correct.

1) Use dedicated, engineered to tubeless dimensions, tires and rims. Stans are not.

2) Tubeless WILL burp. My experience was that you will bleed on some of the burps if the tire comes off rim. IF I was using real tubeless set up instead of Stan's rims maybe I would not have bled. maybe.

3) Tubulars cost more. So don't train on them, and are not as easy as tubeless to mount or switch for changing condition.

4) Tubulars are superior for traction!

If you want to go tubular, go with Velocity Major Tom rims and whatever hub you like/can afford.  Just keep in mind that good hubs are very serviceable and will likely last longer than 5 rims.  Tire selection is intensely personal, and you'll want to have at least one spare wheelset for mud or grass, depending on which way you go on your primary set.

If you go tubeless, stick with Stan's Iron Cross.  You can get them way under $500, now, as a lot of lighter racers are trading up to the new versions.  I experimented with a lot of tires until I, at the end of the season, slipped on a set of Clements.  Now I don't think I'll race anything else.  I'm 180# and run pressures right around 30#.  Bunny hops, manuals, big air, etc., they don't burp.  Okay, they burped a little bit when my clumsy ass manual-ed a 2' drop-in.  I may have been drinking that day.  But I was able to finish the race just fine with no slip issues.  FYI, I also mounted them exactly according to Stan's video instructions and never run them without sealant.  Always let fresh tire changes set for 24 hours before racing.

If you want a bombproof setup that will be for dedicated racing, the major tom/ultegra wheels with clement pdx and sealant is going to be impossible to beat for $500. Clement has really changed the tubular game, you get traction approaching the handmade stuff without the headache and heartbreak of gluing, sealing and sidewall rot. Save them for race day only and you'll get 2-3 seasons easy. Major toms are great, they are slightly rounded ad the bed-sidewall transition and you'll have to try pretty hard to snakebite a tire. Gluing tubs is probably one of the easiest things you can do, it takes a few days and you need to buy about $30 worth of gear, but if you passed first grade art class, you can glue a tub. Lots of thin layers, electrical tape on the brake traks, stretch the $hit out of the tires between every step on a rim with masking tape on it.

MarcJ,

It's hitting critical mass out here, surely partly due to my influence with some buddies, but for the first time ever last season, we had a cx ride (7 or 8 people?) and everyone was riding tubeless.

There's a reason top-level pros are racing tubulars - the do provide a supple ride, and often don't have to glue themselves, and even at times are never far from support on training rides. If budget was no concern, I didn't have to spend all the time gluing, and I never flatted in training, I'd always ride tubulars too (well, except for summer when I ride fatter tires than tubulars come in).

Some people even love the process of gluing.

You can see where I'm going with this, but tubeless works great if you get the right combo. I've had the luxury of trying a lot more tires and wheels than most. Issue 22 also has some good detail on tubeless variables. But because of the ability to change treads, cost, flat resistance (pinch, glass, thorns) and 85% of the low pressure benefits of tubulars, I'm a big fan of tubeless for busy amateur cyclocrossers who aren't afraid to get messy with a little sealant, be anal with setup (as much as you'd need to with tubulars) and pay attention to variables. 

Good luck! Keep us posted on what you end up with. If you go tubeless the best advice I can give is just because it says tubeless doesn't mean it's great for low pressure cx. There's mtb, road, and cx tubeless. CX is the hardest but it really does work. 

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