Mechanical Monday is back, and we’re testing out a new feature: Reader Questions. If you have a mechanical question, feel free to ask it in the comments, on Twitter, on Facebook, or in our Cowbell Forum. Today, our topic is how to get tape off of tubulars, and if it’s possible to remove tires and then re-glue them for next season. Our reader is asking about the Belgian tape method of gluing, which we’ve written about in detail, if you don’t know what it is exactly.
Still don’t have tires for the upcoming season? We have a whole section devoted to tire reviews.
It is possible to re-glue your tires, so don't just rip them off hastily.
“I have a set of Challenge Grifo’s that I had glued up using the Belgian tape method. If I pull those tires off the rims, can I re-glue those tires for next season? What would I need to do to get the Belgian tape off or do I need to take it off to re-glue them?”
Jason Gardner of Jinji Cycles has the answer:
The answer to the first question is that yes, tires can be removed and then re-glued. When removing Belgian taped and glued tires, it is possible that some of the tape will come off with the tire and some will remain on the rim. Also, it is possible, though unfortunate, that the base tape can stick to Belgian tape and stay on the rim. If that happens the tire may not be useable, so take extra care if you see the base tape starting to pull from the tire. If you can remove the tire and keep as much tape on the rim as possible, your job will be much easier.
Once the tire is removed, the Belgian tape will need to be removed. This will be the most difficult part because it rarely pulls off in one or even a few pieces. The tape does, however, need to be removed since it does come off unevenly. You’ll just need to keep peeling and scraping at it until it’s mostly off. I use a plastic tire lever for the scraping to avoid damaging the rim, especially if it is carbon. Do not use any solvents to remove the tape unless you are in for cleaning all tape and glue from the rim and starting with a fresh surface. That’s a hefty load of work so avoid it unless it is absolutely necessary (or, if you’re paying someone else to do it, you should treat them like they just rescued your new puppy from a well).
That should give you a tire and wheel you can re-tape and glue for next season.
Final thought: don’t poke yourself in the eye while you’re removing the tape (I’ve “heard” it can happen).
Jason has also written his own article on gluing tubulars. And, of course, the best way to avoid re-gluing is to protect your tires while they’re firmly in place.