When to Replace or Re-Glue Your Tubulars: A Reader Mechanical Question
Gluing is a tricky, time-consuming process. Is it worth re-doing this season? © Jason Gardner
Your question: How can I tell when my tubulars need to be re-glued?
by Drew Hager
Generally, a tire will bite the dust from damage or wear long before its glue bond would need to be re-touched. With that in mind, if you see no voids along the rim and base tape and your best effort to roll the tire off the rim is unsuccessful, it is likely still good. Any cause for concern will probably be visible. This all said, you might not be able to see what is going on between the rim and tire.
Here are a few things to consider when evaluating if you need to re-glue or not:
- Mud. Did you use your tires in the worst of wet and muddy conditions? Moisture and mud will start to break down the polymer bond much faster than on your fair-weather wheels. As if the mud itself isn’t bad enough, when washing these, you are probably flushing the debris further down than it already was.
- Storage. In the off-season, were these wheels kept in a dry environment? If kept in the dank, damp basement, you may want to consider re-gluing. Next time, keep them in a dry, cool place.
- Other maintenance. Did you have a wobble in your tire from mounting it crooked last time? Do you need to remove your tire to true or re-tension your wheels? Many current wheels use internal nipples and can’t be trued with the tire mounted.
- Basically, look for an excuse. If you find one, re-glue!
- Of course, you may need to replace your tires for other reasons (wear on the treads, wanting a new set of tires) but if you’re happy with the tires you have, just make sure all is well with the glue before heading to the races.
I’ve had wheels with a set of tires on them for going on four years now, and I’ve never re-glued them. But I also have two other sets that saw several re-gluings over the past two seasons, so there is not a particular protocol. The brand of tire, rim and glue are all variables in bond strength, and simple things like rim bed shape and the tire’s tape profile can be huge factors in how long the bond lasts. Just be vigilant and keep your eyes on them for signs of a compromised bond. It’s better to spend the time now re-gluing than to wreck in a race early on in the season because you wanted to save time now.
Have to re-glue? Check out this piece from last year about how much old glue to leave on your rims, and how to clean them up so they’re ready for new tires and check out our How To section for more info on tubulars.