Taping and Gluing Tubulars the Belgian Way

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So you’ve picked up your tubular wheels and tires and are eying that first race. Perhaps  our how-to for multi-step process of gluing cyclocross tires is overwhelming? You can kick back with a Belgian brew and enjoy the drawn-out process, or you can simplify the steps and speed things up a bit by going with a totally different Belgian concoction.

by Josh Patterson

Stu Thorne, managing director of online retailer Cyclocross World, has to install a lot of tubular tires for the many sets of wheels his cyclocross team uses. To get his team rolling, he relies on the “Belgian Method” of mounting cyclocross tubulars.

“Just about everyone over there uses tubular tape,” says Thorne. “We’ve been using it for about six years. It’s all I use.”

Unlike Tufo’s tape, which is a stand-alone product, the tape Cyclocross World imports from Belgium is designed for use in conjunction with glue-Thorne notes he uses Vittoria’s Mastik One exclusively. The “Belgian Tubular Tape” as Stu calls it-no fancy names here!-is a very thin, double-sided tape with cloth woven in for added strength.

Do as the Belgians Do:

Step 1. After stretching the tubular tire, apply one coat of Vittoria’s Matstik One glue to the rim and tire; let set for 24 hours. Thorne notes that thin coats of glue are key to good setup.

Step 2. Apply a second thin layer of glue to the rim and tire. Thorne then adds tubular tape to the rim, pressing it against the rim to smooth the tape out.

Step 3. Peel the backing off the tape, revealing the second adhesive side, and apply a thin layer of glue to this side of the tape and a third layer to the tire before mounting the tire to the rim.

Step 4. Inflate the tubular to 80 psi in order to make sure the tire is properly seated on the rim. Thorne then lowers the pressure to around 50 or 60 psi to let the glue cure.

Tubular Tear Down:

Thorne doesn’t have any tricks up his sleeve when it comes to removing tubulars. “Lots of time and elbow grease,” says Thorne. He notes that products that can soften glue, such as acetone, must be used with caution when dealing with carbon rims. Thorne recommends using a butter knife on aluminum rims to carefully peel the center glue off of the rim. Thorne says that the rim doesn’t have to be pristine. “If the glue is relatively new, I’ll get the big chunks off and add new glue.”

A version of this article was published in our Issue 4



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Cyclocross Maga
Cyclocross Maga

i'd do it after gluing, just to avoid it getting all over the base tape. good luck!

Eloy Anzola
Eloy Anzola

If you were to Aquaseal a tubular, would you do it before gluing or once glued to the rim?

Gregg Germer
Gregg Germer

To help take the tire off I have always used an old flat head screw driver to peal up a small section of the old tire and then work my way across to the other side. I then stick the screw driver under and through the other side of tire. I then use the screw driver to help pry off the tire from the rim. Just be careful not to score or damage carbon rims.

Pre-stretching a tire is a HUGE help.

I use 3M Fast tack adhesive for gluing my tires (don't mix glue types if you can avoid them, they are different glue chemistry and can react unfavorably at times).

Not all the old glue must come off (the large parts must, but the rim doesn't have to be perfect. The old glue (of the same type) can help bond the rim to the new tubular.


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