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Thread: Gravel Grinder

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by lossomes View Post
    Awesome. Will swing by my LBS this weekend to figure out what fits. Thanks!


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    If your LBS carries Specialized you might consider the Specialized Roubaix 2BR Pro in a 30/32 size; you can run that tubeless. Maybe that's a bit more than you want to do for this ride, but you'll probably never go back to tubes once you do it. Your shop can tape your current rims for you, so this isn't a huge investment. But it definitely is more involved overall than just sticking with tubes (but [mostly] gone are the days of pinch flats and having a tire that seals small punctures automatically is worth the extra setup hassle, in my opinion). I'm down to around 1 flat a year now for past couple years [where I actually have to take off the tire and put in a tube] and that's with a lot of off-road riding thrown in the mix too. I think actually in past 12 months I've gotten zero flats -- I'm sure I'll double flat tonight. :-)

    Bontrager also makes a nice slick 32mm tire (R3? R4?), though I'm not sure if it's tubeless-ready. When I rented a Trek Domane SLR Disc, though, it was those 32mm tires that were on there. I don't remember it being super tight, but the internet forums suggest a 32c tire is probably as big as you can go.
    Last edited by hozn; 09-08-2017 at 09:59 AM.

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  3. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    If your LBS carries Specialized you might consider the Specialized Roubaix 2BR Pro in a 30/32 size; you can run that tubeless. Maybe that's a bit more than you want to do for this ride, but you'll probably never go back to tubes once you do it. Your shop can tape your current rims for you, so this isn't a huge investment. But it definitely is more involved overall than just sticking with tubes (but [mostly] gone are the days of pinch flats and having a tire that seals small punctures automatically is worth the extra setup hassle, in my opinion). I'm down to around 1 flat a year now for past couple years [where I actually have to take off the tire and put in a tube] and that's with a lot of off-road riding thrown in the mix too. I think actually in past 12 months I've gotten zero flats -- I'm sure I'll double flat tonight. :-)

    Bontrager also makes a nice slick 32mm tire (R3? R4?), though I'm not sure if it's tubeless-ready. When I rented a Trek Domane SLR Disc, though, it was those 32mm tires that were on there. I don't remember it being super tight, but the internet forums suggest a 32c tire is probably as big as you can go.
    I've long been curious about tubeless, but my ignorance has really held me back. Maybe you can help me with a couple of questions?

    (1) in the event you do get a flat while tubeless, are you totally screwed? Are you able to un-glue the tire and put in a tube when you're out in the middle of a ride? Or would the ride just be over?

    (2) let's say i do go with the Specialized Roubaix 2BR Pro 32 tubeless - what kind of difference can i expect when doing regular ol road riding? Would those same tubeless 32 tires still be appropriate for a mountainous road ride (ie: Garrett County Gran Fondo)? What about on a long flat ride, like Bike to the Beach or Seagull Century?

  4. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by lossomes View Post
    I've long been curious about tubeless, but my ignorance has really held me back. Maybe you can help me with a couple of questions?

    (1) in the event you do get a flat while tubeless, are you totally screwed? Are you able to un-glue the tire and put in a tube when you're out in the middle of a ride? Or would the ride just be over?
    So, there's an important distinction here between "tubeless" and "tubular". Tubular is old technology that is still (often) used by professionals ... because they have a team car driving behind them to just give them a new bike if they get a flat tire. Yeah, flatting on tubulars, by all accounts, sucks. Some people still use tubulars today. If they use them on the road, they tend to (if smart) carry a spare, pre-glued tire and then they get to wrestle one off on the road if they flat. They say that the ride is sublime. I suspect that one couldn't tell the difference on a blind test between a tubular and tubeless -- or probably even a clincher with a latex tube -- but I've never ridden tubular. I also don't use a shaving brush and straight razor when I shave, so I suspect I'm not the target market for tubular. Tubulars are also possible with 'cross because in a 'cross race you are only ever 100 feet from your car and because the idea is that you can run lower pressures than you could [without burping air around corners] with tubeless. I'm sure there's something to that, but basically nothing that applies to cyclocross racing applies to real-world cycling -- unless you also find yourself getting physically sick with worry over whether you should be running 28.25psi or 28.47psi on weekend ride.

    In the other corner, in the land of sanity and practicality, there is tubeless.

    Tubeless is just a clincher tire (a *special* clincher tire -- don't try to convert any old road tire) that doesn't need an inner tube. Typically (advisably) you add 1-2oz of latex sealant (e.g. Stans sealant or Orange Seal) in the tire, which seals any microscopic holes in tire (or tiny gaps between valve stem and rim bed) and is also what helps seal punctures you get while riding.

    If you get a flat [that just doesn't self-heal] while riding tubeless, you just take the tire off like normal and install an inner tube. Then you basically have a regular tubed tire. Of course, you had sealant in there, so it's a bit messier than a normal tube change. On the other hand, you don't have to hunt for the thing that caused the puncture in the tire, since you've got sealant spraying out of the hole in the tire. (And if it was small enough for it to be hard to find the offending object, then it would have sealed without you having to put in a tube.)

    The downsides to tubeless are:
    - The tires can be harder to mount (tighter) due to the non-stretching bead. It depends a lot on the tires, but I haven't noticed this to be categorically true.
    - The tires can be more expensive. (But the Spec Roubaix 2BR is not an expensive tire. And the excellent Schwalbe Pro One tires are available for ~$45 from Merlin Cycles)
    - Getting them to seat initially can be tricky with a standard floor pump. I have a Lezyne Dirt Drive that pushes a lot of air, which does the trick for me. Some people use compressors. On some rims [probably those designed for tubeless] this is less of an issue.
    - They don't hold air long-term as well as butyl tubes. Expect to add a few pumps every few days. Not as bad as latex tubes, but it's something to note.

    The upsides are many, though, and -at least to me- are well worth these downsides.

    Quote Originally Posted by lossomes View Post
    (2) let's say i do go with the Specialized Roubaix 2BR Pro 32 tubeless - what kind of difference can i expect when doing regular ol road riding? Would those same tubeless 32 tires still be appropriate for a mountainous road ride (ie: Garrett County Gran Fondo)? What about on a long flat ride, like Bike to the Beach or Seagull Century?
    Yeah, those would be good on Garrett County Gran Fondo; they're pretty nice all-surface tires. Personally, I ran [tubeless] 25mm Schwalbe Pro One tires for GCGF, including the gravel bit. So for a ride like that I might prefer racier tires, but nothing to stop you from using the Roubaix tires for road. They aren't going to roll quite as fast as a racier tire (like a Pro One), but they'll be a lot faster than a cyclocross tire. My feeling is that those Specialized tires roll about the same as the Bontrager 32mm tires -- and about the same as a Schwalbe G-One Speed 30mm. These are all tires that are targeting conditions like Paris Roubaix (hence name) -- so think mixture of dirt, cobbles, pavement.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by hozn; 09-08-2017 at 11:35 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hozn View Post
    I also don't use a shaving brush and straight razor when I shave, so I suspect I'm not the target market for tubular.
    lol

    Thanks again for all the advice. I feel much more confident heading to the LBS to discuss this further!

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