Friday, September 4, 2009

Wanna Learn How to Glue Tubulars? I'll Teach You.

Here's the rub (see justification below): I am good at gluing tubular tires. I have glued many tires and I have never even come close to rolling one.

I am also a teacher by profession. For $100, I'll take your clean, new tires and clean, glue-free rims and prep them over two days and then teach you how to finish the job on the third day/night. The gluing lesson will take between 1 hour and 1.5 hours. You will leave with two securely and evenly glued tires and the knowledge that you need to do the job yourself in the future.

I will structure the lesson exactly how I would structure one of my classes at school: you will inspect examples of past work, hear about tubular gluing theory and practice and then see what you have learned applied directly to your tires. If you feel comfortable, you can glue your second tire with guidance after watching me glue your first.

I will provide all supplies, including Vittoria Mastik One tubular cement, acid brushes, painter's tape to protect the braking surface, plumber's tape for insuring that the valve extender/valve interface is airtight and any and all rags and solvents for clean up (including industrial strength citrus hand scrub).

All you need to provide is your wheels, free of all glue and glue residue (I'll wipe the rims with acetone before beginning my prep, but I will not remove glue) and a new set of tubular tires that have been properly stored and are stretching on your rims (these should be inflated to the highest manufacturer recommended pressure).

If you are interested in taking me up on this offer so that you can break free of paying others to do the job for you...hit me up. rmckittr at gmail dot com. If you just want your tubulars glued without a lesson, I could do two tires for $80.

Why I Decided to Offer This Service

I had to remove a tubular tire from a rim today. It took me over 1/2 an hour. I got blisters on my thumbs from pushing and pulling on the damn tire. Seriously, the tire was really stuck on there. Eventually, I was able to get a tire lever under the base tape. Still, I fought hard for every inch of tire that I removed.

During this excruciating and frustrating process, I realized something: I am really good at gluing tubular tires.

Over time, my method has evolved and improved. My ability to get the tire onto the rim "clean" has improved with every tire that I glue. The last set of tires that I glued is perfect. The glue is beaded up at the edges of the tire/rim interface, but not sloppy. You can pull on the tire with all of your strength at any point and the tire remains firmly in place, no peeling at all. The tire is seated perfectly and evenly.

I have also laid in a stash of the best tubular gluing supplies: cans of Vittoria Mastik One (google it, it is the best glue out there), acid brushes, strong solvents, plumbers tape, painter's tape (for protecting the brake surface from glue in the final mounting), a truing stand and blue nitrile gloves (though I now prefer to glue without wearing these).

Earlier in the road season, you may remember hearing about Gorgeous Gary Bavolar's terrible experiences with Wheelworks when he had them glue up his road tubulars (1, 2, 3, 4). I don't want anyone to be forced to ride on dubious tubulars. I glued Gary's first set of tubulars and that is why his standards were so high.

I never really understood bringing your tubulars to someone else to glue. You really, really need to trust the person gluing your tubs. Honestly, I just don't trust anyone more than I trust myself, therefore, I glue my own tires. If you feel the same way, then you should take me up on my offer before I get too busy and revoke it.


Aki said...

Gluing a tubular is a pretty intimate part of prepping a bike. I was going to liken it to rolling on a condom, but it's not quite the same. But it sort of is. It's your life, your neck, your head, your liability on the line, and if you screw it up (functionally, not visually) it can be a huge huge deal. I hope local racers take you up on your offer.
Also I never thought of using painter's tape. Great tip.

zack said...

You should try Soyo glue next time you glue up a new set of wheels. It's a little more money, but makes a ridiculous bond--better than anything else I've tried. Doesnt really like to go over a different type of glue though, so I only use it now on new rims/tires.

Also, continental glue seems to soak in better on continental tires. Now I keep some around when I glue on contis, but don't use it for anything else.

RMM said...


Seriously, I hope that anyone in doubt takes me up, mostly so that they don't crash anyone out when they roll a poorly glued tire.


I am not sure that I would want a glue that is stronger than Mastik.

zack said...

I have cross tires that were glued in 06 with Soyo, and I'll have to cut them off the rims when they are toast.

It's a japanese glue used on the track, they don't fuck around.

Yash said...

Two tires for $80 is a good deal.


RMM said...


Considering the job that Wheelworks did for Gary for $70/2, $80 is a great price, especially considering that I actually know what I am doing and that I regularly ride tires that I glue up.

Yash Katsumi said...

Word, I think international charges $100 or so?

It is tough work and I no longer want to do it.

All clinchers on MichMuds for me this year.

RMM said...


Of all people, I would think that you would embrace the joy of gluing tubular tires.

Also, I can't believe that you would sacrifice the clear competitive advantage that tubular tires offer.

Yash Katsumi said...

I was totally into that kind of thing last year and thought it was pretty cool and a great way to spend a saturday night.

This year, I am finding it really hard to care about tubulars and different treads for different courses and other things I was passionate about before.

Not sure what happened, I guess one day you wake up and you realize you just don't care about it anymore.

RMM said...


Sometimes ceasing to care is a great way to improve race performance. Putting less pressure on yourself often frees you up to just ride your bike fast.

Yash Katsumi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yash Katsumi said...

I hope so. I certainly feel less stressed or worried about the races than last year.

I just signed up for about 6 races so far and hope to put in a good 12-15 races, which is the most I have done in a single season.

The form is really ???? right now. I was able to put in a hard 95 miler last weekend, but that is a different sport then riding a cross race you know?

Since I retired last year, this year is focused on helping teammates and friends, and just hanging out.

Currently my biggest worry is that my saddle seems Stickier than usual and my shorts grab on it.

Big Bikes said...

Ahem...International in fact charges $35 per tire. Which is up from the $15 "they" were charging two years ago. Doing Tubulars right is not a $15 per tire job.

I would take Mike up on his offer (not me personally, no one but me works on my bikes, I check my Q.R.s after someone takes my bike off a roof rack), everyone should glue their own Tubulars. It's a horrible, time consuming process, but one that builds a sort of spiritual connection between you and your bike.

Lots of time, lots of glue, that's all it really takes.

I love sniffing glue.


RMM said...

Big Bikes:

Are you sure that International charges only $35 for a glue job? When I approached the Allston shop a couple of years ago to glue a road tire that I didn't have time to glue (middle of buying a home, 2 jobs, full racing/training schedule), I was told that they'd charge me $35 for using tubular tape to do the job and that real glue cost more.

I object to tape. I took the wheel and tire home, called in sick to my second job and got the tire glued on properly.

Yash Katsumi said...

I was quoted $100. I am pretty sure of that for glue and tape.

Big Bikes said...

That was under the old regime, whoever quoted either of you those prices was wrong or just mis-informed. The official price at that time was $15. We decided to change it to $35 last winter for glue, not tape.

We do not use tape on Tubulars.

I am 100% positive on this subject.
I'm the on responsible for such matters.


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