So many people have ideas and opinions on gluing tubular cyclocross tires. Stu Thorne from Cyclocrossworld.com has a great video on YouTube showing how it’s done. His method works well and here are the steps that i’ve found to work well, similar to the video:
- Tubular cement. I recommend Mastik One from Vittoria.
- “Belgian Tape” such as CXTape.
- ‘Flux’ or “Acid” utility brushes for spreading the cement.
- Rubber or nitrile shop gloves.
- Shop apron, or some shirt/pants you don’t care about too much.
- Tubular cyclocross tires. My current fave is the Schwalbe Rocket Ron.
- Tubular wheel set, such as the CrossRock CX carbon tubular wheelset.
Step 1: Stretch the tires.
Stretch the tubular tires for at least 48 hours before attempting to glue them on the rim. To speed up the process, use tubular rims that are not the rims you are mounting them on. This way you can go onto the next two steps, and throw the coat of cement on the base tape at step 3, instead of waiting here before getting the rim glued. If you don’t have any other tubular rims, then you’ll wait for the tires to stretch before proceeding to the next step. Stretch the tire onto the rim and inflate to 60 psi.
Step 2: Apply first coat – tire and rim.
After stretching the tires, remove tires from the rims and apply one thin coat of tubular cement, such as Vittoria Mastik One, onto the cotton backing tape, and one thin coat to the rim bed. Use a ‘flux’ brush, available at any dollar store or hardware store. It’s a small cheap brush with a tin handle. Squeeze the tin at the brush end with pliers or a bench vise to help prevent the hairs from pulling. Discard the brush once you have applied the coat to rim and tire’s base tape. Inflate the tire just enough for it to twist exposing the base tape. Grab the tire in the middle with one hand making a shape of an 8. With the other hand, apply the glue to the base tape. Be sure to cover all the areas of the base tape.
Step 3: Apply tape and second coat.
12 hours later, or longer, you will now apply a second thin coat of cement to the rim and tire. Wait 5 to 10 minutes and apply the ‘Belgian rim tape’ to the rim over the second coat. I use CXTape rim tape. Start at the valve hole, about 1 to 2cm away from it, and start by first peeling back the plastic off the tape, Press down on the tape keeping it centered as you go. It works best if you mount the wheel onto a truing stand. Continue peeling back the tape cover as you work around the wheel. Stop 1 to 2cm away from the valve hole. Cut to length.
Step 4: 4 hours later apply third coat onto rim.
4 hours later, apply third coat of cement over top of the Belgian tape. Wait 5 to 10 minutes, and prepare to mount the tire onto the rim.
Step 5: Mount the tire.
Wait 5 to 10 minutes after applying the last coat on the rim, and prepare to mount the tire onto the rim. Deflate the tire so it has only 5 to 10psi. It should hold its shape, but you should be able to squish it easily. Too much pressure will make mounting the tire more difficult. Too little and it flops about. Start at the valve hole. Press the tire onto the rim at the vale hole. Pay attention to center the base tape directly over, and align the valve to it points toward the center fo the wheel. Get this straight. Pull back and redo if the valve enters on an angle. Now, pulling on both sides of the tire, work your way around the wheel on both side simultaneously. push the tire into the bed as you go. It helps to bend at the waist and press the tire at the valve into your abdomen and as you’ll need leverage to flop the tire onto the rim at the side opposite the valve. Work quickly, but don’t panic. It will be tough to install for some brands, even after ‘stretching’ ahead of time. Do not pull on the tire with levers, or a screwdriver.That risks damaging the tube and/or tire.
Step 6: Get the tire straight.
Right after you have the tire on, without yet inflating, lift the tire and reset where ever it does not look centred on the rim. Balance the amount of base tape showing on both sides. Once that looks pretty good, inflate the tire to about 25-35 psi.
Step 7: Work the tire.
With the tire inflated to approximately 35psi spin the wheel on the truing stand or by grasping the hub on the sides with your hands. Check for wobbles and using your hand ‘knead’ the tire to take out the bumps. It won’t ever be perfect, but even it out as best you can.
Step 8: Seat the tire.
Next, inflate the tire to about 55-60psi and beginning with the valve at the bottom nearest, the floor, place the wheel on the floor and press down on the wheel, rocking it back and forth, then rotate the wheel a little bit, and press down again. Repeat this, applying your weight onto the wheel, until you’ve gone all the way round the wheel.
Step 9: Let it cure.
You do not want to ride the wheel right away. The cement needs time to set. Hang the wheel on a hook or set it aside and let it cure for at least 24 hours before use. Leave about 60 psi in the tire.
Step 10: Install your wheels.
Install your wheels onto your bike and go grab that beer or bacon hand up!