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HOW TO GLUE A TUBULAR, Bill Vance posted 6/8/01
Bill Vance is the National Sales Manager for ZIPP Wheels and has provided a detailed explanation of how to glue tubular tires.

Gluing a Tubular: It’s not as tough as you think!

Despite what you might have heard, gluing a tubular or sew-up tire onto a rim is not difficult. With practice, changing a flat with a tubular is also fast and easy. Like learning to tie your shoe it may seem mysterious at first, but the process can be reduced to following a few simple procedures in the right order. Gluing a tubular is a task best learned by watching an experienced person. If you have a friend or local bike shop repair person who are old pros at this task, ask to watch them. Without the benefit of an experienced mentor, this article outlines a conservative system that reduces gluing a tubular to a few simple steps. For best results read the instructions fully, then plan your moves through each step and lay out all your gluing supplies in advance. Not counting drying time of the glue, you will be able to install a new tubular in under 20 minutes on a new rim and less time on a previously used rim. In a race situation, you should be able to change a stretched and pre-glued tubular in less than two minutes. Practice is the key to an efficient tire change. It will take longer to read these instructions than to actually install the tire! Remember that a lot of what you read here assumes that this is a new wheel so there are some extra steps that won’t be needed after the first tire installation. Your tire or glue may also come with instructions that modify the basic procedure outlined here. Many tire manufacturers have posted instructions for mounting tires on their web sites. This is so this is also a good resource.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

1. Tubular glue of your choice
2. Solvent such as alcohol, acetone or “Goof-off” . Goof-off is a latex paint remover, which is available in hardware or paint stores. It works very well for removing most glue.
3. You may also need a file, emery cloth or other means of scraping the base tape protective layer of some tires. (Check to see if your tire has a layer of rubber over the base tape. If it appears to be raw, un-coated cotton, you will not need the scraping tools.)
4. Good luck, and have fun!

1. STRETCH THE TIRE:

  • The first very important step. Always pre-stretch any tubular (Including your spare tire!) to save a lot of work later. You will NOT need glue for this step.
  • There are two ways, the proper and the down and dirty. Use the proper way when you want the job done right and have the time. The down and dirty way works too, but save it for an emergency where the tire must be ridden in a short period of time.
  • If you are using a valve extender, install it at this time. (See notes on how to do this if you have any questions.)
  • THE PROPER WAY: Stand the wheel on the edge so that the wheel is on the ground and can lean against the front of your legs. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart. The valve hole of the rim should be at the top of the wheel nearest your waist.
  • Insert the valve into the valve hole.
  • Bend over and using both hands begin stretching the tire onto the rim with a very firm even pressure while working your way down from the top of the wheel. Even pressure will ensure the valve does not twist in the rim. The further you stretch the tire at this point, the easier it will be to roll the last bit over onto the rim. As you reach the last few inches, lift the rim up until it is horizontal with the edge of the rim against your stomach. The area of the valve hole will now be against your stomach with the as yet un-mounted portion of tire furthest away from you. Maintaining the pressure, roll the last bit of tire onto the rim using your thumbs. Pinch the tire slightly together and “lift” the tire over the edge of the rim. Do not use a tool to pry the last portion over the edge of the rim. If you can’t get the tire to go on the rim, start over with more pressure at the beginning of the process. If possible after installation, blow up the tire and leave it unglued on the rim overnight.
  • THE DOWN AND DIRTY WAY: Use this only in an emergency, as it is possible to damage the tire when this technique is performed too enthusiastically. Step on the tire with one foot and pull upward with a steadily increasing firm pressure. Be very careful not to pull so hard that you tear or snap threads on the tire casing. A torn casing can lead to a bulge in the tire at that point. Work your way around the tire repeating the process every 10-12 inches. Slip the tire on the rim as outlined above to check for a good stretch.

    2. AFTER STRETCHING, PREPARE THE TIRE FOR GLUING:

  • The base tape (usually cotton) of many tubular tires will have a coating of latex. This must be roughened slightly to ensure a good glue bond. This step does not apply to Continental tires or any tire that has no coating over the base tape.
  • Remove the tire from the rim used in the stretching procedure outlined above.
  • Roughen the latex coating using a file or similar item. You may also use emery cloth wetted in alcohol or a similar solvent. Be careful, too much solvent may dissolve the glue holding on the base tape.

    3. PREPARE THE RIM FOR GLUE:

  • If the rim is new, wipe it down with alcohol or other solvent listed in these instructions. ZIPP Carbon rims are ready to go at this point and require no further preparation. Traditional aluminum rims should be lightly sanded then cleaned again with solvent.
  • With a previously glued rim, you can just apply a single thin uniform layer of new glue to the rim.
  • Bad glue jobs or a large build up of lumpy old glue can be scraped off using a solvent to soften the old glue. (Alcohol, acetone, or a latex paint remover such as “Goof-Off” is some suggestions. All are available at hardware stores.) The ZIPP carbon rim can be cleaned with any solvent that will not harm epoxy.

    4. GLUE THE RIM AND TIRE:

  • There are many types of tubular glues available. All types work well when used properly, it’s just a matter of preference which glue you choose. The red types will harden quite a bit as they dry. In addition, the red glues seem to hold more aggressively and are perhaps best suited to track applications. Over a long period of time red glues become brittle and require the tire to be re-glued. The white and clear types of glue will harden less and will remain somewhat tacky. You will find it easier and quicker to remove a flat with these types. One possible drawback of clear or white glues is that in rare instances the residual solvents that keep them soft can cause the base tape of the tire to separate over an extended period of time. Again, the bottom line is that all types of glue work well. If you are in a hurry and need to use the wheel in a few hours, Fast Tack brand cement (An automotive trim adhesive available in auto parts stores.) can be used according to directions on the tube. Be aware the Fast Tack may cause the base tape to separate from some tires over time. Fast Tack should not be used with Continental tires.
  • You will need a small plastic bag or two to put over your finger to spread the glue. Latex gloves do not work as most glue types will stick to the latex and dissolve the material. You may also use your finger, but expect to make a mess!
  • NOTE: Some professional triathletes will leave a small area no more that an inch or two in length opposite the valve hole with slightly less glue. In the event of a flat, this small area allows them to begin removing the flat tire more easily. This is not generally recommended.
  • First, coat the rim by putting a thin uniform layer of glue on the tire seating area of the rim. To do this, lay a bead of glue around the center of the tire seat area of the rim. Use the plastic bag over your finger to spread the glue evenly from edge to edge of the tire seating area all around the rim. Set the rim aside for a couple of hours to let the glue dry.
  • Try to find a way of hanging the tire so that it can be rotated as glue is applied. A piece of wood clamped to the edge of a table or workbench works fine. This is optional, but helpful. Blowing the tire up a bit so it holds its shape is also often quite helpful.
  • Spread a bead of glue onto the center of the tire base tape. If using the tire hanging method, hold the tire by one end out parallel to the ground; coat the half with the base tape facing up, flip and repeat.
  • Use the plastic bag on your finger to spread the glue evenly. Set the tire aside for a couple of hours to dry.
  • Clean up any glue drips around the area with solvent
  • After a couple of hours, re-coat both the rim and tire with a second layer of glue using the same procedure as before.
  • Let the second layer dry overnight or for several hours until dry to the touch and only slightly tacky.
  • After the glue on the rim and tire is dried, apply another thin layer to the rim only and let it dry about 15 minutes.

    5. MOUNTING THE TIRE:

  • Deflate the tire and mount it on the rim as described in step 1. It will be easier to finish rolling the last bit of the tire onto the rim if you begin with a quite firm pressure from the very beginning of the mounting process. Take care that the tire is centered and that an even amount of base tape is sticking out on both sides around the rim. At this point you can still move the tire around on the rim a bit by tugging and pushing it into place.
  • Pump up the tire to around 100psi. Spin the wheel looking for wobbles in the tire. If you find that the tread moves back and forth as the wheel spins, deflate the tire and push it over where required. Re-inflate and check again repeating the process as needed.
  • Pump up the tire to 120-130psi and let set over night to bond firmly.
  • Carefully clean any excess glue on the rim sidewall with solvent. Keep the solvent away from the tire!
  • Check the tire pressure before each ride. Check the glue bond occasionally. Remove and re-glue the tire as needed, or at least once a season. Have fun!

    CHANGING A FLAT TUBULAR:

    1. Stretch and pre-glue a spare tire as outlined elsewhere in this article. Install a valve extension if needed.
    2. When the glue is fully dry, fold the tire. There are a number of methods for doing this, but essentially you want to fold the glued surfaces in on themselves so that the tire is a convenient size. This is the spare tire you will carry with you.
    3. Psssstttttt. Okay, now you have a flat! Remove the wheel from the bike as usual.
    4. Hold the wheel with the edge resting on your thighs or waist with the valve hole closest to your body. Starting on the side of the wheel furthest from your body, pinch, lift and roll the tire off of the rim. You can use a plastic tire lever to carefully help start the process.
    5. After you get the tire slightly off the rim, set the edge of the wheel closest to the valve hole down on the ground.
    6. Using your body weight, continue to roll the flat tire off of the top of the rim by pushing down towards the ground. After you get the tire about half way off the rim, pick up the wheel and strip the tire completely from the rim.
    7. Unfold your spare and insert the valve into the valve hole.
    8. Place the edge of the wheel back on the ground with the valve hole at the top and the wheel resting flat against your legs.
    9. Bend over and using both hands begin stretching the tire onto the rim with a very firm even pressure while working your way down from the top of the wheel. The further you stretch the tire at this point, the easier it will be to roll the last bit over onto the rim. As you reach the last few inches, lift the rim up until it is horizontal with the edge of the rim against your stomach. The area of the valve hole will now be against your stomach with the as yet un-mounted portion of tire furthest away from you. Maintaining the pressure, roll the last bit of tire onto the rim using your thumbs. Do not use a tool to pry the last portion over the edge of the rim.
    10. Check to see that the tire is evenly mounted, pushing and pulling the tire into the center where needed.
    11. Blow up the tire using whatever method you prefer. Remount the wheel in the bike. Ride away!