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Gluing Cyclocross Tubular Tires – The Belgian Way

Gluing Cyclocross Tubular Tires – The Belgian Way

Tubular Cyclocross tires offer lower rolling resistance, lighter weight, and more grip than clincher tires. Since tubular CX tires are run at such low pressures (usually 20-30 psi), improper or poor glue jobs run the risk of failure. If your tire rolls off the rim, you risk serious injury and a $50 fine from USA Cycling! At Belgianwerkx we use the following method for gluing tubular tires. This is not the only way to glue a tubular tire. This tutorial is not a comprehensive guide. If you have never glued tires before, or do not feel confident in your abilities, go to your local bike shop.
cx supplies600

What you’ll need:

IMG_2888Step 1. Stretch your tires over your clean rim (or any other spare rim), and let it sit for 24 hours. We do this to stretch the tire out. Tubular tires are difficult to stretch over the rim. Stretching them will help.

IMG_2744Step 2. After waiting 24 hours, deflate and remove the stretched tire and sand the area where the tire will glue to the rim. We don’t need to sand deeply, just enough to rough up the entire surface. This promotes mechanical adhesion. If you have carbon rims, you may have to skip this step; check with the manufacturer.

IMG_2763Step 3. Mask off your brake tracks. This is an important step if you want your rims looking good and your brake tracks clean when you’re finished. Tubular glue is messy. Take the time to prep your rims and the results will be much more satisfying.

IMG_2755Step 4. Clean the rim and base tape of the tubular with a rag dipped in acetone. This will remove all grease, oils, and dirt and ensure the glue will stick to the rim.

IMG_2772Step 5. Use an acid brush to put a layer of glue onto the rim. A few thin coats are better than one thick one. Make sure to cover all of the rim evenly. Start and end at the valve hole.

Step 6. Put a little air in the tubular tire to give it shape. Use another acid brush to coat the entire base tape in glue. Make sure to use enough to saturate the base tape thoroughly. When you are finished, deflate the tire and set it aside.

IMG_2781Step 7. Wait a few hours until the glue becomes dry enough to handle, overnight is ok too. It’s time to apply a 2nd thin layer of glue to the rim. Start at the valve hole and make your second coat.

IMG_3007Step 8. Put a 2nd thin coat of glue on the tubular tire. The surface of the basetape should appear glossy after this coat. Set it aside overnight to dry.

Step 9. You’ve waited for your glue to dry overnight. Now grab a cup of coffee and make sure the next hour remains un-interrupted: Turn off your phone. Lock the doors. Put the dog outside. Make enough room in the garage, workshop, or apartment to fit a VW bus. I’m not kidding. You’re about to engage in a epic tubular stretching battle with your scrawny cyclist upper body. Make sure your tire is deflated(just enough air to give it shape). Make sure your floor is clean.

IMG_2789Step 10. Get your CX tape and scissors ready. Apply a third, even coat of glue to the rim. Starting just below at the valve hole, immediately apply the CX tape all the way around the circumference of the rim. Cut the tape just short of the valve hole. Press the tape deep into the rim with your finger. Get out the air bubbles as much as possible.

IMG_2807Step 11. Remove the yellowish brown protective layer from the CX tape. After about 5 minutes, put another thin layer of glue right on top of the CX tape. Make sure you apply evenly and work quickly.


Step 12. It’s time to install the mostly deflated tubular tire onto the rim. Seriously, turn off the phone. Put the rim on your clean floor with the valve hole facing up. MAKE SURE YOU FACE THE TREAD THE CORRECT WAY. Put the tire valve through the valve hole and start pushing the tubular down over the rim. Work quickly. The last bit of tire is usually hard to snap over the rim. It helps to have a friend to swear at.

IMG_2815Step 13. Quickly make sure that the tire is centered on the rim. You should see the same amount of base tape sticking out on each side of the rim. This is a general guide, some handmade tires do not have a perfectly straight bast tape. Align the tire if necessary.

Step 14. Hurry! Inflate the tire, 30-40 psi. Check for alignment again. It helps to put the wheel back into a truing stand and check for alignment. The center of the tread should roll around the center of the rim. Align if necessary. When you are satisfied, remove your masking tape from the rim. It’s easier to do when the glue is still tacky.

IMG_2832Step 15. Inflate the tire to 60-80 psi and seat the tire into the glue/tape by rolling them across the ground while pushing down hard on the tire. Hang up your tires to dry. Don’t even think about riding them for 24 hours.

Step 16. After 24 or more hours, deflate your tires. Check to make sure the tire is well adhered to the rim. Pull on them, twist them sideways. Don’t be gentle. Do this often. Glue dries out and stops being sticky after 6 months or so. If your tire rolls off the rim or separates in any area, it’s time to re-glue. If you’re satisfied, go ride!

10636832_741524582588877_4938416054715451613_oNicholas Moroder is the everyday face of Belgainwerkx. He has been wrenching on bikes for 10 years and is a Certified Retul University fitter. He's the kind of guy who can tell you what tire is best for your wet rides, or what brake pads will make your rims last the longest. He manages the service, product , fitting, and day-to-day operation of the shop.

13 Comments

  1. Do you have an article about removing the old tire, tape & glue and setting up for putting a new tire on again?

    • David: Heat, elbow grease, and solvent. I use acetone, but some have luck with mineral spirits. You don’t need to get the rim perfectly clean, but no gobs of glue or base tape…

    • I tried acetone to remove old glue with little luck. But Goof Off did the trick with an abrasive pad.

      • Agree, the abrasive pad slowly removes the slime you create with the acetone (goof off not recmn’d by makers of $3k wheels, could work fine, IDK).
        It takes a LOT of time to completely clean hoops when changing glue manufacturers or to prep used wheels. If it’s old glue, remove all that will come off with scraping. Glue that sticks mightily, should be fine for a few rides to months, but always reglue mid-way through road season, or for an upcoming cross season. I’ve seen hips broken, etc old glue is negligence, to your health, or to mine

  2. I tried various gluing procedures but found Tufo tape by far the best both in terms of adhesion and ease of use. Expensive, but you get what you pay for!

    • Thanks Carl. We don’t recommend Tufo for CX. While it is easy to use we haven’t found that it holds up as well as this method. Everyone is going to have their own way of doing things, to each their own!

    • I used Tufo tape only after cleaning old glue off and have had great success. I am a light rider but the tape holds fine on my cross bike. I don’t race but still rider everything hard.

  3. I would add one thing to the process, after rolling a tire off at a race i found that once you have the tire centered on the rim, deflate the tire and roll it on a broom or paint roller extension handle with moderate force, being sure not to move the tire on the rim, but to seat the tire into the glue & tape, this also works air out, and make for the best hold I have found.

  4. Looking forward to using tubs this ‘cross season. Thanks for the great advice and recommendations.

  5. first I would like to apologize for laguage mistakes because I am a Belgian, so English is a third language.

    Still a few comments:

    – cleaning used rims: not allways necesarry in my experience when the remaining glue isn’t too thick you can let it sit on the rim and the newer layers will even things out.

    – A good trick that I use is after 2 layers on the basetape off the tubular and after drying, is pulling it on a clean!! spare-rim before putting the final layer on the rim. Then take the tubular off the clean rim and put the tire on the glued one and it will go much better.

    – as for the tape that is being used or not that depends on the shape off the rim bed. too deep or a lot off spoke holes definately rimtape, otherwise you can get away without maybe. I normally use it anyway.

    – numbers off layers off glue: new rim 3 coats on rim then tape, on top off tape another one and then the stretched tubular wich has also 2 layers when it’s a new one…

    – i also use a lot off airpressure to set the tubular ,(6-7 bars after glueing) for 1 nigh

    • Thank Tom! These are good things to know. I also stretch the tire after gluing.

  6. Hey Nick, I’m still learning to glue tubs and my rear tire needs reglued (bad timing, mid-CX season..). How many coats of new glue go over the top of the existing glue on both the rim and tire? Do I need to remove the Belgian tape that’s on there or no? Add another layer of tape or no? Thanks!

  7. TY for the article! What’s the best sealant for cotton casing sidewalls? Considering using a atsko silicone spray, vs the crappy tent seam sealer I’ve used in the past. Will tape off rim.

    Definitely use the clean hoops to stretch the tubs just prior to mounting for 15 minutes or whatever at 50+ psi.
    Tip for removing ruined tire, cut across the tire with a sharp blade (new utility blade) and then simply pull the severed casing to peal it off.
    Belgy tape is magic strong, tufo tape is a fraud, please don’t ride that around me, I have a day job. I’ve seen it peal too many times.

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