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How to glue and install tubular tyres

Tubular tyres are an old technology, but if you need to know how to install them, here's how

Clock10:57, Tuesday 12th September 2023

Tubular tyres have a sewn-in inner tube, and are glued to the wheel rim. They aren't very common any more, with clincher and tubeless technology all but taking over.

Even so, tubular tyres still have a place. They're used by some professional cycling teams, and owing to their reduced popularity, there are some bargains to be had for tubular wheels and tyres online.

If you've got some tubular tyres, here's how to glue and install them on your rims. As well as a tubular rim and tubular tyre, you'll need tubular glue, isopropyl alcohol, abrasive paper, and a clean cloth.

Prepare the rim and tyre

Step 1

Prepare the rim and tyre

If you're using new rims or rims without any glue on them already, roughen the surface of the rim bed so the glue can adhere to it. Then, apply a layer of glue to the rim, and a layer of glue to the tyre, and leave them both for 24 hours.

Top Tip

To make your tyres easier to put on the rim, pre-stretch the tyres. Install them on a set of wheels and inflate them, then leave them for a few days. It'll make them easier to put on the rim when everything's covered in glue.

Apply the final layer of glue to the rim

Step 2

Apply the final layer of glue to the rim

Clean the rim with the rubbing alcohol and a cloth, then apply the glue, starting at the valve hole and working your way around and back to the valve hole. Be careful to avoid getting glue on the braking surface. Make sure there's plenty of ventilation as you do this, as the glue lets off some pretty strong fumes. Then, lay the wheel flat (on the hub) as you glue the tyre.

Top Tip

When you apply glue onto the wheel rim bed, it's important to get a nice even layer all the way from one side of the rim to the other, rather than just focusing on that central channel – it's the edge sections where the main bit of adhesion needs to happen between the rim and the tire.

Apply the final layer of glue to the tyre

Step 3

Apply the final layer of glue to the tyre

Brush glue onto the tape on the inside of the tyre, starting at the valve. You don't need to cover the entirety of the tape in glue; only the middle will be in contact with the rim.

As mentioned above, if you're using new tyres, you need to apply a first layer of glue and let it dry for 24 hours before you can do this final one.

Top Tip

Keep your other hand on the point at which you've glued to as you go, so you don't lose your place.

Install the tyre on the rim

Step 4

Install the tyre on the rim

Inflate the tyre a little, then push the valve through the valve hole. Now, lift and position the tyre onto the rim, stretching it as much as you can as you go. Try not to slide or reposition the tyre on the rim, as this could weaken the glue.

Centralise the tyre

Step 5

Centralise the tyre

Starting at the valve, work your way around, correcting the tyre position. It should be uniform on the rim, with no wobbles and with the tread running straight. To correct a section, pull the tyre away from the rim, rotate it, and then set it back down on the rim.

Roll the wheel on the floor

Step 6

Roll the wheel on the floor

To make sure the tyre is pressed into the rim bed all the way around, grab the hubs and roll the wheel on the ground, putting as much weight onto it as you can.

Inflate the tyre and let the glue cure

Step 7

Inflate the tyre and let the glue cure

Finally, inflate the tyres to the maximum pressure, which will be written on the side of the tyre. Chances are that this maximum pressure will be a lot higher than modern tubeless or clincher tyres. Then, leave the wheel for 24 hours for the glue to cure.

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