Up until now, I could not see me change a tubular tyre by the side of the road, especially not on remote locations in the dark when raining. The Challenge Strada Bianca open tubular has changed all that. In fact, my brother and a colleague agree that any Challenge open tubular is going to be quite a challenge to mount on a rim, any rim, especially the first time. Mounting them sucks, period. So much in fact, it is easier to change a tubular road tyre. (thank you ChallengeTech)Forget about a properly glued cx tyre (the “Belgian tape method”), but road tyres don’t need to be infinitely bonded to the rim because the tyre pressure is higher and helps keeping it on the rim. And you don’t need to carefully inspect the tyre for any little sharp stones or dirt as you just replace the whole system.
I’ll be carrying a pre-glued spare and will experiment with sealant (Stan’s has worked a treat on the cx chicanes, and now they have road “race” sealant to cope with the higher pressures).
I did like the ride quality of the strada bianca’s. Like them so much so that I even built a specific set of wheels with classic rim design to accomodate them. I have been riding their cyclocross tubulars for quite a while now and I like them very much too – I mean the grip is just jaw-droppingly impressive!
Another problem with these strada biancas is that they’re a bit bulky and on top of that, their grip in the wet is questionable to say the least. Rough roads, gravel and dry hard pack singletracks are more their thing.
So I decided to try tubular road, but which tyres then? I’m about 90kg and my usual rides are on less than perfect roads and I like cobble stones. So either the FMB paris roubaix 27mm or the Veloflex Vlaanderen, also 27mm. This guy pushed me over the edge towards the Vlaanderens. Besides, I am from Vlaanderen. No-brainer.
Veloflex Vlaanderen it is!
So onto the wheels then. I had a Shimano XT front hub lying around and I scavenged a dt swiss 350 from a less used rear wheal. A couple of years ago I ordered two sets of 38mm mid-section 25mm wide 32h carbon rims from aliexpress to see how that all works. A tubeless set and a pair for tubulars. Never got round to use the tubulars, so perfect. Instead of the usual sapim race or cx-rays, I went with the d-lights this time. Nipples are the black brass 12mm ones, also Sapim.