Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

22 January 2011

Cross Tubular

Today was cold, but at least the air was calm.  But tomorrow the temperature will drop and winds will gust over 20 MPH; tomorrow night is supposed to be the coldest in six years.  And it won't be much warmer during the coming week.


It all means that the patches of ice on the street--not to mention the mounds of snow that stretch like soot-stained alabaster dunes between the streets and sidewalks--aren't going away any time soon.


I didn't ride today because I had a bunch of errands to do.  I might take a short ride tomorrow.  I'll probably take Marianela, just because I don't want to clean a lot of slop and salt out of my derailleur-equipped bikes.  And I just replaced the chain, chainring and cog on Tosca.  


But there's another good reason to ride Marianela:  She has the knobbiest tires.  A few weeks ago, I installed a pair of cyclo-cross tires on her.  Well, their manufacturer (Kenda) calls them cyclo-cross tires, but I rather doubt that anyone actually uses them for that purpose.  They're heavier than most cyclo-cross tires.  And, being much cheaper than most tires used in cyclo-cross racing, I have to wonder how long they'll last.  If they get me through this winter, I'll be happy, as I paid only nine dollars for each of them.    


So, while they're good for the money and the purpose for which I'm using them, they'll never be mistaken for what some regard as the finest cyclo-cross tubular ever made:





These are the Grifo Neve tires, which were made in Italy by Clement.  Back in the day, Clement tubulars were often regarded as the finest tires available.  The pros rode them, and they were often original equipment on Campagnolo Nuovo Record-equipped bicycles.


Like those tires, the Grifo Neves were made with silk casings.  Less expensive tubulars used cotton and, later, nylon casings.  


I used to ride tubulars, but not the Grifo Neves or any others that were intended for cyclo-cross.   I wonder what the ride might have been like.  Do any of you have experience with them?

2 comments:

  1. I don't have a set of tubular cross tires. My tubulars are Vittoria street tires and pretty nice, though I would call them "lower middle end." My cross tires are Vittoria XG Pro clinchers. My cross tires, on pavement, feel and sound like something you'd expect from a big truck.

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  2. Steve, I never rode 'cross tubulars. But they always sounded like a funny, almost self-contradictory, idea to me. I love your description of their sound on pavement.

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