This was my first purchase of tubular tyres and I must admit, had I not wanted my Vision Metron disc wheel so much, I would not have gone to tubulars. I had heard all the horror stories – tyres punctured, athletes stranded on the side of the road during a race, no ability to replace or repair them. I had seen the results first hand within recent races, and I did not want to face the horror of a punctured tubular during a big race. I know how to change a clincher confidently and quickly, so I was daunted, to say the least, when it came time to make the purchase of the Continental Competition 700x22mm Tubular Road Tyres.
I’m lucky to have access to the skills of a great mechanic in-house, so when I was ready to set up my new wheels, it was done under the instruction of an expert.
The most noticeable difference is the time it takes to set them up correctly. It’s not like a clincher where you just whack them on and head out the door. There is preparation time, waiting, more preparation, more waiting, applying, more waiting – you get the picture. Once they were on though, the wheels looked the part of a professional triathlete – except they were mine!
My first race on these was Huskisson Ultimate – 2km swim, 83km ride and 20km run. The road surface was not great so it’s harsh to judge the wheels alone, but my initial reaction was that they felt significantly harder than my former tyres. This may be because they are narrower (22m vs. my previous 25mm) or because they were set to 140psi, but I’m told I will get used to them.
At the local crit track the following week, I took 30 seconds off my previous 20km time trial despite being unwell and in pretty hot, windy conditions. I didn’t find the tyres to be too hard under those circumstances but I had reduced the pressure to 130psi to test the difference.
At nearly $125 each, they are certainly more expensive than a tube for a clincher, but of course in this case you are only buying one item per wheel, not two, so there is a saving to be made. You’ll also need to carry a specific tubular repair kit or sealant, such as Vittoria Pit Stop, whilst riding.
These tyres are thought to be the most reliable of all tyres in the professional peloton, but that offers little comfort in a 180km race. The true test will be at Cairns Ironman in June, where I will definitely ride these race wheels.
My advice is to be prepared to spend the time setting them up properly so you can be confident that they are as ready as possible before you hit the race course.
By Michelle Cooper – Pushys sponsored athlete