tubular dick brake wheels for rad cyclocross racing

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Larry Winget
Larry Winget's picture
tubular dick brake wheels for rad cyclocross racing

Despite my shitty initial luck with an unsealable flat pre-race a few weeks ago I ran my setup (with a new rear tire) for the first time at yesterday's race.

rims: NOS GP4 rear, Reflex front
hubs: WTB Laser Disc Lite
spokes: DT Comp - 3x all around with brass nipples
tires: Schwalbe Racing Ralph HT (On-One deal)
glue: Mastik One (no Belgian tape)

Since I didn't have a chance to get much (or really any) riding time on these pre-race day I ran higher pressure (only slightly lower than I would run with clinchers) and cornered fairly conservatively.

Even so the difference wasn't subtle. Way less fatiguing on bumpy grass and stuck like whoa on wet and semi-greasy grass. The tire/brake feedback when combined with the dick brakes is pretty amazing. The ride is slightly lumpy on pavement due to my noob gluing job, but beats paying someone a stupid amount of money to do it, and off the pavement I don't even notice.

I haven't weighed these compared to my clinchers yet, but they are definitely a bit lighter and no less robust. The lighter Alligator iWave rotors have gotten things to a pretty manageable weight for a steel frame/steel fork//dick brakes.

Basically, with some patience scoping out deals and a lot of my own time and energy invested I built a tubular disc wheelset for fairly cheap (<$250) with all new/NOS parts), but there are many ways to get it done.

If aesthetics aren't a big concern you could always build on used rims if they're in decent shape. Whatever brake track wear there is isn't going to get worse. Wavy Chinese crabon braking surface? No problemo. Since there's no braking surface used you could even be really lazy and skip taping up the rims when gluing if you wanted. When I glued my replacement rear I rawdogged and left the rotor installed coz yolo.

Obviously you'll need spokes and hubs that can take the stresses. Ideally affordable and lightweight. I was a little sketched out by Circus Monkeys at my size which is why I went with the NOS Laser Disc Lites. If you're on a budget finding suitable hubs will probably be your biggest challenge.

Unless you are spending silly money on a disc CX bike, chances are you are going to end up with some heavy and meh stock wheels. That is a lot of the weight penalty associated with dick brakes right there.

If I build a second set for next season I might do the Chinese crabon thing, or maybe these (although I wish they weren't quite so spendy). Kinda hard to justify over Major Tom/HED just to not have a shiny braking surface on yer wide tubular rim.

The TL;DR version

Tubular ride x dick brake stopping = awesomeness for racing.
Can be done for not that much money all things considered. Certainly no more than a lot of off-the-peg tubeless ready 29er sets.

All of the standard hassles of tubulars. Dealing with gluing tires take more patience and planning, basically. Punctures that won't seal can be a real bummer.
Unless you want to spend considerably more you will need to build/glue tires on them yourself (labor intensive)

In short, if you're running or considering running a dick brake bike for cx racing tubulars are still an option for you. You will just have to build something unless you are ballin' enough to afford one of the few stock crabon options out there.

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 20:29