Friday, November 11, 2011

Best Spare Tubular Tire For Ironman Triathlon and Half-Ironman Races - Tufo Elite Tire

Triathletes using tubulars usually carry a spare for Ironman and Ironman 70.3 triathlons. Here is my recommendation for a spare tubular tire for your next race.

Simply put, you want to carry a track tubular as a spare. Don't take it from me though, I actually learned this trick from former Ironman World Champion Peter Reid. The reason for this is because they roll up to nothing, weigh nothing, and despite what people believe, they are actually fairly robust.

Tufo Elite Jet (Top) - Normal Butyl Tube (Bottom)
My preferred spare tubular is the Tufo Elite Jet <120. As you can see it rolls up to practically nothing. Because of its small size it is easy to find places for it it to hide on your bike. It weighs 120 grams and is 21mm wide. This tire is easy to get centered on the rim. I find beefy tires never go on quite right the first time around and in a flat situation you want the tire to go on right the first time. If the tire is not centered it is going to wobble.

Now unfortunately this specific Tufo Elite Jet is very hard to find (this was originally written in 2011) but they do have one that is just a bit heavier - 135g, and is also 22mm wide. It is the Tufo Elite 22.

My personal experience with this tire is that it is a fairly robust tire. At Ironman Wisconsin in 2009 I actually had to change a flat and ride this tire for 55 miles and it handled like a champ.

If you want a spare tire with a protection strip my recommendation is the Tufo Elite Jet Hi-Tpi <160.

I always prefer to glue my tubes with Vittoria Mastik One but if you don't want to pre-glue your spare, Tufo Tape is probably your best in race solution for a secure bond between tire and rim. If you are looking for my recommendation on normal tubulars for racing my recommendation is Continental Podium TT, but I don't race tubulars and prefer clinchers now.  You can read about my recommendation for clinchers here.

Vittoria Mastik One Tubular Glue

13 comments:

  1. Great write up, Thomas! I have been using a Tufo S3 19mm for my spare as a few years now, but now you have me intrigued about the Elite Jet. :) I never considered the Elite simply b/c I dismissed it as a track tubular. :)

    As much as I'm not a fan of the Tufos for racing, LOVE how the Tufos can be rolled up so small and compact for a spare!!

    Q- once stretched, do you find that the Elite stays stretched out pretty well once all rolled up, or do you need to keep it on a stretching rim till pretty close to race time if you want to have any hope of actually getting it on the rim in a race? Seems like some tubulars like to 'shrink' with time more than others...

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  2. Lindsey,

    I don't advocate riding Tufo as regular tires either but as a spare it can't be beat. Obviously you hope for no flats but if you do get one this one is fairly easy to get on and rides well. I don't find the need to re-stretch it but obviously there is some variance in each tire.

    As for the S3, I usually put one of those in my special needs bag. It is good tire as well and much less expensive but doesn't roll up nearly as small.

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  3. What tire do you like to race on if you don't race on a Tufo Elite Jet?

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  4. Bill it all depends on whether you are racing clinchers or tubular. I road tubulars for a long time but last year I switched back to clinchers. For clinchers you can't go wrong with Continental Attack up front or a Continental GP4000s. In the rear I suggest the Continental GP4000s. If I were to ride tubulars again I would choose the Continental Podium TT

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  5. Is the Tufo Elite Jet <120 still made? I can't seem to find it anywhere. If not does the Tufo Elite Jet Hi-Tpi <160 fold up to a similar small size? Thx.

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    1. It is still listed on Tufo's website. If you can't find one, you may want to ask your dealer if they can special order one or two, or you can always do a "saved seach" on eBay and keep an eye out for any ones that are listed.

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  6. Thomas can you fold Tufo Elite Jet <160 the same way as Tufo Elite Jet <120?

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  7. Emil, nothing folds up like the 120. The 160 still rolls up pretty darn small though.

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  8. Do you pre-glue your spare?

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  9. I can't seem to get a hold of a tufo elite jet. do you have other recommendations?

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    1. The best thing to do if you can't find one of these tires is use eBay's "saved search" feature. Keep in mind they just changed the name of it to "Follow this search" instead but it is a handy way to keep an eye out for the tire. I see the Elite Jet 160 is on there right now, They also have a Tufo 135 which would probably be another good choice.

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  10. Hello Thomas, Great site and advice! Do you know if the
    "Continental Sprinter Tubular Road Tire" would fold to similarly small form factor? Having trouble finding the <125.

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    1. Def won't roll as small. That Tufo is unreal. Keep your eyes peeled on eBay - sometimes they pop up.

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