Friday, November 11, 2011

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

Everyone that uses aero tubular wheels usually carries a spare or two for Ironman and Half-Ironman triathlon races. Here is my recommendation for a spare tubular tire for you next long-distance triathlon 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. Track tubulars usually don't have the puncture protection strip that most road tubulars have, but don't let that scare you off.

Tufo Elite Jet (Top) - Butyl Tube (Bottom)
My preferred spare tubular is the Tufo Elite Jet <120. As you can see it rolls up to practically nothing. And 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. An additional reason I like this tire is that it 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.

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.
I have done a lot of general tire testing and I find that when you have a flat that the affecting object will go through any tire.  Rarely is it the case the the object would go through one tire but not another.

If you are still worried about flatting then you can always carry two Tufo Elite Jet 120s and still be under the weight of one Zipp Tangente.  In addition, you can also move up a step to the Tufo Elite Jet Hi-Tpi <160 which includes a puncture protection strip in the tire.  You can purchase the later at Trisports.com and you can save 20% by using my Coupon Code. You can always help support me as an athlete by using my 20% off coupon code for Trisports that is tied to my name. Each code is unique for you so please contact me thru the above "Contact" tab and I will email you back the 20% off code. Codes can be used at anytime - no waiting for a special sale. They expire 12/31/14. Please remember to fill in your email address so I can reply back to you. If you don't provide an email there is no way for me to contact you. You can also tweet at me or message me on Facebook if you prefer.

For those real weight-weenies out there, Tufo makes a 110 gram version with a width of 19mm, but I prefer to ride at least 21mm tires for the added traction, and more comfortable ride.

If you have something to add to this review then please leave a comment below.



11 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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