Monday, April 10, 2023

Paris-Roubaix 2023

 The Queen of the Classics 2023

NOT the cobbles of northern France - just the streets of Napoli

Nope, we didn't go see Paris-Roubaix live again. Once was enough.
Watching on TV on Easter Sunday was just fine, especially when it's Magro and Luca via Eurosport with no commercials!

We both thought the women's race was rather dull with way too much "racing not to lose" except for the all-in race by the winner. Chapeau! And the race was won using old-time tubular (yep, glued-on) tires rather than the newest-latest "road tubeless" the bike industry is trying to shove down the consumer's throat...same as disc brakes.

Sunday's race for the men had plenty of action with the tradition no-hoper's breakaway taking a long time to form. There was all kinds of pre-race hype about what kind of tires various teams were using, including more about onboard inflation controlling gizmos along with the tubular, clincher. road tubeless arguments (now with foam rubber inserts?) added to the latter.

We both thought the strongest man won but the victory was clouded by the winner and his teammate bashing into a competitor, causing him to crash-out and one of the many, many flat tires taking out the remaining one.

Zio Lorenzo was left wondering about all this tire "tech". Paris-Roubaix is probably the toughest test for tires short of riding over a road covered with tacks, so the makers of tires and wheels really crank up the marketing-maven hype in the build-up but it seems the past few years have seen more flat tires than ever! Did the old cobblestone edges somehow get sharper?

Zio doesn't think anyone keeps track but the push on road tubeless seems a likely cause. An old-time tubular tire can be punctured by glass, etc, but its design makes "pinch" flats almost impossible since there no sharp edges on the rim and the tube's protected by the tire carcass. 

A standard clincher tire is certainly more prone to pinch flats but they've been used to win this race a time or two and for regular ol' bike riders, swapping out an inner tube is far easier and cheaper than changing a glued-on tubular, whether you're at home or on the road. But clinchers don't work so well on carbon wheels, something else the bike industry thinks we all need. Of course carbon wheels made disc brakes "essential" but that's another story.

So road tubeless is their answer, despite being harder to mount, requiring messy sealants and costing quite a bit more, though when/if you puncture you can supposedly repair 'em with a plug (like automotive or motorcycle tires use) though you (and your bike) will likely be covered in messy sealant! If that doesn't work you can remove the valve stem (assuming you carry tools for that) clean up the mess and old-time inner tube. Road tubeless tires save energy with lower rolling resistance according to the least while there's air in them!

Change = progress? Or change = profits? 

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