Talkingshop: UK Youth’s Continental Tyres


Chatting with Sam Hayes about a key part of the bike, the tyres (Continental) used by the leading British cycling team, UK Youth Continental

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On Sunday, Britain’s second highest ranked UCI team, Team UK Youth, will starting their race around Britain against many of the World’s best riders. VeloUK went and had a chat with their mechanic Sam Hayes to see what rubber they will be using on their wheels.


UK Youth use Continental issue pro team issue 22mm fully dimpled tubulars while one the team’s riders, Chris Opie, runs 25mm tubulars with a slick down the middle of the tyre. Sam explained the only clinchers they use are the Continental Grand Prix 22 and 23mm ones on the training wheels when it’s not practical to be using the tubulars.

Is there a big difference between tubulars and clinchers I asked Sam. “The riders don’t nowadays really notice the difference. The clincher technology from Conti has caught up with the tub technology.” On tyre pressures used in the tubs, Sam explained that this is down to individuals. “I have just about memorised what pressure which rider likes” he says. “Anything from 100 to 120psi depending on road surfaces and weather.” Sam added they use the same type of tubs in wet or dry weather and just adjust the tyre pressure to suit.

The team also use the same tubs in crits and road races, again varying the tyre pressure depending on the demands of the course the riders will be racing. Looking ahead to the Tour of Britain, Sam says with six riders, and the spares having the same race tyres on the wheels, there will be a lot of tubulars needed. As well as the six pairs of wheels used by the riders at anyone time and those also on the spare bikes, Sam explained “I like to sit in the car with a minimum of four pairs of wheels and then the second team car will have a minimum of three pairs.”

Which adds up to a lot of tubulars to prepare and stick onto the race wheels. “In the build-up to the Tour, we strip all the slightly worn tubulars off rims and start with brand new tubs from day 1. By doing that, over the course of the race, we expect only a handful of punctures.


Asked what the main causes of punctures are, Sam replied “It’s a real mixture of causes but Conti have put a lot of time into limiting both types of punctures. The Competition ProTection tub offers a tougher rubber compound to help stop small flints and thorns puncturing through and then there’s an extra layer of nylon casing material inside the original casing to stop impact like punctures like hitting pot holes or cattle grids. The difference in performance is noticeable and I have seen a vast improvement in them over the years.”

Asked at what point the tubulars are changed, Sam says “as soon as the dimples look worn, it’s getting to the point you are going to have to change it. If the tyres are cut from glass or thorns, then those cuts will be prone to picking up more and puncturing so it’s better to replace it.”

“Shelley at Conti has been great in giving us enough tubs to do that so we don’t have ride them into the ground and risk punctures”. One of the things that may put off many using tubs is having to change them but Sam says that while a clincher tyre is easier to change, tubs are okay as well if you can plan ahead.

“I put a layer of glue on the canvas and let that dry before stretching that tub on a rim. I take with me at least five pre-glued and stretched tubulars in case they are needed. As long as I glue them on to the rim the night before the race, they are fine. As long as you are prepared like this, there is no hassle to gluing tubular tyres.”

Sam also let us into a little secret weapon they had at the CiCLE Classic won by UK Youth’s Ian Wilkinson. “Shelley provided us with their new Continental Revo Sealant in the build-up to the CiCLE classic and we used that in all of our tyres. Just 30ml in each tyre and personally I think that won us the race.”


“Wilkson, who was in the lead group of seven or eight, did have a piercing puncture but the sealant filled the gap and because the service car was stuck behind the peloton and we could not service him, he was able to carry on with a slightly flatter tubular to the next off road sector where we had staff with wheels and he could change the wheel without affecting his race position.”

Finally, when asked, if they use retail versions of the tubulars, Sam replied “yes, the retail versions are a slightly narrower canvas and we use them on our disc wheels. These are now actually available to the public too, as Conti have launched them as the Attack Comp and Force Comp models. The main difference between the Pro Limited Competition ProTection and the regular Comp is the canvas width and colour of the canvas but the retail ones are also fantastic tyres to use as we have found”.



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