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Technical FAQ: Gluing with Belgian Tape, more on riding with Morton’s Neuroma

  • By Lennard Zinn
  • Published Oct. 23, 2012
Lennard Zinn wins the 55+ age group at the USGP of Cyclocross Smartwool Cup. Photo: Lennard Zinn | VeloNews.com

Editor’s Note: Lennard Zinn’s regular column is devoted to addressing readers’ technical questions about bikes, their care and how we as riders can use them as comfortably and efficiently as possible. Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Zinn.

Dear Lennard,

I’ve read your articles online (and a number of people’s comments in various forums) on the use of Belgian tape in gluing on ‘cross tubulars.
I’m going to glue up some new Clement cyclocross tires (33mm) to some Zipp 303 wheels (last generation before the Firecrest shape) and my questions are these:

1. Should I use Belgian tape (is it necessary) for this tire/wheel combination? (I weigh about 165-170 pounds and, like you, live and race in the Boulder area.)

2. If I want to strip the CX tires off in the spring to put on road tires, how much additional mess/time/headache will the Belgian tape add to the stripping/cleaning/re-gluing come springtime?

3. If I use Belgian tape, I know from your articles on the subject that Stu Thorne’s Belgian tape is tried and trusted. Recently, a product called CX Tape (out of Oregon) has appeared — and is carried by QBP. Does CX Tape work as well as the Belgian tape from Cyclocrossworld.com? It’s easier to get (and cheaper).

—Jon
Dear Jon,
I have not tried CX tape and can’t comment on it. I, too, weigh between 165 and 170 pounds and use standard-width tubular rims. I have managed to roll cyclocross tires at low pressure in races with glue only and with glue and Tufo tape and with glue and Velox Jantex tape. So I don’t recommend either of those tapes. I have never rolled a tire with Belgian Tape, and I have become very confident in the adhesion of my tires. For instance, I won both days of the USGP race (55+) in Fort Collins, Colorado, October 13-14 on Dugast Typhoons glued to Enve rims with Vittoria Mastik 1 and Belgian Tape. I glued them on before nationals last January, left them on over the summer, and tested them this fall, and they were really on there. So I didn’t reglue them. I raced at under 30psi on the USGP course in Fort Collins, which had a lot of high-speed corners at the bottom of descents. Due to overnight rain followed by sun, the traction was super grippy for the first half of my race on Saturday (it started pouring with a couple of laps to go; the photo is from my finish of that race) and for the entire race Sunday, so I was really pushing the bike into the corners, especially once I realized I could come away with a W. I never worried about rolling the tires, and that is just one example of many I could give you of how well that glue/tape regimen works for me.

As for your second question, I do reglue tires a lot — for changing tread patterns, swapping out to road tires, or due to punctures — and I find it to be super easy with the Belgian Tape, once I manage to get the tire off, which is not easy. The tape usually comes off with the tire, although some hunks tend to stay on the rim. (This is as opposed to the Tufo or Jantex tapes, with which the tire always came off of the tape easily, leaving me to simply peel the tape off of the rim). I dig off the chunks of tape left on the rim with a screwdriver, scrub at the rim with a wire brush until there is only a thin layer of hardened glue left, dig off any remaining large glue lumps with a screwdriver, blow off the glue dust with compressed air, and scrub the rim with rubbing alcohol. Then, if it’s a road tire, I put two layers of glue on the rim and glue on a tire that has had two layers of glue on it as well. If it’s a ’cross tire, I glue new Belgian Tape on, followed by the tire. Works great.

To get the tire off, I work at one spot with my thumbs from both sides until I get it free enough that I can slip a screwdriver between it and the rim there, or, if I can’t get it to budge with my thumbs, I carefully work a screwdriver under it in one spot. Slide the tip carefully back and forth, gradually freeing the base tape there. Make sure you do not break any threads in the base tape or the casing in the process, or you will have ruined the tire. Carefully roll the screwdriver shaft along the rim, breaking the tire free of the glue bond in the process until you have at least a quarter of the tire free and can peel it off the rest of the way by hand.
—Lennard

Feedback from my September 11 column on Morton’s Neuroma

Dear Lennard,

I just read your discussion of options to reduce pain from neuroma, which I too suffer from. You mentioned choosing shoes that are wider at the forefoot… Can you suggest a pair of shoes that are wider than normal? I’m sure D2 (or others) could custom make a pair, but right now I can’t swing the $1,000 cost. Are there commercial shoes that you could recommend?
—Mark

Dear Mark,
I by no means have done an exhaustive search, but I do have a list of shoes that don’t work for me! What I have found to work for me are Sidis, and I have increased them by a half size as well.
―Lennard

Dear Lennard,

I enjoy your articles and noticed the issue of MN come up, as I’ve dealt with it in the past. I have very wide forefeet (9.5, DDDDD) and found relief from wide shoes, custom D2 shoes on the bike, and using YogaToes. Each of my symptoms subsided for five years, but seem to have come back after doing a large number of miles in August and starting to run in preparation for ‘cross season.

I hope the YogaToes are a helpful recommendation for you, and wanted to see if you could share the exercises/stretches that you perform?
—Chris

Dear Chris,
Running — that will get you! I love cyclocross, but I’m not willing to run to train for it. My feet can’t take it, nor can my lower back. The amount of running in cyclocross is fine for me, but not much more.

I haven’t yet tried the YogaToes. Interested to do so.
Stretches I do are all while seated:

30 seconds of pushing down and back on my heel with my toes curled under (tops of toes down against pad on floor) and pointed back, ever increasing how much the toes are bent back.
30 seconds of pushing down and forward on my heel with my toes flexed (bottom of toes down against floor), pointed forward, ever increasing how much the toes are flexed.
Shove fingers between all of the toes as far down toward their bases as possible. Hold 30 seconds.
30 seconds of consciously spreading toes as far as possible, then pushing on medial and lateral tendons to get the smallest and biggest toes to go wider.
Scrunch up a towel with toes repeatedly.

―Lennard

Dear Lennard,

I looked up Morton’s Neuroma after reading your recent article where you showed your spacers and briefly talked about it.

I believe I have this on both feet and that it was caused by a pair of Vittoria cycling shoes I recently gave up using. (I bought them new back in the early 1990s and they were black leather with laces and had Look drilling. I loved these shoes.) As I said, I recently stopped wearing them when I figured out that they were probably the cause. I noticed one day that the sole had a lot more upward bend at the ball of the foot. Did I say I loved those shoes!

Anyway, I see you put a spacer between your toes. What does that do?

I have numbness at the balls of my feet with noticeable dead toes. If I press hard enough at the third toe (on the bottom of the foot) there is a pain like someone poking a knife on my toe.

I know you are not a doctor, but what do you suggest to solve this? I went to a podiatrist and he suggested I take Evening Primrose Oil and wear flat shoes (I always wear roper-heeled cowboy boots).
—Mark

Dear Mark,
I’m sorry, but I don’t know what to do about your problem. It is not one I have, and, as you say, I’m not a doctor.

As for why I wear the spacers (as well as custom orthotics), Morton’s Neuroma pain is the same type of pain between the metatarsals as between the knuckles when somebody squeezes your hand too hard when giving you an exuberant handshake. The nerves are simply getting pinched between the bones, so by spacing the bones apart, I get relief. It’s neuritis when the nerves are inflamed and neuroma when they develop lesions on them (from long-term inflammation).

It doesn’t sound like what you have if your pain is straight up at the toe. I get that knifing pain if I squeeze my metatarsals together, not if I push up on my toe.
―Lennard

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Lennard Zinn

Lennard Zinn

Our longtime technical writer joined VeloNews in 1987. He is also a framebuilder, a former U.S. National Team rider, and author of many bicycle books, including Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes and Zinn's Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College. Readers can send brief technical questions to Ask LZ.

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