When I started riding serious bikes in the late 70s, I used clincher wheels and clincher tires. Both, as I remember it, were awful. When I started racing in 79, I had some tubular wheels built of course, and used the clinchers for training runs. That didnt really go well, compared to the race wheels, so I had another pair of tubular wheels made, for training. So I had a lot of punctures (training in bad weather), and changed to clinchers again ... Somewhere in the early or mid-80s the first decent clinchers came out, the Michelin Elan I think they were called. I raced them too, not bad, but a far cry from my Vittoria tubulars. So now, 20, 25 years later, I ride clinchers exclusively, several wheelsets have Veloflex Black tires. Very nice indeed, very quick feeling at the right pressure.
I believe that a main reason for the difference in feel, even with a really good clincher tire like the Veloflex, is the rim: a tubular rim is probably a bit more flexible (lower profile, different section) than the common mid to high profile clincher rim. On one wheelset I have the slimmest clincher rims available (Ambrosio Excellight), 32 spokes (3-cross), DT Revolution spokes (very light), and that comes a bit closer to the old feel of a well built tubular wheel with a quality tubular. But its not there, and will never be.
Dont mean to say tubulars are better though, just different. However in my more sentimental moments I really miss those 32 spoke GP4's with the Vittoria Servizio Corsa's .....
Freek 'sentimental' Faro