Tubular is better for cross - that goes without saying.
But the real question thats burning in my brain is carbon or aluminum? I had moderate success last year running the stock clincher setup on my Felt F75x - getting away with pressures of 35-38psi or so. No pinch flats yet, but its only a matter of time.
I am going to order a tubular wheel set this year for the fall season, but I'm trying to determine the pros and cons of either wheel.
- Deeper section "apparently" is better in deep sand and mud.
- Can use in the summer as a road tubular wheel
- Cost. Not only initial cost, but also replacement. We all know in cross, run it only if you can afford to break it.
- Braking performance, even worse when wet
- Brake pads - requires dedicated pads. Pit wheels are aluminum which pose a problem
- Durability. No doubt they are stiff, but what about bottoming out on a rock or root?
- No need to change brake pads
- More durable during a bottom out??
- Heavier (marginally)
- Utilitarian looking
- Not worth (IMO) using as a road tubular for summer - I have Soul 3.0SL clinchers
So there are the factors as I see them. I'm a Cat B racer, so there's tons of room for improvement fitness and bike handling wise, but does the extra cost/risks worth it going carbon?
BTW, both are 23mm wide - carbons are 38mm deep and the aluminums are Major Tom based.
Test results I saw showed that tired glued to carbon rim only has about 75% of the roll-off resistance strength of same tire & glue on well prepared alloy rims.
CX magazine did test last year and pretty much concluded that deep dish rims were not an advantage in deep mud. Tall sides on the rim provide more surface for friction as they cut through the mud. Look at the rims that the euro pros are riding for CX this past season, most of them have gone back to using much shallower rim depth and what was in fasion 2-3 years back.