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  1. #1
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    What are the true advantages of carbon wheels?

    I have regular mavic wheels on my bike, but I was wondering what are the true advantages of carbon wheels like Zipps or Mavic Carbones ? - I would like to upgrade my wheels. I think the carbon wheels look very sharp but I want to understand the mechanical advantage (if any) of them.

    I was told at my LBS that the carbon wheels are heavier than normal wheels and thus rotate more (have more momentum).

    What are somethings to consider when choosing the carbon wheels?

    In addition, what are the advantages of a tubeless wheels is any.

    Thanks,

  2. #2
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    another things I noticed is the ZIPPS are 50% of their surface carbon, where mavics have much less carbon... etc, how does this affect anything?

  3. #3
    avatar by Sean Powers mike868y's Avatar
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    They are more aerodynamic and since they are tubular people tend to say they ride better.
    Quote Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
    it depends

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    are they all tubular really? that is a bummer....

    When you say more areo - you mean they slive through the wind better - what about what I was told by my LBS about weight.

  5. #5
    Roadie brian416's Avatar
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    There are alot of wheels that are clinchers, some companies have full carbon clinchers and others like zipp, use a metal brake tract

  6. #6
    Aluminium Crusader :-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Profoxcg View Post
    are they all tubular really? that is a bummer....

    When you say more areo - you mean they slive through the wind better - what about what I was told by my LBS about weight.
    The 'concern' about external rotating wheel weight on bikes is one of the biggest scams going on at the moment, so don't worry about that bit, however, if you'd rather have sub-1500g wheels that 1900g wheels, then fair enough. Some deep rims are heavy, and a lot of people prefer lighter wheels.

    Carbon can obviously be made very light (some wheel-sets are less than 1kg!!), which some people like when going up hills, but most people buy deep carbon wheels for aerodynamics. However, the benefits are usually way overstated: very expensive wheels only cut about 15 to 20 watts of drag compared to 'normal' wheels with 24 to 28 spokes, and that's only at 'speed', which is over 40/45km/h! Sometimes the difference is less. Check out the list below -- some of the most expensive wheels are only a few watts faster than the very cheap 'R' series Shimano wheels.

    Nah, they're not all tubulars. Many deep clincher rims are heavy (some around 600+ grams), even for carbon, especially those with alu braking surfaces, which has put people off buying them, so a lot of companies are going to tubulars to cut weight, mostly for 'sellability'.




    Drag at 50 kph

    http://www.rouesartisanales.over-blo...-15505311.html

    .....................................................drag (w).......rim depth (mm)......spokes

    Zipp 808 2007.....................................16.7............82...................18
    Xentis MK 1 TT 2007............................17.1............58....................4
    Citec 6000 Cx 2007.............................19.2............49..................12
    Ritchey WCS Carbon 2005...................19.3............58..................16
    HED 3 2006..........................................19.7............54...................3
    Zipp 404 2007......................................19.9............58..................18
    Sonic Super 50mm 2007.......................20.4............50.................20
    Vuelta Carbon Pro WR 2006.................20.8............58..................12
    Corima Aero 2007.................................21.0............45..................18
    Easton Tempest II 2005.......................21.6............58..................18
    CKT Splendor 2005...............................21.7............45..................16
    Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL ....................21.9............52..................16
    Lightweight Standard G3 2007.............22.2............53...................16
    Shimano WH7801 Carbon 50 2006.......22.9............50..................16
    Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate ...........22.9............40..................20
    Campagnolo Bora 2005........................23.0............50....................18
    Rose Aerospoke 2006...........................23.0............53.....................4
    Corima Turbospoke 2006......................23.1............38.....................3
    Shimano WH7850 C50 2007.................23.2............50...................16
    Bontrager Race light Carbon 2005........23.4............43...................16
    Lew Racing Pro VT-1 2007....................23.4............46...................16
    Shimano WH7850 C24 2007.................23.5............28...................16
    Corima Tune 20 Aerolite 2007...............23.7............45....................20
    Fulcrum Racing Speed 2006..................23.7............50....................18
    Specialized Royal Rapid Star 2007.........23.8............32....................20
    Gipiemme Carbon 5.5 2005...................24.1............55...................20
    Tune Olympic Gold 2005........................24.1............45....................16
    Shimano WH7801 Carbon 2006.............24.4............29...................16
    FRM FL-R 23 SD 2006.............................24.6............37...................20
    Lightweight Standard G3 2007..............24.6............53...................20
    Lightweight Obermayer G1 2005...........24.8............53..................20
    American Classic 420 2007....................24.9............34...................18
    Ritchey Pro 2007...................................24.9............27...................20
    Xentis Mark 1 2005 ..............................25.0............42.....................4
    Speedcomposites Sinus 2007...............25.2............26.....................24
    Citec 3000s Aero 2005..........................25.5............30...................12
    Shimano R550 2007..............................25.9............24...................20
    Shimano R560 2006..............................26.1............24....................16
    Shimano R561 2007..............................26.2............24....................16
    Campagnolo Scirocco 2007....................27.3............24....................20
    Lightweight Ventoux 2006.....................27.3............28.....................20
    Fulcrum Racing 5 Evolution 2007............27.6............24....................20
    Campagnolo Eurus 2006........................27.8............24..................16
    Tune Skyline KOM 2006..........................28.1............24.....................20
    Mavic Aksium 2008.................................28.3............22....................20
    Xtreme Light Wheels 2007.....................28.6............31.....................24
    FSA RD-600 2006...................................28.7............30....................18
    Easton Vista SL 2007.............................30.0............30.....................20
    Mavic Aksium Race 2006.........................30.0............21.....................20
    Mavic Ksyrium Equipe 2007.....................30.0............23.....................20
    Citec 3000s Aero 16-spoke.....................30.6............24.....................16
    Mavic Aksium Race 2007.........................31.1............21...................20
    Ambrosio X-Carbo 2005..........................31.5............46...................28
    Campagnolo Vento 2007.........................31.5............24...................24
    A-Class ALX 440 SL 2007.........................31.9............23...................20
    Campagnolo Hyperon 2006......................32.1............19...................22
    Fulcrum Racing 7 2007..............................32.8............24...................20
    Mavic Ksyrium ES 2006.............................33.2............21...................18
    Mavic R-SYS 2007.....................................35.0............22.................16

  7. #7
    climbing tubescreamerx's Avatar
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    your LBS is crazy. "the carbon wheels are heavier than normal wheels and thus rotate more"?

    that doesn't really make sense, but okay.

  8. #8
    Senior Member MONGO!'s Avatar
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    That guy in your LBS is talking out his ass.

    The main advantage is weight. Carbon is light, so you can make the rim deeper and more aerodynamic while keeping weight down.

    They come in tubular and clincher versions, tubular is lighter.

    Cosmic Carbone's are not really "carbon wheels" per se, they have a carbon fairing to give the aero advantage but it's not a structural part of the rim. As a result, they are on the heavy side, since there is an alu rim underneath the fairing which the spokes attach to.
    Good thing is they are strong and reliable.

  9. #9
    Aluminium Crusader :-)
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    Although........

    some deep carbon rims are on the heavy side: my Flashpoint FP60 rims are 590g, which is slightly heavier than Velocity Deep Vs and DT RR1.2s; and the 50mm Gigantex clinchers (they're on some Token and Pro-Lite wheels, etc) with the alu braking surface are pushing 700g !

    http://www.bdopcycling.com/GroupBuys-Rims.asp

  10. #10
    Senior Member MONGO!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 531Aussie View Post
    Although........
    Compared to an equivalent depth alu rm?

    Exactly.

  11. #11
    Aluminium Crusader :-)
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    Yeah, but don't you think 590g or 690g is heavy for a rim?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 531Aussie View Post
    However, the benefits are usually way overstated: very expensive wheels only cut about 15 to 20 watts of drag compared to 'normal' wheels with 24 to 28 spokes, and that's only at 'speed', which is over 40/45km/h!
    Interesting chart. Does anyone have the figures to compare to a low profile box section rim with 32 spokes? And how much do these numbers drop when the speed drops to about 35km/h?

  13. #13
    Peloton Dog patentcad's Avatar
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    I can only speak to the false advantages of CF wheels.

  14. #14
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    Banned. timmyquest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Profoxcg View Post

    I was told at my LBS that the carbon wheels are heavier than normal wheels and thus rotate more (have more momentum).
    The sales pitches from bike shops as told on Bikeforums.net have gotten pretty good.

  16. #16
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timmyquest View Post
    The sales pitches from bike shops as told on Bikeforums.net have gotten pretty good.
    They're selling the wrong wheels. Zipp 404 tubulars are something like 1250g for the pair these days. Light AND aero.
    "Unless he was racing there was no way he could match my speed."

  17. #17
    Senior Member AnthonyG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MONGO! View Post

    The main advantage is weight. Carbon is light, so you can make the rim deeper and more aerodynamic while keeping weight down.
    This is basically the answer. The thing that makes "Carbon" wheels fast is NOT the carbon but the fact they have deep sections of 40mm or even 60mm. This makes them more aerodynamic but a wheel rim this deep in aluminium would be very heavy. Now while these very deep carbon rims still aren't that light they are lighter than if they were made with aluminium so they are a much better proposition for an all round wheel.

    Anthony

  18. #18
    Banned. timmyquest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
    The thing that makes "Carbon" wheels fast is NOT the carbon but the fact they have deep sections of 40mm or even 60mm.
    ...
    ...
    Anthony
    Yeah...right.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Profoxcg View Post
    I have regular mavic wheels on my bike, but I was wondering what are the true advantages of carbon wheels like Zipps or Mavic Carbones ? - I would like to upgrade my wheels. I think the carbon wheels look very sharp but I want to understand the mechanical advantage (if any) of them.

    I was told at my LBS that the carbon wheels are heavier than normal wheels and thus rotate more (have more momentum).

    What are somethings to consider when choosing the carbon wheels?

    In addition, what are the advantages of a tubeless wheels is any.

    Thanks,

    They make a really cool sound while riding

  20. #20
    Super Moderator
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    It seems there are a few answers to the multiple questions from the OP. To clarify I'll deal with all at once

    Material:

    Carbon fiber is a resin (plastic if you will) reinforced with carbon fiber. Both are extremely brittle in their native state, but together they form a very strong (but still brittle) material. The resin helps distribute the load across the carbon fiber threads, and the threads keep the resin from breaking too easily by spreading the load to more than one or two CF threads.

    Is it a fairing or a rim?

    There are TWO kinds of "aero" carbon fiber wheels, and this has nothing to do with tire type. There is the "faired" rim and the "structural" rim (my terms). The fairing wheels are typically aluminum rimmed wheels with a carbon fiber (or just plain plastic) fairing on it. You can tell a fairing wheel because the holes for the spokes are big (because the spokes are not anchored in the fairing, they're anchored up at the rim). Big companies that make fairing wheels are HED, Bontrager, and the aforementioned Cosmic Carbone (they were the first fairing wheel). HED's new disk wheel is a fairing as well - they build a normal wheel and glue sides to it.

    A fairing wheel is typically more comfortable (longer spokes by 2 cm or so), weaker (the fairing is not really structural so the wheel usually needs more spokes or a heavier rim), and more flexible (another word for comfortable). I was severely disappointed in the Cosmic Carbones I used for a month or two, as compared to my Zipps and TriSpoke (now HED3).

    The Zipps and TriSpoke/HED3s are structural carbon fiber. The spoke nipples are anchored in the "v" of the rim, whether hidden (Reynolds) or not (Zipp). HED3s and other 3-4-5 spoke wheels are structural simply because if you remove the carbon, there are no spokes left. Anyway, a structural carbon rim, a tall one (I'm skipping the climbing specific non-aero ones) has shorter spokes and a taller rim.

    These wheels, if the rim is built right, are stiffer laterally (due to shorter spokes and hopefully a laterally stiff rim - the initial ones were not very stiff laterally), usually lighter (you can use carbon for the rim material since the rim/fairing is one piece).

    I never understood how a fairing wheel could be legal because aerodynamic fairings are not allowed. I learned that manufacturers (Mavic was the first one) claimed the fairings were "rim stiffeners" to get around the actual benefit of the fairings, namely the aerodynamics.

    Although I'd say that a true carbon fiber fairing may stiffen the wheel a bit, the Mavic claim seemed like a joke - they used a vacuum-formed black plastic fairing in their initial Cosmic Carbone, one so flimsy you could squeeze the halves together. Try doing that with a structural carbon rim - you can't squeeze them at all.

    Tire type?

    It's much easier to make a clincher wheel using the fairing method. Just get a normal clincher rim, glue a fairing onto it. Making a carbon clincher is tough, the bead wall of the clincher is not conducive towards the "pull" stress that carbon is good at resisting. All this is because clinchers rely on the rim to hold in air pressure, a substantial force at 100-150 psi (typical range, although it can go higher). There may be 70 or 80 square inches on a rim, so a total of 700-1200 pounds of force trying to blow the two sides of the rim off.

    It's relatively easy to make carbon tubulars because the tires themselves hold all the air pressure, so initially that's all you saw, tubular carbon wheels. Some manufacturers have figured out how to make strong carbon clinchers (Reynolds is the one that comes to mind, I think others include Lightweight and LEW). Campy, or as someone pointed out, Corima for Campy, make rims limited to 118 psi in pressure (according to their manual).

    cdr

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