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Carbon vs. aluminum rims: can you feel a difference?

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Carbon vs. aluminum rims: can you feel a difference?

Old 06-05-19, 10:03 AM
  #26  
KLiNCK
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I’ve never ridden carbon rims but you sure can tell who is... they have a distinctive “ barrel rolling” type sound that I’ve never heard from alloy rims.
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Old 06-05-19, 10:06 AM
  #27  
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If I understand your question, you’re wondering if there are differences beyond the ones you would control in a comparison test (ie the shape profiles, the weight etc). At the same time, you're aware that you can’t control all the variables because to create the point of comparison, you have to assume away the differences that would arise in order to make the comparison in the first place (eg. if same two shapes, then the durability would be different).

I have cited a web site that compares the materials and you might get the info you’re looking for : Aluminium vs carbon fiber? comparison of materials
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Old 06-05-19, 10:31 AM
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Trans Am race leader is now south of Missoula MT , maybe you can ask them as they all ride by..

front 993 miles along, rear most 171 in.
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Old 06-05-19, 11:06 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Hence, I anticipated this objection:



The main point is whether carbon per se feels any different, or whether it is the secondary effects -- lighter weight, ability to make aero rims, etc, that make the claimed difference?

This is very much the equivalent of "Ignoring all the advancements between the Wright Flyer and a 747, if a Wright Flyer were the same size and could fly just as far in the same comfort--which is better?"

Assuming two unequal things are magically made equal, like they never are o r ever can be--which is better?
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Old 06-05-19, 12:10 PM
  #30  
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You can feel it in your wallet when you have to replace your scabbed up CF rims if you dont have disc brakes.
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Old 06-05-19, 12:24 PM
  #31  
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? Take it from some experts ?

Here are your 9 best fast road wheels for 2019. Only 2 are Al.

http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/...e-wheels-2019/

and of course this is a 100% unbiased selection.

To save some reading: 2 from Shimano, 2 from Campy, 2 from Mavic, 1 Bontrager (Trek), 1 Roval (Specialized), 1 Zipp.
I wonder who advertizes with Cycling News?

edit: Avg price for these 9 wheelsets is $1800+. Lowest = $710; Highest = $3200; Median = $2000
@rydabent's got it right. Biggest 'feel' is in the wallet. Let your disposable income do the talking.
Personally, I try never to let my ass (which would be the body part most affected by wheel/tire choice) dictate decisions for the rest of my body. Except in saddle&shorts choices!
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Old 06-05-19, 01:03 PM
  #32  
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Carbon versus Alum

Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Let's say for the sake of argument everything is the same (weight, tires -- let's pick something cushie and road-insulating like 38mm Compass, hubs, bike, rider). The only difference is the composition of the rims. "Aero profile" is the same. Number of spokes is the same. Also, assume both have the same disc brakes, so we aren't talking about rim brake differences.

I recognize all of these assumptions are a bit artificial and might be hard to realize, but the point is if you could control for everything else, could you feel a difference with carbon rims due simply to their composition? If so, how would you describe the difference in ride quality?
Can not speak for your hypothetical. In our herd of bikes, we do have one unicorn that is sporting 50 deep carbon aero wheels, but they are rim brake. We have one deepish (IIRC 38 maybe?) alum wheel, on a disc brake road bike. There is of course some weight penalty for the deeper alum rim even over some of our shallower climbing alum rims, but truly not significant. Neither takes anything as large as the compass 38's. Think we have a 23 that measures to a 25 on the carbon, and 28's on the alum. The deeper dish carbon wheels spin up similarly and are certainly as comfortable as the alum wheel, they just seem to hold their speed a little easier. They are both very nice wheel sets, and I would say equally comfortable riding. I can't say I can feel a comfort difference between them, though there is a slight performance difference, with the emphasis on slight.
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Old 06-05-19, 01:38 PM
  #33  
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I remember how different my Bianchi Specialissima felt when I replaced a Campy Record/Mavic MA4 wheel set with a set of Hi-E wheels---their lightest set, with riveted ultra-thin-wall rims and their tiny aluminum front skewer. It made the bike feel as top-heavy as a clown bike.
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Old 06-05-19, 05:43 PM
  #34  
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I have read aboutn 100x times on mtbr that riders can actually feel a difference between alu and crabon. and they all prefer crabon. its stiffer somehow.

for road use i'm sceptical. i cant even detecta a real difference between xc and dh rims. several 100g there. on the road that is.
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Old 06-05-19, 05:48 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
This is very much the equivalent of "Ignoring all the advancements between the Wright Flyer and a 747, if a Wright Flyer were the same size and could fly just as far in the same comfort--which is better?"

Assuming two unequal things are magically made equal, like they never are o r ever can be--which is better?
That pre-supposes the differences are significant, which was, in fact, the question.
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Old 06-05-19, 06:05 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
That pre-supposes the differences are significant, which was, in fact, the question.
Uhh...You might want to review your question. You intentionally told respondents to ignore all actual technical differences, assume unequal things were magically equal, and focus solely on ride quality....something largely determined by tire choice, size, and pressure.

You can do much more, engineering wise, with CF with less mass. Further it isn't all about aerodynamic gains; haven't you wondered why CX racers use deep-section rims when they almost never are going fast enough for aerodynamics to really matter? Because deeper-rims shed mud better and don't get sucked in within mud as much; and CF means you can run deeper rims without mass penalty
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Old 06-05-19, 06:15 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
You can do much more, engineering wise, with CF with less mass. Further it isn't all about aerodynamic gains; haven't you wondered why CX racers use deep-section rims when they almost never are going fast enough for aerodynamics to really matter? Because deeper-rims shed mud better and don't get sucked in within mud as much; and CF means you can run deeper rims without mass penalty
No, I asked respondents to focus on the material itself, vs. its consequences. Then for the deliberately obtuse who revel in the internet game of playing contrarian, I stated it a different way -- compare low-profile carbon disc rims to similarly-shaped and weighted low-profile aluminum rims, or if that is still far too abstract, compare Santa Cruz Reserve rims to HED Belgium Plus rims.

The folks who feign that the question is impossible to answer are tacitly suggesting that there is no substantive difference.

Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
focus solely on ride quality....something largely determined by tire choice, size, and pressure.
OK, I have to give you some credit for inadvertantly answering my question: carbon lets you make pretty shapes, but doesn't directly affect ride quality.

Last edited by wgscott; 06-05-19 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 06-05-19, 06:19 PM
  #38  
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what the hell are you guys blabbering about? technical differences?? carbon looks cool. isn't that good enough now somehow?
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Old 06-05-19, 08:26 PM
  #39  
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Carbon vs Aluminum Feel

I just got my first set of carbon wheels and I think the carbons feel stiffer. Also, it seems in my first couple rides my braking distance has increased. I had read that would happen, especially in wet conditions.

It is kinda funny, when I notice these differences between carbon and aluminum, I always wonder if I'm really noticing it or if I'm just expecting to notice it. Okay, thats enough philosophy for this post
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Old 06-05-19, 11:39 PM
  #40  
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You won't find aluminum vs carbon an exact duplicate wheel in shape. It just doesn't happen. My Culprit Croz Blade came with 55mm Token aero carbon rims, great aero properties, nice stiff ride, very light and responsive. But too crosswind sensitive. I got a deal on a set of Reynolds Assault carbon rims in a 41mm height. Nice and stiff, maybe not as aero, but equal to lower profile rims in cross wind sensitivity. The stiffness is what I appreciate. They roll right over road imperfections, rocks and debris that would knock my old lower profile aluminum Mavic rims offline. The tires are Gatorback 25s on both my carbon and aluminum rims. I can't compare on the same bike because the aluminum rims are rim brake and the carbon rims are disc specific. I don't trust rim brakes on carbon. Too many variables. Hard to compare oranges against apples. I love my carbon rims but for one 1/10 the cost, the aluminum rims work pretty well.
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Old 06-06-19, 01:07 AM
  #41  
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I originally though the OP was talking the "feel" of the wheel, not any aero benefits, but more along the line of vibration transmitted (or not), flex, rolling feel, etc..

FWIW, when we recently had out house renovated, the contactor has a hammer and a sledge hammer with carbon fiber composite handles. He also had the same head weight hammers in the fiberglass and some in hickory wood handles. After I did some test swings and nailing, it did 'feel' (to me) like the CF handles had a greater damping effect with the next being the fiberglass and the harshest being good old hickory. They were very expensive, but he swore that his fatigue level with the CF versions after a day of work was much less and his hands were not numb.

None of the hammers were aero... The carbon ones did have large decals touting their composition. He also never had one fail.
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Old 06-06-19, 05:20 AM
  #42  
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Let's use specific examples. eg. how would the feel or riding characteristics differ between these 2 wheelsets. Leaving durability or robustness out of the question

https://www.lightbicycle.com/U-shape...ompatible.html

vs

https://www.bike24.com/p2306399.html?q=tune+35
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Old 06-06-19, 07:40 AM
  #43  
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well, we have this one:

Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
compare low-profile carbon disc rims to similarly-shaped and weighted low-profile aluminum rims, or if that is still far too abstract, compare Santa Cruz Reserve rims to HED Belgium Plus rims.
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Old 06-06-19, 08:08 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I recognize all of these assumptions are a bit artificial and might be hard to realize, but the point is if you could control for everything else, could you feel a difference with carbon rims due simply to their composition? If so, how would you describe the difference in ride quality?
Feel the difference: Does that include all the senses? The empirical senses? Then may we include the "sound" of carbon wheels as a rider goes over 20 mph?

I might suggest that its the composite of all that to make my ride a "ride quality".

Thus, its not just about the speed or the perceived speed.
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Old 06-06-19, 09:46 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
Feel the difference: Does that include all the senses? The empirical senses?
Thus, its not just about the speed or the perceived speed.
Smell and taste; not so much.
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Old 06-06-19, 09:56 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by subgrade View Post
I reckon the inherent difference might be the same as with other components - allowing for some flex in desired direction while maintaining stiffness in others. The Zipp single wall MTB rims are specifically designed wit that in mind. https://www.zipp.com/wheels/3zero-moto-rim/
I tend to agree.

It is not something which can be easily quantified. Carbon wheels certainly feel different apart from aero, weight, number of spokes, etc. Bump absorption is different.


-Tim-
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Old 06-06-19, 05:23 PM
  #47  
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A good read about research and development of Zipp rims. Authoritative answers to many of the questions here. Along with good explanations for why facts don't much matter.

https://blog.silca.cc/road-to-roubai...lete-story-1-0

Many possible avenues for further development of aluminum rims have been thrown away because carbon. That is my editorial, not what the article above is talking about.
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Old 06-06-19, 07:56 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
A good read about research and development of Zipp rims. Authoritative answers to many of the questions here. Along with good explanations for why facts don't much matter.

https://blog.silca.cc/road-to-roubai...lete-story-1-0

Many possible avenues for further development of aluminum rims have been thrown away because carbon. That is my editorial, not what the article above is talking about.


That article was great!

The test plan was to have them ride various lines to see if they could break the wheels and also to try and determine the handling characteristic the riders were after.


Everyone should read it. Seriously, it is a good article and addresses the questions here.


-Tim-

Last edited by TimothyH; 06-06-19 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 06-07-19, 05:02 AM
  #49  
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Do all aluminum rims ride the same? Can you tell one aluminum rim from another? Describe the difference. Quantify the difference. Good luck.

Many posters above praise the stiffness of carbon. Stiffness always explains everything good. In actual Instron testing recounted in article cited above Poertner discovered aluminum rimmed wheels were stiffer than carbon.

Try to separate wheel characteristics resultant from spoking as against wheel characteristics resultant from rim material. Can you do that? And put it in simple English? Devise a repeatable experiment that separates spoking characteristics from material characteristics.

One simple experiment anyone can do. Have a friend sit on a bicycle. Preferably a heavy friend. But also try with a light friend and note the differences. You also need a tension meter to perform this experiment. From reading wheel threads here I know that most hate tension meters with a passion but you will need one to perform the experiment. Check spoke tension of top spoke and bottom spoke. Also check spoke tension of spokes adjacent to bottom spoke. Repeat with a variety of wheels. After performing this experiment you should know that near 100% of everything you have ever read about wheels is not worthy of further consideration. Do the experiment and you will know something.
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