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Are Carbon Wheelset Generally Stronger than Aluminum Wheelset?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Are Carbon Wheelset Generally Stronger than Aluminum Wheelset?

Old 04-24-19, 03:29 PM
  #51  
cycledogg
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
This one causes me to break out in hives.

Carbon rims, on average, are orders of magnitude straighter and more consistent out of the box than aluminum rims are.
The fact that you say you can "I can true up an alloy rim within .05mm." demonstrates that this is something you seemingly have to do often and I assure you that if you true all of your aluminum rims to under 0.05mm that your tension variance is so high that you're rims are going out of true often when being ridden or you're paying an immense ton of money on your rims. Quite simply the extrusion process for creating an aluminum rim is highly prone to small issues that the vast majority of extruders just can not control. These small variances in something as little extrusion pressure can greatly affect wall thickness variance. That variance can be in spec but will require a large tension variance in the spokes in order to maintain true. All looks good on the stand then you ride it...womp womp.

To top this off the process for forming the extrusions into a round rim and then connecting the two ends (pinning, sleeving, welding, etc) is by it's nature another natural point in which small variances are introduced into the rim's shape. Back long ago all the Kinlin XR300 rims of which we sold 1,000+ all had the same slight low spot about an inch from the rim joint. Turns out that's where they had a clamp holding it while joining. It was consistent, repeatable and introduced a tension variance that you had to handle a certain way.

Carbon rims deviate from this immensely. While they do have variances - like all manufactured items - the number of them that you can simply bring up to tension and have be almost at finish spec initially is astonishing. The rims are way more consistent. They don't change through use like aluminum rims do as well.

I have piles of aluminum rims that have been rejected due to variances being bad enough to prevent me from being able to build with them. Not so with carbon. Lucky for me I get to stretch tubulars on them.
Mr. Psimet, I know you are a true wheelsmith but I do not have to true my wheels often. Yes, having a true wheel is a pet peeve of mine, but I do not "over-true" my wheelsets. I use various high end and low end wheels. Carbon and alloy. And it seems to me that there is a better chance to get an alloy wheel more to my acceptance than a full carbon rim. All I know is what I know. And for me, the carbon brake track is not as smooth as a good alloy brake track. Perhaps I am using the wrong set point for truing a wheel. I use the brake track as a reference to true a wheel. JMHO I do not want to get into a "How to true a wheel" spat. It's an art, we all have our own special touch to create what we consider a well built wheel. The OP was asking if Carbon wheels are Generally Stronger than Alloy wheels. My answer is still no with respect to age. I believe that a carbon wheel will get brittle, and not with stand fatigue after time when an alloy wheel will last longer.
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Old 04-24-19, 04:02 PM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by cycledogg View Post
Mr. Psimet, I know you are a true wheelsmith but I do not have to true my wheels often. Yes, having a true wheel is a pet peeve of mine, but I do not "over-true" my wheelsets. I use various high end and low end wheels. Carbon and alloy. And it seems to me that there is a better chance to get an alloy wheel more to my acceptance than a full carbon rim. All I know is what I know. And for me, the carbon brake track is not as smooth as a good alloy brake track. Perhaps I am using the wrong set point for truing a wheel. I use the brake track as a reference to true a wheel. JMHO I do not want to get into a "How to true a wheel" spat. It's an art, we all have our own special touch to create what we consider a well built wheel. The OP was asking if Carbon wheels are Generally Stronger than Alloy wheels. My answer is still no with respect to age. I believe that a carbon wheel will get brittle, and not with stand fatigue after time when an alloy wheel will last longer.

Interesting belief...given that aluminum, like carbon fiber, does not have a fatigue limit.

https://www.quora.com/How-does-carbo...ave-in-fatigue
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Old 04-24-19, 05:04 PM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by cycledogg View Post
Mr. Psimet, I know you are a true wheelsmith but I do not have to true my wheels often. Yes, having a true wheel is a pet peeve of mine, but I do not "over-true" my wheelsets. I use various high end and low end wheels. Carbon and alloy. And it seems to me that there is a better chance to get an alloy wheel more to my acceptance than a full carbon rim. All I know is what I know. And for me, the carbon brake track is not as smooth as a good alloy brake track. Perhaps I am using the wrong set point for truing a wheel. I use the brake track as a reference to true a wheel. JMHO I do not want to get into a "How to true a wheel" spat. It's an art, we all have our own special touch to create what we consider a well built wheel. The OP was asking if Carbon wheels are Generally Stronger than Alloy wheels. My answer is still no with respect to age. I believe that a carbon wheel will get brittle, and not with stand fatigue after time when an alloy wheel will last longer.
You can believe what you want but when it's simply incorrect and you post it online then it deserves to be corrected. Aluminum has a defined fatigue life and that fatigue life is generally shorter than for carbon fiber using the same load and cycles.

As for your "not as smooth" with reference to the brake track - I have no idea what you're referring to. If you're trying to say that you use gauges to do your truing and you "believe" that those gauges tend to jump around more on a carbon track than on an aluminum one I would simply have to call you out on basing this on your own anecdotal evidence.

There is no question on this point. It is not up for debate. After thousands of wheels built that range through almost all aluminum offerings and a ton of carbon offerings I can unequivocally state, as an expert, that carbon rims are markedly more precise in construction, are stronger, and build up with less variance in tension balance than aluminum rims.

You can continue to disagree with me but quite simply you're wrong and it's a bit like arguing with a plumber and trying to convince him that your poop doesn't in fact stink.
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Old 04-24-19, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
You can believe what you want but when it's simply incorrect and you post it online then it deserves to be corrected. Aluminum has a defined fatigue life and that fatigue life is generally shorter than for carbon fiber using the same load and cycles.

As for your "not as smooth" with reference to the brake track - I have no idea what you're referring to. If you're trying to say that you use gauges to do your truing and you "believe" that those gauges tend to jump around more on a carbon track than on an aluminum one I would simply have to call you out on basing this on your own anecdotal evidence.

There is no question on this point. It is not up for debate. After thousands of wheels built that range through almost all aluminum offerings and a ton of carbon offerings I can unequivocally state, as an expert, that carbon rims are markedly more precise in construction, are stronger, and build up with less variance in tension balance than aluminum rims.

You can continue to disagree with me but quite simply you're wrong and it's a bit like arguing with a plumber and trying to convince him that your poop doesn't in fact stink.
So why are so many folks leery and cautious about buying older used carbon wheels (or any carbon bike parts, forks and handlebars to mention a few) if carbon is this oh so strong material? If it is in fact so strong and durable, that it will out last aluminum, and can with stand years of use and fatigue why would one question the condition of a old, used carbon wheel and just buy it knowing that it is just too durable to have any defect from use until who knows when, (or do you know that time limit?). Why is there not more consumer items made of this carbon? A full carbon car, or military tank, highway bridge. It's strong, light, durable and can hold it's shape much better that any alloy material. Do away with steel, concrete, iron and all metals. Carbon is the answer. We could build automobile motors from carbon, the tolerance factor on carbon should be much more easy to make and hold. Those motors should last at least a century. Arguing with some who know it all, is like arguing with a mule, there's one in every herd.
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Old 04-24-19, 05:38 PM
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Lol. Yeah, nothing's made out of carbon.
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Old 04-24-19, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by cycledogg View Post
So why are so many folks leery and cautious about buying older used carbon wheels (or any carbon bike parts, forks and handlebars to mention a few) if carbon is this oh so strong material? If it is in fact so strong and durable, that it will out last aluminum, and can with stand years of use and fatigue why would one question the condition of a old, used carbon wheel and just buy it knowing that it is just too durable to have any defect from use until who knows when, (or do you know that time limit?). Why is there not more consumer items made of this carbon? A full carbon car, or military tank, highway bridge. It's strong, light, durable and can hold it's shape much better that any alloy material. Do away with steel, concrete, iron and all metals. Carbon is the answer. We could build automobile motors from carbon, the tolerance factor on carbon should be much more easy to make and hold. Those motors should last at least a century. Arguing with some who know it all, is like arguing with a mule, there's one in every herd.
Oh FFS. The world is literally full of things made from carbon. Car components, airplane parts, tons of military items. Like any other material there are uses for it in applications where it is well suited and uses where it isn't well suited.

You do realize that we deal with carbon composites in the cycling world.... that means only part of the product is made of actual carbon fiber. The rest is made up of the resins. There's tons of different resins out there with varying qualities.

Aluminum is a great material for its uses. We didn't do away with concrete, steel, iron and all metals when we figured out how to alloy aluminum. Is that your only viable measure for the quality of a material?

Building an engine from carbon fiber....because the tolerances are easier to hold? No. Currently machined tolerances are easier to hold. Extruded aluminum is not machined either on rims save for the braking surface.

But 5 seconds and a google search for carbon engine block yielded that 8 years ago that was done. https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a1...-engine-block/

You see - making sweeping generalizations about materials is just a bad thing to do. To discuss the specific real world applications of current technology and materials as they are being manufactured for a specific purpose and industry is an easy thing to do and very valid. Thus my statements about rims.

As for "So why are so many folks leery and cautious about buying older used carbon wheels" - for a few reasons. High temp/tg resins weren't widespread until a few years ago. This means that there are a lot of older rims out there that have poor heat performance when braking that can lead to tires blowing off. This is akin to being cautious of buying older used cars because some of them might end up being a Ford Pinto. Or older used aluminum frames because some of them might be the super thin ones of the 90's that might have extensive top tube damage or weld cracks because Cannondale wasn't as good back then.

To say that all people are afraid of buying used carbon wheels is a bit like saying people are afraid of buying used cars because they are made with steel.

This isn't a conspiracy. We've tried making wheel rims out of all sorts of materials over the years. Turns out carbon has been a really, really good material to do it in. For reference that means we don't have as much use for the rims made of magnesium, steel, and wood - all of which have been used for rims quite frequently in the past. We still use a lot of aluminum in rims because they still possess a lot of great qualities. Rim braking in wet conditions is more reliable and predictable although this is less and less of a thing and disc brakes have eliminated that completely. The largest advantage is that they fair well in use over the long term, are lighter than steel, don't rust like steel, easy to work with, and generally cost a lot less.

This too is changing though. As carbon materials change and the ability to manipulate and control manufacturing of those materials through processes such as 3D printing the cost of carbon will begin to drop more and more each day.
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Old 04-25-19, 12:20 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by cycledogg View Post
I believe that a carbon wheel will get brittle, and not with stand fatigue after time when an alloy wheel will last longer.
I believe that alloy wheels evaporate and turn into poison dust that gives you lung cancer. I only ride carbon rims for safety and I can't fathom that anybody would want to give themselves cancer with an aluminum wheel.
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Old 04-25-19, 10:04 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by cycledogg View Post
So why are so many folks leery and cautious about buying older used carbon wheels (or any carbon bike parts, forks and handlebars to mention a few) if carbon is this oh so strong material? If it is in fact so strong and durable, that it will out last aluminum, and can with stand years of use and fatigue why would one question the condition of a old, used carbon wheel and just buy it knowing that it is just too durable to have any defect from use until who knows when, (or do you know that time limit?). Why is there not more consumer items made of this carbon? A full carbon car, or military tank, highway bridge. It's strong, light, durable and can hold it's shape much better that any alloy material. Do away with steel, concrete, iron and all metals. Carbon is the answer. We could build automobile motors from carbon, the tolerance factor on carbon should be much more easy to make and hold. Those motors should last at least a century. Arguing with some who know it all, is like arguing with a mule, there's one in every herd.


I bought a set of carbon tubulars off ebay- well used race wheels from the '90s. After some cleaning up, rode them for quite a few miles.

Eventually a spoke broke & it wasn't worth fixing since the rear hub had some issues.

The rims are still fine.


Another set of used race wheels ran for years & many thousands of miles until developing some soft spots in the brake track & being retired.

If they were not designed to be light weight, they would have no doubt lasted longer. And note that there was no teeth-breaking catastrophe, just some brake pulsing.
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