Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

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 04-18-19, 06:35 AM
  #1  
SuperPershing
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
SuperPershing's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 88
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 49 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Are Carbon Wheelset Generally Stronger than Aluminum Wheelset?

Are Carbon Wheelset Generally Stronger than Aluminum Wheelset? i just cant find any solid answers in google search. In terms of durability, is carbon wheelset (rims) stronger than Alu wheelset? but let us not put in the factor of a heavy accident like run over by a car or what, cause surely both will fail. Thanks for the answers!

SuperPershing is offline  
Old 04-18-19, 07:30 AM
  #2  
TimothyH
- Soli Deo Gloria -
 
TimothyH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Northwest Georgia
Posts: 14,156

Bikes: 2018 Rodriguez Custom Fixed Gear, 2017 Niner RLT 9 RDO, 2015 Bianchi Pista, 2002 Fuji Robaix

Mentioned: 222 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6442 Post(s)
Liked 355 Times in 231 Posts
Strength is a nebulous term. You also bring up durability which might have nothing to do with strength.

Strength - how much weight it can hold
Durability - how long it will last
Impact resistance - can it take a hit and still be used?

I think we are talking about impact resistance here. Please clarify.

Have a look at the Carbon would have bounced back thread regarding impact resistance.

Post number 16 from an experienced wheelbuilder says...

"Alloy bends when it hits obstacles. There's really no fixing it. I do a lot of rim swaps for that reason. Doesn't happen with carbon. Really one of the big features in my world when in many cases the carbon and alloy rims are near same weight. I deal with a lot of racers and racers hit things - especially in cross. Carbon does way better.

That said when you exceed carbon it just breaks. Rest assured that the same impact would have destroyed an alloy wheel as well. "

-Tim-

Last edited by TimothyH; 04-18-19 at 07:35 AM.
TimothyH is offline  
Likes For TimothyH:
Old 04-18-19, 07:31 AM
  #3  
maartendc
Senior Member
 
maartendc's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 753

Bikes: 1989 Cannondale 3.0, 2001 Trek 5200, 2010 BMC SLC01, Minerva MTB Hardtail

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 431 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by SuperPershing View Post
Are Carbon Wheelset Generally Stronger than Aluminum Wheelset? i just cant find any solid answers in google search. In terms of durability, is carbon wheelset (rims) stronger than Alu wheelset? but let us not put in the factor of a heavy accident like run over by a car or what, cause surely both will fail. Thanks for the answers! and dont mind the breaking cause i run fixed hehe
You won't find a straight answer, because they are just two materials. Much depends on the design of how the materials are used. If less material or an inferior design is used, the rim will be weaker. You can build a stronger alloy rim or a stronger carbon fiber rim, it all depends.

By and large, if you buy from a reputable manufacturer, they can both be just as strong / durable. Keep an eye on the rider weight limit they list for a wheelset, that will give you some indication whether they went for a strong design or focused more on a super lightweight "race-day only" wheelset. Also, wheelsets with more spokes (lets say 24 spokes in the front versus 18) will be more durable / stay true longer / have bigger weight limit. But extra spokes make the wheel heavier as well.

I am sure you have found out that carbon wheelsets can be much more expensive. But they can also be much lighter for a given wheel (rim) depth.

Bike wheels are kind of a rabbit hole honestly. It all depends on how much you want to spend, if you want it to be ultra-durable or ultra-light, etc.
maartendc is offline  
Old 04-18-19, 07:42 AM
  #4  
WhyFi
Senior Member
 
WhyFi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Got a castle in - er, Minneapolis, that's where I dwell!
Posts: 24,846

Bikes: 2016 Diamondback Haanjo, 2018 Trek Domane SL5 Gravel

Mentioned: 298 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8886 Post(s)
Liked 137 Times in 82 Posts
Are you talking about the build of the wheel (staying round, true and tensioned) or about the rim taking impacts or what, exactly? Well built and properly inflated, there shouldn't be too much separating the two, though. Price and weight (for a given depth/width) would be the two much more significant differentiating factors, IMO.
WhyFi is online now  
Old 04-18-19, 08:59 AM
  #5  
motosonic
Senior Member
 
motosonic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 631
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 275 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
I think the answer to your question is a resounding no. While I am definitely not a carbon expert, I have done some digging on the matter in the past because I'm not a 150lb rider and it seems that carbon generally has weight restrictions on the rider where most aluminum wheels do not.
This tells me a few things... carbon fiber has a much lower tolerance under higher weights. which as you can imagine increases your chance of catastrophic failure considerably. That's not to say ALL carbon wheels would have this issue. As there are different ways to build a carbon wheel. But, if that's a concern. Go aluminum.
The second thing my research tells me is that carbon fiber is susceptible to weakening, warping, etc. from heat. So, if you have rim brake carbon rims, even though they make special pads for CF, you're still introducing heat and friction to a laminated surface. Do the math. Disc brakes I believe would eliminate much of that risk though.
While there may be more.. I think these small points really hit at the difference between MOST aluminum and Carbon wheels. Again, there are probably exceptions, but the question was 'generally'.
I hope this helps
motosonic is offline  
Old 04-18-19, 09:24 AM
  #6  
tyrion
Senior Member
 
tyrion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 2,299

Bikes: Breezer Radar

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1209 Post(s)
Liked 75 Times in 50 Posts
Originally Posted by motosonic View Post
...it seems that carbon generally has weight restrictions on the rider where most aluminum wheels do not.
All wheels have a weight limit. Whether or not that limit has been determined in good faith and published - that's a different story.
tyrion is offline  
Old 04-18-19, 09:28 AM
  #7  
MoAlpha
• —
 
MoAlpha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Land of Pleasant Living
Posts: 2,389

Bikes: Occasionally

Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1349 Post(s)
Liked 57 Times in 42 Posts
Both of my aluminum wheel sets have a published weight limit. Seems like good risk management.
MoAlpha is online now  
Old 04-18-19, 10:10 AM
  #8  
popeye
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Newport Beach, CA
Posts: 1,441

Bikes: S works Tarmac, Felt TK2 track

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 129 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
My CF Boyds outlasted my AL rims by years and were still going strong when I traded them in after 6 yrs.
popeye is offline  
Likes For popeye:
Old 04-18-19, 10:20 AM
  #9  
69chevy
wears long socks
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 1,593
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 484 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by motosonic View Post
I think the answer to your question is a resounding no. While I am definitely not a carbon expert, I have done some digging on the matter in the past because I'm not a 150lb rider and it seems that carbon generally has weight restrictions on the rider where most aluminum wheels do not.
This tells me a few things... carbon fiber has a much lower tolerance under higher weights. which as you can imagine increases your chance of catastrophic failure considerably. That's not to say ALL carbon wheels would have this issue. As there are different ways to build a carbon wheel. But, if that's a concern. Go aluminum.
The second thing my research tells me is that carbon fiber is susceptible to weakening, warping, etc. from heat. So, if you have rim brake carbon rims, even though they make special pads for CF, you're still introducing heat and friction to a laminated surface. Do the math. Disc brakes I believe would eliminate much of that risk though.
While there may be more.. I think these small points really hit at the difference between MOST aluminum and Carbon wheels. Again, there are probably exceptions, but the question was 'generally'.
I hope this helps
He clearly stated it's for his fixie with no brakes...
69chevy is offline  
Old 04-18-19, 10:29 AM
  #10  
downhillmaster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 668
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 393 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 65 Times in 40 Posts
Of course carbon wheel sets are stronger than aluminum.
The fact that you pay much more for carbon because it is lighter should be all the proof you need.
Carbon also looks nicer and is a bit of a status symbol for the discerning cyclist.
Two more legitimate reasons to assume it is stronger.
downhillmaster is offline  
Old 04-18-19, 10:56 AM
  #11  
99spokes
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 14
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Google "Danny MacAskill Tests Santa Cruz Reserve Carbon Wheels" for a great video example of how strong carbon wheels can be. (sorry, can't post link, not enough cred)
99spokes is offline  
Likes For 99spokes:
Old 04-18-19, 12:08 PM
  #12  
cycledogg
Senior Member
 
cycledogg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 1,118

Bikes: Cannondale CAAD4, CAAD5, CAAD7 (Optimo), '07 SystemSix, '08 Trek TTX 9.0, 2015 Cannondale Supersix Evo - ZIPP

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 321 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 6 Posts
No.
cycledogg is offline  
Old 04-18-19, 12:42 PM
  #13  
TimothyH
- Soli Deo Gloria -
 
TimothyH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Northwest Georgia
Posts: 14,156

Bikes: 2018 Rodriguez Custom Fixed Gear, 2017 Niner RLT 9 RDO, 2015 Bianchi Pista, 2002 Fuji Robaix

Mentioned: 222 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6442 Post(s)
Liked 355 Times in 231 Posts
Cross posted from the General Cycling forum.

Are Carbon Wheelset Generally Stronger than Aluminum Wheelset?

As I said in that thread, the concept of stronger is nebulous at best and the word is incorrectly used most of the time.

Strength has to do with how much weight it will hold.
Durablity has to do with how long it will last
Impact resistance has to do acute stress, how big of a hit it can take and still function.

The OP needs to clarify what he is asking. Example...

Originally Posted by SuperPershing View Post
In terms of durability, is carbon wheelset (rims) stronger
Durability an strength are two different things which might not be related at all.


-Tim-
TimothyH is offline  
Old 04-18-19, 04:51 PM
  #14  
socaltrailrider
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: So Cal
Posts: 14

Bikes: Trek Domane SL7, Niner RLT9 RDO, Ibis Rimpo & Ripley

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked 3 Times in 2 Posts
Generally speaking, carbon wheels are "stronger" than aluminum. That said, strength is not the only benefit of carbon wheels over aluminum.
socaltrailrider is offline  
Old 04-18-19, 08:12 PM
  #15  
ColonelSanders
Senior Member
 
ColonelSanders's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 3,903

Bikes: 2017 Surly Troll with XT Drive Train, 2017 Merida Big Nine XT Edition, 2016 Giant Toughroad SLR 2, 1995 Trek 830

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1242 Post(s)
Liked 14 Times in 12 Posts
I think the weight of the respective wheelsets need to be considered here.

Carbon rims would be stronger on a gram for gram basis, but they don't tend to make 600gram carbon rims, so if you don't care too much about weight, you probably can get a stronger(albeit heavier) rim that is made from aluminium.
ColonelSanders is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 12:56 AM
  #16  
SuperPershing
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
SuperPershing's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 88
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 49 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My main point of getting a carbon wheelset is weight because having a high profile rim on a aluminum is heavy. But of course on a carbon, much much lighter. I need a high profile wheelset to better sustain speed for crits.
SuperPershing is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 01:02 AM
  #17  
SuperPershing
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
SuperPershing's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 88
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 49 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My main point of getting a carbon wheelset is weight because having a high profile rim on a aluminum is heavy. But of course on a carbon, much much lighter. I need a high profile wheelset to better sustain speed for crits. And i will not use breaks cause fixie. And to address this question in a much clearer state, i need the answer for Impact Resistance.

For example i had a nasty crash or i drove a really deep pothole on a speed of light. Im worried that i cannot retune my wheels because carbon is like a SOLID one piece ans cannot be bent. So im afraid that when its not trued, i cannot true it again like a normal alu rims/wheelset
SuperPershing is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 06:48 AM
  #18  
TimothyH
- Soli Deo Gloria -
 
TimothyH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Northwest Georgia
Posts: 14,156

Bikes: 2018 Rodriguez Custom Fixed Gear, 2017 Niner RLT 9 RDO, 2015 Bianchi Pista, 2002 Fuji Robaix

Mentioned: 222 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6442 Post(s)
Liked 355 Times in 231 Posts
Originally Posted by SuperPershing View Post
And to address this question in a much clearer state, i need the answer for Impact Resistance.
Carbon will deform and recover more readily than aluminum.

"Carbon would have bounced back"

Have a look at post number 16 by a professional wheel builder.


-Tim-
TimothyH is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 06:57 AM
  #19  
MoAlpha
• —
 
MoAlpha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Land of Pleasant Living
Posts: 2,389

Bikes: Occasionally

Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1349 Post(s)
Liked 57 Times in 42 Posts
Originally Posted by SuperPershing View Post
My main point of getting a carbon wheelset is weight because having a high profile rim on a aluminum is heavy. But of course on a carbon, much much lighter. I need a high profile wheelset to better sustain speed for crits. And i will not use breaks cause fixie. And to address this question in a much clearer state, i need the answer for Impact Resistance.

For example i had a nasty crash or i drove a really deep pothole on a speed of light. Im worried that i cannot retune my wheels because carbon is like a SOLID one piece ans cannot be bent. So im afraid that when its not trued, i cannot true it again like a normal alu rims/wheelset
Crits on a brakeless "fixie?" Do tell.

Excuse me, breakless.
MoAlpha is online now  
Old 04-19-19, 07:02 AM
  #20  
AlmostTrick
Tortoise Wins by a Hare!
 
AlmostTrick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Looney Tunes, IL
Posts: 6,490

Bikes: Wabi Special FG, Raleigh Roper, Nashbar AL-1, Miyata One Hundred, '68 Schwinn Orange Krate, and More!!

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1056 Post(s)
Liked 108 Times in 65 Posts
For safety it's more about the manner of failure than theoretical or laboratory "strength". That, and the ability to hide or expose flaws/damage that lead to failure. Only carbon can shatter to bits, usually suddenly and without warning, due to damage that couldn't even be seen upon prior inspection.
AlmostTrick is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 09:07 AM
  #21  
maartendc
Senior Member
 
maartendc's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 753

Bikes: 1989 Cannondale 3.0, 2001 Trek 5200, 2010 BMC SLC01, Minerva MTB Hardtail

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 431 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
I think the weight of the respective wheelsets need to be considered here.

Carbon rims would be stronger on a gram for gram basis, but they don't tend to make 600gram carbon rims, so if you don't care too much about weight, you probably can get a stronger(albeit heavier) rim that is made from aluminium.
This.

If you are concerned about impact strength: again depends on the rim design. Cannot draw meaningful conclusions from material choice alone. You can make a super lightweight alloy rim that has less impact resistance than a strong carbon rim. You can make a very flimsy carbon rim, that has less impact resistance than a heavy alloy rim. One material is not inherently more impact resistant than the other.

This thread is dumb. Anyone who says either is more impact resistant, without comparing two specific rim designs, is talking BS.

The only thing you can say for sure is that the mode of failure is usually different between alloy and carbon. Carbon rims will crack, alloy rims will bend (irreparably). Both can be destroyed upon impact. Both can lead to nasty crashes.
maartendc is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 09:50 AM
  #22  
woodcraft
Senior Member
 
woodcraft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Nor Cal
Posts: 4,227
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1021 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 33 Times in 19 Posts
Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
For safety it's more about the manner of failure than theoretical or laboratory "strength". That, and the ability to hide or expose flaws/damage that lead to failure. Only carbon can shatter to bits, usually suddenly and without warning, due to damage that couldn't even be seen upon prior inspection.

And the OP says he just can't find any solid answers!
woodcraft is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 12:52 PM
  #23  
cycledogg
Senior Member
 
cycledogg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 1,118

Bikes: Cannondale CAAD4, CAAD5, CAAD7 (Optimo), '07 SystemSix, '08 Trek TTX 9.0, 2015 Cannondale Supersix Evo - ZIPP

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 321 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 6 Posts
Which would you buy, a twenty year old alloy rim, or a twenty year old carbon rim? Both rims were well taken care of. Neither rim was abused. I would get the alloy rim. JMHO
Cheers
cycledogg is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 12:59 PM
  #24  
Marcus_Ti 
Frozen Solid.
 
Marcus_Ti's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Posts: 4,656

Bikes: Roadie: Seven Axiom Race Ti w/Chorus 11s. CX/Adventure: Carver Gravel Grinder w/ Di2

Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1924 Post(s)
Liked 58 Times in 38 Posts
Originally Posted by cycledogg View Post
Which would you buy, a twenty year old alloy rim, or a twenty year old carbon rim? Both rims were well taken care of. Neither rim was abused. I would get the alloy rim. JMHO
Cheers
Was anyone even commercially selling carbon fiber wheels 20 years ago, beyond maybe alloy-rim w/CF-fairing wheels? The choice dichotomy you propose isn't really a choice IIRC.

And TBH...20 year old alloy rims, weren't that great anyway, your choice basically being the Mavic rims that didn't (yet) have the spokes pull through the rim.
Marcus_Ti is online now  
Old 04-19-19, 02:16 PM
  #25  
TimothyH
- Soli Deo Gloria -
 
TimothyH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Northwest Georgia
Posts: 14,156

Bikes: 2018 Rodriguez Custom Fixed Gear, 2017 Niner RLT 9 RDO, 2015 Bianchi Pista, 2002 Fuji Robaix

Mentioned: 222 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6442 Post(s)
Liked 355 Times in 231 Posts
Lots of misinformation in this thread.

I'm pretty sure that half of what's been written here is simply made up.


-Tim-
TimothyH is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.