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Carbon Wheels In The Rain

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Carbon Wheels In The Rain

Old 12-11-19, 02:01 PM
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mrblue
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Carbon Wheels In The Rain

I have a set of Mavic Ksyrium Pro Carbon SL clincher (rim brake) wheels on one of my road bikes. Aside from the obvious braking quality of carbon rims in the rain, I'm guessing it's probably prudent to not ride them in the rain for other reasons as well. Such as riding in the rain can cause increased wear on the carbon rim's brake tracks due to all the road crud.

Any thoughts on this? Does anyone ride their carbon rim (rim brake) wheels in the rain? And have you noticed exceptional wear on the brake tracks because of it?

Thanks.
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Old 12-11-19, 05:46 PM
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Carbon won't melt in the rain per se but yes when they are ridden in environments that have more debris the brake tracks can wear out quicker. That being said I have only ever noticed issues on riders that ride their gear to the absolute limits in all sorts of adverse conditions (Pros/ex-pros who are still racing). Not in enthusiasts doing a lot of general rides in the rain.
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Old 12-11-19, 06:01 PM
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I avoid riding them in the rain. That said, I have had a couple “surprise” rain events on rides with them, and they did not asplode. I would not worry about damaging them, but the braking really is not good when wet. So avoid using in the rain but don’t worry too much about damaging them.
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Old 12-11-19, 06:40 PM
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As a person who lives in Seattle, I can tell you rain riding greatly increases wear. The bike I ride in the winter has disc brakes for that specific reason. I have two pairs of carbon wheels that I use on my summer bike that I have had for 3 or 4 years that barely show any wear.
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Old 12-11-19, 06:59 PM
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It all depends on how much rain riding you are talking about. If you are talking about getting caught in the rain a couple of times a month, the rain won't make a big difference in wear. If you live someplace with crappy weather like the PNW, I would have a spare set of alloy wheels, or buy a disc brake bike.
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Old 12-11-19, 07:01 PM
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I train/commute on alloy rims and race on carbon, rain or shine.
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Old 12-11-19, 07:46 PM
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I don't worry about it, in fact have a wheelset w/ suitable tires that I mostly ride in the winter, & they don't show wear from several years.

All my wheels have been got at bargain prices, 'tho, so if they did wear out it wouldn't be a big deal.

Also don't have any wet braking issues to speak of.
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Old 12-12-19, 07:25 AM
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I don’t ride in the rain much and try to avoid it. But I noticed the rim braking was better with the Bontrager Aeolus Pro 5s than the original aluminum Race rims. The brakes engaged much sooner with the carbon rims. Still disc is better on my mountain bike and will be on my next road bike.
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Old 12-13-19, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
Also don't have any wet braking issues to speak of.
Agreed. I never do either. After being in the carbon wheel business for over 10 years now I have found this is another one of those subjective things. If a rider has a really poorly matched brake pad compound then they can experiences really poor to no braking power int he wet. If they have a good compound on the resins we have had in this industry for the last 6 or so years then they shouldn't notice any real problems or issues. There'd be more feedback along these lines but the industry and the riders switched to disc around that time so they are still pulling on their old stories.

So brake performance on carbon int he rain... YMMV.... IMHO
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Old 12-13-19, 02:46 PM
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I wouldn't ride rim brake carbon wheels in the rain. That's like the worst of both world: braking and wearing.
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Old 12-13-19, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
I wouldn't ride rim brake carbon wheels in the rain. That's like the worst of both world: braking and wearing.
Yeah... we used to die and wheels would assplode all the time. not a single ride would go by where something catastrophic wouldn't happen but it's good to know you wouldn't do what literally tens of thousands of others do near daily.
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Old 12-13-19, 03:17 PM
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If you have an option of Disc brake, then I wouldn't worry about riding in the rain.

Personally I wouldn't choose to use rim brakes due to wear issues as above. Nonetheless, if you get caught unprepared, you'll survive the ride home.

I had a bike with aluminum on the rear and carbon on the front. I tried to minimize front braking (carbon) during adverse conditions.
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Old 12-13-19, 03:52 PM
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The thread is pretty consistant so far. Yes, it can suck in terms of performance. Yes, it can wear out the rim faster. That's also true for aluminium as well.

The thing is, is carbon is often so much more expensive that makes a worn rim so much more painful to replace. Any more, I think it's largely an existential cost issue, but many older rims may be made from carbon that really doesn't handle abrasion well so the eventual replacement will happen sooner than otherwise. (Carbon/ceramic seems to be the latest solution) Though crappy pads & general pad cleanliness can really sway the equation.

I had some ENVE gray pads on AMP wheels. Worthless garbage in the wet bordering on outright dangerous. Switching to Reynolds blue pads made a world of difference, but still not anything I would call "outstanding" or "great" but merely "passable."

YMMV

Last edited by base2; 12-17-19 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 12-13-19, 05:04 PM
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Worst braking for me is a couple of sets of Mavik SL wheels- heavily used for CX, & the brake tracks are worn concave (tubular, so they won't fall apart any time soon).

They get ridden in mud & wet, cost $100/set, and are pretty bombproof. The main thing is to lower one's expectations for stopping power.

They generate a lot of oxide gunk coming off the brake tracks, so I actually prefer CF rims in the rain.
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Old 12-17-19, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
If they have a good compound on the resins we have had in this industry for the last 6 or so years then they shouldn't notice any real problems or issues. There'd be more feedback along these lines but the industry and the riders switched to disc around that time so they are still pulling on their old stories.
That's a good point... having test ridden a few bikes with carbon rim brakes as a mechanic, I was prepared for disappointment when I took my Cadens for a spin the first time, but was blown away by the braking. More initial grab than aluminium, but with less ultimate bite as lever pressure increased... replacing my 7700 front brake with a 9000 one further improved the latter aspect, and maybe even improved modulation for light braking a touch too.

Not sure how much of that performance is due to the brake track materials and how much is due to the pad compound (nor to mention the possible interaction of the two), but it sure is miles better than I was expecting from a bit of experience with older wheels.

I might even have to take that bike for a spin in the wet on purpose to see how that goes...

Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
They generate a lot of oxide gunk coming off the brake tracks, so I actually prefer CF rims in the rain.
Good call - that ally oxide powder is utter filth.
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Old 12-17-19, 08:03 PM
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Well, here in the #2 rain capital of our fine nation, I was recently in the market for some new wheels for my BMC SLR02. I don't race, but I do ride quite a bit. I looked hard at some of the lower cost options for carbon + rim brakes, as that is what I have on this bike. I talked to several bike shops in town who sell carbon wheelsets. For a person with my sort of mileage (around 7200ish miles/yr.), they all advised against going with carbon fiber rims + my 105 rim brakes. Now, maybe that advice would have been different if my wheel budget were $3000, but it was not. So, I settled on what I think is a very nice budget aluminum wheelset made by someone competent that will still be a nice upgrade from my current Mavics. They should arrive next week and I will report. By the way, the Mavics are two years old and I just took my 1000-lumen Cygolite to them inch by inch. They have hardly any visible wear on them--at all. Mavic clearly make quality stuff--I just wanted something a bit different.
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Old 12-17-19, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
Well, here in the #2 rain capital of our fine nation, I was recently in the market for some new wheels for my BMC SLR02. I don't race, but I do ride quite a bit. I looked hard at some of the lower cost options for carbon + rim brakes, as that is what I have on this bike. I talked to several bike shops in town who sell carbon wheelsets. For a person with my sort of mileage (around 7200ish miles/yr.), they all advised against going with carbon fiber rims + my 105 rim brakes. Now, maybe that advice would have been different if my wheel budget were $3000, but it was not. So, I settled on what I think is a very nice budget aluminum wheelset made by someone competent that will still be a nice upgrade from my current Mavics. They should arrive next week and I will report. By the way, the Mavics are two years old and I just took my 1000-lumen Cygolite to them inch by inch. They have hardly any visible wear on them--at all. Mavic clearly make quality stuff--I just wanted something a bit different.

14k Portland miles & no visible wear? Wow!
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Old 12-17-19, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
14k Portland miles & no visible wear? Wow!
I'm certainly no wheel expert, but it looks pretty good to me.
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Old 12-17-19, 11:12 PM
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Cleaning your brake pads is very important. The gunk gets on the pads that pushes and degrades the rim under braking. Wipe the rim as needed appropriately but the pads are where the action or problems are.
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Old 12-17-19, 11:59 PM
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Better than mine.



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Old 12-18-19, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by BengalCat View Post
Cleaning your brake pads is very important. The gunk gets on the pads that pushes and degrades the rim under braking. Wipe the rim as needed appropriately but the pads are where the action or problems are.
Thank you. How do you recommend cleaning the pads and the rims?
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Old 12-18-19, 06:28 AM
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scotchbrite pad and rubbing alcohol for the rims. could probably use the same on the pads, tho a stiff brush of some sort typically gets the important stuff off the pad as long as we're not talking about oils.
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Old 12-18-19, 10:08 AM
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I don't know about all pads for carbon wheels but the specific brake pads that I use, (Bontrager Prince Brake Pads), have slotted spaces between the pads so stuff can really get in there. Obviously any scrubbing or wiping/cleaning needs to address that if your pads are like mine.

Last edited by BengalCat; 12-18-19 at 11:29 AM.
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