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Carbon wheels? What’s the ride and weight advantage

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Carbon wheels? What’s the ride and weight advantage

Old 06-23-20, 04:31 AM
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kosmo886
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Carbon wheels? What’s the ride and weight advantage

I need a set of road wheels/tires for my Cannondale Topstone Carbon. What’s the advantage of going with carbon wheels? I’ve found it very hard to compare wheelset weights. How much weight advantage is there? What about ride feel? Any suggested wheels that don’t break the bank?
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Old 06-23-20, 05:20 AM
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Wheels don't change the feel.

There may be weight savings, but generally the cheaper carbon wheels are as heavy or heavier than lighter weight AL wheels.

Deeper rim carbon wheels are good for aero, though.

Light Wheels and Farsport wheels are cheaper wheels. Used can be a good option, too.
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Old 06-23-20, 06:04 AM
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Main advantage of carbon wheels is that you can go deeper section (and much more aero) and not have a big weight penalty. And bling.
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Old 06-23-20, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Wheels don't change the feel.

There may be weight savings, but generally the cheaper carbon wheels are as heavy or heavier than lighter weight AL wheels.

Deeper rim carbon wheels are good for aero, though.

Light Wheels and Farsport wheels are cheaper wheels. Used can be a good option, too.
CF hoops can also be wider and lighter than aluminum hoops. It's hard to find 21mm internal width aluminum tubeless rims that weigh 350g.

https://www.lightbicycle.com/700C-ro...available.html
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Old 06-23-20, 06:47 AM
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The advantage is very small. There is a lot more to it than the material the rim is made of.

Things do tend to add up though...and the longer/faster you ride the bigger the difference.

Compare 36 spoke box section with 2 inch knobbies to 20/24 spoke deep section Enve 3.4's (or similar) with tubeless 25's. It's a world of difference. But how much is tire, how much is aero, how much is weight, how much is where that weight is?

How much you gain or lose depends on where you are starting from & what objective matters most to you.

As an example, I have a set of Mavic Aksium cheap ($300) aluminum 24 spoke set of wheels. They weigh exactly the same as the ENVE 7.8 SES wheels & are for the same bike. Same tires, same everything. 1 tubeless, the other tubed. The ENVE's blow around in the wind a bit more & cost about 10x as much & until I speed into the mid 20's I honestly can't tell the difference. The ENVE 7.8's are objectively better, stronger, stiffer, aero, etc...in every metric but not 10x better, more like ¹/100 better.

I bring up this comparison, not to poo-poo carbon wheels, but to make light of just how good wheels have become overall. Gram for gram carbon allows for better aero, but are you riding in conditions where aero matters? If not, aluminum can save you a lot of dough with a lot less sacrafice in performance than you may think.

If I were to do it again, I think, for my purposes I'd get some Stan's Alpha 340's & feel good about it.

Ain't nobody got time for terrible wheels though. If you are starting with heavy, high spoke count aluminum wheels & knobby cx tires, do yourself a favor & find something better.
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Old 06-23-20, 06:58 AM
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The advantage is that they look ******' badass.
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Old 06-23-20, 07:09 AM
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As above, the advantage of carbon is primarily weight. Carbon rims also tend to sound cool, because of the way road noise reverberates through them. And they look blingy.

The downside is that you sometimes pay an extraordinary price premium depending on the manufacturer, and the cheaper Chinese-sourced brands (not Light Bicycle) use rims that are heavy enough to negate the weight advantage. Like base2 mentioned, aluminum may be a better bet for gravel in terms of utility--and you won't cry when they get dinged up or you bottom out the tire on a rough section. The Stans Alpha 340 are good. The Stans Grail wheelsets are also great (and cheap).
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Old 06-23-20, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by upthywazzoo View Post
The Stans Alpha 340 are good. The Stans Grail wheelsets are also great (and cheap).
These are good if you are looking for cheap and light, and the rider is on the lighter side of 175lbs. I've built a few wheelsets using them for lighter riders.

They are hard to beat for light and cheap(and tubeless) 1300g for about $450.
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Old 06-23-20, 07:28 AM
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From what I have read, carbon rims can be made to tighter tolerances than (most) aluminum rims, which helps with tubeless tire retention, especially if the rims are hookless. (Mountain bike carbon rims, and Enve road rims, are hookless.) Hooked rims have less of a tendency to pinch-flat with tubeless setups (apparently that is a thing). Carbon rims also tend to stay round and true better than aluminum rims.

I have HED Belgium Plus aluminum rims, and have never had an issue with them. I would have to spend a lot of money to get something better in carbon.

Last edited by wgscott; 06-24-20 at 04:15 PM. Reason: said it wrong. No one noticed?
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Old 06-23-20, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I have HED Belgium Plus aluminum rims, and have never had an issue with them. I would have to spend a lot of money to get something better in carbon.
You lace up a set of those rims to some DT Swiss 350 hubs with good double-butted spokes, and you'll have a wheelset that is reasonably priced, reasonably light, and strong as hell. Hard to beat, unless you are regularly making it to the podium and are willing to spend big bucks to move up a spot or two in the race results.
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Old 06-23-20, 07:56 AM
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One big advantage to tall rims when riding cross or gravel is that if you are going through mud, you have more room to sink before the mud comes over the rim. It's easier to pedal through mud when the rim stays above the mud line. Something else to consider, though in many cases, it may be easier/safer to walk the mud.
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Old 06-23-20, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
You lace up a set of those rims to some DT Swiss 350 hubs with good double-butted spokes, and you'll have a wheelset that is reasonably priced, reasonably light, and strong as hell. Hard to beat, unless you are regularly making it to the podium and are willing to spend big bucks to move up a spot or two in the race results.
I have two such wheelsets. Once laced to Chris King, and one laced to White Industries.

However, I am now a DT Swiss fan as well. My kid got some of their wheels, and at Sea Otter a couple of years ago they gave him a free hub upgrade and service tutorial as a birthday present/good will gesture. Totally above and beyond the call of duty. I am also really impressed on how serviceable they are, and the modular freehub easy-detach feature.
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Old 06-23-20, 08:33 AM
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For road wheels id look at our own forum member psimet.

Al wheels with 26 mm rims with cx ray spokes. Ended up in the team realm of 1450ish grams.

Carbon wheels are awesome too but I'd think twice if you want more functionality especially in the wet. If you have a separate setup youd use in the wet then I'd just go for it. I have a set of carbon wheels I picked up for some fair weather rides, but I'm debating just putting them on the daily road bike and calling it a day so I'm not swapping pads back and forth all the time. I have a second bike that I can use if I go for any rain rides.
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Old 06-23-20, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
For road wheels id look at our own forum member psimet.

Al wheels with 26 mm rims with cx ray spokes. Ended up in the team realm of 1450ish grams.

Carbon wheels are awesome too but I'd think twice if you want more functionality especially in the wet. If you have a separate setup youd use in the wet then I'd just go for it. I have a set of carbon wheels I picked up for some fair weather rides, but I'm debating just putting them on the daily road bike and calling it a day so I'm not swapping pads back and forth all the time. I have a second bike that I can use if I go for any rain rides.
The OP is looking for a set of disc brake wheels, so there's no reason to use aluminum for better wet braking.
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Old 06-23-20, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
The OP is looking for a set of disc brake wheels, so there's no reason to use aluminum for better wet braking.
Ah man I knew that haha.
Oops.

Thanks for the correction.

In that case there's really no downside to carbon wheels but cost. Id go for it if i could afford it!

Definitely something in the 40-50mm range.
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Old 06-23-20, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
Ah man I knew that haha.
Oops.

Thanks for the correction.

In that case there's really no downside to carbon wheels but cost. Id go for it if i could afford it!

Definitely something in the 40-50mm range.
On that bike, I'd go 23mm internal width or bigger, and use 30-35mm tires
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Old 06-23-20, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
On that bike, I'd go 23mm internal width or bigger, and use 30-35mm tires
I was referring to rim depth for road only wheels!
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Old 06-23-20, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I have two such wheelsets. Once laced to Chris King, and one laced to White Industries.

However, I am now a DT Swiss fan as well. My kid got some of their wheels, and at Sea Otter a couple of years ago they gave him a free hub upgrade and service tutorial as a birthday present/good will gesture. Totally above and beyond the call of duty. I am also really impressed on how serviceable they are, and the modular freehub easy-detach feature.
When I was having some wheels built last year, we discussed WI hubs vs the DTS 350...Shop owner thought the WI hubs were not worth the extra money. Still, my next wheels will probably have WI or CK hubs. I'd just really like to have some hubs that are built to that level of fit and finish -- and the WI freehub body is made of ti, which is cool.
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Old 06-23-20, 10:30 AM
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Weight savings, aero and aesthetics.

Practically speaking, the difference is quite minor, actually. I just got my 10.2kg steel bike serviced, upgraded to 105 and clad with 25mm tires on Mavic wheelsets (royal porkers, at nearly 2000gm a pair) and took it out for today's scheduled 60' recovery spin. I compared it to the same ride from 2 weeks ago with my Dura Ace Di2 Venge with 35mm wide-rim, mid-depth wheels, which clocked in at 7.3kg.

Ride 1 is the Venge
Ride 2 is the steel bike.

Both are out and back rides along a pancake-flat coastal road that runs near my house. Admittedly, the Venge is a little hampered because the headwinds on the way out were a fair bit stronger that day, but the difference is still quite minor (looking at other rides, about 10W less for these sort of constant-effort rides).

Admittedly, the difference increases when you faster, but I have no idea where people "gain 1-2mph by changing wheels".


Last edited by guadzilla; 07-01-20 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 06-23-20, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
The OP is looking for a set of disc brake wheels, so there's no reason to use aluminum for better wet braking.
Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
Ah man I knew that haha.
Oops.

Thanks for the correction.

In that case there's really no downside to carbon wheels but cost. Id go for it if i could afford it!

Definitely something in the 40-50mm range.
Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
On that bike, I'd go 23mm internal width or bigger, and use 30-35mm tires
Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
I was referring to rim depth for road only wheels!
+1.

If he's looking for some road wheels for that bike, I'd look at some wide CF hoops(21-25mm internal width) and 40-55mm deep. That bike with some wide tubeless tires, will be fast and plush.

Good CF hoops will let him go wider, more aero, and still shed a little bit of weight.
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Old 06-24-20, 12:36 PM
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If you are not aware, you will have to get whatever wheels you buy redished for the AI dish necessary to use on the Topstone. Unless you get a set of the Hollowgram wheels that are already dished that way (be aware there are Hollowgram wheels that come on the Supersix Evo that look similar but are not dished correctly for the Topstone). The carbon Hollowgram wheels are pretty nice and can be found for less $1000. They use certain HED patents and can be set up tubeless or tubed. The new ENVE foundation wheels are also nice and could be used off road or on road at a decent price point (little heavier than other Enve wheels) a well manufactured wheel with a very good warranty. The same is true of the new Zipp 303 (note there are 2 different new 303 wheels with slightly different purpose and price points). There are cheaper carbon wheels but the lifetime all perils warranty that Enve and Zipp are offering is a great option. You will have to order either with the AI dish or have them redished. The Topstone will be a comfortable rocket with nice wheels and tires on the road.
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Old 06-24-20, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Wheels don't change the feel.
I don’t agree with this. My alloy wheels are significantly “springier” on steep climbs than my deep carbon wheels. Really good carbon wheels might be better than my LB ones tho.

My alloy rims are also more compliant. I’d say there’s a solid 10-15psi worth of compliance in my alloy rims. But a lot of that is just because my alloy rims are narrower and thus the hoop stress at a given pressure is lower.

Wide rims can also reduce the amount of “flop” felt at low pressures.
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Old 06-24-20, 02:00 PM
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As soon as I buy a bike with disc brakes I will specify carbon fibre rims. Until then I will stick with alloy rims to ensure the best braking
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Old 06-24-20, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
I don’t agree with this. My alloy wheels are significantly “springier” on steep climbs than my deep carbon wheels. Really good carbon wheels might be better than my LB ones tho.

My alloy rims are also more compliant. I’d say there’s a solid 10-15psi worth of compliance in my alloy rims. But a lot of that is just because my alloy rims are narrower and thus the hoop stress at a given pressure is lower.

Wide rims can also reduce the amount of “flop” felt at low pressures.
So your AL wheels flex more. That's lateral. It doesn't affect how your bike "rides" or "feels".

Tire pressure matters for that. Not wheels.
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Old 06-24-20, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
So your AL wheels flex more. That's lateral. It doesn't affect how your bike "rides" or "feels".

Tire pressure matters for that. Not wheels.
It’s not just about the amount of flex. It’s also about how much energy gets lost in the flex. The alloy rims feel better for that reason. Wheels do matter:


I’m not sure how you could possibly argue that wheel construction doesn’t affect ride feel whatsoever.
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