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Carbon rims for touring

Old 08-26-21, 06:44 AM
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azza_333
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Carbon rims for touring

Carbon rims on a touring bike, a pretty controversial topic I am sure.

I am looking into having a set of wheels rebuilt with new rims, for a couple of reasons (wider interior rim width, the possibility of going tubeless in the future).

I came across a set of carbon rims online, 32 spoke holes, 30mm deep, 24mm interior rim width, tubeless compatible, and lighter than the alloy equivalent (handy since I have also started using the bike for weekend club rides).

I was wondering if anyone has toured on carbon rims, and their thoughts on it. I am not overly heavy 70kg + 10kg of gear + 10kg bike + and add an additional 5kg just to be on the safe side = 95kg (210lbs), would that be to much to reliable tour on carbon? I'm hoping to go on a 6000km (on road) tour next year, so hoping to find out if would they be just as strong as alloy rimmed wheels?

==================================UPDATED POST==============================
As requested by a couple of people a few months ago, some photos of my latest touring bike build. Also for those that may be interested I have written up the details of the build as well as the logic behind some of the component choices.







The bike isn’t meant for touring in the most remote places in the world, I already have a steel touring bike for that. When I set out to build this bike I wanted it to have the following characteristics:

- Comfortable over long distance (a relaxed riding position)

- Robust enough for multi month tours with a couple of panniers in first world countries

- Lighter & faster than a traditional touring bike (good enough to weekend bunch rides when I take off luggage)

- Fender and rack mounts, and underside of down tube braze on

- Braze-ons for strapless custom frame bag

- Internal cable routing and through axles

- Tyre clearance for upto 700 x 45mm tyres (40mm with fenders)

-

Frame: Custom Titanium, with internal cable routing, and through axles 12mm

The frame builder advised me to pick a frame that I already know and like, and base the new frames geometry off that so I used a 2017 Kona Sutra (another bike I have) geometry to start with. I made a few tweaks though:

o 10mm shorter chain stay length, for a bit snappier handling. Its still plenty long enough for heel clearance though.

o 8mm more BB drop, for a lower centre of gravity.

o 50mm longer head tube, as you can see in the photos I have no spacers under my stem, it gives me the same stack and reach as my Kona Sutra, so is a reasonably relaxed riding position

o Lastly I have the top tube/stand over height raised up to the highest I could comfortable have it and still be able to stand over the toptube, in order to increase room inside the frame triangle for a larger frame bag.

Fork: Carbon Fibre, Kinesis Range

Handle Bars: Carbon Fibre, Pro Vibe Compact, with internal cable routing

Saddle: Titanium Brooks B17

Groupset: Shimano GRX 810 Di2 (I like the shifting performance of electronic shifting)

- There are 2 components of the group set that are not GRX 810:

o Brake rotors are the new Dura-Ace 9200, in 160mm front and rear.

o Chain is again the same as the new Dura-Ace 9200 (using a 12 speed chain on an 11 speed system is quieter, and the 12 speed chain will last longer aswell)

- The crankset is the 48/32 tooth, and at the moment the cassette is 11-34, but if need be the rear derailleur can run 11-40.

Fenders: SKS Longboards (I might shorten the from fender as it extends pretty low to the ground) Will be removed when not on a bike tour

Seat Post & Stem: Carbon Fibre (Can’t remember the exact model)

Pedals: Flat pedal, Titanium Spindle (Can’t remember the exact model)



Additional information: I did consider waiting for the new Dura-Ace levers and brake callipers, mostly for the extra brake pad clearance, since Shimano have di2 cable adapters, but I have the hydraulic sub levers of the GRX group set on the bike, and don’t want to give them up, and unfortunately they are not compatible with the “new” hydraulic systems on Dura-Ace 9200. GRX 810 brakes are still pretty bloody good though. They seem just as good as my XT 8120 4-piston callipers that I have on another bike.



Wheelset: I will break the wheel sets down into its components, and list reasons. Since what I planned initially for the wheelset is not what I ended up having built. I commissioned a specialist wheel builder who had a lot of input into what components he recommended I go with. This is now the 3rd set of wheels he has built for me, the other 2 sets are still going strong though, I just have a lot of bikes.

- Rims: Carbon Fibre,50mm deep, gravel rims

o Initially I was going to go with shallower 35mm carbon rims, but my wheel builder said if I didn’t mind the weight penalty I should go with 50mm since a bigger cross section will be stiffer and stronger.



- Spoke Count: 28 Front and Rear

o My initial though was 32 spokes front a rear. From my point of view anything less that 32 spokes is a “low spoke count”, but my wheel builder said for my body and gear weight, and intended use, 24 spokes front and 28 rear would be more than enough for bike touring. But 24 spokes on the front just seemed really low to me, I guess compared to 16 spoke road wheels, 24 is a lot. He assures me that 24 on the front would be fine since I don’t plan to have a front rack. In the end I decided to just go with 28 front and rear to put my mind at ease.



- Spokes: DT Swiss Competition

o Most of my conversations with my wheel builder were about spokes, initially I was planning to go with some bladed spokes like the Sapim CX-Ray. He said they would be strong enough, but not worth spending the 4 times the cost of round spokes for a single watt gain at 40km/h. My wheel builder said since the rims were so strong/stiff and I was having a relatively high spoke count wheel, the lightest round spokes would be strong enough, being the DT Swiss Revolutions, the only thing that would risk braking them was having a stick go through the spokes. My only concern was the chance of sideways force pushing into the spokes when the bike is packed away in a box and handed over to the airlines. So we decided on the DT Swiss Competition Spokes instead, mostly for my piece of mind than anything else.



- Hubs: DT Swiss 350 MTB

o I have had DT Swiss 240s hubs previously on other wheel sets and liked them, so I was thinking of going with them again, but my wheel builder said the new 240’s have had issues, and although the issues have now all been fixed by DT Swiss, the hubs the with star racketed rather than new EXP rachet were better (something about bearing sizes, I can’t remember what he said exactly)



- Tyres: Marathon Supremes 35mm / GP5000 TL 28 or 32mm

o Although the rims are tubeless compatible for bike touring/bike packing I will still run standard tubes with marathon supreme tyres. When not touring though I will run 28 or 32mm GP5000 tubeless (once I wear my current set of Supremes out.



The last bit of kit are the touring specific stuff ie the frame bag and rack. For a bit of perspective I travel pretty light, the heaviest I have ever travelled before was with only 2 x 20L panniers and a 1L top tube bag for 10 week trip, but most of the time I travel light than that though.

- Frame bag: Custom framebag from Rockgeist

o With all the bells and whistles, completely bolt on, internal divides, upgraded zips, hanging loops, map pocket, ect

o The shape of the bag has a cut out so I can still have a 1100ml water bottle on the seat tube.



- Top Tube bag: Don’t plan to use one



- Handle Bar bag: Don’t plan to use one



- Rear Rack: I haven’t yet gotten a rack for the bike, I am kind of taking my time deciding. I have a few options I am considering:

o Tubus Airy titanium rack (they don’t seem to be in stock anywhere)

o Custom made titanium rack (with narrow top platform width maybe 60mm, to keep the panniers tucked in behind my legs for aerodynamics, I don’t usually have anything on top of the rack anyway)

o Or I can just take a the Tubus Logo off my Kona Sutra



- Panniers/Seatpack: Modified Ortlieb City Front Rollers / Relevate Designs Viscacha

o Depending how much stuff I need to carry for a particular tour, I will either take my 14L Relevate Designs seatpack, but if that is not big enough I will swap it out for my 2 small 12.5L panniers

o I may upgrade to the Ortlieb bike packing panniers for the rear in the future as a lighter option, since my city rollers are starting to get a bit worn.

Last edited by azza_333; 12-03-21 at 03:23 AM. Reason: Update
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Old 08-26-21, 08:04 AM
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I am overall a heavy rider and some of my bikes are considered heavy by normal standards and I have been touring on carbon rims for years. No problem - I do use maximum number of spokes and sturdy spokes though.
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Old 08-26-21, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I am overall a heavy rider and some of my bikes are considered heavy by normal standards and I have been touring on carbon rims for years. No problem - I do use maximum number of spokes and sturdy spokes though.
Thanks for the reply, do you mind if I ask how much you weigh? and how much your touring gear weigh? what rims you used and how many spokes the wheels had. Thanks.
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Old 08-26-21, 08:44 AM
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I waffle between 220 and 240 lbs, my rims are Nextie 29x35mm 32 holes ... touring gear varies and honestly I don't really weigh it but my one of my bikes is full heavy steel Co-Motion Divide with Pinion P18 gearbox. That bike is definitely over 30lbs

My second 'gravel' bikepacking bike is titanium. It is lighter but also longer frame and chainstay so ... still not 'light'

I have not weighed either bike for exact numbers

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Old 08-26-21, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I waffle between 220 and 240 lbs, my rims are Nextie 29x35mm 32 holes ... touring gear varies and honestly I don't really weigh it but my one of my bikes is full heavy steel Co-Motion Divide with Pinion P18 gearbox. That bike is definitely over 30lbs

My second 'gravel' bikepacking bike is titanium. It is lighter but also longer frame and chainstay so ... still not 'light'

I have not weighed either bike for exact numbers
When you tour, many miles do you normally cover, also what sort of riding do you do on tour mostly(road, gravel, single track).
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Old 08-26-21, 05:25 PM
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240 lbs bike and me touring

20H front and 28H rear carbon

Over 50,000 miles.

No problems. No need to true wheels.

Carbon rims are much better than aluminum
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Old 08-26-21, 06:33 PM
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From what I have seen come through the shop I am convinced carbon rims are excellent and exceptionally durable under normal conditions. If I ran disc brakes I would not hesitate to put them on a fully loaded touring bike.
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Old 08-26-21, 07:24 PM
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I'm a paranoid sort, so you couldn't pay me to use carbon rims.
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Old 08-26-21, 07:43 PM
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I think there's a premium to carbon and I'd rather put the money into good hand built Alu touring rims, 36 spoke, etc...
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Old 08-27-21, 06:12 AM
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all of the above

usually 50+miles per day

Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
When you tour, many miles do you normally cover, also what sort of riding do you do on tour mostly(road, gravel, single track).
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Old 08-27-21, 06:56 AM
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I do not have first hand experience, but it is my understanding that special tools may be needed to install and remove tubeless tires from carbon rims. Do your research first on how to do it right.
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Old 08-27-21, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I do not have first hand experience, but it is my understanding that special tools may be needed to install and remove tubeless tires from carbon rims. Do your research first on how to do it right.
For tours I still plan to use tubed clinchers, I don't want to have to deal with the sealant mess on the chance the the tire pops of the bead during transport.
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Old 08-27-21, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
For tours I still plan to use tubed clinchers, I don't want to have to deal with the sealant mess on the chance the the tire pops of the bead during transport.
Tubeless rims have a tighter fitting shelf that the bead sits on, even if no sealant is used. That is something to be aware of before you start prying on it with a tire lever, even if you used tubes.

There was a long thread on tubeless on the rando board last fall and winter. Most of these riders are riding longer distances on bikes that are not heavily loaded, which I think mirrors your touring style. There might be some useful info there.
Ready to give-up on tubeless road tires

I learned a lot from that thread and was surprised how many decided to give up on tubeless after trying it.

I have no plans to go tubeless, but I am rather unique in that I have several bikes that I ride during a season, thus I would have to do a lot more annual maintenance than most others if I went tubeless on half a dozen bikes. I average one puncture a year, I think it unlikely that I would get any benefit from tubeless. But I can see where someone that only rides one or maybe two bikes might reap some benefits from tubeless.
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Old 08-27-21, 10:10 AM
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While touring, it is not uncommon that I am forced to ride thru large chunky gravel at times. Are you willing to possibly scar up your pretty carbon rims vs. a pair of lesser expensive but heavy duty alloy rims ? Your call.
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Old 08-27-21, 11:15 AM
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Danny seems to think carbon holds up ok. Always like his videos.

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Old 08-27-21, 11:21 AM
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My question is why ?. Carbon advantages are usually weight, stifness, aero depending on rim depth. None of those qualities are needed in a touring rim and likely costs a good bit more than aluminum.
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Old 08-27-21, 11:35 AM
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My friend and I just completed a 1000+ miles tour. He was running tubeless on Schwalbe G1 tires and had 8 flats over the course of 13 days. He got up and running much quicker than with tubes by just stuffing a plug in and be done with it. He used 6 plugs on that trip. 2 flats self sealed.
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Old 08-28-21, 01:59 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
240 lbs bike and me touring

20H front and 28H rear carbon

Over 50,000 miles.

No problems. No need to true wheels.

Carbon rims are much better than aluminum
WOW that's impressive only a 20H front wheel, it makes me wonder if I should just get a entirely new set of wheels built with 28H/28H DT Swiss 240 hubs. The only reason I was thinking of having the rims replaced on my old wheels rather than an entirely new wheel build is because DT Swiss don't do 32H 240 road hubs anymore, and I was thinking I would need 32H as a minimum. So maybe I might consider a new set of 240 EXP hubs.
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Old 08-28-21, 02:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Tubeless rims have a tighter fitting shelf that the bead sits on, even if no sealant is used. That is something to be aware of before you start prying on it with a tire lever, even if you used tubes.
I'm not an expert, but my understanding is that tubeless rim manufactures make their bead seat diameter slightly larger to play it safe and make sure a tire will get a nice airtight fit.

Then tubeless tire manufactures, do the same thing, they want to play it safe to ensure their tires will have a good airtight fit on the rim, so they make their bead diameter slightly smaller.

So its a double whammy, the tires are to small and the rims are to big.

It also makes it even worse that a tubeless tire has a less elastic bead (to ensure it stays tight on the bead seat) than a standard tire designed for tubes. So a normal tire with a tube, should be a lot easier to mount on a tubeless rim, than a tubeless tire would be.

The less elastic tubeless tire bead is also apparently why tubeless tires can stay on a hookless rim.
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Old 08-28-21, 02:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
My question is why ?. Carbon advantages are usually weight, stifness, aero depending on rim depth. None of those qualities are needed in a touring rim and likely costs a good bit more than aluminum.
I think "needed" is probably the wrong word to use. I would say "worth it"

In the right context all those things matter:
- Weight, if all the tubes on your bike were solid steel and not hollow, the frame would be a lot stronger, the question is do you need that extra strength, if you don't then why have a heavier frame than you need.

- Stiffness, it may be subjective, but a laterally stiff wheel feels so much better to ride on, but the difference isn't huge.

- Aero, if I strapped a parachute to the back of you bike while you were riding into a head wind, I am sure you would want to cut it away to be more aero. Not that 30mm deep carbon rims will make much if any aero difference, it means you can go faster for the same power, sure that may only be a tiny amount, I have no idea how much, say 0.2km, over an 8hr day, over a 2 month tour that's 99km (60mi), for the same effort level.

These are all about where you draw the line, to most people I imagine $1000 for rims, to get realistically very small gains, probably isn't worth it, but everyone draws that line at a different place.

For me I don't mind spending the money, if they will be strong enough for me, since I would also use the wheels for weekend club rides with roadies, not just touring.

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Old 08-28-21, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
Carbon rims on a touring bike, a pretty controversial topic I am sure.

I am looking into having a set of wheels rebuilt with new rims, for a couple of reasons (wider interior rim width, the possibility of going tubeless in the future).

I came across a set of carbon rims online, 32 spoke holes, 30mm deep, 24mm interior rim width, tubeless compatible, and lighter than the alloy equivalent (handy since I have also started using the bike for weekend club rides).

I was wondering if anyone has toured on carbon rims, and their thoughts on it. I am not overly heavy 70kg + 10kg of gear + 10kg bike + and add an additional 5kg just to be on the safe side = 95kg (210lbs), would that be to much to reliable tour on carbon? I'm hoping to go on a 6000km (on road) tour next year, so hoping to find out if would they be just as strong as alloy rimmed wheels?

Thanks in advance for the feedback.
I ride carbon rims on all bikes and wheels....MTB, gravel, road/touring, and MTB tandem. NOX Composite on the tandem, Knight Composites on all other. I'm leaving for a 2 week tour in Italy middle of this month and will be on carbon rims with no hesitation. Good luck!
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Old 08-28-21, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
I think "needed" is probably the wrong word to use. I would say "worth it"

In the right context all those things matter:
- Weight, if all the tubes on your bike were solid steel and not hollow, the frame would be a lot stronger, the question is do you need that extra strength, if you don't then why have a heavier frame than you need.

- Stiffness, it may be subjective, but a laterally stiff wheel feels so much better to ride on, but the difference isn't huge.

- Aero, if I strapped a parachute to the back of you bike while you were riding into a head wind, I am sure you would want to cut it away to be more aero. Not that 30mm deep carbon rims will make much if any aero difference, it means you can go faster for the same power, sure that may only be a tiny amount, I have no idea how much, say 0.2km, over an 8hr day, over a 2 month tour that's 99km (60mi), for the same effort level.

These are all about where you draw the line, to most people I imagine $1000 for rims, to get realistically very small gains, probably isn't worth it, but everyone draws that line at a different place.

For me I don't mind spending the money, if they will be strong enough for me, since I would also use the wheels for weekend club rides with roadies, not just touring.
I doubt you'd see speeds on a loaded tourer where aero rims would make a difference. Maybe old school thinking on my part.
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Old 08-29-21, 04:43 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
...
For me I don't mind spending the money, if they will be strong enough for me, since I would also use the wheels for weekend club rides with roadies, not just touring.
When you get your new bike built up with custom bags, frame, etc., we need photos.
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Old 08-29-21, 04:58 PM
  #24  
Pratt
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My Bruce Gordon has 36 hole aluminum rims by Mavic. I have never really trued them, just tweaked a spoke or two here and there. Prepping the bike yesterday, front and rear were with in a millimeter or two of perfect. Recreational riding, touring, loaded and supported, on pavement, dirt roads, and trails. YMMV.
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Old 08-30-21, 07:52 AM
  #25  
djb
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
My friend and I just completed a 1000+ miles tour. He was running tubeless on Schwalbe G1 tires and had 8 flats over the course of 13 days. He got up and running much quicker than with tubes by just stuffing a plug in and be done with it. He used 6 plugs on that trip. 2 flats self sealed.
that's a ridiculous number of flats, what do you think was the cause?
wouldn't have been thorns I don't think?
is he a "bull in a China shop" type of rider? I know a few riders who are like this, smash hard over hard edges seated, don't notice glass etc and ride right over it...... that sort of thing.

were his tires worn and old to begin with (I wouldn't have thought so) ?

it just seems to me an unacceptable number of punctures, very much outside my personal experience.
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