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  1. #1
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    Alum vs Carbon wheels

    Considering to upgrade my carbon road bike from alum wheels to carbon. 5.0 clinchers seems like a 'safe bet'. Just wondering how much smoother/faster are the carbon wheels? Can anyone explain the difference or what to expect? Either in speed/watts/time on a set distance. Thanks.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by jowees View Post
    ...Just wondering how much smoother/faster are the carbon wheels? ....
    Carbon basically buys you aero-ness. If you ride fast, like 20+mph, it'll save you a few watts. Other benefits are mostly illusory, IMO.

  3. #3
    I play for keeps
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    What are your goals? What do you hope to gain with the 'upgrade'?

    Are you racing on these or training on them? Want to save wait? Go faster? Eye candy?

  4. #4
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    Smoother ride but you can go tubeless with aluminum and get more benefits.

  5. #5
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    Straight on difference? Slipperiness.

    It's the first thing I noticed when I got my 303/404 combo on my bike.

    Another analogy might be if you ski; it's like getting your skis waxed.

    I do think that they have added perhaps a 1km/h to my speed average.

    If you the feel of your skis when waxed; then you will like them!

  6. #6
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lawrence View Post
    Smoother ride but you can go tubeless with aluminum and get more benefits.
    how would a deeper section carbon rim offer a better ride than an alloy rim? just wondering how you came up w/ this idea.
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
    Smith&Wesson M&P 9
    oh, those belong in another forum

  7. #7
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    Absorbs vibrations better, aluminum transmits them, less with aluminum if you have kevlar or carbon or some such spokes.

    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    how would a deeper section carbon rim offer a better ride than an alloy rim? just wondering how you came up w/ this idea.

  8. #8
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    The two sets of deep section carbon clinchers I have both ride a little harsher than my aluminium wheels. The rims are stiff, which makes for a good strong wheel, but also means that you feel the road a little more. I have not felt the reduction in vibration mentioned above.

    Before you buy carbon wheels be aware of the braking problems. I do a lot of steep technical descents, often in the wet. Carbon clinchers can have problems in either situation. Although I use carbon wheels for most races I do nearly all my training on aluminium wheels. If I wasn't racing I'd be pretty disappointed with the carbon wheels. They're just not that much faster than aluminium. It's on descents where I notice a difference, and even there it's not that big.

  9. #9
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lawrence View Post
    Absorbs vibrations better, aluminum transmits them, less with aluminum if you have kevlar or carbon or some such spokes.
    you've been drinking someone's kool-aid. big time.
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
    Smith&Wesson M&P 9
    oh, those belong in another forum

  10. #10
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    The biggest advantage in carbon is going to be the aerodynamics and weight. Go tubeless carbons and you could save a full pound on a wheelset. There is a braking issue with carbon, especially in the rain. Carbon rims use specific brake pads and they don't respond well in wet conditions.
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  11. #11
    is super good looking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lawrence View Post
    Absorbs vibrations better, aluminum transmits them, less with aluminum if you have kevlar or carbon or some such spokes.
    You have this backwards.

  12. #12
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    Thinking

    Quote Originally Posted by bikerjohn64 View Post
    I do think that they have added perhaps a 1km/h to my speed average.
    You may think that, but in reality that didn't happen. Compared to a 32 spoke box section rim, the fastest wheels on the planet will give you 0.4 mph (0.6 km/hr) at 25 mph (40 km/ hr). At 20 mph (32 km/hr) you will get 0.3 mph (0.5 km/hr). Those are the facts based on extensive tests in wind tunnels and on the road.

  13. #13
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    Thanks guys. Your input has been really helpful. I'll stick to my present aluminum wheels for now (as nothing wrong with them).

  14. #14
    Online Wheel Builder
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    I think that if you were willing to switch to tubys, then carbon may be worth the upgrade. It would be drastically lighter, and that coupled with the more supple ride quality of a tubulars can make them far more enjoyable than alloy clinchers.

  15. #15
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    I went to 5.0 full carbon last year. Raised my ave. by .2. Not much. I would go back to dura ace tl in a heart beat. Carbon look cool and stopping is not as good.

  16. #16
    Daft Punk built my hotrod
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    Carbon clinchers are the Kim Kardashian of wheels. Nice looking, but overrated, overexposed, and somewhat on the heavy side.

  17. #17
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaxRomana View Post
    Carbon clinchers are the Kim Kardashian of wheels. Nice looking, but overrated, overexposed, and somewhat on the heavy side.
    this, exactly. i don't see why so many people want carbon clinchers...they really don't make much sense. much heavier than similar tubular wheels, more sensitive to impacts than similar tubular wheels, and then there's the carbon-clincers-getting-hot-and-letting-tires-blow-off thing. just saw another one of those this weekend...
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
    Smith&Wesson M&P 9
    oh, those belong in another forum

  18. #18
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    So what about something like the Hed carbon wheel with the aluminum (or scandium) brake surface?

    Seems like the best compromise/solution....weight and aero of the carbon, still good braking characteristic of non-carbon surface.

  19. #19
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbodogs02 View Post
    So what about something like the Hed carbon wheel with the aluminum (or scandium) brake surface?

    Seems like the best compromise/solution....weight and aero of the carbon, still good braking characteristic of non-carbon surface.
    those aren't carbon rims w/ aluminum braking surfaces. they're aluminum rims w/ carbon fairings attached. the ONLY carbon rims w/ an alloy braking surface are the madfiber carbon clinchers.
    any rim that is alloy w/ a carbon aero fairing attached will be the heaviest option. a full carbon clincher will be slightly lighter, a carbon tubular will show the biggest weight difference.
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
    Smith&Wesson M&P 9
    oh, those belong in another forum

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    the ONLY carbon rims w/ an alloy braking surface are the madfiber carbon clinchers.
    The Madfiber clinchers do have a carbon braking surface. They have an alloy tire bed that is wrapped in carbon to hold it in place. You are still braking on a carbon surface.
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  21. #21
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by coachboyd View Post
    The Madfiber clinchers do have a carbon braking surface. They have an alloy tire bed that is wrapped in carbon to hold it in place. You are still braking on a carbon surface.
    dohhhh...yep, you're right!
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
    Smith&Wesson M&P 9
    oh, those belong in another forum

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    the ONLY carbon rims w/ an alloy braking surface are the madfiber carbon clinchers.
    Zipp still has their regular 404 clinchers which are alloy track and structural carbon. So are the Sram and Campagnolo Bullet line.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    those aren't carbon rims w/ aluminum braking surfaces. they're aluminum rims w/ carbon fairings attached. the ONLY carbon rims w/ an alloy braking surface are the madfiber carbon clinchers.
    any rim that is alloy w/ a carbon aero fairing attached will be the heaviest option. a full carbon clincher will be slightly lighter, a carbon tubular will show the biggest weight difference.
    I've had the HED Jet 50s for a number of years. I think they weigh around 1650 grams. Not light but not heavy. For my purpose they are a great compromise between traditional box rims and carbon.
    "The problem with losing your mind is that by the time you realize it's gone, it's too late to get it back."
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  24. #24
    Scott in Maryland
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    After three years and about 7500 miles of riding Reynolds all carbon clinchers with 23mm premium clincher tires and ultralight tubes on my road bike and my tri bike, I switched my roadie back to nice aluminum box sections and more durable 25mm tires ... and won't switch back. I now use the 32mm deep carbon with tougher tires as training wheels in my Cannondale Slice tri bike, and switch over to 46mm deep carbon with premium tires and latex tubes for races. It is really convenient to switch the triathlon bike tires over to the trainer or rough road training rides without worrying about changing or adjusting brake pads. I even appreciate the slight convenience of leaving the heavy trainer skewer in my tri-bike dedicated training rear wheel. On my Specialized Roubaix road bike, I'm now riding HED Belgiums with the wider rim profile (23mm) and 25mm tires (Roubaix Pro's).

    I think the Reynolds carbon clinchers are great hoops and super durable, and brake feel is almost as good as aluminum ....and after checking my roll-out speed (~52 MPH) on Golden Eagle Blvd hill on my regular roadie and with Garmin data and a lot of historica rides (**BUT NOT SCIENTIFICALLY CONTROLLED, AT ALL) .... I think the carbon rim w-23mm tire is a little faster than the aluminum rim-25mm tire ... in other words I buy into the conventional wisdom (ie kool aid) that deep carbon is about 1min30sec faster per 25 miles ... I just have decided it is not worth it for my road bike. Don't get me wrong .. I ride fast (**AS I CAN) but out here in hot, hilly Arizona I don't want to ever overheat a rim bed on a braking descent, and I really like to smooth feel of 25 mm rubber on the wider HED rims.

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