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  1. #1
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    Smile Carbon Clinchers

    My wife and I ride 150 miles a week. I ride a 2013 TREK Madone 5.9(with Ksyrium Elite wheelset) and she is on a Domane 4.5 WSD. We are thinking of moving to carbon clincher wheelsets. Any recommendations? We live in South Florida where it is flat (except the bridges) and and usually have wind when riding.

    Have mostly looked at Zipps ( which set for Florida) and Reynolds as a less expensive alternative.

    Any comments or recommendations would be much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    ROLs make a very good carbon wheels, and at a decent price. But Zipp and Reynolds are safe bets and popular wheels. Zipp in particular has done a lot of work with deep dish wheels. Shimano and Mavic also have good wheels.

  3. #3
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    My suggestion would be to not get carbon clinchers.

    In flat Florida you don't have the potential braking issues to worry about so that's good.

    The advantage of carbon over alloy is they can be made deep without weighing a ton like similar alloy wheels would be. But if you usually have wind would you really want deep wheels? And if you're looking at shallow rims there's no advantage to carbon so why bother.

    What are you looking to get out of carbon clinchers that you aren't being provided with your current wheels?

  4. #4
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    Looking to upgrade. From what I read wheels are the best upgrade on a bike. LBS claims better ride, more speed. From what I understand the deep wheels are affected mostly by cross winds, and that one gets used to it.

    That's why I posted. Wanted to comments to educate myself, and not from the guys who sell the wheels.

  5. #5
    Dr. Buzz Killington
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thira View Post
    Looking to upgrade. From what I read wheels are the best upgrade on a bike. LBS claims better ride, more speed. From what I understand the deep wheels are affected mostly by cross winds, and that one gets used to it.

    That's why I posted. Wanted to comments to educate myself, and not from the guys who sell the wheels.
    Sure, wheels are one of the best ways to improve your bike, but upgrading for the sake of upgrading isn't a scientifically literate approach. Of course the LBS claims a better ride and more speed. Are the guys working there your best friends, or are they people trying to make money? Always question the motives of people who give you this kind of advice. Your current wheelset serves as the typical benchmark by which carbon wheels are measured. If you bought a set of Zipp 404 Firecrest tubulars and rode them in a 25-mile time trial, you would save 73 seconds over your Ksryium Elites if you were producing 300W (roughly traveling at 30mph). Now, 73 seconds in a time trial is huge, but are you and your wife racing a lot, or are you just riding to spend time together? Moreover, a pair of Zipps on sale will run you $2300, so I'll leave the judgment call to you when your average speed is only 0.3mph faster and the ride quality is minimally nicer. The most apparent modification you can make with wheels is actually the tires, because you'll feel a difference in rolling resistance and ride quality much more profoundly by changing those. You also said that you didn't want to get advice from people selling wheels (or who even build them), and I can understand that perspective, but you should also realize that those guys have the most readily available knowledge on the subject. I'm actually hoping the owner of Zen Cyclery will put in his two cents, because he's honest enough not to blow smoke up people's asses. Though the wheel sellers are trying to make money, they're also smart enough not to misrepresent the benefits of their products here, because this is the internet after all, and we can fact check anything they say. A wheel dealer who misrepresents their products here would be ostracized more quickly than a pork butcher at a bar mitzvah.

    Look, if you really want to buy carbon wheels, then buy some carbon wheels. It's your hard-earned money, and you're free to spend it as you please. Perhaps you didn't hear what you wanted to hear, but at the end of the day it's your choice. I personally have the means and the desire to buy carbon wheels myself, but at least I already accept that they will do zilch in terms of performance. I might benefit from toroidal carbon wheels when riding in these strong crosswinds coming off Lake Saratoga, but that's probably it.

  6. #6
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    Thanks . First we are riding 20-24 mph on a 50 mile ride. We are riding Continental Grand Pris 400 tires. At the moment we are riding 700x23. I hear the 700 x 25 are more comfortable and have been thinking about changing.

    From what I am hearing, we would gain little from the carbon wheels for the cost.

    I put my Bontrager Race Lite with Bontrager R3 wheels on her bike. She may benefit more from an upgraded alloy wheel-set.

  7. #7
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    You'd probably save more time by switching your helmets, and that's a lot cheaper. FWIW I go faster sometimes on my $300 used 20# bike than I do on my 15# carbon wonder bike with deep carbon wheels. How I'm feeling the particular day I'm riding seems to make the most difference.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by aramis View Post
    FWIW I go faster sometimes on my $300 used 20# bike than I do on my 15# carbon wonder bike with deep carbon wheels. How I'm feeling the particular day I'm riding seems to make the most difference.
    That is the same for everyone, including professionals. Clinically (theoretically) rationalizing heavy investments in equipment is a bit of a waste of time because the gains are marginal. It only makes sense when there's something on the line, like you see with professionals, because there the marginal differences can have big consequences.

    When there is not really anything on the line, there is no clinically rational reason to invest large amounts, but it could still be a good investment. Simply enjoying how a bike rides can make such a difference in the overal experience, making it easier to train, to push, to get that bit extra out of yourself. When you use equipment a lot, it is very beneficial to have something that feels tailored to your needs (and budget of course).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thira View Post
    Looking to upgrade. From what I read wheels are the best upgrade on a bike. LBS claims better ride, more speed. From what I understand the deep wheels are affected mostly by cross winds, and that one gets used to it.
    That's why I posted. Wanted to comments to educate myself, and not from the guys who sell the wheels.
    The 'better ride' part is just plain false unless your starting point is some really bad wheels.
    While I can't say the 'you'll get used to it' bit is false because I've never tried to get used to being blow around in cross winds by deep wheels I would say even if it is true why force yourself to get used to a negative?
    I do know that the guys on my group ride who own deep wheels leave them at home for all but certain races and winds is part of that reason.

    By all means get some nice new wheels if you'd like though. 23mm rims are something to consider. Personally, I think they really do improve the ride (assuming one uses lower air pressure as compared to 19mm rims) and they are more aerodynamic than a similar depth traditional width rim. I'm not claiming that aero difference will actually make you faster by an amount that matters though.

    Hed Ardennes are an example of 23mm rims on pre made wheels and the H Plus Son Archetype and Hed C2 (same rims as on the Ardennes) are examples of rims that can be used to have your own wheels made. There are a number of hubs that can be used but Dura Ace are what I think are the best all things considered.

    Edit to add: I have heard of bike shops who have deep carbon wheels to demo....so maybe you could look around and try some to see for yourself.

  10. #10
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    So much backlash in every CC thread...

    They are faster, this is scientifically proven. Good ones weigh just as little as aluminum clinchers. And braking has been improved fantastically since their creation. I will ride my 404s in gusts up to around 40mph.

    Quality of ride is subjective and should be left off the table until you can compare back-to-back. I found Mavic carbon rims to be way too harsh of a ride and would rank my Zipps (115psi) up there with my tubeless DuraAce (95psi).

    I love my Zipps and would never trade them in for even the nicest set of shallow depth, aluminum rims. They go fast and look great, what more do I need?

  11. #11
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    Carbon Clinchers

    You should check out Boyd's website

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thira View Post
    Have mostly looked at Zipps ( which set for Florida) and Reynolds as a less expensive alternative.
    I ride regularly with guys on Zipps (404 & 303) and Reynolds. I'm not sure the Reynolds model number, but they have been on a buddy's bike for probably 50,000 miles and still work fine. I've heard the 404s can be a handful on windy days, but I also haven't seen that particular guy ever ride anything else, so it can't be that bad I guess.

    For me the carbon upgrade when I have the $ to spend is going to be Enve in the 40-50mm range. The Enve wheels can be set up tubeless which is a big plus for me, but most folks run them with tubes and standard clinchers. At any rate, they are another option to consider. I don't think you can go wrong with Enve, Zipp or Reynolds - just get the correct brake pads and you're good to go.
    miles to posts ratio is > 30:1

  13. #13
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    Zipp 202's. Yep, not for everyone, overpriced, blah blah blah. Are they an upgrade? Endless debate but I agree with the they won't make you faster crowd. I doubt they will make you say "wow" after your first ride on them.

    I don't ride in the rain that you experience so I can't comment on braking performance in that weather.

  14. #14
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    " I hear the 700 x 25 are more comfortable and have been thinking about changing.

    From what I am hearing, we would gain little from the carbon wheels for the cost."

    I say give tubeless a try if it's comfort/upgrades you are looking for. The new 23mm wide rims from Velocity and Hed are tubeless ready and they ride great, they build up into a very light wheel as well. With the greater volume you can run them with pretty low pressures and not have them feel "squirmy" like a narrower profile rim does. I'm running mine right now at about 80psi and they feel great over even the crappiest roads.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thira View Post
    LBS claims better ride, more speed.
    That's your LBS trying to sell you a set of wheels.

    Carbon wheels will not necessarily give you a better ride than aluminum wheels that allow the use of wider tires (and therefore the use of lower air pressure...and a more comfortable ride).

    Carbon wheels also won't make you faster unless you're a world class cyclist who has already dedicated months and months to intensive training, follows a proper diet, possesses an incredibly high pain threshold, and has an intense will to win. In that case, the small aerodynamic or weight advantage of carbon wheels might make a difference.

  16. #16
    Carbon Fiber = Explode!
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    I bought my first set of Carbon tubies earlier this year. I am not impressed. FYI.
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  17. #17
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    this is false. The benefit may be small, but it's a real benefit. It's a benefit for slow riders. It's a benefit for fast riders. It doesn't just kick in at 30 mph for elite riders.

    To the OP, the big issue for you is wind in Florida. Lighter riders in particular may feel pushed around by gusts on deep rims (so may be more of an issue for your wife). Find a shop that has a wheel demo program and try some out. The brake issue won't be a big deal for you if you're not planning on going places with long descents.

    Quote Originally Posted by tvad View Post
    That's your LBS trying to sell you a set of wheels.

    Carbon wheels also won't make you faster unless you're a world class cyclist who has already dedicated months and months to intensive training, follows a proper diet, possesses an incredibly high pain threshold, and has an intense will to win. In that case, the small aerodynamic or weight advantage of carbon wheels might make a difference.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesbike View Post
    this is false. The benefit may be small, but it's a real benefit. It's a benefit for slow riders. It's a benefit for fast riders. It doesn't just kick in at 30 mph for elite riders.
    I'm sorry, but I disagree. It's not a benefit most riders will notice, and the benefit certainly isn't as pronounced as the benefit one would realize if they spent the extra $1000 on coaching/training, but hiring a coach and putting in the hard work to get faster isn't as sexy or as appealing as buying something new.

    I have no dog in the hunt...just trying to share a dose of reality. I own both carbon and aluminum wheels. If someone wants to own carbon wheels then by all means they should buy carbon wheels.

    I have found that in discussion threads, regardless of the subject matter, most people pick the opinions that reinforce their predisposition to buy, and proceed from there.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvad View Post
    Carbon wheels also won't make you faster unless you're a world class cyclist ...
    Quote Originally Posted by tvad View Post
    I'm sorry, but I disagree. It's not a benefit most riders will notice, ...
    Yep, just keep moving those goalposts.
    Alex's Cycle Blog: Aero for slower riders

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
    Alex's Cycle Blog: Aero for slower riders[/url]
    There is no debate that aero wheels can make one faster on flat or rolling terrain.

    But...that was not the question posed.

    The OP's question was specifically about purchasing carbon clinchers for increased speed. He did not ask about aerodynamic wheels for increased speed.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvad View Post
    The OP's question was specifically about purchasing carbon clinchers for increased speed. He did not ask about aerodynamic wheels for increased speed.
    And you don't think carbon clinchers would be more aerodynamic than Ksyrium Elites? It might be possible to find carbon clinchers that are less aerodynamic, but it would take a lot of work.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
    And you don't think carbon clinchers would be more aerodynamic than Ksyrium Elites? It might be possible to find carbon clinchers that are less aerodynamic, but it would take a lot of work.
    I don't think he'd notice a difference in his times over a period of a month of riding once the honeymoon period wore off (nor would his wife).

    Furthermore, if he wants to improve aerodynamics and comfort, there are some excellent aluminum options that would cost considerably less than carbon clinchers and provide equally good results. IMO, I don't believe his desires indicate carbon over aluminum as the solution, unless his primary desire is bling factor.

  23. #23
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    If you want to upgrade get some Pacenti SL23 rims hand built onto some nice hubs. You will get a very slight increase in aero and not have the expense and problems of carbon rims. You can also use wider tires if you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thira View Post
    Looking to upgrade. From what I read wheels are the best upgrade on a bike. LBS claims better ride, more speed. From what I understand the deep wheels are affected mostly by cross winds, and that one gets used to it.

    That's why I posted. Wanted to comments to educate myself, and not from the guys who sell the wheels.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
    If you want to upgrade get some Pacenti SL23 rims hand built onto some nice hubs. You will get a very slight increase in aero and not have the expense and problems of carbon rims. You can also use wider tires if you want.
    That's a good recommendation. HED Belgium rims are another option.

    Both good upgrades for improved aero and comfort over the Ksyrium Elite, and at significant savings over carbon clincher rims.

  25. #25
    Windrider (Stubborn)
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    Carbon Clinchers

    Where I find that high profiler wheels help the most is riding in a very fast group. They allow me a slightly larger measure of recovery and allow me to maintain speed longer when pulling. This allows me to contribute more.

    Ymmv

    As to carbon brake surfaces, not for me, again ymmv.

    Len



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