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  1. #1
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    Carbon rim durability

    OK, I made a mistake. I bought some inexpensive Chinese carbon rims. They actually work great and I like them--until they fail. Front one has warped/delaminated on two different rims coming down steep hills on a hot day. Time for a new bike and I like somewhat aero carbon wheels, but now I'm wondering if I need disc brakes instead of rim brakes.

    I am looking at Giant, Trek, Specialized and Cannondale bikes with carbon wheels and both rim and disc brake options. Rim brakes are, of course, lighter and cheaper.

    Should I give up on the rim brakes and go with discs for security? I am not looking for feedback on whether road bikes should have disc brakes, just on whether I can trust OEM carbon wheels with rim brakes from major manufacturers to hold up.

  2. #2
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    I would trust OEM wheels from any of those more than cheap chinese carbon wheels.

    Discs are a valid consideration for a road bike. I would go disc and carbon wheel over rim brake and carbon wheel.

    But, I would just buy metal wheels. See blog and posts from November.

    My perspective: I work for a living, race occasionally, ride group rides 2 or 3 days/wk, ride too much (about 6,000 miles so far this year), have a mtb and a cx bike with hydraulic discs, and a road bike with rims brakes. My current stable is all carbon frames. Other than their cool aesthetics, I have little desire to ride carbon wheels. Mainly b/c I don't think the cost justifies the benefit for me and I don't want to have to change brake pads or buy a second set of carbon wheels as an extra set.

  3. #3
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    I appreciate your comments, crit_boy, but all the higher end road bikes have carbon wheels. Question of whether I should risk rim brakes or pay more for discs.

  4. #4
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    What specific bike models of those brands are you calling higher end that you are interested in?

    The only way I would consider disc brakes on a road bike is hydraulic - I have these on my gravel bike and they are VERY nice, but on a pure road bike I see no reason for them and wouldn't pay more for something that just adds weight to the bike. I've had mechanical disc brakes and they just didn't perform as good as rim brakes with the exception of in wet conditions where they were better. Mechanical disc brakes require more effort and are more prone to making noise. If you don't plan to use the bike in adverse weather I would recommend not paying more for disc brakes and certainly not if they are not hydraulic.
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  5. #5
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    Yes, disc brakes are THE solution for carbon rims. I'm not a fan of carbon wheels so I'll stick with aluminum rims, but if carbon wheels are what you want, switch to disc brakes and solve all the problems inherent in carbon wheels.

    Except about no-name Chinese carbon rims. You're asking for trouble with anything that's sold out the back door at very attractive prices.

  6. #6
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    Give the choice between about $160 for rims that work vs $4000 or whatever for a new bike with disk brakes (which offset the point of aero rims) choosing the latter sounds kind of dumb to me.

    I suppose if you can sell your current bike that would offset the blow.

    If you feel you need disk brakes for the riding you do to stay safe that's a different story. I've never felt I do for anything I'd consider 'road cycling'. But just for the sake of using carbon rims would seem kind of foolish.

    But it's your money and if the look of your rims is that important go for it.

  7. #7
    wheelbuilder
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDCowboy View Post
    I appreciate your comments, crit_boy, but all the higher end road bikes have carbon wheels. Question of whether I should risk rim brakes or pay more for discs.
    If your justification for owning carbon wheels is that all high end road bikes have them, I'm sorry but that's a very poor reason. In some terrain, alloy rims are simply a better choice. It's not the end of the world to have alloy wheels.

    There's not a single carbon rim manufacturer that can guaranty against all heat related failures. Some companies use better resin for heat control, but nothing is fail proof.




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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDCowboy View Post
    I appreciate your comments, crit_boy, but all the higher end road bikes have carbon wheels.
    They don't have to. Carbon wheels are 99% fashion, so read what crit_boy said, as he's 100% correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ergott View Post
    all high end road bikes have them
    Go to Mallorca in the springtime. Pro Tour teams train there on their carbon superbikes.

    Most use alloy rims ie Sky use C35 wheels with alloy brake track. Other teams I saw use regular box section rims. Some cover up or peel off the maker's labels. Alloy nonetheless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cinelli 82220 View Post
    Go to Mallorca in the springtime. Pro Tour teams train there on their carbon superbikes.

    Most use alloy rims ie Sky use C35 wheels with alloy brake track. Other teams I saw use regular box section rims. Some cover up or peel off the maker's labels. Alloy nonetheless.
    You must have been watching different version of the Tour de France than I did. EVERY bike had at least 35mm full carbon rims that I saw.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Notvintage View Post
    They don't have to. Carbon wheels are 99% fashion, so read what crit_boy said, as he's 100% correct.
    I am afraid I disagree. I know there's a marketing aspect to carbon wheels just like electronic shifting. Carbon wheels are lighter and more aerodynamic, which is why I want them. I just don't want to worry about them.

    To be fair, I had Trek carbon wheels on my bike for 7 years before I put on the cheaper Chinese wheels. The Trek carbon wheels worked fine and I had no problems bombing down hills with tight turns and hard braking.

  12. #12
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    With rim brakes, I'd go with alloy if I had to choose, with dics, I'd go with carbon if you have the interest and budget. Alloy will usually give you a more comfortable ride FWIW since they are normally more vertically compliant.

    Unless you're buying from Light Bicycles, or comparable, I'd stay away from Chinese rims.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDCowboy View Post
    You must have been watching different version of the Tour de France than I did. EVERY bike had at least 35mm full carbon rims that I saw.
    I'm pretty sure he wasn't talking about watching videos in Mallorca in the spring thus wasn't talking about watching the TDF at all.

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    For the reasons the OP mentioned ( overheating brake tracks) I would not consider a carbon wheel with a rim brake bike.

    That leaves two options.

    1. Get a disc brake bike and use whatever wheels you want

    2. Limit yourself to alloy wheels (as well as less tire clearance, and inferior braking) on rim brakes

    After spending the bulk off the last two seasons on good quality hydraulic discs, I find riding my rim brake bike a little unnerving.

    At this point, I personally would not consider another rim brake bike for any purpose, including road only.
    Last edited by Migen21; 08-03-2017 at 09:57 AM.

  15. #15
    jpz
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    remember, when pro teams have carbon wheels, they are from the company SPONSOR and free (as are replacements), the riders didn't necessarily chose them,doesn't mean they are good or bad, but in most cases the riders didnt pick the wheels. That said, any 'big' name carbon wheel should be fine.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDCowboy View Post
    Carbon wheels are lighter and more aerodynamic, which is why I want them.
    How are they more aerodynamic? At what speed and yaw angle? What width? What depth? Lighter? I have a pair of clincher aluminum rims with Tune Mig/Mag hubs in at 1250 grams. What clincher carbon wheels you can buy like that? Also, unless you regularly ride at 30mph at a perfect yaw angle you're wasting your money. But that's cool. We all do on some crap. Lol. I personally believe carbon clinchers with all their inherent flaws were designed by marketing to sell suckers disc brakes.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpz View Post
    remember, when pro teams have carbon wheels, they are from the company SPONSOR and free (as are replacements), the riders didn't necessarily chose them,doesn't mean they are good or bad, but in most cases the riders didnt pick the wheels. That said, any 'big' name carbon wheel should be fine.
    They also have tubular rims and a team car full of wheels not far behind. Tubulars and clinchers are apples and oranges in this context.

    Getting carbon clinchers for the irrelevant aero 'advantage' then using wind catching disc brakes is especially amusing.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDCowboy View Post
    You must have been watching different version of the Tour de France than I did. EVERY bike had at least 35mm full carbon rims that I saw.
    Read that post again, he didn't say that he was watching any team race, he's talking about what they're using on their training rides.
    Too old to ride plastic

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpz View Post
    remember, when pro teams have carbon wheels, they are from the company SPONSOR and free. .
    Carbon tubulars don't have the overheating issue that clinchers have.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Notvintage View Post
    Carbon tubulars don't have the overheating issue that clinchers have.
    Check out the Tour of Oman. Carbon tubular tires failed in the heat--not the rims!

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    Do any of you commenting actually have carbon rims? Have any of you actually purchatsed a nice bike recently? They come with carbon wheels for everyday riding. If not, then you really do not have any real knowlege of what you're talking about. I want to hear from someone who actually owns and uses carbon wheels.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDCowboy View Post
    Do any of you commenting actually have carbon rims? Have any of you actually purchatsed a nice bike recently? They come with carbon wheels for everyday riding. If not, then you really do not have any real knowlege of what you're talking about. I want to hear from someone who actually owns and uses carbon wheels.
    Facts are facts. Your logic is about like challenging people saying smoking isn't healthy by asking if they smoke.

    Naturally people who know the facts about carbon clinchers and are opposed to using them won't have them (unless they give in for the looks). That would be kind of stupid.

    The fact is carbon clinchers don't make a lot of sense for a lot of people and types or riding. If you use them and like them for your riding that's great but it doesn't change the facts people consider in deciding against them.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDCowboy View Post
    Do any of you commenting actually have carbon rims? Have any of you actually purchatsed a nice bike recently? They come with carbon wheels for everyday riding. If not, then you really do not have any real knowlege of what you're talking about. I want to hear from someone who actually owns and uses carbon wheels.
    I have spent more than $15,000 on bikes in the last four years, spent multiple thousands of dollars to race dirty kanza this year, and ride 5 to 6 days per week. I ride faster than a lot of people and a lot of people ride faster than me.

    You got multiple answers to your question. The fact that you didn't get the answer you wanted or the answer that would justify your preference does not mean you did not get an answer.

    If a bike I bought came with carbon wheels would I ride them? Yes.

    Would I ride cheap carbon rims on a disk or rim brake bike? No.

    Do people use carbon wheels with rim brakes as daily drivers? Yes, all the time.

    Do carbon wheels look and sound cool? I think so.

    Do some carbon wheels have aero advantages over some alloy rims? Depends on way more factors than I understand.

    Do those people experience rim failures on a daily basis? No, probably not.

    Do alloy rims fail? Sometimes.

    Should you buy a new bike with carbon wheels and rim brakes? It is your money. Buy whatever you want to ride.

  24. #24
    wheelbuilder
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDCowboy View Post
    Do any of you commenting actually have carbon rims? Have any of you actually purchatsed a nice bike recently? They come with carbon wheels for everyday riding. If not, then you really do not have any real knowlege of what you're talking about. I want to hear from someone who actually owns and uses carbon wheels.
    I think I know a thing or two about carbon wheels;-)















    I still say your reasoning for wanting them are silly. Because all the pros do, because nice bikes come with them, really? You haven't given us any real reason as to why you think they might be advantageous for your riding. Rather, you have personal experience with carbon rims failing albeit, cheap ones that might not have fared as well as others. As I said already, there's no guaranty that even the best carbon rims will stand up to all braking conditions. Look no further than other forums to see cases of even Enve rims failing. It happens.

    You also ask about disc brakes so rim failure is not an issue all the while acknowledging that the setup will end up being heavier. Again, why do you want carbon so bad? A high end road bike with quality alloy rims can still be very light and will be ideal in mountainous terrain. What pros do doesn't apply to us. They ride closed roads so never have to drag their brakes. They are usually far more skilled than the average rider so less likely to brake with poor technique. They are also typically a lot lighter than even the likes of most Cat 3 or lesser racers. Finally, they don't use carbon clinchers in the mountains, none of them do.

    I have chosen various carbon rims over the years mainly to try them out so I know what I'm recommending. I love them and can afford them. I don't kid myself into saying I need them, never.

    I leave it up to others to know if they want them. I surely never tell people to buy carbon wheels because pros ride them.

  25. #25
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    I don't have much to say beyond what Ergott has, but I'm about as versed in carbon wheels as it's possible to be. They were a significant part of our company's revenue for several years. We chose to forego that revenue and deal with the ramifications simply because we think carbon clinchers are ultimately a bad product.

    Pros use tubulars, substantially exclusively. Tubulars are a wholly and completely different wheel system than clinchers. So if a person says that "pros ride Wheel Brand X's model ABC carbon tubulars, and I am riding Wheel Brand X's model ABC carbon clinchers, therefore I am riding nearly the exact same wheels as pros," I would say that no, the inherent differences between tubulars and clinchers so strongly overpower any similarities that the two might share that the wheels are almost nothing alike.

    Put another way, my perspective is that an Ambrosia Nemesis tubular is a closer cousin to a Zipp 303 tubular than a Zipp 303 clincher is to a Zipp 303 tubular.

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