To Carbone or Not to Carbone

Apr 3, 2012
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Tama Center <-> Otemachi
#1
I came across this the other day and thought it might be of interest here as well.
http://www.velominati.com/technology/to-carbone-or-not-to-carbone/

So if you had some nice wheels, would you ride it everyday or would it only come out only for "important" days? I would think it depends on what the wheel was designed for... With my limited budget, I would get and use wheels that have a long enough lifetime that I can ride everyday for at least couple of years.
 

bloaker

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#2
$3000 wheels with $3 legs - are $3 wheels.

If you like Pretty and can afford it, yay!
If you want everyday wheels, buy wheels you can use and abuse and never think twice about.
 

GSAstuto

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#5
I tend to look at the various wheels more from a 'technical tool' perspective. Some wheelsets are better at certain tasks than others. And then there is the esthetic perspective as well. I tend to think 'everday wheel' are those that you don't mind getting a bit abused be it grate snags, kerb krunches, rim riding, scratches, bunny hops, etc. And 'event' or special wheels for those days that you really want to go out and shine. I have alot of wheels, but I'm still highly sentimental (and partial) to my old Nisi Sludi 32h w/Campy SR hubs and hand drawn spokes. I made these almost 30yrs ago and they are still in good service. A little slow into the wind (egg beaters), but I don't think I've trued them since the early 90's and just repacked the hubs 2 or 3 times since then. Besides that, totally in love with my Gokiso 'exotica hubs', but my current daily rider are alloy tubulars built on Kinlin TB25's. Smooth, supple, rugged. I don't ride the Gokiso so often cause a flat means I've just toasted a 25,000 yen tire, vs the training tubs which are 1700 yen. So, for me its more about the tire than wheel. I have some silk seamless tires for my wooden Cibata / Gokiso's as well. Not sure I'd even ride them except on a track..
 

j-sworks

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Feb 5, 2012
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#6
I'm in a similar position,

My new wheel set was about 90K and at first I was thinking that I should be careful with them and so on and after a summer and fall on them I've since put them in wheel bags and I'm on my original wheels. The questions for me were how gently do I need to treat these carbon wheels? And how much am I willing to pay to fix/replace them?

After some time on the wheels (long rides, good roads, bad roads, bunny hops) and the answers are: I'm not wanting to spend more money to replace wheels at this time, and these wheels are built like a brick sh!t house so I don't need to soft peddle them.

End of story: I'm going to ride them every day, except on the trainer.
 

FarEast

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#7
To be honest I think many riders are a bit wet behind the ears when it comes to the worry they have of carbon.

These are images of me before the final race of the JCRC NATS Criterium. The bike is the UCI Champion System Team Issue frame (1kg for frame and fork) and my 38mm 20/24 carbon wheels.

I weigh in at 79kg and the bike weight is 6.9kg.

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After about 20 minutes of messing around I went on to take second in the race on perfectly true front and rear wheels.

The excuse that you are worried about trashing them and that they are your race wheels or special wheels is silly in my opion, especailly if you are only racing once or twice a year..... there really is no point in owning a "Good" or "Specail" set. Take them out the bag, put them on the bike and enjoy your purchase.
 
Sep 2, 2009
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#8
You are not going to bugger a carbon wheel by doing anything 'normal' on it. And by normal, I mean anything that is part of a standard road bike ride, applying mainly vertical loads to the wheel.

Doing cheesy back hops in a car park is also not going to do anything to them, and not apply anything different to the forces one gives a wheel by sitting down and pedalling over rough ground.

It is when you start applying heavy side load shocks that lightweight carbon wheels are going to suffer, ie, under or over rotating a 180, which is something I can not ever imagine anybody going on a road bike; even that Martyn Ashton video doing the rounds a while ago was just a lot of balancing, pivoted 180s, and vertical load stuff, albeit in a very impressive fashion.
 

kiwisimon

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#11
I jus got (yesterdat) a set of wheels from GsAstuto, beautifully made wheels, thanks Tim, cheque's in the mail. They are going to be tested on this road, and I anticipate no problems at all, only problem will be engine related, heavy and low redline.

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GSAstuto

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#13
Amen! Carbon stuff is actually stronger than most alloy! And these days you don't have to pay $3000 to get a decent of carbon wheels or $3000 for a good frame. FWWI, I've never had a catastrophic failure on any carbon component. I've had delaminations due to hitting hard objects at speed, cooked rims that warped , but never released a tire, damage due to dropped objects, ridden flats for several km, etc.

Ride em if you got em! And buy 2 or 3 sets so you have more to choose from!

To be honest I think many riders are a bit wet behind the ears when it comes to the worry they have of carbon.

These are images of me before the final race of the JCRC NATS Criterium. The bike is the UCI Champion System Team Issue frame (1kg for frame and fork) and my 38mm 20/24 carbon wheels.

I weigh in at 79kg and the bike weight is 6.9kg.

proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fimg267.imageshack.us%2Fimg267%2F3530%2Fboingd.jpg&hash=dda1df72ea3ca9ea7435b9846e4f4011


proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fimg266.imageshack.us%2Fimg266%2F1956%2Fendoz.jpg&hash=f4d3a1bac3686625877245abf8bd4afd


After about 20 minutes of messing around I went on to take second in the race on perfectly true front and rear wheels.

The excuse that you are worried about trashing them and that they are your race wheels or special wheels is silly in my opion, especailly if you are only racing once or twice a year..... there really is no point in owning a "Good" or "Specail" set. Take them out the bag, put them on the bike and enjoy your purchase.
 

Musashi13

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#14
Surely not all carbon is the same.

What is the least you would pay, and are there any sources you would not deal with?

With all the Dengfu frames coming onto the market there seem now to be a host of Chinese carbon wheels rolling up, too.
 

AlanW

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#15
I have ridden many thousands of km on my Dura-Ace CL50 carbon wheels with no problems and no concerns about durability.
The reasons I don't ride my race wheels (Zipps) all the time are 1) the brakes are either grabby and unpleasant to use (dry) or lacking in power (wet) compared to the alloy braking track on the Dura-Aces 2) the Vittoria tubulars I have lose air at a comical rate so no good for two-day or longer trips 3) the tyres also wear quickly and are expensive to replace 4) I can deal with multiple puncs with just some patches and glue.
But i don't fear to ride either set of wheels for the sake of damaging them. They are tough.

AW.
 
Sep 2, 2009
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#16
The only thing I would be concerned about with fully carbon rims, would be the wear and tear on the braking surface.

I have Cosmic Carbone SRs which have an alloy braking surface, so have no extensive experience with fully carbon rims over a number of years, so can anyone shed any light on how the braking surfaces wear in comparison with alloy?
 

j-sworks

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#17
The only thing I would be concerned about with fully carbon rims, would be the wear and tear on the braking surface.

I have Cosmic Carbone SRs which have an alloy braking surface, so have no extensive experience with fully carbon rims over a number of years, so can anyone shed any light on how the braking surfaces wear in comparison with alloy?
My wheels from Tim are full carbon and my other wheels are full aluminum, so I can tell you that there is a difference, but it's not as big of a deal as some may make it out to be.

In my experience I have run into no issues with stopping on the carbon surface, yet it's not a strong braking so I always make sure to brake early. But here is the thing about braking with carbon, in my limited experience, I do a lot of feathering so my braking has become better timed and less limiting. All in all it's so far quite consistent and reliable.

That being said aluminum gives you a good bit more stopping power, so I guess you have ask yourself how many times have you hauled on the brakes to the point of locking up? Me? Not too many. (I've locked up my rear on the carbons once, no biggie)
 

GSAstuto

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#18
All carbon is not the same - but it's actually more alike than the 'brands' would prefer you to believe. Essentially what you get when you pay alot is access to more advanced technology and unique molds. These cutting edge improvements may result in fractions of seconds of improvement. Important, perhaps, for Olympiad or Professional competitors, but perhaps not so much for the weekend Strava or club racer.

There will be more difference in the components than the carbon. What you build the rim or frame up with is likely to have alot more effect on the overall quality or ride.

If I take the highest quality Enve rim (at about $1000 ea) and lace it to a Shin Haur hub with stock bearings, using CN spokes excepting the small improvement in aerodynamics, it will feel and ride like a 'cheap chinese' wheel. Conversely , if I take a cheap Shenzhen 50mm rim and lace it up to a set of Alchemy hubs with high quality spokes, it will feel like a top end Enve, with perhaps a small noticable decrease in aerodynamics (side wind mainly). But you'll need the guns to push this constantly over 45-47kph to really tell.

Best advise is to buy as close to the factory as possible and avoid 2nd, 3rd and 4th party 'traders'. Pay a little more and get better components. Pay a little more still and get better builds, a little more further and get actual support or warranty. Everything is additive and relative.
 

j-sworks

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#19
I feel that I should add a clause to last reply,

I have not used the carbons in the wet and I have to say that I feel that I would want aluminum, for instance that ride with Pete up to the ghost town in September it was wet all day and the descent was long, cold, and wet so I was happy to have my aluminum wheels that day. I was nervous on that descent anyhow because of the cold numbing my hands and the wet roads, so I can only imagine that you need some lot of experience on the carbon to feel confident in the wet.
 

GSAstuto

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#20
Conversely, I was very happy to be riding carbon tubulars in the Alps. Watching riders blow off the road suffering heat related blowouts was not fun. And in Taiwan last month we had nothing but rain AND seriously nasty descents and ascents - the cold was the killer far more than the braking. One poor soul was riding Mavic full carbon's. He was really suffering on the brakes, though. The surface is not 'enhanced' in any way - and he had cork pads. Arrrghh! Luckily there was a fierce head /crosswind as well. So, in fact, brakes were the last thing generally on one's mind. Alloy surfaces DO brake Far better. And if you are riding in variety of conditions and require high braking effort, then Alloy surface is the way to go . Or discbrake. Then you get the best braking AND the best rim combos.