There are many benefits to carbon wheels, but you need to
consider the drawbacks before you make your decision to purchase. This list should be considered when buying any brand of carbon wheel as they all share varying levels of these points.
The following 2 points are for carbon rims that are used with cantilever style brakes, if using a disc brake set up give yourself a high five and skip past the next couple paragraphs.
- All manufacturers have worked hard to improve braking performance of carbon rims, however, overheating of clinchers still threatens to cause a tire blowout after long periods of heavy braking (ie long, steep descents). Carbon wheel brake pads and resin technology has advanced and this has helped reduce heat build up issues, but it can still happen.
Weight limits on most carbon wheels are in place for this reason. The amount of heat generated from a 140 pound rider braking on a steep technical decent is much less than a 250 pound rider on the same road over the same distance. Always use a carbon specific brake pad on a carbon rim if the manufactor recommends it (these must be used on WMD carbon wheels).
If you’re 200+ pounds, the type of terrain you ride needs to be a factor when considering full carbon wheels.
- wet weather breaking power and effectiveness will be diminished in rainy conditions. Breaking performance has improved over the years but carbon rims still come in second place when compared to alloy.
The below points need to be considered for both cantilever and disc brake set ups on carbon rims
- Deeper rims provide aerodynamic advantage in favorable conditions, but can also hinder a riders confidence and energy in strong cross winds. Lighter riders and riders with less riding confidence will need to consider there ability and needs when purchasing 50mm and deeper wheels.
- As far as strength and durability are concerned, carbon wheels are absolutely safe and strong. Carbon rims are typically very durable, however they do not generally respond well to extremely sharp impacts (such as potholes). While carbon rims can handle relatively harsh environments very well, the cost of replacement rim(s) can be high.
(I do offer a Crash Replacement program to help make this less painful)
As a package, carbon wheels are hard to beat. Alloy wheels cannot offer the same combination of weight, stiffness and aerodynamics. When purchasing carbon wheels, or any wheels, both the pros and cons have to be evaluated and always decide what your needs are and then find a wheel set that completely satisfies them.