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Last Post 08 Feb 2015 9:23 PM by  Rousan
How to Choose Carbon Fiber Road Wheels
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08 Feb 2015 9:23 PM
    Carbon fiber rimmed wheels are one of the best upgrades you can do for your road bike. The help reduce wind drag and are often lighter, so they help on hill climbs. The ride is smoother and power transfer is more direct. That's the good news. The cost of these benefits is pretty high so you need to make sure you make a well informed choice when choosing what wheels to go with.
    There used to only be a few options for carbon wheels but now just about everyone can have there own brand with an order to Taiwan or China. This has made the price range for a set of wheels quite broad. Not all cheap wheels are bad but it's tough to tell the difference. Of the ones that are really inexpensive, the Vuelta brand is the only one I have any faith in.
    There are a number of things to look at when deciding on a set of Carbon Wheel.
    Tubular or clincher

    Most people use Clincher Wheels, which are normal tires with innertubes. Tubulars are fully encased tires that get glued on the rims. This option has some performance benefits including lighter weight wheels (no box needed on the rim to hold the tire on), decreased pinch flats allowing you to run lower pressures and a generally smoother ride. The downside is that you have to glue them on. This isn't a quick process and can be tricky getting them even. If you get a flat when out riding, you need to have a spare tire rather than just a tube. Tubular Wheels

    The deeper your rim, the more aerodynamic they are. This is good. The bad side is that the deeper your rim, the more you will get pushed around in cross winds. Really deep rims, like 80 mm, are also harsher riding than aluminum wheels. This can be fine for triathlon and time trials but too abusive for longer rides and races. For riders above 160 lbs a 50-60 mm deep rim is a good all round option. Below this weight, you should look at a shallower rim in the 35-45 mm range.
    Build Quality
    This is where it gets tricky. You need to look at both the rim quality and the wheel build quality. On the internet there are a lot of companies buying rims from overseas Carbon Wheels Chinaand building their own wheels. They usually have good prices but I would be leary of these companies as you don't know if they are going to be around to support the product. It's also hard to find reviews of the wheels to see how others have faired. While more expensive, I would recommend sticking with established brands that have a proven track record. The two brands of carbon wheels that I recommend are Spinergy and Edge Composites.
    Spinergy has reasonably light wheel options that are very tough in the real world. The rims stand up to cyclocross so you can be comfortable that they will withstand the rigors of road riding. The only real drawback is that they only offer one rim depth (45 mm). The prices are inexpensive for the build quality. You have the option of stainless steel and PBO (kevlar string) spokes. The Spinergy wheels make great all round road wheels but you may want to look at some thing deeper for triathlon.
    Edge Composites plainly makes the best carbon rims. Their process is unique in the spoke holes are molded rather than drilled. This goes a long way it making strong rim. They offer carbon mountain bike rims so it shows the confidence they have in their carbon molding process. They offer both tubular and clincher rims in a number of depths and spoke drillings so you can get something that suits your purpose. The price is premium but in line with the quality of wheel you will get.
    Don't get sucked into cheap prices for carbon Bicycle Wheels. Go for a good brand that will stand behind their product. The deep carbon wheel is only faster if it isn't broken. Get the right depth for your type of riding and enjoy the extra speed.

    It's in you to become a better cyclist. Helping you get there is my goal. Equipment, riding skills, fitness and nutrition all have to be dialed in to reach your potential.
    Finish the way you have chosen,even on your knees...
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