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Carbon Wheels for the Alps

AndyL-HKAndyL-HK Posts: 2
edited February 2015 in Road buying advice
Have a trip coming up this summer to the Alps.....10 days, lots of climbing. I've heard its best to leave my Reynolds carbon clinchers at home and use la rims or carbon wheels with Alu brake surface as the long descents can heat up and damage the carbon rims etc.

Any ideas?


  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,380
    I use Planet X 50mm carbon tubs in the Abruzzo mountains with no problems - same climbs/descents as they do in the Giro.

    Heard the same as you, but I suppose a lot of it will be down to which climbs and your descending/braking/riding style.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • foggymikefoggymike Posts: 862
    The much talked/written about issue doesn't affect tubs as if the rim walls heat up and weakens it doesn't mean the tyre (and you) will come off. Personally I'd use some tubs or alu clinchers for peace of mind in that terrain too, despite Reynolds being one of the better carbon clincher manufacturers. A pair of dura ace c24's would be my clincher pick for lots of climbing.
  • Bar ShakerBar Shaker Posts: 2,313
    You want stiff climbing wheels that have a very low rotational mass at the rim. You don't want carbon deep section rims, designed for high speed cruising on the flats. On the steep stuff, each pedal press will re-accelerate the wheels so you want the rim as light as possible.

    If you drag the brakes on carbon tubs, you may not burst the tub but you will still melt the rim resin and de-laminate the carbon lay up. You can avoid this by braking hard and late but that can require huge testicles, on some mountain descents.

    If budget wasn't a factor, my choice would be a set of Mavic R SYS.
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  • Mr DogMr Dog Posts: 643
    What the man said... they will only be of benefit on the way down and as you grab handfuls of brake you can watch as they delaminate :wink:
    Why tidy the house when you can clean your bike?
  • keezxkeezx Posts: 1,322
    Bar Shaker wrote:
    On the steep stuff, each pedal press will re-accelerate the wheels so you want the rim as light as possible.


    After each pedal press the wells decelerate faster with the lighter rims, so ist doesn't matter what someone wants.
    Nature wins always.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 8,685
    Plenty of people do use carbon wheels in the Alps. Some find their rims over heat and pop tyres off or delaminate. Others find carbon isn't the best braking on a wet descent. It really does depend on you and your particular wheels but personally yes I'd take some aluminium rimmed wheels probably shallow rimmed without bladed spokes as I want maximum confidence descending at 50mph plus but then at that speed I'm thinking more about not stacking it than actually enjoying the descent - you may be one of those mentalists that finds that fun!

    In short if it's your first time in the mountains sensible option is probably play safe and leave the carbons at home but that's not to say plenty of riders would disagree and for them that may be the right decision.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • shmoostershmooster Posts: 335
    Popping tyres isn't specific to carbon rims, it happens on alloy as well so best advice for that is to not go above 100psi if you're doing any long descents. Other than that, what Bar Shaker said, my mates Marmotte was ended on the Glandon descent with delaminated carbon wheels, and he was far from the only one.
  • shmooster wrote:
    Popping tyres isn't specific to carbon rims, it happens on alloy as well so best advice for that is to not go above 100psi if you're doing any long descents.

    shmooster wrote:
    Other than that, what Bar Shaker said, my mates Marmotte was ended on the Glandon descent with delaminated carbon wheels, and he was far from the only one.

    Clinchers or tubulars?
    left the forum March 2023
  • 7 days in the Alps on Zipp 303 tubs (so that's 48mm deep) and some of the best days I've had going up and down. You don't need ultra stiff low profile wheels to have fun over there. But yes, carbon clinchers are another story. Not sure I'd trust them unless they were at the higher end of brake track.
  • stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
    Personally I always take Alu wheels out to the mountains. Mainly as they are lighter, I'm not thinking about the heat build up and I'm not after aero advantage climbing/descending a mountain.

    But I've ridden with a lot of guys out in the alps on 404 and enve clinchers without issue. My personal view for what it's worth, is that I wouldn't be too concerned if I was riding top end carbon clinchers (and clearly tubs) but I would think twice about the cheaper end of the market.

    But, as I said, why even think about it? You don't need aero wheels, you need stiff, light ones.
  • shmoostershmooster Posts: 335
    Clinchers or tubulars?

    They were clinchers.
  • shmooster wrote:
    Clinchers or tubulars?

    They were clinchers.

    Makes a difference. Although a tubular rim can delaminate, it is not that common among the decent stuff
    left the forum March 2023
  • Nothing better getting thrown across the road by a gust of wind on an alpine descent riding with deep rimmed wheels :shock:
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • paulmonpaulmon Posts: 315
    I did an Alps trip last year. 7 days. 450 odd miles and 70K of climbing. In a party of 13 1 rider had bought some new Reynolds carbon clinchers. After the 3rd day due to either bad setup or covering the brakes too much he completely knackered his rear rim and gone through two sets of pads (£60 a set) and spent the rest of the trip with a Shimano R500 on the back.

    Buy a good set of Alu rims and take spare pads. Job jobbed.

  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 20,050
    Yep a good set of alu rims, descending one col I could smell burning and stopped twice which I never do, I adore nailing descents.

    Turned out the smell was from my friend in front, I made the mistake of touching the rims with my finger :shock:

    Don't do that
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  • northpolenorthpole Posts: 1,499
    I bought a set of Mavic C40 wheels. The blurb appeared to indicate they have been designed for use in the hills combining an aluminium core with carbon braking surface. When time came to prepare for the Maratona last year I chickened out and fitted a pair of H Archetype & Sons rims with alloy braking surfaces. I hadn't been there before and there were a few occasions when lack of experience forced me to apply the brakes more than I would have wished (back wheel leaving the ground more than once!). They weren't the lightest but I'll probably stick with them if I go back to the continent this summer.

  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    For me if an alu rim will get hot on a decent then avoid carbon except perhaps tubulars. Run the clinchers below 100 psi and most problems will be avoided. There has been some nonsence written in this thread about carbon rims being constanstly accelerated and that waste energy. My suggestion is then your gear is too high and you need to spin abit more in a smoother way. Problem avoided and it was not a problem anyway. I possibly would use carbon rims on some mountain decents the flowing ones. the very twisty ones that I will have ride my brakes alot on due to being stuck behind a slower car I would prefer to be on alloy rims. I would not not want to risk expensive carbon clinchers in that senario regarless of who make them. Mavic C40 are different they are not full carbon.

    Riding is for enjoyment. All you need is round stiff wheels ideally with a wider rim to enjoy it. Everthing else is worrying over I am not sure what. -wheel building and other stuff.
  • schweizschweiz Posts: 1,644
    I always ride with alloy rims and in the Alps I use a pair of Ritchey WCS Protocol wheels in preference to my deep section WH-7850-C50-CL or my hand builts. However, I know lots of people who use full carbon rims with no problem and I also have seen one case of a delamination of a DT Swiss full carbon wheel.

    If you are a lighter rider then there is less energy to brake and dissipate, so heat build up and associated braking problems and delamination may not be an issue. That may be a consideration in your choice of wheels. I'm over 80 kg so that's why I stick with alloy.

    Also, I would argue that anyone who is going through a set of brake pads in a day needs to learn to descend properly as it means they are dragging the brakes rather than letting the bike run on the straights and braking hard for the hairpins.
  • robbo2011robbo2011 Posts: 1,017

    I use alloys, but there are quite a few people I know who ride full carbon without issues. I think it is more about learning to brake properly. i would have thought the OP should have no problems at his weight.
  • frisbeefrisbee Posts: 691
    Go faster downhill and save your wheels!
  • Ride any rims you want - just go for disc brakes :-)

    I did the Oetztalerradmaraton a couple years back and stressed over the same thing - Zipp 303 FC clinchers or DA 7850 CL24s.

    Long story short I went for a combo - 303 front with DA CL24 rear. I favoured the rear brake when in a straight line. The 303 was great b/c it told me when it was too hot via the changing squeal so I knew when to back off.

    I never put >100psi in them if I'm not racing. And I ran an Ultremo ZX front which has it's own warning system build it - the casing warps and bulges when it gets hot :-) I've done this to 2 of them.
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  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    To the poster who said if you wear out the pads in day you need to learn how to brake. Try depending a calbrian mountain with tree cover so the broken sunlight means you can't see far ahead and the potential broken road surface means you have to drag the brakes or risk deadeath. it took one ride like that too cook the pads. -wheel building and other stuff.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 8,685
    Hmmm, dragging your brakes and cooking the pads in a day does sound like you need to learn to descend. Every poor descender says they'd rather brake than risk death.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,431
    I started a similar thread a while ago when I was considing buying a couple of bikes which were fitted as standard with carbon clinchers. Several people described catastrophic delamination of carbon braking surfaces and clincher tyres blowing due to overheated carbon rims in events like sportives when riders are in a group and having to use their brakes for longer periods than if they were riding solo. There were also a few, perhaps a bit boastful, comments from people saying it was all about technique and that they never had problems with carbon rims because they knew how to brake properly. Others suggested tubular carbon rims were the best solution.

    Do you want to ride quickly uphill? There's virtually nothing in it between carbon and alloy.

    Do you want to descend quickly? The better braking on alloy rims, particularly in the wet, will improve your speed.

    Do you want peace of mind? The greater margin of safety with alloy rims will enable you to enjoy your Alpine holiday without worrying that your rims will fail or overheat. That was the decider for me.
  • If you want to be completely free to choose, as above, go with discs. In that way you get to choose rim material based upon what you want and you get to choose braking surface and pad material based upon braking. If there was ever a thread that defines the need for discs, I'd say this was it. I know lots of people don't like that idea and it's fine with me but it is the logical answer to the problem (if you have a choice of bikes which I guess the OP doesn't).
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
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