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New wheel experince? Carbon deep section or lightweight?

AllezAllezAllezAllezAllezAllez Posts: 207
edited September 2015 in Road buying advice
Hi All,

Another wheel question.....

I'm looking to upgrade my wheels and hoping to get a bargain over the winter for next spring.

I ride mainly flat in roads in the South Yorkshire/North Notts area and will ride 4500 this year. Most rides are alone, with the Club Run on Sundays. At the moment I have RS21's on my Felt F4 Carbon bike.

Over the last four years I've steadily improved my riding and can average a comfortable solo 20mph for an hour or so and a steady 18 mph over 60-70 miles (flat). Club runs tend to average around 18mph (includes a bit of waiting time) and the odd section when everyone pushes on.

I've read a lot of "marketing" claims about deep section wheels giving you x mph benefit, but often wonder how true this is. What have people found changing to deep section wheels? Will my cash buy me more speed? Is there really that much a difference between £700/£1000 wheels and top end Mavics/Zipp at £2000?

I've also been worried about the life expectancy of Carbon Wheels. Do I need to worry? Are Carbon wheel just for "best" or riding 3 to 4 times per week?

Would I be as well getting a lighter metal wheelset? More robust/longer life? What benefit would I receive from say a set of wheels that are 500g lighter than my current?

Looking at Wiggle there is a glut of wheels to choose from!


  • Most people find lighter wheels nicer to ride. Deep sections are heavier but will give you a small aerodynamic benefit, meaning that you will save energy at higher speeds. Carbon is actually a better material to make rims from in many respects, it's not as good for braking surfaces but that seems to be improving from what I hear, and once disc brakes take over it won't matter anyway.
  • Carbon wheels with tubular tires are the best, but it's a really expensive combo. For a flat area, aluminum deep section wheels can be a good choice if you always ride in a constant speed. If I was in a flat area, I would buy a pair of Zipp or Cosmic for sure, but I spend a lot of time in the Alps.
  • My favourite choice is a compromise between the two- 38mm carbon rims. You get most of the aero benefit that you find with deeper rims, incredibly light rims and a relatively stiff wheel that isn't badly affected by crosswinds.

    I have a pair of (cheap) 38mm carbon tubs which still come in under 1500g with the tyres fitted.
    However, I wouldn't trust a carbon clincher rim at the same price (sidewall failures spring to mind) and with the tubs I reserve them for racing. You'll probably scar the surface pretty quickly in the grime of winter as well.

    For general riding I like to use wheels that I can fix readily and can take a bit of abuse when needed, in which case I go for Open Pro rims with a decent hub- my favourite at the moment are Hope hubs. My pair with 32 spokes aren't the lightest wheels out there, but the rims are light where it really counts, and they do fly when shod with decent rubber.
    Aero benefits from wheels aren't really that important tbh- I can only tell the difference when looking at my time after a TT, all other times it's the weight I can feel so I go with light alloy rims most of the time.
  • sungodsungod Posts: 16,060
    if you'll be doing hilly rides in the rain, probably better to go for alloy (or alloy with a cf fairing if you want deep section)

    if you really want cf, go for tubs
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • CalpolCalpol Posts: 1,039
    I had some 50mm carbon clinchers. They looked great, sounded nice (except for the squealing brakes) and I set a great pb on rolling 4 mile segment that I havent got near since. However, heres the rub. deep section Carbon clinchers are compromise. The braking is poorer,and I only rode them in the dry, They are quite a bit stiffer and therefore you feel every road imperfection more so then on an alloy clincher and they don't feel as quick to accelerate. I sold them on quite quickly and have vowed that if I am to go down that route again it will probably be carbon/alloy option.

    I saw a set of FFWD F4R in a shop last week and they looked lovely. c£1000 though. HEd also do quite a nice set Jet 4/5 Express - nice wide rims and quite light. I don't feel the need to compromise on braking or what conditions I ride my bike in so when I do get tempted back it will be on the hybrid wheel. Oh and I can't be bothered with the faff of tubulars.

  • I ride mainly flat in roads in the South Yorkshire/North Notts area...

    Like giving steak to the pigs... :roll:
    left the forum March 2023
  • GrillGrill Posts: 5,610
    My favourite wheels that I've had are the Reynolds Aero 72. I've had everything from super light and stiff wheels (RZR 46 Team) to a couple sets of Enves and everything in between. Sure they were heavier than most I've had, but they climbed just fine and I didn't notice the weight. They were easy and predictable in crosswinds and so freaking fast. Braking was fine, but I'd advise you to keep the RS21's for winter and bad weather unless you really take time to learn how their limits in the wet.

    I do agree with Ugo though, ride some hills!
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • northpolenorthpole Posts: 1,499
    At risk of sounding like a complete wuss, I have dura ace c24's on my commuter bike and I've played about with various wheels on my weekend bike including campy hyperon, zipp firecrest 303 and mavic C40's (all carbon rimmed). Whilst they ride great, I just don't get the same confidence or feel when it comes to braking. Perhaps this shouldn't be a huge consideration when choosing wheels, but it'll certainly feature higher if I buy another set of wheels - may reflect my increased age! Dura ace C35's look like a nice compromise.

  • stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
    I ride enve 4.5's and switch to c24's in the mountains. Prior to that I was riding racing zeros. You get a noticeable speed lift from the deep wheels (45/50 deep) for relatively little trade off. They are marginally heavier than the c24's and stiffer. Braking isn't as immediate in the dry but it's absolutely fine, the wet is a different story.

    On rolling or flat terrain I think the 40-50mm deep wheel is well worth it.
  • It turns out the gains from aero wheels are greater than from having a lighter non aero set. Aero wheels reduce your coefficient of drag do the maths it works at all speeds not just at 30 mph. You will find a time trialist is averaging 16 mph will save significant time over 40km in fact more time than some riding at an average of 30 mph but as % of time saved the faster rider has a higher % time saved.

    Light wheels feels feel nice but do nothing for your pace even on hills the time saving is negligible. The only light wheels that are actually of benefit to a cyclist are those that are light and aerodynamic. Still the gain are marginal but some marginal gains are so marginal as to be worthless.

    If you can save 1kg of your wheels then you have a saving in the real world but many buy "climbing wheels" that are 200 to 300g lighter than what they ride normally. I could have saved that weight by leaving my keys at home today and just taking the front door key. It would not however have made me any quicker.

    Oh and braking on the carbon clinchers which I have riding a lot over the two years is as good as it is on my alloy rims. Not all carbon wheels suffer from poor braking.

    Ride quality on the wheels I am riding is excellent maybe that's in part due to the tyres and latex tubes but even with conti tyres and buytl tubes it is almost tubular like. So ride comfort may differ from wheel to wheel.

    The other thing about the carbon rims I have riding for the last 6000 miles is the brake track is not close to being worn out and I do ride them in the wet. I have a number of alloy rims with worrying ammount of wear after fewer miles. I suppose it depends on the rims and pads used. I am using campagnolo carbon pads by the way.

    So don't right of carbon fibre wheels just because the ones you tried were not right for you. It is a bit like righting of all cars because the only one you have driven is one with dodgy brakes and other flaws that make it not worth driving.

    If you have the tubular version these cope with heat build up from braking quite well. It's only with the braking that would get an alloy rim very hot that you will have to worry about carbon. There many long decent that won't be a problem. -wheel building and other stuff.
  • northpolenorthpole Posts: 1,499

    Oh and braking on the carbon clinchers which I have riding a lot over the two years is as good as it is on my alloy rims. Not all carbon wheels suffer from poor braking.

    I have only used SwissStop yellow pads with carbon which maybe aren't very good? Assuming they were, I haven't tried others - could be my error. None of the three carbon rimmed wheels I have provide as good braking performance in the dry. In the wet, the Hyperon rims seem to accelerate not slow - quite a terrifying experience and one I won't repeat! The Zipps are ok and the Mavic's better. Still not as good as C24's or Fulcrum Zero's in my experience. Which rims have you been using that perform equally to alloy?

  • GrillGrill Posts: 5,610
    SwissStop Yellows are the worst carbon pads I've used. Reynolds, Zipp, Lightweight, Campag/Fulcrum and Enve all stop as good as alu in the dry with the right pads.
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • northpolenorthpole Posts: 1,499
    Bloomin heck, I'm missing out - which pads work with Zipp & Mavic carbon rims as well as eg SwissStop greens work with ali rims? I need to get some - I'm not ribbing you either!

  • I've got some Zipps with the Platinum Evo pads - no difference at all to my alu rims with dura-ace pads when dry
  • Lightweight Meilensteins with Lightweight pads stop really well in the dry - as good as alloy, and better than Mavic Ultimates (also full carbon).

    In the wet however, both are chronically bad.....
  • I've got some Zipps with the Platinum Evo pads - no difference at all to my alu rims with dura-ace pads when dry

    Same here and agreed. I also find the Zipp/Evo combo works well in the rain.

    However nothing compares to the stopping power of Exalith 2. IMO it's as good as it gets for rim brakes.
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