Giro Blog


Choosing Carbon Wheels

For both performance improvement and for the aesthetic appeal, many people are opting for carbon rims on their road bikes these days. People have claimed that a set of 50mm carbon wheels can provide up to 4min over a 60min time trial although it’s difficult to put an exact figure on the speed benefit. I’ve recently upgraded my £250 aluminium Shimano wheelset with a set of 50mm carbon tubulars and I’ve noticed significant improvement in speed (and looks) while also some disadvantages.

Weight – Carbon wheels are lighter than other materials and as usual, lighter means faster up hills.
Aerodynamics – deep rims allows the wheels to cut through the air in front of them more efficiently. This results in greater speed at the same power output. There are a range of depths available, generally for climbing a 20mm wheel is best, for time trialling 80mm rims or even rear disk wheels will provide the most speed on a flat course. For all-purpose wheels, you’re best to go for 40-60mm providing the aerodynamic efficiencies as well as weight reduction.
Look – they just look better (personal preference).

Price – you’ll notice quite quickly that carbon wheels cost a lot more per gram than their aluminium counterparts ranging from £350 a pair to beyond the £2k mark.
Durability – this is obviously subject to the quality of the wheels you purchase but it is worth noting that carbon is generally less durable than metal composites and less likely to survive a crash intact.
Braking – unlike metal rims, the rims on carbon wheels will provide a less effective surface for your brake pads to grip. Braking, especially in the wet, will be less responsive and requires specific carbon-safe brake pads which do not last as long as normal compound pads.

1 Comment

  1. Made the switch to carbon wheels about 6m ago and it has had a significant effect on my speed – 2-3 kmph on the flat or thereabouts. They are pricey though. I went for a cheap set from P-X and can’t see how spending double would add much by way of performance.

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