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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a recreational rider and like ridding very nice bikes, usually 1500-2000 miles a year. I'm 53 and definitely not the fastest guy as I usually average 17-18 MPH on my long rides. I ride a nice current Monocoque Neuvation F500 with DI-2, and have always ridden aero alloy clincher wheels which are pretty light at 1450 grams.

I see a lot of people going to the new carbon clinchers and wanted to ask if people really feel a difference. I am aware of the braking issues which seem to be better on the newer models, but most of the carbon clinchers look like they are heavier unless you spend ridiculous money for a wheel set (>$2000).

I am soliciting others opinions on what there experiences have been in using the carbon wheel sets.
 

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I'm 51. I ride nice bikes. Went the whole carbon wheel weight weenie route last year with Enve Smart System 3.4 clinchers and Tune hubs. They were not worth the money, IMO. Sold them on E-Bay within two months of owning them.

I prefer my HED Belgium rims/Alchemy hub wheels to the Enve wheels.

Resist the temptation. Carbon clincher wheels won't make you faster, or stronger, or make your riding easier or more comfortable.
 

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I'm with tvad. I ride at the Jack's speeds. I have a set of 50mm deep carbons. They're no faster than 24mm deep aluminum rims (spokes and hubs are the same) or my 27mm deep rims. I can't tell which wheelset I'm riding.

You don't tell us what weight you are Jack but if you're under 200lbs those 1450g wheels are going to be impossible to improve on - and by "improve" I mean "go faster or feel any appreciably better".

It's really hard to improve on 1450 - 1550g wheelsets for guys like us (I'm 170-175lbs). Choose your price point as extra cash just means better quality hub (hopefully).
 

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My experience same as tvad/Mike:

53 year old rec rider, 150 lbs, also under 20mph avg. speeds. 4 to 6k miles annually. Owned both Reynolds (Assault) and Easton (EC90SL), sold both. The braking was an issue, but the bigger issue for me was the ride quality (same tires/tubes/PSI/frame in both instances).

Am in the middle of build up of my fanatasy frame and am installing latest version of 1500g aluminum wheels that are tried and true standard for me.
 

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"Carbon Wheel set can you feel a difference?"

No, unless you are routinely riding & racing at speeds in the mid-20s mph or faster, in which case deep (50+ mm) rim height is helpful for reducing aero drag.

You didn't ask, but a frequent related question is,
"Tubular vs Clincher tires - can you feel a difference?"
to which I also respond "No - but tubular has some advantages when racing".
 

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I also agree with tvad. The carbon wheels are typically more fashion than function. Stick with the HED, C24 or the like wheels. These are tried and true, with none of the disadvantages of carbon (special brake pads, risk of de-lamination, high cost of repair, often heavier than advertised, etc). My carbon wheels just sit in the closet after buying a set of DA C2 wheels. In fact now I own two sets. The deep dish carbon might have some advantages on flat terrain but when you have hills, stick to the tried and true (unless you just have money to burn).
 

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... The deep dish carbon might have some advantages on flat terrain but when you have hills, stick to the tried and true (unless you just have money to burn).
Even a 50-60 mm deep, all carbon wheelset + tubular tires can be extraordinarily light and beneficial during a road race or uphill TT ... and on the downhill you'll pick up 1-2 mph ... but for training or general use I agree with you, stick with durable, shallower section, aluminum wheels.
 

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I'm with Tom. I race on Mavic Equipes and a set of tubular 46/66 Reynolds. I can definitely tell the difference. The alu set weighs 1900, the tubulars, about 1400. I think with tires and tubes the difference is 660g or so. Weight helps with the spin up, but the bigger difference is the aero difference at 27+ speed.

I can feel the difference.
 

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I sure am glad somebody finally asked a question about the pros and cons of carbon wheels. All these years on RBR and various online forums and other discussions of cycling topics, and this subject has never come up before. I am informed at last by your insights.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
My weight varies some, but winter I usually get up to 215, and by the end of summer I am 200.

Do you think the neuvation R28sl's are ok for my weight? I don't notice any flexing when I am riding, and they seem to hold their true in the 1500 miles I have ridden them.

I'm with tvad. I ride at the Jack's speeds. I have a set of 50mm deep carbons. They're no faster than 24mm deep aluminum rims (spokes and hubs are the same) or my 27mm deep rims. I can't tell which wheelset I'm riding.

You don't tell us what weight you are Jack but if you're under 200lbs those 1450g wheels are going to be impossible to improve on - and by "improve" I mean "go faster or feel any appreciably better".

It's really hard to improve on 1450 - 1550g wheelsets for guys like us (I'm 170-175lbs). Choose your price point as extra cash just means better quality hub (hopefully).
 

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My weight varies some, but winter I usually get up to 215, and by the end of summer I am 200.
Do you think the neuvation R28sl's are ok for my weight? I don't notice any flexing when I am riding, and they seem to hold their true in the 1500 miles I have ridden them.
I don't think there is any free lunch when it comes to wheels and no wheels provide miracles. Less spokes and more body weight = faster metal fatigue for both spokes and rim holes. Less spokes = more Work Done by each spoke. More Work Done by each spoke = more effect one spoke has on wheel trueness. More effect one spoke has on wheel trueness = more the wheel goes out of true if one spoke breaks.

I just don't understand what actual useful benefit there might be for all but top-class racers with a following car with spare wheels.

I'm sure wheels with the least number of spokes possible would stand up to the weight of the heaviest person possible for a period of time.

I'm also sure that some smart person could come up with a graph of two intersecting curves of bodyweight versus spoke numbers. Then it would be up to each of us to decide which side of the curves we prefer to be on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So Mike you are saying that even though the R28sl's are 24/20 on the spokes, that you feel this is not enough in this weight of a wheel (less than 1500) for a big guy like me (200-215).

I felt like the 24/20 was a better compromise from some of the smaller spoke count wheels like 16/16 with the thick bladed spokes.

I don't think there is any free lunch when it comes to wheels and no wheels provide miracles. Less spokes and more body weight = faster metal fatigue for both spokes and rim holes. Less spokes = more Work Done by each spoke. More Work Done by each spoke = more effect one spoke has on wheel trueness. More effect one spoke has on wheel trueness = more the wheel goes out of true if one spoke breaks.

I just don't understand what actual useful benefit there might be for all but top-class racers with a following car with spare wheels.

I'm sure wheels with the least number of spokes possible would stand up to the weight of the heaviest person possible for a period of time.

I'm also sure that some smart person could come up with a graph of two intersecting curves of bodyweight versus spoke numbers. Then it would be up to each of us to decide which side of the curves we prefer to be on.
 

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So Mike you are saying that even though the R28sl's are 24/20 on the spokes, that you feel this is not enough in this weight of a wheel (less than 1500) for a big guy like me (200-215).
I felt like the 24/20 was a better compromise from some of the smaller spoke count wheels like 16/16 with the thick bladed spokes.
Read my sentence again that says "I'm sure wheels with the least number of spokes possible would stand up to the weight of the heaviest person possible for a period of time."

So I think that 8-spoke wheels (if they existed) would be enough for you for a while. But how long is "a while"? So we could go from their durability all the way up to wheels with 48-hole Phil Wood hubs. Where on the durability scale do you want to be? Only you can answer that question and answer whether 20/24 spokes are enough for you. They're not for me and I weigh 174lbs right now. But that's my tolerance level**. You decide on yours.

**My tolerance level ranges from 24/28 spokes to 32/32.
 

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I found the Heds to be extremely stiff and ruined the ride of the Serrota Ti bike I was on. I ran Zipps 303 tubulars and 404 Firecrest clinchers which were extremely fast and comfortable. I liked the 404 Firecrest better. You can find a lbs that has a set of loaner Zipps and test them out. That is a good way to really see if you like them. I currently run Giant's SLR carbon wheels which are almost half the price of the Zipps. Williams makes an inexpensive pair of carbon wheels, but I haven't ridden them and can't give input.

I raced Cat2 up until 2010 and now I just have fun. Granted I still pick it up from time to time but I still like a good set of wheels. They excellerate quicker, handle better and provide improved aerodynamics.

Another option I Like is the Mavic Ksyrium SL Wheelset. They are light, fast and strong.

If you can test ride some wheels then you can really feel the difference yourself. I like the bling factor as much as the improved ride. Is it worth the money? That is your call. To me it is. I like my machine to be a precision performance machine and give me the best ride possible. Light Carbon wheels do this for me... and they look cool :)
 

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Perhaps this isn't the best location for my post, but it's related to this thread and I don't have enough postings to create my own thread.

Having spent my money on power meters (two Quarqs - road and tt bike) for training, I'm in need of wheels for my TT bike. I have an old set of Mavic Ksyrium SSL SL wheels that I haven't ridden for several years. But now with a new TT bike (bought used without wheels), I may give them a try. But I'm also thinking of selling them (going for about $350 used) and replacing them with something else for about the same price - but what? I can't afford aero carbon wheels right now (price for aero advantage is large), so I'm thinking about keeping the Ksyrium's and use them for training. For races I'd use a wheel cover for the rear wheel and use my Stan's 340 rimmed road wheel (my road bike front wheel) as my front racing wheel (an aero front wheel would be better, but . . .). This would circumvent using the decidedly non-aero Ksyrium's for racing and not cost me money (outside the wheel cover - which I would buy for any rear wheel). Is this a good plan? Is there a wheelset is the $350 price range that would work better for my needs? I weigh 160 lbs.

Thanks.

Michael
 

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44, 185-200lbs (currently 200lb), avg 17-18 on longer rides, but have held over 20 mph avg on shorter (20-25 miles) rides. I let the LBS owner to convince me that a full carbon wheelset 100% of the time was perfectly acceptable, but couldn't bring myself to drop the $$ on Zipp's (404 - his recommendation). Based on all the reading here, I resolved that Boyd 50's were that way to go, and was saving money (and trying to figure out how to sneak them by the wife) when Boyd upgraded his line and now they are a little more dear (44mm cincher 24/28 are 1420 - still 1k less than Zipp's). Then a few weeks ago I came into a set of Roval EL 45's for less than half of retail (< $600). They aren't that light - 1740 a pair (but only ~50 grams more than 404's). They have an alloy brake track and strange internal nipples making truing a PIA, but they were too cheap to pass up.

I have maybe 200 miles on them so far (in about 4-5 rides). Impressions - braking is the same as an alloy wheelset (due to alloy track). Stiffness is GREATLY improved over the stock fulcrum 4's that came on the bike. No lateral flex at all when climbing out of the saddle. Ride is about the same, maybe a little more dampened, but I'm not sure how much of that is the wheel and how much is the tire - I was running the fulcrums ghetto tubeless at 85-90 psi, these are standard tubes and 105-110 psi). Crosswinds ... ?? ALL my rides recently have been WINDY!! 38 miles yesterday with 15-20 mph winds. They catch the wind, but then seem to 'bite' it back. This makes no sense as the wheel profile can't change, but I haven't felt the constant push from a crosswind like I did with regular wheels - it seems you get an initial push, correct the steering into it, and it takes a set and just goes on. Finally - over 20 mph, they really do feel like they are providing a benefit. On one mile relatively flat fast segment (i usually hit on my way home), I held > 27 mph without redlining my heart the other day. I'm convinced that once I lose the winter weight and get my fitness back up I can hold >30 on that same segment. If/when that happens, I'm swap out wheelsets and go back (the same day) and see if I can feel the difference...

All that said - I would still like to have a nice weight-weenie (1400ish) non-aero wheelset for heavy climbing days, but at the moment I think I've found a perfectly acceptable carbon/aero wheel that's good for all but the windiest of days (and on those days I'd probably rather stay inside on the trainer anyway as 30+ mph sustained winds and car traffic holds zero appeal to me) or 10,000+ ft climbing days (haven't experienced one of those yet). Perhaps, most importantly, the EL's look nice on my rig and they have that carbon sound over 17-18 mph. :)

EDIT: - bottom line - if you can do it without breaking the bank, do it.
 

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A (very generous) relative is buying me a gift bike to be built to my specs. LBS owner whom I trust has spec'd out same frame three ways - base=ultegra gruppo with HED Belgium rims for X dollars, mid-level=ultegra gruppo with Enve 3.4 Carbon for X+$1800, and high-end = DA 9000 gruppo with Enve 3.4 carbon for X + $3200.

I am 52 years old with chronically stiff back, am 180 lbs on 5.11 frame, and ride 50-100 miles/week nearly year round. Advice?
 
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