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Carbon rims: reliability? braking?(3 posts)

Carbon rims: reliability? braking?Tahoe Gator
Jul 11, 2003 6:16 AM
I see all these wheels coming out with carbon rims, Zipp, Shimano, etc., and can only wonder how well you can brake with a carbon rim surface (though maybe Zipp uses metal). Also, will they hold up or will the brakes simply wear through? I'm looking for a pair of lightweight aero wheels, but something that is not merely a "race only" wheel. Thanks
IMO: Carbon is still race only...biknben
Jul 11, 2003 7:23 AM
Carbon rims have been improving. The braking surfaces are being refined and brake pads are also changing to accomodate them. Zipp's addition of a ceramic braking surface on the carbon rim was a big change a couple years ago.

That being said, these rims are still rediculously expensive and can't take the pounding of an Al rim. I have a pair of 303s that I used for more than racing and the braking surface is noticeably worn. Braking efficiency has decreased and I'm melting brake pads. After +/- 5k miles, they are now race only wheels.

I was unfortunate enough to hear a carbon rim crack due to a pothole (thankfully it wasn't mine). You could tell by the sound something had happened. In the same instance, an Al rim would have caused a pinch flat and maybe a ding in the rim. It certainly would have been much less expensive to fix.

If you just have to have them, it is hard to look beyond Zipp rims. I'm not a fan of their rear wheel spoke lacing (I broke a rear spoke). I'd recommend looking at American classic wheels. They use the Zipp carbon rims with a more traditional hub/lacing pattern. They will be more durable and easier to repair. They are slightly lighter and cheaper too.
what benefit?filtersweep
Jul 11, 2003 9:48 AM
The type of benefit afforded by a Zipp or its kin is maybe 90 seconds on a 20K TT. Do you really need that for your daily ride when you spend longer than that waiting for a light to change?

To really get your bang for the buck, you'd want tubulars anyway, and I would not want the headache of riding them daily.

I think the quality control of most carbon wheels leaves a little something to be desired... there usually is some amount of visual runout when they leave the factory (I don't think they can exactly "mill" carbon). I'm guessing it is difficult to true them.