The Pros and Cons to Using Carbon Fiber Rims

Many riders evaluate the pros and cons of carbon fiber rims. Some of the most common questions asked about carbon MTB rims are:  Are they worth the additional cost? Are they as strong as aluminum rims? Will it be harder to true my wheels with carbon rims? Hopefully we can set the record straight and identify the positives and negatives of using carbon fiber rims on your mountain bike.

Carbon Fiber MTB Rims

Custom Derby carbon rims laced to Industry Nine hubs

The Pros 

One major benefit to running carbon rims on your wheels is their inability to flat spot like aluminum rims do. Over a large sharp impact, aluminum rims have the tendency to flat spot creating unequal spoke tension throughout the wheel. 

When undamaged, carbon rims will always return to their round shape. Meaning, that when built properly, the spoke tension should not change. This translates to less time spent trueing and re-tensioning spokes after every couple of rides, and more time on the trail. 

Even though all rims can be designed and manufactured very differently, carbon mountain bike rims have the potential to be very strong and stiff while remaining lightweight.  This characteristic is much harder to achieve when using aluminum rims. Using a stiffer carbon rim gives you -- the rider -- the ability to corner harder and with more confidence, and to accelerate faster out of the turns.

Industry Nine Pilar Carbon Wheels

Industry Nine Pillar Carbon Rims

    The Cons

    One of the downfalls to using carbon rims is that they are not safe to use when damaged. Compared to an aluminum rim, once a carbon rim cracks or is damaged, it should be taken off and replaced immediately. With an aluminum rim, when it is dented or flat spotted, it can still be trued, tensioned and ridden. The damaged aluminum rim might not maintain the same level of performance, but may still be safe to ride. 

    Another drawback to using carbon rims is that they are more expensive than comparable aluminum rims. A rider’s ability to invest in carbon rims is certainly an important factor to consider, especially for those on a budget.

    Derby Carbon Fiber MTB Rims - Worldwide Cyclery

    Derby carbon rims laced to Chris King hubs

      Our Favorite Carbon Rims

      Some of our favorite carbon rims come from Derby, Enve, and Industry Nine. Our customers looking for a wide carbon rim regularly choose Derby with their 40mm inner rim width.  And Enve, with their variety of offerings, has always been an industry leader.

      We are also very excited about the new Industry Nine Enduro 310 Pillar Rims, and can’t wait to try them out ourselves. This new offering from Industry Nine looks very promising, featuring a 31.0 mm inner width. It should be available in December 2016.

      Carbon Fiber Rims - Worldwide Cyclery

      Written by Max Morgan

      Devinci Spartan Custom Build with ENVE Carbon Wheels

      Devinci Spartan custom build with ENVE carbon rims laced to Industry Nine hubs

      September 30, 2016

      Bike Knowledge › Carbon Rims › Chris King › Derby › ENVE › Industry Nine ›

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