Kermis: To Carbone or Not To Carbone-That is No Longer The Question
This carbon wheel issue has been burning a hole in my soul for so long. The twin headed snake of thrift and indecision (not such an impressive snake as far as twin headed snakes go) held me at the impasse for years. Having @mauibike commit to all carbon for his lifetime wheelset needs got me hot. Seeing Fabs winning Paris-Roubaix and the Ronde on his Aeolius 5.0 wheels made the fever burn higher.
Maui is a very gusty place to ride and I was loath to own some deep section rims that would be the death of me. Looking pro while getting blown off the road at speed, uncool. Bontrager has the budget to blow on high speed computing and wind tunnels to make sure Gianni is not buffeted unduly. They also use Alpina spokes with plastic inserts so the the wheel should be truable for years.
Ebay is full of people who buy tubular wheels then sell them after very light use (or their first flat tire). Voila, Gianni finally owns Fabooo’s tubular wheels.
The first impression on the first ride was holy smokes, these float uphill. The weight difference was what impressed me immediately. I take off the front wheel when transporting the bike and I still marvel at its lightness. This lightness is also noticeable when cornering and not in a good way. The flywheel effect of a heavier aluminum rim is diminished making the steering, for lack of a better term, whippy. I’m used to it now but for the first few weeks the front end felt less stable.
My wife was quite vexed that I was undroppable on climbs; these wheels were feeling better and better. The improved climbing alone was enough to make me embrace the benefit of carbon construction.
It was during the first descent of Haleakala volcano where the other lightbulb switched on in my dim brain. Unintentionally I was going into every corner faster than usual. My V-meter does not give me data to substantiate the feeling but these wheels are more impressive going down than they are going up. They are fast. When you get off the brakes on a descent the bike just hauls more ass. To add to their list of wonders, they are very stable in gusty crosswinds too. The windtunnel testing was money well spent. Score one for the boffins.
I have not done enough riding in wet weather to have an opinion on rainy day braking. This is my number one bike after all and I’ve avoided the real steep descents if I have a choice.
To address the original question in the original article; can carbon wheels be one’s everyday, go-to wheels? I now say absolutely. These aero wheels are faster in all directions, why would you deny yourself that pleasure everyday. They do cost a huge amount to money new. That is their one massive downside. They can be had reasonably if one looks at slightly used tubulars, what is not to love about that? If one buys the premise that wheels are the most important upgrade to a bike, then buying light, aero, carbon wheels is the way to go.