Carbon Fibre Wheels are a mountain bike upgrade which causes some controversy, there are riders who favour, and always will favour aluminium wheels - describing carbon wheels as a waste of money, and there also carbon fibre wheel fans, who are able to sell all of the advantages of upgrading to carbon fibre wheels. In this post, we look in greater detail at carbon fibre wheels, and whether or not they are worth purchasing and using.
The choice between carbon fibre and aluminium mountain bike wheels is a tougher one than road cyclists face. On the roads, the stiffness, aerodynamic profiles and lightweight design of carbon fibre road bike wheels make perfect sense, in an off road environment though - where wheels can become damaged when hitting obstacles, but is this really enough of a risk to not buy carbon wheels for your MTB?
Carbon MTB Wheels Weight
The biggest advantage of using carbon wheels is the impressive strength to weight ratio - carbon wheels are stronger than both steel and aluminium, at a fraction of the weight. Heavier wheels are harder to propel forward and accelerate, so using lighter carbon wheels helps make the mountain bike get up to speed quicker. This is a massive advantage to those undertaking cross country mountain biking. The high number of revolutions that wheels take when mountain biking, makes saving weight on the mountain bike wheels, extra important.
Carbon MTB Wheels Stiffness
The stiffness of a mountain bike wheel is incredibly important. Although aluminium mountain bike wheels are stiff, they cannot compete with the stiffness of carbon fibre wheels. Stiff wheels provide a number of benefits to the rider, including a faster reaction to acceleration and handling, as well as a more responsive feel, which makes the rider more engaged with the bike.
Aggressive riders will benefit from being able to predict track and angle when leaning over and taking corners at speed, and they will also enjoy greater speed maintenance thanks to the lightweight design.
Carbon MTB Durability
One of the oldest concerns about carbon mountain bike wheels is how durable they are. Although carbon is incredibly strong, when carbon wheels do fail - they are expensive to replace. One of the biggest issues is the fact that carbon fibre wheels are very difficult to repair when they do fail on the tracks, as they typically crack VS dent like an aluminium wheel does.
Wheel damage is more commonplace amongst downhill and enduro riders - meaning that some of these riders may benefit from sticking with cheaper, and easier to replace aluminium wheels.