What’s The Difference? – Carbon Fibre VS Aluminium Wheels


(digital sounds) – People often wonder what
the difference is between alloy wheels and carbon wheels. But what wheely is the difference? – What wheely is the difference? (laughter) – Don’t ask. – So most bikes come with
alloy wheels as standard and generally speaking
only the most expensive road bikes will come with carbon wheels. That said, they’re a very
popular, sort of, upgrade component for most people’s bikes. – Yes. And you can pick up a pair of carbon wheels for around £500, €600 and if you’re in the US, 700 bucks. But they also range from about 1,000-2,000 euros, pounds, or dollars
because of the costly manufacturing process
compared to the alloy wheels. – In contrast to that,
alloy wheels typically range from about £100-£700 or dollars For a good quality pair. So buying a pair of carbon wheels could be
a very considered purchase. In this video, we’re
gonna tell you everything you need to know about the differences between the two so that you
can make the best decision. – Right should we get to it? – Lets do it man. – Lets do it. (upbeat music) But other than price,
what is the difference I hear you ask. And while the first one’s
obvious, the visuals. Those carbon rims that Ollie’s rocking, they’re absolutely phenomenal. – They look mean don’t they? – Yeah they do – You know I might not
be the fastest rider but, I can, I can still look fast and that, is the most important thing. – Ollie, looks aren’t everything. – What? – But traditionally, alloy rims, had an unpainted brake
track, and that’s because the braking of that surface
caused the paint to chip off. So manufacturers just kept it there. – Yeah, however this is
changing and as proof of that I’ve got exhibit A. On Hank’s bike, there. Disk brakes are becoming
increasingly popular on road bikes and crucially,
more affordable too. And if you have an
aluminum disk brake wheel, well, you can paint it
whatever color you like because the braking is done
at the disk and therefore it’s not going to wear
off the paint on the rim. And so, that means you
can have a relatively entry level wheel such as this Vision, TRIMAX 30, yet it can
have this all black, sort of almost carbon look to it,
which is, well, really classy. – Other than the looks
carbon rims can also be made lighter than the equivalent alloy rims. And also more aerodynamic because, the depth of the
rim can be made much deeper. If you had a super deep alloy rim it would just be really
heavy, and probably, quite uncomfortable to ride. This is where a carbon
rim comes into its own. – The next big difference is weight. So an entry level aluminum
wheel set typically weighs around 2 kilograms
for a pair, without tires. Now if you compare that
to a carbon clincher, with a deep section rim, such
as this, Vision Metron 55. Well this weighs around 1500 grams for a pair without tires. So that’s a savings of
around, half a kilo. But carbon wheels can be
even lighter than that so if you got som top of the range, light weight carbon wheels,
they can weigh as little as just a kilogram per pair. – That might not sound
like a lot, but it is actually really noticeable
when out riding, especially when accelerating,
or attacking up a climb. – The area of the wheel where weight is most important is the rim. And the reason for this
is that the mass here has a greater moment on the on
the center axis of the wheel. Which means, that if you’re
that if your going to be doing say, a criterion where you’ve got to accelerate out of lots
of technical corners, or ride up punchy climbs,
then, the most advantageous wheel is gonna be a lighter
rim with lower inertia. – Aluminum wheels can be great though. And they can weigh as little
as 1300 to 1400 grams, which, well, it isn’t a lot. – Nice, not a lot, but, you
can save a further 300 grams, if you go for a wheel like
the Vision Metron 30 Tubular. Which we don’t have here but,
that’s quite a big saving. – Yeah, and that doesn’t
sound a lot but when you’re, stamping on the pedals,
or smashing up a climb, that is a real difference. – Yeah, now interestingly,
I’m riding carbon wheels, and James is riding aluminum wheels, mine are the Vision Metron 55s and James is riding the Trimax 30s. And they both weigh, roughly the same ballpark,
around 1500 grams. But the crucial difference, is that the added mass
in mine, is functional. It’s aerodynamic, because they’re deeper. So, that brings us to our
next difference, aerodynamics. (upbeat music) – The biggest advantage to
carbon rims, is aerodynamics. You can go of these deep
section, aerodynamic wheels, like Ollie’s got on here. In simple terms, you go
faster, for the same effort, and I mean, who wouldn’t want that? – Now how much faster,
a deep section wheel is, is, well either, loads, or not very much, depending on your perspective. So, this has been studied a lot by many different independent sources. And generally speaking, you can expect to save around 30 seconds
over 40 kilometers at 40 kilometers an
hour, by using a deeper wheel, like this, over over
a shallower wheel, like this. – That sounds quite a lot. So, if you are bothered about getting more aerodynamic and faster, then carbon wheels are the ones to go for. (upbeat music) – With regards to
braking, if you’re running rim brakes, then aluminum
rims are accepted as having better braking
performance than carbon rims. And this is something that is particularly exaggerated in the wet. Aluminum rims also offer
better heat dissipation than a carbon rim. And if you’re a heavier rider, or if you’re dragging the
brakes down a steep descent, it is possible to delaminate a carbon rim. – Yes, but, manufacturers
have addressed this by texturing the rim and improving the resin. – But if you’re running disc brakes then, the material you’re rim is
made from doesn’t matter because all the braking
is done at the disc. And another advantage,
is to do with rim wear. So, using your rim
brakes can wear your rim, and this can be very
expensive on a carbon rim because, well it can’t really be repaired. But it’s not a problem,
if you’re running discs. – Sounds pretty good to me. (upbeat music) – Deep section wheels like
this can be twitchier, in cross winds, and this is a common concern that people have. Unfortunately, can’t
really show you today, because, today is, the
stillest day of the year. But, I have ridden deep sections in a wide variety of conditions. And I can say, that
it’s not as bad an issue as what lot of people think. And it’s something that has been, greatly improved with
more modern rim shapes. – But, it can be more
of an issue if you’re a smaller, lighter rider, like myself, but, I would go for an all around wheel. So, the 40 millimeter Vision
I’ve got here, is perfect. It’s light, it’s aerodynamic,
and it just does everything. – Yeah, and it’s not going to be too twitchy in the crosswinds. – Which is ideal. (upbeat music) Right Ollie, we need to
talk about stiffness. – What? – Of the wheels! (laughs) – Of course, yeah. – It’s a really important attribute, to have a stiff pair of wheels. The last thing you want,
is a flexy, inefficient, and rather spongy feeling wheel set when you’re smashing it on the pedals. And also, it’s a lot nicer
and and more confidence boosting when having a stiff
pair of wheels in the corners. – But it’s important to point out, and it’s a big but, that,
you can make a really stiff set of wheels out
of aluminum or carbon. The only difference will be
that the aluminum wheels, will probably be a little bit heavier. – And we want to keep it light don’t we? (growls) – So there you have it,
armed with this knowledge, hopefully now you can pick the wheel that best suites your needs. And if you found this
useful, then please give it thumbs up, as that will
help others find it too. – Yes and if you want
to watch a video on the difference between
aluminum and carbon bikes, then click down here.