Regarding weight and speed, Cornell did a study back in the 70s that demonstrated adding or subtracting 12 lbs. from a rider while keeping everything else the same (whether that 12 lbs. is flesh or bicycle or luggage) resulted in an average change of 1 MPH. Wheels just don't weigh enough to make a meaningful difference, especially since a 1 MPH advantage can be lost pretty reliably to things like stoplights or geese in the trail (common problem here).
Contrariwise, if you were on a 30+ lb. bike, as I am, and dropped down to an 18 lb. bike, you'd see the difference. It's a bad comparison, though, as the geometry would differ, too.
I have carbon wheels and also the Ksyriums. For me, the carbon wheels are faster and ride nicer. I paid around $2,000 for those babies. The downside of carbon wheels that hasn't been mentioned is the cost of repairs. My wheels are currently hanging on a hook simply because repairing them will cost $618. So, I ride the Ksyriums. If you have the buckos, go carbon. If not, go with the Ksyriums or something similar.
If you want to get better wheels than you have now, get them on Craigslist from someone who is upgrading. I honestly believe that carbon wheels will provide little improved performance. These things are for the ego and the most elite racers. Spend the money on a spin class.
Can't find it but there is a study available on the internet, done by Princeton U I believe, that shows the difference weight makes. No real benefit on flats, just on hills. The big improvements come from aerodynamics - keep your knees in, lower on the bars... getting stronger is much better investment than spending huge sums on lighter components.
GHK thank you I learned a lot from your post and from the link ( which I still reading ) And I do agree with you and that heating issue has me worried... Where I ride its not all flat we have some good size inclines and descents
What I currently have is a specialized dolce It's all entry leval I do not do tri's not do I want what gets my blood going is a good race Either a time trial or timing my self I am more into speed I also do not think it is so much the wheels yes a huge help but other then that bike and operator are what makes it happen
Thanks again for the feed back I think I will save that money Towards the next step up bike
I have VERRRYY little knowledge here ... but your question had me curious and I decided to poke around. I read several articles last night and this morning on it. It is pretty freakin interesting indeed! (I'll post one of the websites I went to that I found a useful discussion at the bottom of this comment.)
At any rate ... a quick question if you don't mind. What kind of bike do you currently have now? I ask because I agree that upgrading components always helps ... but if the frame set holds you back, something like high end wheels could be offset by the frame?
As for the wheels themselves... a few things I have learnt (through reading ... not experience...as I don't have the funds to get a carbon wheel set myself!)
1) Cost. From what I gather, costs are coming down ... but they are still spendy. The lowest I saw was near $600 ... the average cost about $1,200 for the set.
2) Benefits include weight decrease (roughly 25% from aluminum wheels) and more aerodynamics.
However, on the aerodynamic issue, there was some debate on whether this is true on all bikes, as the testings done tend to be on the wheels themselves in a wind tunnel. On a bike, with cross wind, some say that you lose some stability, as the wheels have a larger surface area. (The rims are taller ... I think to make up for strength...though you have fewer spokes as well.)
3) Braking capabilities ... this might be a huge issue and I'd research a lot more before getting a pair. Apparently, due to the material (carbon), on long braking stretches (i.e., long down grades), the wheels can heat up quite a bit, and quickly too. I gather there has been instances of tire blow outs due to this, and some events have banned carbon wheels.
The industry is trying to come out with brake pads that help to offset the heat issue ... but to date, the jury is still out?
4) Cost again ... or rather, security. I know I ride my bike to work, at event rides, etc ... and sometimes lock my bike. With the cost of carbon wheels, you'd want to make sure you lock BOTH wheels!
Hope this was not too long and rambly ... it was totally interesting to read about though. Good topic/question indeed.
No knowledge or experience with them either, but here's my shot-in-the-dark guess: carbon is lighter than most metals and in general the drive for carbon is, I believe, driven by a notion that a lighter bike is a faster bike.
However I think the differences from a weight related speed boost perspective is over-rated. Better to shed a pound or two of body weight...lol!
Curious to hear if you find out more about this.
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Ok I got some homework to do.. but I thought I would start here and ask .. what is the difference of these carbon wheels? a lot of my cycling buddies are putting them on their bikes and saying they are getting a smoother ride and faster.. ok I am always interested in upgrading.. I purchased an good entry level bike this Spring and I think I would like to upgrade but not sure if I am ready to buy a new bike when I can upgrade parts right? so going to start with the wheels. would carbon be the way too go or am I just seeing that the grass is greener???
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