Carbon Wheels vs Alloy Wheels, which is best?
We get asked this question a lot. Let’s take a look at the differences, starting with Alloy.
You will find most lower to midrange bikes quite often come equipped with alloy wheels as standard. The biggest reason for this is price, alloy wheels can be mass produced cheaply and as a result they are a very affordably option. Alloy in general is less stiff than carbon, so the ride produced is a little more compliant than carbon. This extra flex can lead to a slightly smoother ride. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they add a suspension feel to your bike, but they can certainly dampen the worst of surface and could technically add a little traction, although this would be minimal and offset by the wider rim widths offered in Carbon nowadays.
Alloy is a very light, strong, and hard-wearing material so it really is a great choice for a set of bike wheels.
Now we have an outline of the characteristics of Alloy wheels, its time to apply the same to Carbon wheels!
Carbon is very light and very strong and in terms of practicality it’s hard to beat. When you make your bike wheels from carbon, the first major benefit is its weight. The rims are responsible for the largest amount of rotational weight in the wheels and carbon is a lighter material increasing acceleration. It’s also worth noting that lighter overall weight also allows for better braking.
The fact this material is so light means it can be used to create deeper section wheels, with shorter spokes. The deeper section wheels are simply more aerodynamic and usually stiffer, this leads to a very “live” and dynamic feel. It’s also likely they will improve cornering speeds and you will get a real sense that the effort you are putting in is being transferred quickly and efficiently into speed!
Ultimately, Carbon wheels are all about performance, everything leads to more speed. This can however, come at a price! If your wheels are too stiff you are really going to feel every lump and bump which is why in my opinion, having your Carbon wheels hand built to suit your weight and riding style is key.
So, which is best? Alloy or Carbon bike wheels. Well, the honest answer is simply, if you want the best performance and can afford the higher price carbon is the way to go for your best bike!