Thoughts on Carbon wheels? do they make a difference?

Hi folks,

I am thinking of getting a new wheelset and am contemplating carbon. Will I get a different riding experience? For reference, I am 185 lbs, 6’, and I ride mostly fast at McRun.


1 Like

I only have experience with one brand, which is Zipp.

My first impressions were that I made a massive mistake as I felt the feel of the ride was pretty harsh and stiff with very little compliance.

They were also quite a bit harder to install liners/tires.

I run very thin grips, 35mm stem and carbon bars so it was overall a pretty stiff set up. Especially with the amount of tokens I use.

I was given some suggestions on swapping to alu bars, thinner diameter stem etc for more flex.

Once i got used to it and adapted my set up a bit, I am pretty happy with them. Very noticeable in flat bank cornering and overall stability through chunder.

On the flip side, some of the best riders I know locally wont use them.

Thanks. Very helpful. Some of your impressions represent my concerns.

I am new to the whole carbon wheels thing, having just built up a set of WeAreOne Convergence Triads on Hope Pro 5 hubs with Sapim spokes. I don’t run liners, and I’m a pretty smooth rider, but I have managed to flat spot a number of aluminum rims from Hunt, Mavic, and Race Face. I run a 35mm stem with the OneUp carbon bar. The front end is not overly stiff. I love it.

The WA1s are the easiest rim I’ve ever mounted tubeless tires on. Literally inflated like normal, super easy, and they also have barely lost a single PSI while hanging in the garage. Amazing that way.

As far as ride quality goes, these wheels are designed quite a bit differently from other carbon offerings. They do not feel overly stiff at all. The ride quality is beautifully damped, while also being the most precise feeling wheels I’ve ever ridden in hard corners and rock gardens. They track insanely well. Highly recommended, and they just dropped the price as well. Along with the lifetime replacement warranty, I think these are going to be an excellent investment.


Thanks. Very helpful!

For 29ers, carbon makes a decent difference is responsiveness IMO. Not as noticeable on 650b.
Carbon hoops have been much more durable for me. Back when I ran aluminum rims, I used to get flat spots and sidewall dings semi frequently on the back. I’ve run carbon rims mostly for the last 11 years on my mtbs, and have not had an issue with any of them.
I’ve had good luck with Light Bicycle rims in the past……over a couple of years use, they ended up being cheaper for me vs aluminum.
Some rims may be on the harsh side, but I’ve not had any issues with mine being harsh (running We Are One, Ibis as well as Light Bicycle). Some carbon rims like the Ibis s35 / s28 are especially compliant, but are still responsive.

I second this. Love my WAO wheels. I hold lines that I never could before. As a heavier rider they don’t flex too much but just what I want.

Lifetime warranty,
Easy to set up tires on, no more bending wheels.

I’ll third the We Are One wheels. I too am a heavier rider and have had 0 issues with my WAO wheels and I am pretty good at making terrible line choices.

I was breaking a rear wheel every couple of years when running alu rims, other than my last set which was the ultra burly DT Swiss Enduro wheelset that the pros race on and are now backup wheels. But the WAO wheels have been rock solid and I have been very impressed with them durability wise and ride quality wise. I was a little nervous as my only other carbon rim experience was some 27.5 Enve wheels on a demo bike I rented for a while in the states and I found them needlessly stiff and uncomfortable. But that was 27.5 and I am now on 29, and it was a while ago.

I’m not sure what you’re considering for wheels but the WAO wheels with lifetime warranty and the new price drop they just announced are definitely worth considering.


My 2020 Giant Trance 29 came with carbon wheels and I really love how they accelerate and roll. I’m only 70kilos and am a pretty light rider but I had some problems with them. First a loose derailleur bolt took out a couple of spokes. Got it rebuilt at Giant. Then a big rock pushed the derailleur into the the wheel and took out two more spokes. Another rebuild at Giant. Then the wheel exploded on the Death March drop resulting in cracks at several spoke holes. The rim was replaced under warranty and the wheel was again built up my Giant. I then to the wheels to a trusted local wheel builder who adjusted the spoke tensions to a standard level. I bought a set of XM1700 alloy wheels while I waited for the Giant wheels to be replaced (2-months during the pandemic). I found them more forgiving but I missed the precise feeling from the front carbon rim. They roll and accelerate a bit slower but I’m much less worried about a failure. I mounted light XC tires to the carbon wheels for easy flow trails and now when I swap them I drop about a two pounds of unsprung, rotating mass and the bike really comes alive. I also run a oneup carbon bar.


I should note that the WA1s are about the same weight as a good quality aluminum trail/enduro wheel set. They did not save any weight, but I doubt they’ll explode the way @Coaster2’s did. That was a gnarly sound.


I would like to see the stats on who is running what in the EWS and UCI DH WC series.

A lot of alloy wheels. Usually after failure, they can be bent and have a tube shoved in them. Carbon not so much.

However, I’m not racing, what I want is an insurance policy. Blow this wheel, it’s replaced. Hope, DT wheels previously cost me hundreds in replacing rims.

Every alloy wheelset I’ve owned eventually gets to a point where I’ve got to true it every few weeks. Or retention after the break in rides, WAO and set it and forget it wheels. Tire pressure even seems to hold or drop 2-3 psi not 20 psi.

Again not to beat the WAO rims to death but simply put. Made in Canada, by Canadians, tough, well designed, lifetime warranty, good compliance without compromising on the stiffness where you need it. I think they are equally priced to most other carbon wheels, and just can’t imagine choosing Nobl (Chinese made) over them .