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Daily Archives: January 21, 2015

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My Take on Carbon Composite or Aluminum Alloy Cycling Wheels…

This isn’t my first rodeo with this topic but my understanding and outlook has evolved a little bit…

My hoops are currently aluminum. They are exquisitely matched to my Venge.. So much so that, well:

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If it gets better than that, I don’t know how. My hoops, aluminum, are excellent for the price I paid for them. Not exactly trouble-free over the last year and some but for what I paid, close enough. I paid less than $400 for them… And they’re under 1,500 grams (1,456 to be exact).

Now, two people whom I have a great deal of respect for, Gerry who writes The Vicious Cycle Blog and the owner of my local bike shop, an old-time frame builder with a world record bike under his belt, are both looking at new wheels for their steeds – and that naturally got me to thinking about my hoops. Such is life I suppose, everyone should be lucky enough to have my problems.

I happened over to road.cc because the Corima wheels I really want are way out of my price range.

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Next, I found Amp Hoops. They make a 38mm carbon wheel that got rave reviews, not only for their quickness and durability but their price. They list for just over $1,000, a fantastic price and they match the Venge quite well… Could Amp be the answer to my carbon fiber dreams?!

Alas, no. They’re not.

Carbon hoops, much to my friend Henry’s chagrin, will be the first chunk of carbon I could add to my bike but will choose to forego. While I want my bike to look badass as it can, I do, I do, I do…carbon hoops just don’t fit the way I ride.

See, I’m not afraid to break the 45mph speed limit by more than 10mph blasting down a hill but only when I can do so knowing I’m not going to overcook a turn and launch myself into a tree. When it comes to navigating switchbacks and such, I’m a dad and husband first. If I don’t know the road or have a long stretch ahead that provides enough time to react, I’m cautious, not so “hair on fire”. That’s a period at the end of that sentence. This means I’m not afraid to ride me some brakes on the way down a technical descent which does not mix well with carbon rims and I will not put myself in a position where I have to worry about braking in any way. That’s just the way it is. If that wasn’t enough, and it is, I not now, nor do I see in the near future, have any desire to get into racing. I’m not the racing type, I’m the avid enthusiast type and I simply can’t find the need to spend another $3,000 to make my bike look cool, especially if that three grand won’t fit my riding style in the first place.  While my bike would look very nice with those Corima’s on it, I wouldn’t get any bang for that buck – what little aerodynamic benefit there might be, I can more than make up for with a little “want to” and that’s free.

There are other options of course, namely Rolf Prima’s, a 38mm, aero alloy hoop that is deceptively tough for its light weight. I know those are some nice, fast wheels, a friend rides them. One day, when I have some disposable income, I’ll think about upgrading my wheels. I won’t be holding my breath though. I’ll need it for all of the miles between now and then.

As I mentioned earlier, my attitude has evolved.  It used to be I would get caught up in the pursuit of all things carbon fiber that pertain to cycling but as I’ve matured in the sport just a little, I’ve come to realize that it’s invaluable when it comes to some things but is overkill for others.  Nowadays, I know that my enjoyment of the sport and meeting my necessities in that pursuit far outweighs how “cool” the material is that my wheels are made of.

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