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  1. #1
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    Just published our 2017 Carbon Wheel Comparison Test (Enve, Nox, Knight, LB, Stans)

    Sharing our just released 2017 Carbon Wheel Comparison Test Report: https://www.dirtmerchantbikes.com/sp...stans-flow-mk3

    We tested the following wheels in an A/B test format (4 riders, same day, same test loop, same tires, same tire pressure, all 29-30 inner width rims):

    • Enve M70 HV
    • Knight Composites Enduro
    • Light Bicycle WM650BC05 Heavy Duty
    • Nox Composites Farlow
    • Stans Flow Mk3 - as an alloy benchmark


    Key Takeaways are:
    1. Not all carbon wheels ride alike.
    2. Also, at lower price points, alloy wheels may not be a bad choice compared to entry-level carbon wheels.
    Dirt Merchant Bikes
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    Seattle area dealer for Turner Bikes & Cleary Bikes

  2. #2
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    Interesting stuff, thanks. I wonder, did the riders know what wheels they were riding? There is always a subtle bias in humans

  3. #3
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    Great comparison, though 30psi seems incredibly high for tubeless with wide rims


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    I esteem your tests and dig your analytical style, you should be awared MVC (most valuable contributor) or sth similar.

  5. #5
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    I'm a dissenter, I would have liked to see deflection tests, strength/failure tests, to see if there really is any difference between something like Envy and $150 Chinese carbon rims. I can't find it, but there's a great picture somewhere of sandbags stacked on an MT propeller blade until it fails. I don't think there are any "takeaways" unless objective testing can be accomplished, at the most, they are just possible suggestions.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  6. #6
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    I appreciate the amount of work that went into the test, but I will always take tests done by a shop that sells the products they test with a grain of salt. I could have guessed those results.

    I too would like to see some of these rims hooked up to a machine and put though some stress tests. Then cut to see how they are put together. Ideally it would be done by a third party with no industry connections. The decals would be removed from the wheels, then ridden by different riders not knowing what wheels they are using. Then rate the wheels. The chances of this happening is probably zero.

    .

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rideon View Post
    Great comparison, though 30psi seems incredibly high for tubeless with wide rims


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I usually run about 22-24 psi front and 26-28 rear for myself at about 155 lbs, but we had a 240 lb rider among the testers so I needed to err on the conservative side. Having a rider roll a tire off the rim likely means the end of this type of testing from a liability insurance standpoint.
    Dirt Merchant Bikes
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeanMan View Post
    Interesting stuff, thanks. I wonder, did the riders know what wheels they were riding? There is always a subtle bias in humans
    The testers did know what they were riding, but I would contend that the A/B test format with wheels ridden sequentially on the same test course reduces this bias. You might imagine that a brand will perform better, but you have a fresh impression of a competing product as a comparison. What most magazines do with giving a writer a single product to test with no head-to-head comparison would seem to me to maximize this type of perceptual bias.
    Dirt Merchant Bikes
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Calf View Post
    I esteem your tests and dig your analytical style, you should be awared MVC (most valuable contributor) or sth similar.
    Thanks. Glad to be of service!
    Dirt Merchant Bikes
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    Seattle area dealer for Turner Bikes & Cleary Bikes

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I'm a dissenter, I would have liked to see deflection tests, strength/failure tests, to see if there really is any difference between something like Envy and $150 Chinese carbon rims. I can't find it, but there's a great picture somewhere of sandbags stacked on an MT propeller blade until it fails. I don't think there are any "takeaways" unless objective testing can be accomplished, at the most, they are just possible suggestions.
    As I posted in the other thread, this is my take on that:

    You can measure dozens or even hundreds of variables & create a complex multivariate model to reflect what reality should be like, but the easier & far quicker way to figure this out is to do hands-on testing (Yes, this part is subjective) to figure out what product works best & then reverse engineer (this part is not subjective) that product to figure out the technical factors that produce better performance.

    I'm only interested in understanding what works better, so don't have the need to actually reverse engineer products to figure why they work better.

    Durability is a different type of question than dynamic performance. Not being financially able or willing to destroy $6000 worth of carbon rims, I do have to rely on anecdotal evidence on what is or is not more durable. I will say that I'm not sure that Enve is the last word on durability, though I have no statistical data as evidence for this.
    Dirt Merchant Bikes
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RS VR6 View Post
    I appreciate the amount of work that went into the test, but I will always take tests done by a shop that sells the products they test with a grain of salt. I could have guessed those results.
    Would it change your mind if I told you that we do the product testing to determine what products we carry?

    We've offered Enve due to our association with Turner Bikes, but Knight will now be the brand we will likely recommend most instead of Enve due to the testing results. With the size of my business, I don't need to pre-order hundred or even dozens of units of any product. With just-in-time inventory, we can switch on a dime to a recommending and selling a new product that works better. From my perspective, it's easiest to sell what's best and my business is focused on selling what's best regardless of price (meaning based on product performance, not on either a high price or a low price). From a marketing perspective, its an easy-to-understand message to convey and sets us apart from local shops that forced to partner with companies such as Specialized and Trek to stay afloat.

    This is how we go about doing this:

    1. Figure out what products work best through testing to help determine what products to carry & understand how to direct riders to the products most suited to their needs.
    2. Provide demo products so riders can:
    - Verify our claims, and
    - Figure out what works best for them through hands-on experience

    Ultimately, regardless of test results, magazine reviews, or whatever "data" is presented to "prove" that a product is the "best", I think that it's important for riders to do a demo to figure out what's truly best for them.

    Quote Originally Posted by RS VR6 View Post
    I too would like to see some of these rims hooked up to a machine and put though some stress tests. Then cut to see how they are put together. Ideally it would be done by a third party with no industry connections. The decals would be removed from the wheels, then ridden by different riders not knowing what wheels they are using. Then rate the wheels. The chances of this happening is probably zero.
    Absolutely true. I have no interest in destroying $6000 of carbon wheels. In terms of investment for testing, it's interesting to me is that the bike media seems to spend even less money than I do on testing. For the most part, the products they review seem like they are provided to them. I'm guessing this since even when they do a multi-product test, they seem to have a motley blend of products in the test lineup. They may have several carbon wheels that they are testing, but these wheels will have a wide range of internal widths and intended uses as was the case in a media review that I read recently. Might have been Singletracks.com or Bike Magazine.
    Dirt Merchant Bikes
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    Sharing our just released 2017 Carbon Wheel Comparison Test Report: https://www.dirtmerchantbikes.com/sp...stans-flow-mk3

    We tested the following wheels in an A/B test format (4 riders, same day, same test loop, same tires, same tire pressure, all 29-30 inner width rims):

    • Enve M70 HV
    • Knight Composites Enduro
    • Light Bicycle WM650BC05 Heavy Duty
    • Nox Composites Farlow
    • Stans Flow Mk3 - as an alloy benchmark


    Key Takeaways are:
    1. Not all carbon wheels ride alike.
    2. Also, at lower price points, alloy wheels may not be a bad choice compared to entry-level carbon wheels.
    Hey do you think you can test ours carbon wheels as well?

  13. #13
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    Right on.

    You did a user feel test which has plenty of value. Yes a strength to failure test would be helpful but it's not realist for you to do so you shouldn't catch flack for not including it. Most riders won't ride hard enough to break them anyway but they will notice the differences listed in your review. Thanks for taking the time to conduct the test.

  14. #14
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    I appreciate the review. While i don't completely agree with the testing method, it's another point of comparison which someone can use to analyze/compare and determine the value of a potential wheel upgrade.

    What i liked:
    -All used the same bike/course.
    -multiple runs

    What i don't like:
    - The riders knew what wheels they were riding. It would be MUCH more interesting if it was a blind test.
    - I don't understand how anyone could quantify how one carbon rim can accelerate better than another unless there was a significant difference in weight.
    - Really high tire pressures for everyone. How is a 155 lb rider supposed to get a good impression of a wheel with pressure set for a 260lb rider? or vise versa? I'm guessing their riding experience would be quite different at the proper pressure. This makes no sense to me at all. It would be more interesting and informational to just include the rider weight and tire pressure used in the analysis. This is my major gripe with this test.
    - Used 160mm bikes. That's a pretty limited market. A test with a 120mm bike would be more interesting to me, or even (GASP) a 120mm hardtail, but i suppose I'm not your target consumer.
    - I would also like to see more reasonably priced rims compared instead of the high end stuff. Again, really limited market, and I'm not your target audience. I'd like to see a review of mostly low/mid range carbon rims and only one high end rim for comparison. but that's me.

    Something like Stans Flow vs LB vs Nextie vs Nox vs Derby vs Enve. (I also understand why a business owner would never do this test, if they can't get the product for a customer and make a profit on it, there's no benefit to the business. Just would like to see this test as i would be buying and building the wheels myself. I know, I'm selfish.)

    Thanks for the review, it's a fairly interesting read, just missed the mark on a few key points for me. Tire pressure being the biggest one. (I don't care what a 155 lb rider thinks of a rim with tire pressures set for a 260 lb rider. Or what a 260lb rider thinks of a rim at proper pressure. I am neither of those things.)
    Last edited by *OneSpeed*; 04-09-2017 at 04:46 PM.
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  15. #15
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    This kind of sums it up for me.
    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    I appreciate the review. While i don't completely agree with the testing method, it's another point of comparison which someone can use to analyze/compare and determine the value of a potential wheel upgrade.

    What i liked:
    -All used the same bike/course.
    -multiple runs

    What i don't like:
    - The riders knew what wheels they were riding. It would be MUCH more interesting if it was a blind test.
    - Really high tire pressures for everyone. How is a 155 lb rider supposed to get a good impression of a wheel with pressure set for a 260lb rider? or vise versa? I'm guessing their riding experience would be quite different at the proper pressure. This makes no sense to me at all. It would be more interesting and informational to just include the rider weight and tire pressure used in the analysis. This is my major gripe with this test.
    - Used 160mm bikes. That's a pretty limited market. A test with a 120mm bike would be more interesting to me, or even (GASP) a 120mm hardtail, but i suppose I'm not your target consumer.
    - I would also like to see more reasonably priced rims compared instead of the high end stuff. Again, really limited market, and I'm not your target audience. I'd like to see a review of mostly low/mid range carbon rims and only one high end rim for comparison. but that's me.

    Something like Stans Flow vs LB vs Nextie vs Nox vs Derby vs Enve. (I also understand why a business owner would never do this test, if they can't get the product for a customer and make a profit on it, there's no benefit to the business. Just would like to see this test as i would be buying and building the wheels myself. I know, I'm selfish.)

    Thanks for the review, it's a fairly interesting read, just missed the mark on a few key points for me. Tire pressure being the biggest one. (I don't care what a 155 lb rider thinks of a rim with tire pressures set for a 260 lb rider. Or what a 260lb rider thinks of a rim at proper pressure. I am neither of those things.)

  16. #16
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    30psi??? I stopped reading. Then i started again, and saw maintains speed and stopped reading again. there is no way a rider on a mountain bike could put a number on maintains speed for wheels.

  17. #17
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    I agree that it needed to be a blind test. Knowing what wheels you're riding taints the entire review. Maybe next time bring a pump so everyone can run a tire pressure appropriate for their weight. Once I knew those two simple things weren't being adhered to, your review became marketing.

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    I will say that I'm not sure that Enve is the last word on durability, though I have no statistical data as evidence for this.
    I've had Easton, Enve's, NOX and now NOBl wheels. Enve's are the only ones that I had issues with. One cracked at the bead and the other delaminated. Enve didn't take any responsibility because I hadn't "registered" the wheels serial number. They told me the serial number was inside the wheel but didn't have an answer when I told them I bought the bike complete with the wheels and asked if I was expected to take the Stan's filled, tubeless tires off to get a serial number. Idiots!! NOX & NOBL said none of that nonsense is necessary. FWIW, I'd say NOX are the best overall to me.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2rider1964 View Post
    FWIW, I'd say NOX are the best overall to me.
    I've had good experience with Nox as well. I also had an Enve M60 that cracked at the spoke hole. The finish of the Enve rims on the inside of the rim bed seems quite rough to me compared to at least some carbon rims from other manufacturers.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shoao View Post
    Hey do you think you can test ours carbon wheels as well?
    To date, we have purchased all of the product that we've tested. That said we're open to testing product submitted by manufacturers though we'd have to get other products to include in the test as well. Also, in terms of testing schedule, the next open window would be next fall at the earliest.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    - I don't understand how anyone could quantify how one carbon rim can accelerate better than another unless there was a significant difference in weight.
    It's perception & I was not looking to quantify this. Some of the wheels clearly felt faster accelerating than others, but you would honestly be hard pressed to tell this unless you rode the wheels back-to-back on the same course with the same bike as we did.

    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    - Really high tire pressures for everyone. How is a 155 lb rider supposed to get a good impression of a wheel with pressure set for a 260lb rider? or vise versa? I'm guessing their riding experience would be quite different at the proper pressure.
    Possibly, but all of the wheels would have been handicapped to the same degree by this.

    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    - Used 160mm bikes. That's a pretty limited market. A test with a 120mm bike would be more interesting to me, or even (GASP) a 120mm hardtail, but i suppose I'm not your target consumer.
    Not up here in the PNW, especially if you get a decently fast handling 160 mm bike such as the Turner RFX. It may seem like a lot of travel, but we easily use that much travel up here in the PNW.

    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    - I would also like to see more reasonably priced rims compared instead of the high end stuff. Again, really limited market, and I'm not your target audience.
    Well, that is why I included the LB rim as a comparison to higher priced product. Our mission is to sell the best performing products regardless of price so budget priced product isn't typically our focus UNLESS it performs as well or better than high priced product. That's why the LB rim was included to test at least how one popular lower priced rim might perform versus higher priced competition.

    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    Thanks for the review, it's a fairly interesting read, just missed the mark on a few key points for me. Tire pressure being the biggest one. (I don't care what a 155 lb rider thinks of a rim with tire pressures set for a 260 lb rider. Or what a 260lb rider thinks of a rim at proper pressure. I am neither of those things.)
    I'll keep that suggestion in mind. For testing wheels that might be feasible if we choose one tire pressure setting (actually 1 for the front tire, 1 for the rear tire) per rider. For testing tires, I've gotten the same feedback BUT each tire model does best at slightly higher or lower pressure depending on factors such as sidewall stiffness. No way am I going to be spending all day finding the ideal tire pressure for each tire for each rider. So the most straightforward way to control for this variable is to keep the same tire pressure for everyone. With wheels, since we are using the same tire on each wheel, that might be easier with one tire pressure setting per rider as opposed to 32 different tire pressure setting (4 front tires/4 rear tires for 4 riders) and testing & retesting 32 different combinations of tires/riders until we get the tire pressure right.

    One reader suggestion that I had incorporated in our Summer 2015 XC tire testing was to include lap times. That has been a fruitful addition to our pool of data.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    I appreciate the review. While i don't completely agree with the testing method, it's another point of comparison which someone can use to analyze/compare and determine the value of a potential wheel upgrade.

    What i liked:
    -All used the same bike/course.
    -multiple runs

    What i don't like:
    - The riders knew what wheels they were riding. It would be MUCH more interesting if it was a blind test.
    - I don't understand how anyone could quantify how one carbon rim can accelerate better than another unless there was a significant difference in weight.
    - Really high tire pressures for everyone. How is a 155 lb rider supposed to get a good impression of a wheel with pressure set for a 260lb rider? or vise versa? I'm guessing their riding experience would be quite different at the proper pressure. This makes no sense to me at all. It would be more interesting and informational to just include the rider weight and tire pressure used in the analysis. This is my major gripe with this test.
    - Used 160mm bikes. That's a pretty limited market. A test with a 120mm bike would be more interesting to me, or even (GASP) a 120mm hardtail, but i suppose I'm not your target consumer.
    - I would also like to see more reasonably priced rims compared instead of the high end stuff. Again, really limited market, and I'm not your target audience. I'd like to see a review of mostly low/mid range carbon rims and only one high end rim for comparison. but that's me.

    Something like Stans Flow vs LB vs Nextie vs Nox vs Derby vs Enve. (I also understand why a business owner would never do this test, if they can't get the product for a customer and make a profit on it, there's no benefit to the business. Just would like to see this test as i would be buying and building the wheels myself. I know, I'm selfish.)

    Thanks for the review, it's a fairly interesting read, just missed the mark on a few key points for me. Tire pressure being the biggest one. (I don't care what a 155 lb rider thinks of a rim with tire pressures set for a 260 lb rider. Or what a 260lb rider thinks of a rim at proper pressure. I am neither of those things.)
    Also, I might add that I don't think I've seen any A/B testing of product in the bike industry that even tries to control most variable. Most magazines give one writer a product to test and that writer usually comes back and say that the product did great.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silentfoe View Post
    I agree that it needed to be a blind test. Knowing what wheels you're riding taints the entire review. Maybe next time bring a pump so everyone can run a tire pressure appropriate for their weight. Once I knew those two simple things weren't being adhered to, your review became marketing.

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
    Well, for folks in the Seattle/Tacoma area, I have the Stans, Nox, Enve & Knight wheels available to do demos with the same type of A/B comparison testing. Idea is to allow customers to try them out and decide for themselves.
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  24. #24
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    Was hoping all the wheels would be built with the same number and type of spokes. And I would have told you that they all felt like crap if you made me ride with 30psi in my tires. Interesting nonetheless.

  25. #25
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    Thanks for the test. I too would like to see an attempt at making it a blind test.

    We know that comments are subjective and if the average lap times are not statistically significant then the entire test looks subjective. I'd rather see subjective analysis of a blind study.

  26. #26
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    This kinda looks like an ad for Enve and Knight to me. For example, the Nox wheels had the fastest lap times but did relatively poorly in acceleration and maintaining speed, as well as steering control. It's kinda harf to go fast if you can't accelerate, corner, or maintain speed very well. I'd like to know what wheels the trsters rode themselves, especially since they knew what wheels they were riding during the test. Could be a strong case of owner bias?

  27. #27
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    Conformation bias. The wheels I like are the wheels that perform the best, not necessarily vice versa.
    Do the math.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    Also, I might add that I don't think I've seen any A/B testing of product in the bike industry that even tries to control most variable. Most magazines give one writer a product to test and that writer usually comes back and say that the product did great.
    I completely agree. Pretty much every review from a major publication completely avoids any specific comparison to another competing product. Even "roundup" articles get filled with fuzzy weasel words. So I appreciate the effort put into this, the investment it takes to organize and perform a test, and the willingness to actually compare different products.

    That said, not blinding the test is an enormous oversight. Your response variable is subjective and self-reported. Biases and the the placebo effect are ubiquitous, well-documented, and very often of similar magnitude as what you're trying to measure. There's lots of good research on the topic, whether it's a pain relief pill or comparing a Stradivarius to modern violins.

    Specifically, people's subjective experience of "quality" can be strongly influenced by perceived expense. I suspect if you had riders A/B test the exact same wheels, but told them one was cheap non-name China-direct carbon and that the other was premium USA-made stuff, you'd get all sorts of feedback about how one was super responsive and the other accelerated sluggishly. My point being, without blinding you can't trust anything any of the testers had to say.

    As others have pointed out, the tire pressure choice was a little silly. Have an agreed-upon appropriate pressure for each rider, and have the mechanic preparing each bike set the tire pressure for the rider, without the rider getting up close to the rim. Problem solved.

    So on to the only objective response in the rest, the lap times. It isn't good practice to (rightly) point out that any differences are statistically significant, then caution about interpreting the results, and then go on to interpret the results! I agree that the differences in average times are very small compared to the standard deviations. (If you did a t-test on the data, you'd conclude in a statistically-rigorous way that that they're indistinguishable.) But then you go on to write about the significance of those standard deviations, when each standard deviation is just based on one run each from three different riders. You don't have the (statistical) power to say anything about differences in underlying distributions when n=3, and I feel commenting on it anyway is just disingenuous.

    I'll also point out that because the lap times are a measure of human performance, subjective factors come into play as well. As in, "I know I'm on Stans this run. Better not push it too hard." More reason to blind the test.

    I think in general, you're trying to perform a very difficult test and examine really subtle differences. I respect the hell out of the work done, but I think you need more rigor to draw the conclusions you do.

    To be more constructive, I think that's all possible. For example, to say statistically that the Knights are really 15 seconds (or more) faster downhill than the Stans (the biggest difference in the test), with a standard deviation of 13 seconds you would only need n=6 (six timed runs per wheelset) for a power of 80% at the 95% significance level. Six riders isn't unreasonable, actually. To detect smaller differences you could increase n and/or find ways to decrease the standard deviation in the run times, and that can grow really fast. To detect a real 8-second difference (like between the Knights and LightBicycles), I think you'd need closer to n=20, depending on how big the standard deviation ended up.

  29. #29
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    hey spectre, thanks for the taking the time to organize this test/review and for posting the results! for the guys who are chirping about all the ways the test could be improved, you should grab some friends and a few sets of wheels and do a comparison test yourselves, and post the results.

    for my part, I've owned LB and Nox wheels on my last two bikes, and am currently back on aluminum rims and not missing carbon too much from a performance standpoint.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rideon View Post
    Great comparison, though 30psi seems incredibly high for tubeless with wide rims
    Depends on how you ride. A fast aggressive rider will need significantly more air pressure to prevent excessive rim strikes and keep the tires from being torn off the rims. There was a manufacturer demo where the rep running it insisted that 22psi was more than enough for the wide rims I was about to take for a ride. I disagreed, we settled on 24psi because he said going any higher for my weight would be pointless and negate all the benefits. I rolled the tire off the rim on the first downhill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hardboiled View Post
    hey spectre, thanks for the taking the time to organize this test/review and for posting the results! for the guys who are chirping about all the ways the test could be improved, you should grab some friends and a few sets of wheels and do a comparison test yourselves, and post the results.
    Haha, for sure. It's difficult to create and easy to criticize. My main point is that no other media source that I've seen in the bike media does head-to-head performance testing. The German magazines do testing but only with lab measurements. After sleeping on your responses, I do have some thoughts:

    1. Tire Pressure: For wheel testing, I certainly can vary tire pressures more easily than for tire testing. I'd leave a floor pump at the wheel exchange point to vary pressures. To see if we're generally on the same page in terms of tire pressures, what would be ideal for a 150-160 lb rider

    2. Blinded testing: Yeah, brand perception does have an impact, but I'll contend that actually riding on a pair of wheels then having a direct comparison to the next set of wheels removes some of this brand bias.

    In terms of doing blinded testing, having the brand on the wheels is actually helpful to me from a customer standpoint. My customer may value known brand names; that's part of what you get when you buy Enve. The real opportunity for a lesser known brand is to provide similar or better perceived performance despite any potential gap in brand perception. For me, this was the Nox rims. During pretest riding, they felt similar to the Enves in many ways and better in ride compliance so I was curious to see what others might say and their ratings.

    For me personally, I've had a pair of Enve demo wheels for 2 years now, bought into the perception that they were one of the best products out there, but ended up not wanting to ride them much. I've ridden much more on Stans Arches and Flows in the past two years. I guess I wasn't happy riding on the Enves from a gut level.

    Next steps: I'll consider rerunning the test with tire pressures tailored to rider weights this fall. I still have the Enve, Nox, Knight and Stans wheels for testing and can add in another carbon wheel from another Chinese brand. Any requests?

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    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    We settled on 24psi because he said going any higher for my weight would be pointless and negate all the benefits. I rolled the tire off the rim on the first downhill.
    Yes, that's exactly the case here in the Seattle area. I used to have a 120 mm travel bike when I lived in California and thought that was plenty of travel. Now in Seattle, I'm using all 160 mm of travel on a far stiffer bike. Cornering G-forces we can achieve here in Seattle are far greater than I've experienced elsewhere and the test course is composed of 180 degree sweeper turns.

    Having a test rider possibly roll a tire is a big no-no for me from a insurance & liability standpoint. Some of my test riders are in the top 5% in downhill Strava times on our test course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    Haha, for sure. It's difficult to create and easy to criticize. My main point is that no other media source that I've seen in the bike media does head-to-head performance testing. The German magazines do testing but only with lab measurements. After sleeping on your responses, I do have some thoughts:

    1. Tire Pressure: For wheel testing, I certainly can vary tire pressures more easily than for tire testing. I'd leave a floor pump at the wheel exchange point to vary pressures. To see if we're generally on the same page in terms of tire pressures, what would be ideal for a 150-160 lb rider

    2. Blinded testing: Yeah, brand perception does have an impact, but I'll contend that actually riding on a pair of wheels then having a direct comparison to the next set of wheels removes some of this brand bias.

    In terms of doing blinded testing, having the brand on the wheels is actually helpful to me from a customer standpoint. My customer may value known brand names; that's part of what you get when you buy Enve. The real opportunity for a lesser known brand is to provide similar or better perceived performance despite any potential gap in brand perception. For me, this was the Nox rims. During pretest riding, they felt similar to the Enves in many ways and better in ride compliance so I was curious to see what others might say and their ratings.

    For me personally, I've had a pair of Enve demo wheels for 2 years now, bought into the perception that they were one of the best products out there, but ended up not wanting to ride them much. I've ridden much more on Stans Arches and Flows in the past two years. I guess I wasn't happy riding on the Enves from a gut level.

    Next steps: I'll consider rerunning the test with tire pressures tailored to rider weights this fall. I still have the Enve, Nox, Knight and Stans wheels for testing and can add in another carbon wheel from another Chinese brand. Any requests?
    I'm really glad you did this testing. It opened up the dialogue on TRUE performance with carbon rims and how design methodology can impact that performance. Material selected is only one parameter for a rim


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    Quote Originally Posted by lazarus2405 View Post
    Specifically, people's subjective experience of "quality" can be strongly influenced by perceived expense. I suspect if you had riders A/B test the exact same wheels, but told them one was cheap non-name China-direct carbon and that the other was premium USA-made stuff, you'd get all sorts of feedback about how one was super responsive and the other accelerated sluggishly. My point being, without blinding you can't trust anything any of the testers had to say.
    That would be awesome. Peel off the Enve stickers and have the same guys test the same wheels the next day and tell them they are brand X...or better yet...re sticker the wheels.

    I've seen taste tests done the same way. Product A and B were the same thing, but were told B was by a different brand. These results were completely different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hardboiled View Post
    hey spectre, thanks for the taking the time to organize this test/review and for posting the results! for the guys who are chirping about all the ways the test could be improved, you should grab some friends and a few sets of wheels and do a comparison test yourselves, and post the results.

    for my part, I've owned LB and Nox wheels on my last two bikes, and am currently back on aluminum rims and not missing carbon too much from a performance standpoint.
    I agree. The test was flawed, but he attempted to limit the variables. As far as I am aware, nobody has done a better test, even the magazines that we read that should. It is a data point that someone worked hard to create, and I am glad to have it even if not perfect.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    Next steps: I'll consider rerunning the test with tire pressures tailored to rider weights this fall. I still have the Enve, Nox, Knight and Stans wheels for testing and can add in another carbon wheel from another Chinese brand. Any requests?
    Nextie

    For the purposes of the test, it needs to be a blind test IMO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    Yes, that's exactly the case here in the Seattle area. I used to have a 120 mm travel bike when I lived in California and thought that was plenty of travel. Now in Seattle, I'm using all 160 mm of travel on a far stiffer bike. Cornering G-forces we can achieve here in Seattle are far greater than I've experienced elsewhere and the test course is composed of 180 degree sweeper turns.

    Having a test rider possibly roll a tire is a big no-no for me from a insurance & liability standpoint. Some of my test riders are in the top 5% in downhill Strava times on our test course.
    Hmm, there appears to be a LOT of riding around there where a 120mm works great, including most of Tiger Mtn. I watched several riders on 5" bikes that were not having a hard time. Like most places, you can find much rougher places where the additional travel is nice, but that's a decision to ride those places/trails. I like 160mm because of the versatility. I only needed it for a very small percentage of the riding I did there in 5 different places in the state.
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    The way I see it, the only differences here could be in resins, layup, fibers (toray) and overall dimensions (thickness, how wide, how much material, etc.).

    And of course it begs the question, is one manufacturer doing it way different than the others? Does one have access to some kind of technology that the others do not?

    There are some areas in MTB where manufacturers make "interesting" claims and get away with charging a lot more for something when there really is no difference or gain. If the only actual difference is just where it's made, or just the warranty, that should be the selling point. If it has to resort to BS, it needs to go away. I don't think carbon parts are overly complicated, in that they have this stuff down to a pretty good science and practice in the places where this is produced.

    So IMO, the responsibility of testing/shootout goes even further. If there is a difference, you attempt to figure out why. If you can not objectively figure out why it behaves that way, you question the data. There's got to be a reason, it's not going to be magic, but then it would mean something profound, like manufacturer X is using process A and manufacturer Y is using process B. Well, sounds legit, but then is there a real difference between these? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. We'll never even get there though unless we can do real objective testing.
    Last edited by Jayem; 04-11-2017 at 07:14 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scooterman View Post
    30psi??? I stopped reading. Then i started again, and saw maintains speed and stopped reading again. there is no way a rider on a mountain bike could put a number on maintains speed for wheels.
    They should do a fork shootout.
    150psi for each model for all riders and all bikes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 92gli View Post
    Was hoping all the wheels would be built with the same number and type of spokes. .
    and a boost entrant just for kicks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    The testers did know what they were riding, but I would contend that the A/B test format with wheels ridden sequentially on the same test course reduces this bias.
    And you would be wrong. That everyone else tests poorly doesn't validate your approach. I appreciate the effort that went into this, but I don't think you understand just how important it is to do these tests blind. There are no takeaways here. The comments from your riders show all kinds of bias.

    For example: do carbon wheels reduce vibration or increase it?

    Your testers know that carbon frames can dampen vibration. They also know stiffer things transmit more vibration. That leads to comments like this:

    > “Transmitted every little bump”
    > “Reduces vibration in technical terrain”

    ... for the same wheel. Which is it? Can you feel the cognitive dissonance?

    And what of vertical compliance? None of these rims have any. Certainly none you could detect, never mind differentiate, through a tire deforming two orders of magnitude more. Try a run with the tires flat and you'll see just how little the rim contributes to ride quality.

    Then we've got answers that defy physics.

    > "Slight softness in rolling feel ..."
    > "Seemed to roll slower ..."

    A bike wheel's contribution to "maintaining speed" is a function of the wheel's mass and mass distribution. Rim materials make no difference for the same reason there's no difference in vertical compliance. In fact, relative to the the mass of the rest of the bike and the rider, and accounting for frictional losses, there'd be no measurable difference between any of these wheels.

    If you're serious about evaluating rims, take the time to make some objective measurements. It's not hard to make a jig to determine lateral stiffness; you don't have to guess. Then lace the rims yourself with the same spoke configuration on the same hubs, remove the decals, spray them with some Plasti-dip, and have another ride. That would be a test worth reading.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Hmm, there appears to be a LOT of riding around there where a 120mm works great, including most of Tiger Mtn. I watched several riders on 5" bikes that were not having a hard time. Like most places, you can find much rougher places where the additional travel is nice, but that's a decision to ride those places/trails. I like 160mm because of the versatility. I only needed it for a very small percentage of the riding I did there in 5 different places in the state.
    Yes, of course. I'm just finding that a reasonably fast handling 160 mm bike fits my old-man style of riding allowing me the same level of speed with less work and less opportunity for wrecking badly so I can continue to drive the kids soccer carpool. Haha.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hardboiled View Post
    for my part, I've owned LB and Nox wheels on my last two bikes, and am currently back on aluminum rims and not missing carbon too much from a performance standpoint.
    Thanks! I would have to say that one big takeaway for me from the testing is how decent a good alloy wheel can be especially when ride quality is a key consideration.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 92gli View Post
    And I would have told you that they all felt like crap if you made me ride with 30psi in my tires.
    But, that's not what test riders actually reported.
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    Quote Originally Posted by natrat View Post
    and a boost entrant just for kicks
    For the test riders to use the same bike, axle spacing has to remain consistent. I suspect THAT may be why the bike magazines don't do this type of testing. My demo bike fleet was set up specifically to do A/B testing.
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    Interesting read. Most of my thoughts have been summed up, but I'll add a few more:

    Tire pressure - I know, it's a variable. But, any test (bike, wheels, tires, etc) should be done at whatever pressure the rider feels is best for them. I know for me that a few psi can make a HUGE difference in how the tires perform and ride. I've read countless test between different tires, or different wheel sizes (remember all the old 26" vs 29" test?), where the same tire pressure was used and it drives me nuts every time.

    Blind test - Can't be done. All of these rims all have different finishes and shapes (the Nox rims are asymmetric for example), so an experienced rider who's also a gear junkie is going to know what they are even if you remove the decals, or even if you painted them.

    Spokes - I understand how/why they were tested as-is (because that's one of the configurations they're sold in) but it's important to know you can tweak that if doing a custom build. Lasers/Revolutions/CX-Rays/Aerolites will save ~80g over a set of DT Comps on a 29er wheelbuild.

    Subjective data is always interesting, I just don't always trust it haha. In the ENVE ride quality two riders said it was super harsh (IMO due to too high tire pressure) and another said it reduces vibrations.

    Vertical compliance - not speaking directly to this test, but just the general idea that vertical compliance is something you want in your wheels. IT'S NOT! If the rim is actually deflecting enough vertically to soften the ride that means the spokes are being de-tensioned too much. The very first principal of what makes for a durable wheel is the spoke tension needs to be high and even - that keeps the spokes from detensioning too much. That detensioning leads to fatigue and broken spokes. This is basic Wheelbuilding 101. Get your compliance through tire pressure (there it is again) and suspension/bars/etc. Most of my MTB miles is on a rigid bike with carbon wheels, I don't wanna hear anyone whine about how harsh a wheelset feels on a long travel FS rig haha. I'm a self-described 'psi-princesses' for that very reason...on a rigid 2 or 3psi is the difference between having a blast and feeling like you're riding a jackhammer through the woods, regardless of wheel material type.

    All the riders were riding the same type of bike...again I don't think this really matters. And, since they were all on the same bike, do they all own that same type of bike, or where they all riding the exact same bike? If everyone is riding the exact same bike chances are the fit and suspension settings aren't right for everyone.

    And, timed laps isn't a reliable indicator if something is better or not, or even if it's faster. Fatigue is an obvious factor, as is taking different lines, different braking points, trail surface changing lap to lap, etc. There's a million reasons why one lap time might be different than another, and that's without even considering the equipment.

    You can't even go on what 'feels' faster. There's days I feel great and everything seems easy and it feels like I'm flying...but then GPS data says otherwise. I've had the opposite too, where I felt like I had no power, and yet I set PR's or at least 2nd or 3rd personal best.

    Bottom line is this type of testing is really difficult to do without a really big budget and lots of time to invest in it. Even then, IMO there's no true great and definitive way to do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    The way I see it, the only differences here could be in resins, layup, fibers (toray) and overall dimensions (thickness, how wide, how much material, etc.).
    From my understanding, the real challenges are not in the materials but rather the manufacturing. Some of the manufacturing techniques used in racing yacht keels and masts result in strength-to-weight ratios that far exceed what you'll find in the bike industry as those parts have a 13,000 lbs to deal rather than a <250 lb rider. But those manufacturing techniques are difficult to implement in mass production. Also, there are some parts of engineering that aren't apparent to the eye. For instance, despite all of the advancements that Hyundai/Kia have made in quality, their suspension tuning is still lagging. Part of engineering is science, but part is art. For carbon wheels, my limited understanding is that manufacturing and layup are the areas that are not common knowledge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    There are some areas in MTB where manufacturers make "interesting" claims and get away with charging a lot more for something when there really is no difference or gain. If the only actual difference is just where it's made, or just the warranty, that should be the selling point. If it has to resort to BS, it needs to go away.
    Agreed, that's why my focus is on performance testing. Too many products sell on the basis of features and not benefits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    So IMO, the responsibility of testing/shootout goes even further. If there is a difference, you attempt to figure out why. If you can not objectively figure out why it behaves that way, you question the data. There's got to be a reason, it's not going to be magic, but then it would mean something profound, like manufacturer X is using process A and manufacturer Y is using process B.
    "responsibility of testing/shootout": Haha, didn't know that I am now "responsible"...but I'm game. You interested in handling the reverse engineering part?

    In all seriousness, I do this for fun. I have great memories as a product planner for Honda R&D of driving Honda/Acura & competitor vehicles in testing on Decker Canyon Rd in the hills above Malibu. This video shows what Decker Canyon Road looks like:

    https://youtu.be/T24g-INkGck

    We learned a lot about the cars drove & handled, but let's face it. No way that a day getting paid for hooning cars on beautiful roads is just "work".

    I can understand that you want a fuller answer, but I have neither the education/experience/skill to get to that fuller answer for you as I am not a materials engineer or a mechanical engineer and don't claim to be. I am a UX Researcher/Design Researcher by experience and my interest is testing how users/consumers perceive design/technology, measuring these perceptions/preferences, and recommending changes to the usage experience that might help improve usage experience. Typically, I figure out the desired usage benefit and work with engineers to create the solution as I have the user testing experience but not the engineering knowledge. In a work setting, I work best with technical folks to do the reverse engineering that get to the Why answers that you are seeking.

    My main personal motivation in doing this testing and starting Dirt Merchant Bikes was an interest in rethinking bike retail (I've worked in two bike shops when i was a student) by considering how the high-end bike retail process might work best from a consumer standpoint and looking for white space between the business of existing brick-and-mortar & e-commerce retail (and of bike media). Most bike shops (and e-commerce) are no longer knowledgeable about high-end bikes and components as they used to be. When bike mechanics in major urban area get paid $12/hour and service managers get $15/hour, it's difficult to retain knowledgeable, talented and ambitious staff. From what I see, most bike shop employees know perhaps 2-3 products in each category that they have purchased through employee purchase programs so they aren't really able to knowledgeably provide high-end product comparison to prospective buyers.

    These are the questions that I was seeking to answer in building my business model:

    • What information/benefits/experiences does a high-end consumer want as part of their shopping process?(high-end because I'm not going to be competing with Specialized/Trek dealers with my limited level of funding)
    • What are neither existing brick-and-mortar & e-commerce retailers doing well?
    • What other information/experiences am I uniquely positioned to offer?


    The point of this is to determine: How might I translate these consumer desires (b/c $4,000+ bikes are not a need no matter how you look at it. LOL) into value with a limited operating budget.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgaddis1 View Post
    Subjective data is always interesting, I just don't always trust it haha. In the ENVE ride quality two riders said it was super harsh (IMO due to too high tire pressure) and another said it reduces vibrations.
    Yup, I included both possibly inconsistent comments as it might show two perspectives on the same physical characteristic.

    Thanks for your thoughts. You consistently provide insightful comments on wheels and wheelbuilding.
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    It's an interesting idea and a fairly thorough test, though you could have just let riders set their air pressure when they swapped wheels (blanking them out would have been cool too... but a pain).

    FWIW: I've ridden those ENVEs a bit, but on loaner and test bikes. What I'd like to see tested are the new Praxis wheels. I've heard good things from some pros I know, but they're kind of rippers on anything. Mostly, I can get them with a deal and am debating buying them, lol. I find that it's really hard to be objective, on a personal level. Fatigue can affect things as well as being "warmed up." But those variables are nigh impossible to eliminate without resorting to the sorts of testing that Velo News does (a lab in Boulder) and even then...

    In my normal life, I'm a CS guy who works with data... so numbers are good, even if they aren't purely objective, so kudos for that!

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    Unrelated, but your Trail Tire tests are interesting. From personal experience, for any customers you have in drier climes (I live in CO), the HR2/Ardent combo is pretty good. Thinking about trying an Aggressor in the rear, but I agree with your conclusions on the HR2. It's one of the best "all around/all mountain" tires, but that balance between rolling resistance and cornering does require confidence. When you shift to those big side knobs, you really have to commit. I still think Schwalbe tires grip better, but every one I've used I wore out in less than a month. You pay for those soft knobs.

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    Great job! I admire your perseverance responding to all these critics!
    OF course a random, double blind test combined with bench dyno/strength/failure rates would be best, BUT C'MON this is a person in a SHOP that BUYS the products then takes their own time with friends to do the best they can which seems to be WAY MORE than any Pinkbike or Singletrack or other media/resource orgs are doing.

    Budget will decide for me...either decent aluminum or low price carbon to get me from 19mm to 25-35mm inner width.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MountainBored View Post
    ... then takes their own time with friends to do the best they can which seems to be WAY MORE than any Pinkbike or Singletrack or other media/resource orgs are doing.
    Misinformation is worse than no information. Already in Pinkbike comments:

    "Apparently Light Bicycle rims aren't really worth it." <links to article>

    That's what people get from this. They don't see this thread, they don't read the details, they don't question the method. They just take the conclusions as gospel. Then the next person to question the gospel with actual data has that much more of an uphill battle to set the record straight. It isn't harmless to be authoritatively wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ezweave View Post
    It's an interesting idea and a fairly thorough test, though you could have just let riders set their air pressure when they swapped wheels (blanking them out would have been cool too... but a pain).
    I've been sleeping on that exact idea for several nights. Figuring a set front & rear air pressure level for each test rider might help allay the overall objections of having air pressures that are too out of range. That could be done on the tire testing as well. Some might argue that a particular tire might do better with higher/lower tire pressure, but at least the air pressures are more closely tailored to individual test riders.

    Quote Originally Posted by ezweave View Post
    FWIW: I've ridden those ENVEs a bit, but on loaner and test bikes. What I'd like to see tested are the new Praxis wheels. I've heard good things from some pros I know, but they're kind of rippers on anything.
    Praxis makes good stuff from my perspective & will keep that in mind. I had picked Nox as a similarly small company but with a focus on rims/wheels only and with good feedback on customer service (which is an important consideration for me as a retailer to help provide a good customer experience, e.g. waiting 3 weeks to get your wheels back in high riding season feels like an eternity.).

    Quote Originally Posted by ezweave View Post
    In my normal life, I'm a CS guy who works with data... so numbers are good, even if they aren't purely objective, so kudos for that!
    Yes, some comments have taken the usage and intent of the numbers I've provided out of context. They were never mean to be statistically significant, but from my work experience in doing user testing, it's good to get testers to do some quantification of their preferences especially as it's fairly easy to do so in an A/B sequential test format. There a difference between "this product and that product both performed well" to "that product performed well but the other product was just a little better so I'll rate one product at 4.5 and the other at 5" (on a 1-5 Likert scale). Aggregating responses from multiple test participants gets to greater clarity on what directional differences might exist. Directional only since sample size for this type of perceptual testing is far below the absolute minimum n=35 sample sizes for quant research intended to confirm or disconfirm statistical differences.
    Last edited by Spectre; 04-12-2017 at 08:19 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezweave View Post
    I agree with your conclusions on the HR2. It's one of the best "all around/all mountain" tires, but that balance between rolling resistance and cornering does require confidence. When you shift to those big side knobs, you really have to commit.
    It's interesting but after 30 years of riding mountain bikes (got started pretty young), I don't really understand what it means to commit or not commit to leaning a bike over. I must just do that as I've never been bothered by the HRII "dead zone", but certainly understand that in theory. One thought that I had was to do a beginner riders' tire test to see what more tentative riders might like. I'm guessing that something like a Hans Dampf with intermediate knobs might do pretty well by providing better traction to less experienced riders that tend to "steer" a bike to corner rather than leaning.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MountainBored View Post
    Budget will decide for me...either decent aluminum or low price carbon to get me from 19mm to 25-35mm inner width.
    One take away from the test for me is that a decent alloy rim is definitely worth considering. The heaviest test rider in the test liked the Stans Flow Mk3 wheels in a pretty standard configuration (14/15 spokes, alloy nipples, 3x, 32 hole) better than the lower priced carbon wheel options. The ride comfort of the alloy wheels is definitely worth considering and a heavier weight rim such as the Flow Mk3 or some of the heavier duty DT options isn't quite the wet noodle compared to carbon rims that some folks imagine them might be. Also, if you destroy a rim, you can get it rebuilt in a couple of days at your local shop versus a 3-4 week warranty rebuild by the manufacturer.
    Last edited by Spectre; 04-12-2017 at 01:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexdi View Post
    Misinformation is worse than no information. Already in Pinkbike comments:

    "Apparently Light Bicycle rims aren't really worth it." <links to article>
    I deliberately didn't write a "sound bite" type of review. There is deliberately a lot more nuance in what I wrote than in typical bike magazine reviews. From my experience working in product development, for every strength there typically is a trade off. The topic of many product development decisions we made in the automotive world you will never see covered in the media at all. The summary I've written isn't just that this product is best & that one is worst, but rather an evaluation of relative strengths and weaknesses.

    In terms of the shortcomings of black-and-white thinking & not analyzing multiple factors, consider the housing bubble and crash of 10 years ago. Many of the "pundits" were saying for years before Summer 2007 that there's no way housing prices would crash for mainly one reason: because people historically didn't default on their home mortgages. Well, some factors these pundits and investment bank quant models failed to consider were:
    • Loan-to-income ratios rising to never seen levels (about 2-3x that seen in the 80's housing bubble)
    • No down payment loans
    • Interest-only loans and then negative amortization loans
    • Home loans made with no-documentation of income
    • Lack of safeguards in the Mortgage loan origination business that led to widespread lack of truth as all level from home buyers, loan origination, securitization of loans, ratings from S&P/Moodys'


    Takeaway? Mental Models work until they don't. It wasn't clear that a huge housing bubble was happening unless you looked at multiple new data points. I'm introducing some new data points that may not fit into your current perspective. Read them with healthy skepticism for sure.

    For prospective buyers local to us in the Seattle area, we have Enve, Knight, Nox and Stans Flow Mk3 wheels on hand to demo in the same A/B test format as we used in the test. There is nothing better than a hands-on demo to figure out if there are performance differences and how much they are worth to you. I don't just sell stuff; I sell experiences at a high end price point and some products can noticeably enhance the ride experience (others are just hype at best). It's important for you to see if you actually perceive a difference & how much that difference is worth to you.

    These are the types of things that I learn from this type of testing that I've never seen reported anywhere else.
    • I will say that what surprised me about the LB wheels was how dead they felt to me. Even the Stans wheels felt more lively.
    • I was surprised at the degree to which some of the carbon wheels were perceived to be laterally stiffer than others.
    • In another example from our tire testing, some tires provide more traction feedback so more of their absolute cornering grip can be used.


    The primary question I was looking to answer was the notion that all carbon wheels have the same performance. At least from that standpoint, my results are definitely not misinformation. I accept disagreement but not unless you can provide some empirical evidence for your statement by doing your own testing:
    • Put together test riders in your area.
    • Getting different brands of wheels together for testing.
    • Control for variables including tires used, test course.
    • Determine and share your methodology for measuring either quantitative differences or subjective perceptions.


    Report what you find before deeming my results as "Misinformation".

    I will note that the subjective performance between wheels isn't as stark as I've found with tires so sequential A/B testing may be useful discern these smaller differences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexdi View Post
    That's what people get from this. They don't see this thread, they don't read the details, they don't question the method. They just take the conclusions as gospel.
    Agreed, life isn't so straightforward as it might have been 30-40 years ago. Read my example of the bursting of the last housing bubble as a speed bump for folks that both chose not to think critically and chose not to update their mental models of how the housing market was working.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MountainBored View Post
    Great job! I admire your perseverance responding to all these critics!
    OF course a random, double blind test combined with bench dyno/strength/failure rates would be best, BUT C'MON this is a person in a SHOP that BUYS the products then takes their own time with friends to do the best they can which seems to be WAY MORE than any Pinkbike or Singletrack or other media/resource orgs are doing.
    Thanks, test riders actually aren't selected from my friends, rather from local riders who sign up to be in the Dirt Merchant Bikes product tester database: https://www.dirtmerchantbikes.com/si...roduct-tester/

    If I say a product did well in testing, I want to make SURE multiple riders that I don't know feel the same way. I'm selling on the basis of knowledge and reputation. If I sell someone a product that noticeably improves their ride experience, that positive experience comes back to me in the form of customer referrals. If I sell someone a load of snake oil and they find their buddy's wheels that cost 1/3 as much ride better... well, that form of selling B.S. doesn't last very long with how quickly word spreads on the Internet. To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink is a good book on how selling the truth (e.g. not the old-school "used car salesman" style of hard sell) is the only way to go nowadays when customers have most of the same information as sellers do: A Book in 5 Minutes: Summary of Dan Pink?s ?To Sell is Human?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgaddis1 View Post
    Interesting read. Most of my thoughts have been summed up, but I'll add a few more:

    Blind test - Can't be done. All of these rims all have different finishes and shapes (the Nox rims are asymmetric for example), so an experienced rider who's also a gear junkie is going to know what they are even if you remove the decals, or even if you painted them......
    This makes it really hard to not introduce bias into the subjective data. It's a rare individual that can completely set aside the preformed beliefs...You might try blind folded testers next time ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by russinthecascades View Post
    This makes it really hard to not introduce bias into the subjective data. It's a rare individual that can completely set aside the preformed beliefs...You might try blind folded testers next time ;-)
    I'll have to check to see if my liability insurance covers that. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    It's important for you to see if you actually perceive a difference & how much that difference is worth to you.
    For someone peppering his posts with "minimum n sample sizes" and Likert scales, you're woefully ignorant of just how fatal it is to the validity of a study not to control for bias, and in this case, the overwhelming influence of other variables relative to what you're trying to measure. It's not 'less valid,' it's totally invalid. You could sooner draw conclusions about the quality of your headphones from within the mosh pit of a rock concert.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    I accept disagreement but not unless you can provide some empirical evidence for your statement by doing your own testing
    https://sarmabikes.com/engineering/

    This is how rims are designed. Starting with FEA and progressing to physical prototypes, engineers optimize for maximum stiffness and strength at a target weight for the forces the wheel is likely to encounter. There's no mystical 'ride quality' parameter (outside of the marketing department) or any desire to make the rim flex on one axis for 'compliance.' You're asserting not only that these (and other) characteristics exist, but that they're subjectively quantifiable to the second digit. The burden is on you to justify your methodology. The absence of 'less bad' data doesn't make your data good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexdi View Post
    "Apparently Light Bicycle rims aren't really worth it." <links to article>

    That's what people get from this. They don't see this thread, they don't read the details, they don't question the method. They just take the conclusions as gospel. Then the next person to question the gospel with actual data has that much more of an uphill battle to set the record straight. It isn't harmless to be authoritatively wrong.
    Welcome to the internet. Some people need to learn the hard way. If you accept any one data point as gospel, shame on you. Especially people who don't even bother to read the text.

    Certainly carbon rims aren't for everyone anyway, but another positive in my eyes is that the test shows aluminum rims don't give up much to carbon, and offer an excellent value IMO.

    I hope I didn't sound too harsh before, i applaud the effort! It would be great if we had more data points like this, even if i don't entirely agree with the methodology or items tested. (I'll never own a $3k wheelset)
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    Thanks for putting the work in on this comparison....I, as a consumer appreciate the efforts you have put in to find quality products. MTB parts, especially wheels, can be pretty expensive. I paid twice as much for my last wheel set than I did for my GF Hoo Koo E Koo 20 or so years ago. Strong work, your attitude with the trolls is commendable

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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    I hope I didn't sound too harsh before, i applaud the effort! It would be great if we had more data points like this, even if i don't entirely agree with the methodology or items tested. (I'll never own a $3k wheelset)
    Not at all. I've got thick skin because I seem to make choices (more often than I would prefer) that are the opposite of what the rest of population is not doing or is doing. For example, we chose not to buy a house in California in 2004-2007. Caught a lot of flak from just about everyone especially my wife's female friends who were "investing" (e.g, speculating) in real estate in SoCal & the SF Bay Area. We finally ended up buying a house in the Seattle area within a short ride out my door from a mountain bike park and 10 miles of one-way singletrack in Spring 2012. First house we've bought and will likely be the last house we buy until we retire and downsize.

    I'm always trying to figure out how to feasibly make the testing better, because figuring out what works best has value to me both as a rider and from a business reputation perspective.

    One takeaway that I have from everyone's comments is that perhaps I just bring a floor pump with gauge to the next test session and set up each wheel or tire tested to each test rider's typical front and rear tire pressures. That will help address the tire pressure concerns that were raised.
    Last edited by Spectre; 04-13-2017 at 12:43 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by azfishman View Post
    Thanks for putting the work in on this comparison....I, as a consumer appreciate the efforts you have put in to find quality products. MTB parts, especially wheels, can be pretty expensive. I paid twice as much for my last wheel set than I did for my GF Hoo Koo E Koo 20 or so years ago. Strong work, your attitude with the trolls is commendable
    Trolls? You are not a troll for questioning something. You are a troll for trying to instigate something based on nothing, which is a little closer to your assertion that anyone disagreeing is a "troll".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Trolls? You are not a troll for questioning something. You are a troll for trying to instigate something based on nothing, which is a little closer to your assertion that anyone disagreeing is a "troll".
    Most comments have been fair and reasonable from my perspective. In particular, I can address the comments on tire pressure by rerunning the test later this year with tire pressures more tailored to individual test riders.
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexdi View Post
    you're woefully ignorant of just how fatal it is to the validity of a study not to control for bias, and in this case, the overwhelming influence of other variables relative to what you're trying to measure. It's not 'less valid,' it's totally invalid.
    I think I understand your perspective, but have one question that will help me confirm my understanding of your perspective:

    My question is: Do you place any credence in the product reviews or testing done in any consumer-oriented Web or print media (i.e., not peer-reviewed scientific journals)? If you do, please provide examples.

    Given your comments, it would seem to me that very few, if any, consumer product reviews can reasonably distinguish any differences in product performance because in light of, as you say "how fatal it is to the validity of a study not to control for bias". Some examples of how bias would need to be controlled in different types of consumer product reviews given your statement:

    • Car reviews: Perceptions of subjective handling characteristics meaning steering feel, steering control, body control (not performance characteristics that can be objectively measured such as acceleration, top speed, cornering limits) are only valid if you

      1. Remove the bodywork from all of the cars,
      2. Replace wheels/tires with generic wheels & tires common to all cars being tested,
      3. Strip out the inside of the vehicles to remove any and all brand markers


      so no branding or styling gives away the brand of the vehicle being tested.
    • Appliance reviews: Remove all control panels and exterior body of appliances so there is no indication of brand
    • Computer laptop reviews: Test laptops with outer casing and screens removed. Test the screen separately from the rest of the laptop since the visual appearance of the screen might give away the brand of the laptop.


    I would imagine that Clinical drug tests conducted to demonstrate efficacy and reveal side effects before FDA approval are likely the best fit to your suggestions for how perception bias (and accounting for the placebo effect) needs to be controlled because extraneous variables such as the appearance of the experimental vs the placebo drug & the frequency/procedure for administration can be controlled tightly.

    My perspective on subjective evaluation of perception: I recognize that brand bias can have some effect on perceptual testing, but I don’t agree that brand bias overwhelms all other effects on perception. – You and I will just have to agree to disagree on the relative effect of brand bias on perception.

    When I go shopping for a new car to buy as an example, I don’t believe that I am fully incapable of discerning subjective differences in steering feel, handling and ride quality just because I am aware of the brand. I take a test drive and get a general sense of what works well and what does not. I don’t tell the Porsche salesperson that to understand whether there are any real differences in handling feel between his car and a Toyota Camry that he needs to:

    • Remove the bodywork off of the car, replace wheels/tires with the same wheels & tires as on the Toyota, strip out the inside of the vehicles so no branding or styling give away that it’s a Porsche being tested.
    • Deliver the test vehicle with any brand markers removed as noted above to a neutral location, because going to the Porsche dealership will bias my opinion
    • Allow a sample size of 35+ of people I don’t know (because my friends can be biased by the brands they know I like) to drive the car to be able to reasonably establish statistically significant differences between the subjective feel of the the Porsche and the Toyota.


    Many people that I've spoken to through conducting qualitative research in the auto industry seem to be able to come to reasonable conclusions on product performance that is not entirely biased by brand perception. It seems to me that most people can distinguish between the subjective driving feel of cars on their short list from doing a test drive without having to resort to completely blind testing. Even if there is confirmatory bias from being aware of product branding, not all people will be affected to the same level or even in the same direction by awareness of a product brand. For instance, the Enve brand might reasonably be thought to boost the perception of that brand, but for someone who is "certain" that all carbon wheel perform the same and LB and Enve wheel are basically similar products with different stickers, their natural confirmatory bias is actually running in the opposite direction. At Honda, we used to do dynamic testing with consumer participants and got good coherence in the data we collected on subjective performance despite cars not being badged.

    That’s exactly what I am doing in these product tests, except now that I have 3-4 other test riders experiencing the product in the same situation as I am and writing down their perceptions without knowledge of the other test riders’ perceptions. I don’t necessarily trust my own perceptions so it’s helpful to see other test riders’ perceptions. The performance characteristics I pay attention to are perceptions that seem common from the independently generated comments from the 4-5 test riders.

    But, one thing I have taken away from your comments is that I need to put an even clearer explanation of what our product testing results can and can’t do. This is what I’m thinking.

    WARNING: Although this product test contains numbers and big words that look like they relate to science or statistics, we HAVE NOT and ARE NOT establishing that one product is a superior performing product than another. A good way to look at the quantitative measures in our testing is that they are similar to Star ratings for movies. You may hate a movie that gets 4.5 stars out of 5 if you happen to hate romantic comedies which that movie happens to be. Conversely, you may love a sci-fi action movie that gets 2 stars out of 5 if you happen to love all sci-fi action movies. All we are doing is providing our perceptions of subjective performance for each product with associated numbers to help illustrate perceived differences between products.
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  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    It's interesting but after 30 years of riding mountain bikes (got started pretty young), I don't really understand what it means to commit or not commit to leaning a bike over. I must just do that as I've never been bothered by the HRII "dead zone", but certainly understand that in theory. One thought that I had was to do a beginner riders' tire test to see what more tentative riders might like. I'm guessing that something like a Hans Dampf with intermediate knobs might do pretty well by providing better traction to less experienced riders that tend to "steer" a bike to corner rather than leaning.
    I think your assertion is correct: it's mostly about not cornering properly. I have a similar level of experience (mid thirties, started in my teen years) and can't fathom not leaning a bike over.

    However, there is a feeling that I notice in the HR2, which I wouldn't notice as much if I didn't race cyclocross. One of the big mental challenges in CX is becoming comfortable with an amount of "two wheel drift" as you hit corners. Courses (especially in the Denver-Boulder-Ft Collins area) have lots of flat gravel turns and doing well becomes a game of understanding and training yourself for those instances. In pea sized granite, I do notice there is a spot on the HR2 where it can feel less stable and some of this "two wheel drift" can occur if you're not pushing the tire enough. The solution usually is to enter the corner hotter than you think you should and really push low into the bike (at least on the XC race bike I usually ride on). It is perhaps entirely specific to the Rockies (e.g. I've had the experience not just in Colorado, but in Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Alberta... where I'm originally from).

    I'm actually thinking about putting an HR2 front and rear on a new AM hardtail I'm building up for the flowing trails around here. Completely subjective and very anecdotal, but I never noticed it as much in my DH days when I only ran Minions.

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    Thoughts. When you designed your test course, you mentioned that you picked out something that had turns which would heavily stress the wheels with cornering loads. Did you also include other obstacles which would potentially smash rims, such as high speed rock gardens and large jumps & drops? Another interesting thing to do for course design would be to run a lighter rim such as an Arch Mk3 through it to see if you can break it or knock it significantly out of true, and if you can't then modify the course until the rim breaks. Basically, use an aluminum rim of known strength to set a lower limit for how much the rims are being abused.

    If you find that all the carbon rims are surviving just fine, then go to a stronger aluminum rim to set the benchmark, modify the course till you break that rim as well, then run another round of tests on the carbon ones. I think it would be pretty valuable to be able to tell customers just how strong carbon rims are, and be able to compare that strength to certain aluminum rims. That way if someone says "I break Arches all the time" you can ask him what else he's broken, then pick a carbon rim for him that you know he won't break.

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    Let me get this straight, you want the guy to find a rider that will ride so hard that he purposely breaks a rim, and then ask him to take a carbon rim through that same obstacle to prove it won't break? Seems like a good idea....

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    Yes. I do that every single rim I own, including the carbon ones. The first thing I do when I buy a new rim is deliberately abuse the hell out of it to ensure that it will survive the worst of my riding. I had a basement full of mangled rims before I took them to the metal recyclers. If a carbon rim can't survive more abuse than an Arch (and that's a fairly low benchmark) then frankly it's a weak piece of crap that has no business being used on an AM bike.

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    My light bikes rims feel dead to me too. Just like my Fleshlight. WTF does that even mean anyway? Dead as in they dampen vibrations? Dead like a corpse, they stiffen up when they cool off?

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexdi View Post
    Misinformation is worse than no information. Already in Pinkbike comments:

    "Apparently Light Bicycle rims aren't really worth it." <links to article>

    That's what people get from this. They don't see this thread, they don't read the details, they don't question the method. They just take the conclusions as gospel. Then the next person to question the gospel with actual data has that much more of an uphill battle to set the record straight. It isn't harmless to be authoritatively wrong.
    Being authoritatively wrong is the American way. I learnt that 20 years ago when I moved here. Doesn't matter what the eff you say just say it with conviction and people will believe you. Just ask Trump.

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    Meh.....It seems that I support the efforts of the OP, and their willing to bear the cost and workload of this test, not the people who want to try and discredit everything about the process.....trolls isn't too far off.

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    I don't want to dissect everything here, but let me comment on a few of your points.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    Do you place any credence in the product reviews or testing done in any consumer-oriented Web or print media (i.e., not peer-reviewed scientific journals)?
    Sure, if the reviewer has the qualifications and the capacity to differentiate what they're evaluating. But it's a trust continuum, not a binary. If they're claiming something that doesn't conform to a good physical or mental model of the product, my skepticism increases.

    vs. Car reviews

    Car reviewers evaluate the car in aggregate for gross differences (i.e., the feel of the leather, not a 5% difference in the stiffness of a turnbuckle; or if they're Randy Pobst, oversteer). When they step out of that zone (to evaluate, say, steering feel), my trust diminishes in proportion. Same with appliances and electronics. You're attempting to evaluate rims, not bicycles, and for very subtle differences with mismatched wheels as a proxy.

    The necessary quality of the controls depends on the subtlety of what you're trying to measure. To wave away the significance of brand bias, that bias should only be able to affect a very small component of the final rating. In your case, the entirety of the difference could easily be attributable to bias (or any of a dozen other factors).

    A more analogous example would be golden-eared audiophiles (often people with no hearing above 15 KHz and no background in electronics) attempting to describe differences in four-figure speaker cables. When they claim a certain new 'air' to the sound after draping the cable over a riser, do you take them at their word?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    but for someone who is "certain" that all carbon wheel perform the same and LB and Enve wheel are basically similar products with different stickers, their natural confirmatory bias ...
    You can't make that assumption because you don't know what your biases are, only what you think they are. Nor can you assume that the collective biases of multiple riders will average to neutrality.

    https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

    If that existed for wheel brands, I think you'd be surprised at the result.

    The point of this is not to knock the effort. I appreciate your motivations and I've no doubt this comparison took substantial work to compile. But at the same time, if you're going to hold yourself as an authority (which you're doing, even if not explicitly), you have a responsibility to your audience to do the test in such a way that the results are likely to be valid. I can't say that about this test.

    I'm hardly immune to mistakes. Not two weeks ago, partly to answer my own question, I proposed an FEA approach to evaluating rims and spokes. Then I discovered the model didn't reliably conform to real-world measurements, so I corrected earlier statements and dropped the topic. I may come back to it, but not until I can do better.

    You're in a unique position to do better from the outset. I hope you'll revisit this with some of the suggestions you've received in this thread.

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    It would be interesting to do a second review with no decals to see if there was any brand bias.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldHouseMan View Post
    It would be interesting to do a second review with no decals to see if there was any brand bias.
    Yes, noted. Will consider that.
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    General question:

    Do you guys think carbon rims are ready to take the abuse compared to their alloy counterparts? I often read in these forums that carbon doesn't even come close to strength and durability of alloy. A myth? Maybe you need to spend (a lot) more on carbon wheels to get the same level of strength?

    Thanks!

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    Are you trolling or serious? Either way, create a separate thread or better yet, search.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    Maybe you need to spend (a lot) more on carbon wheels to get the same level of strength?

    Thanks!
    No, only you have to.
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  81. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silentfoe View Post
    Are you trolling or serious? Either way, create a separate thread or better yet, search.
    Not a troll, but I do apologize if my question was out of line in this comparison of wheels and materials. 🤐

  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    The way I see it, the only differences here could be in resins, layup, fibers (toray) and overall dimensions (thickness, how wide, how much material, etc.).

    And of course it begs the question, is one manufacturer doing it way different than the others? Does one have access to some kind of technology that the others do not?

    There are some areas in MTB where manufacturers make "interesting" claims and get away with charging a lot more for something when there really is no difference or gain. If the only actual difference is just where it's made, or just the warranty, that should be the selling point. If it has to resort to BS, it needs to go away. I don't think carbon parts are overly complicated, in that they have this stuff down to a pretty good science and practice in the places where this is produced.

    So IMO, the responsibility of testing/shootout goes even further. If there is a difference, you attempt to figure out why. If you can not objectively figure out why it behaves that way, you question the data. There's got to be a reason, it's not going to be magic, but then it would mean something profound, like manufacturer X is using process A and manufacturer Y is using process B.
    Here you go. I do performance testing before looking into details, because I don't want knowledge of details to taint my subjective perceptions. This is my summary of the explanation from Knight Composites as to why there may be performance differences between their rims and those from their competitors:

    Higher Strength & Lower Weight from an EPS Mandrel Manufacturing Process: Knight manufactures their rims like high end bike frames using an EPS mandrel manufacturing process vs. using a poly bag system like other carbon rim manufacturers - ENVE being one of them. Apparently the EPS mandred manufacturing process is currently not being used by other manufacturers for carbon fiber rim production due to manufacturing cost. Knight claims that their manufacturing process yields about 20% more strength in the layup and essentially making a void free product. Many carbon rim manufacturers are using Japanese carbon fiber (Toray) including ENVE,

    This is a description of the EPS manufacturing process used by Knight for manufacturing their carbon rims.:

    1. The raw carbon is laid on the EPS mandrel
    2. The entire rim pre form is put into a vacuum bag and all the air is extracted
    3. The outer bag is removed placing the carbon wrapped EPS mandrel in the female part of the rim molding tool.
    4. There is a small poly bladder that surrounds the EPS tool and that is inflated to press out the remaining air.
    5. Once the rim is cooled and cured, a chemical process is used to remove the EPS and remnants of the small bladder surrounding the EPS.



    You can find an explanation of the typical poly bag carbon rim manufacturing process at: Birth of a Carbon Fiber Wheel. BladeX’s explanation of the poly bag system used to create the void in the center of the rim is as follows:

    “…And there is an air bag inside the rim, we inject air after we put the rim in the mold, the full filled air bag will make sure the pressure is equal on the whole inner surface of the rim, that means the inner surface rim will be smooth, although it can not be seen.”

    Light Bicycle’s does not directly describe their use of an air bladder to create the void in the rim but does talk about air bladder removal at https://www.lightbicycle.com/newslet...50b-rims.html:

    “A third major difference in the manufacturing process is centered on air bladder removal. In the past due to the type/thickness of bag, a square hole was used in removal. This square notch was a weak point even after a carbon patch was installed and main rim structure was not as strong as it could be. With a change to the bag material we were able to use a smaller round hole for removal. At the end of the curing process the hole is then used as a standard spoke hole eliminating any excess loss of material or inherent weakness.”

    The three benefits of using the EPS mandrel manufacturing process versus a typical poly bag system are:
    1. The carbon pre form goes into the mold in a very similar shape as when the carbon fiber is initially laid up on the EPS mandrel. This helps eliminate carbon fiber drift and allows not having to compensate for more carbon overlap. Net effect is that this process makes a rim lighter, better tuned to specs, and better balanced with no loss of functional strength.
    2. The use of the EPS mandrel allows for extremely better compaction and a void free rim. (see pictures below)
    3. Being able to control excess resin on the inside of the rim eliminates unneeded non-structural weight. With a poly bag rim manufacturing process, excess resin can collect in the crinkles of the bag and cause a veining effect inside rims.


    Knight rim cross-section
    Just published our 2017 Carbon Wheel Comparison Test (Enve, Nox, Knight, LB, Stans)-123_1-3.jpg

    Knight (above) vs Enve (below) cross-section
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  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldHouseMan View Post
    It would be interesting to do a second review with no decals to see if there was any brand bias.

    This is the idea I keep coming back to. I very much appreciate the effort that went into creating and executing the test, but I can't take the results with anything approaching seriousness until (at minimum) the decals are removed.

    You could also spray (colors!) of plasti-dip onto the rims to disguise them during the test. Applied properly, it peels right off after.

  84. #84
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    Huge thanks for putting this together and great feedback in this thread!

    Reliability is most important for me so I've always gravitated towards high-quality vs lower cost and weight with everything I ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    Sharing our just released 2017 Carbon Wheel Comparison Test Report: https://www.dirtmerchantbikes.com/sp...stans-flow-mk3

    We tested the following wheels in an A/B test format (4 riders, same day, same test loop, same tires, same tire pressure, all 29-30 inner width rims):

    • Enve M70 HV
    • Knight Composites Enduro
    • Light Bicycle WM650BC05 Heavy Duty
    • Nox Composites Farlow
    • Stans Flow Mk3 - as an alloy benchmark


    Key Takeaways are:
    1. Not all carbon wheels ride alike.
    2. Also, at lower price points, alloy wheels may not be a bad choice compared to entry-level carbon wheels.

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rideon View Post
    Great comparison, though 30psi seems incredibly high for tubeless with wide rims


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    Would've been good to add an ibis wheelset to the mix as they are popular.

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    An amazing effort as per normal. Please continue your tests, obviously you'll be improving them as you continue. Your tire tests are the best I've ever read. Please also ignore the idiots who without any tact whatsoever attempt to denigrate your efforts. The internet and forums like this are filled with sad, lonely and immensely jealous people. They have nothing better to do than attack people they wish they were. Every negative comment is like a badge. It's usually a male human who amounts to absolutely nothing. The more negative, the more they wish they were in your shoes. The more hate, the more successful you are. Looking forward to your next tests. The MTB community is lucky to have you.

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    ^^^ Wow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ketzal View Post
    ........Please also ignore the idiots who without any tact whatsoever attempt to denigrate your efforts. The internet and forums like this are filled with sad, lonely and immensely jealous people. They have nothing better to do than attack people they wish they were.......
    This reminds me of a story about a black pot and a black kettle.
    You can't buy happiness. But you can buy a bike. And that's pretty close.

  90. #90
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    Enjoyed the test

    Hard to believe the BS in this thread. Don't have a university lab to do objective testing, or way to remove bias completely. Still, you think I couldn't tell the difference with my first set of carbon hoops on my cross country race bike? I could immediately tell you three things: 1- bike went noticeably uphill faster with lighter rims; 2- significantly less front wheel flex when laid over hard in downhill corner with stiffer rim (Yeah, yeah, yeah, before you start: same bike, same fork, same tires, only difference new wheelset) ; 3-stiffer rim transmitted impacts from the trail more, but I will take that to get number one and number two.
    All of us are constantly asking friends for input on their new equipment including wheels. Any insight is helpful. Use your own darn filters. How many times I've jumped on a friend's bike to try out a new wheelset/fork/tire and noticed a definite difference from mine? Give me a break.
    This was a great test and highly appreciated. Keep up the good work. Some of us actually think your tests are a positive contribution.
    Troll is one thing… Negative idiot isn't much better, right down there with lawyers and politicians.

  91. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmcdev1 View Post
    This was a great test and highly appreciated. Keep up the good work. Some of us actually think your tests are a positive contribution.
    I appreciate your comments.

    I think part of the negative sentiment comes from a distrust of my motives for the test, so I'll lay them out:

    My core motivation for doing these tests is to find and promote the best performing products out there. Why? Here's a couple of reasons.

    1. To me, what has always made America great is our ability to make better products through creativity and innovation. But there has been a shift away from this in the last 35 years that has seen an explosion of financial "innovation" which to me is a euphemism for rich folks sucking more money out of the system through smoke & mirrors. Other terms for this are "realizing shareholder value" and "financial engineering". The fact that the financial sector was allowed to wreck the global economy between 2002 and 2007 and keep their ill-gotten gains was really frustrating to me. Enron was another example of this. More importantly, all of this financial b.s. has made it more difficult for small companies to promote innovative new products. I want to promote the little guys that are looking to make a better product rather than big companies "marketing" the h@ll out of the same old products.

    2. It's much easier to sell better performing products, because as you mention, most riders can generally tell the difference between better performing products and those that are less so. That's why the other part of my sales process includes demo products of what we sell. You ride it and decide whether to buy it IF you can tell a difference from cheaper products. Promoting products that don't perform as well as class-leading products just makes me look like an a$$ to riders who can tell the difference.

    3. There is a lot of b.s. written about products in the mountain bike media. How many bad reviews do you see in magazines? That benefits everyone but the consumer.

    4. I hate it when big companies win only because they simply have more to spend on marketing, i.e., one company that is known for playing legal hardball with both competitors and their own retailers is still pushing their 25+ year old suspension technology that was invented by someone else. There are also ways that big companies are getting slightly higher margins or reducing weight through impacting product durability in ways that are not easily noticed by consumers. To me, these are decisions likely motivated by business considerations rather than a desire to provide a better product.

    Some may complain that I tend to recommend more expensive products. Promoting higher priced product is not the primary consideration for me; performance is. I've just decided to focus on top performance rather than best value as the differentiation for my business concept. Sometimes, though not always, higher cost does correlate with better performance. To me, better performance that results in a tangibly better riding experience for my customers is the ONLY reason to pay more for a product. There are plenty of other retailers and media that focus on best value which is a more nuanced line of communication than best performance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmcdev1 View Post
    Troll is one thing… Negative idiot isn't much better, right down there with lawyers and politicians.
    You know what? Facts matter. Process matters. Using statistics to inform rather than mislead matters. Be grateful there are people here willing to ask questions and call attention to specious conclusions. In their absence, this forum would be a cesspool of marketing drivel.

    OP, the problem is method, not motives. If you want the comparison to be useful, have another go with better controls. If you don't want to do it again, that's fine too. But please, don't defend this first attempt indefinitely.

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2rider1964 View Post
    I've had Easton, Enve's, NOX and now NOBl wheels. Enve's are the only ones that I had issues with. One cracked at the bead and the other delaminated. Enve didn't take any responsibility because I hadn't "registered" the wheels serial number. They told me the serial number was inside the wheel but didn't have an answer when I told them I bought the bike complete with the wheels and asked if I was expected to take the Stan's filled, tubeless tires off to get a serial number. Idiots!! NOX & NOBL said none of that nonsense is necessary. FWIW, I'd say NOX are the best overall to me.
    I think it is very difficult to get carbon rims warrantied unless there is a failure on spoke side. I think they will just say that you under-inflated your tires. I just shattered my carbon rim. Actually surprised it broke. I wasn't riding that hard and tires were inflated well.

  94. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    Thoughts. When you designed your test course, you mentioned that you picked out something that had turns which would heavily stress the wheels with cornering loads. Did you also include other obstacles which would potentially smash rims, such as high speed rock gardens and large jumps & drops? Another interesting thing to do for course design would be to run a lighter rim such as an Arch Mk3 through it to see if you can break it or knock it significantly out of true, and if you can't then modify the course until the rim breaks. Basically, use an aluminum rim of known strength to set a lower limit for how much the rims are being abused.

    If you find that all the carbon rims are surviving just fine, then go to a stronger aluminum rim to set the benchmark, modify the course till you break that rim as well, then run another round of tests on the carbon ones. I think it would be pretty valuable to be able to tell customers just how strong carbon rims are, and be able to compare that strength to certain aluminum rims. That way if someone says "I break Arches all the time" you can ask him what else he's broken, then pick a carbon rim for him that you know he won't break.
    Actually, this is the type of testing that is best done with a testing jig to ensure consistency of the stress on the wheel. Doing a run down a real-life course won't put a consistent level of stress on a wheel for multiple trials.
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  95. #95
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    You seem to know a lot about bias and how to address bias in testing. So explain to me how you think everyone has biases which they are not even aware of:

    Quote Originally Posted by alexdi View Post
    You can't make that assumption because you don't know what your biases are, only what you think they are. Nor can you assume that the collective biases of multiple riders will average to neutrality.

    https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
    BUT, you believe that certain "experts" are special people that are able to look past their biases (of which they should not even aware as YOU state above.)

    Quote Originally Posted by alexdi View Post
    Sure, if the reviewer has the qualifications and the capacity to differentiate what they're evaluating. But it's a trust continuum, not a binary.
    And, what do you call a good physical or mental model? And who is the arbiter of what is a good model?

    • Those that have been believed for a long time? Such as the 'Earth is Flat'?
    • Those believed by a lot of people and proclaimed by "experts": Such as 'housing prices never fall'?


    Quote Originally Posted by alexdi View Post
    If they're claiming something that doesn't conform to a good physical or mental model of the product, my skepticism increases.
    I'm going to point out that not all product innovations are incremental changes that conform to a commonly accepted "good physical or mental model". Take the change in Formula 1 cars from front engine to rear engine layouts. I'm sure you could have found all sorts of quant data to show why this might have been better or worse. Proof that they were better came in the fact that the new rear engine layout won races.
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  96. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexdi View Post
    You know what? Facts matter. Process matters. Using statistics to inform rather than mislead matters. Be grateful there are people here willing to ask questions and call attention to specious conclusions. In their absence, this forum would be a cesspool of marketing drivel.

    OP, the problem is method, not motives. If you want the comparison to be useful, have another go with better controls. If you don't want to do it again, that's fine too. But please, don't defend this first attempt indefinitely.
    I and other test riders rode 5 sets of wheels and independently found that some seemed to perform better than others. Simple as that.
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    Seriously? Do you really want me to pick apart your posts? Don't you have bikes to sell?

  98. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spectre View Post
    You seem to know a lot about bias and how to address bias in testing. So explain to me how you think everyone has biases which they are not even aware of:
    Spectre, I have extensively studied human factors and ergonomics at the graduate level. To put it bluntly, humans are terrible machines. Everyone's definition of what is rigid or flexy, light or dark, loud or soft, is different. We miss things, we identify false positives, terrible at comparing/perceiving elevation to distance, and so on. I know you mean well, but these are inherent human traits. Many of the biases are shaped by our perceptions, and no, they are not something we are acutely or consciously aware of. This could go down many roads of examples into social aspects, physical interactions, beliefs, and so on, but the bottom line is yes, we all have biases and yes, we are unaware of many of these biases.

    You made a subjective test, simple as that. You could have done an objective and subjective test, and then attempted to explain why the results differed, however, you'd have to be very careful that you weren't jumping to conclusions that are not supported by any data. To be blunt again, this doesn't convince me there is any difference in quality, ride characteristics, or anything else that was tested, between the rims you tested.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  99. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Spectre, I have extensively studied human factors and ergonomics at the graduate level. To put it bluntly, humans are terrible machines. Everyone's definition of what is rigid or flexy, light or dark, loud or soft, is different. We miss things, we identify false positives, terrible at comparing/perceiving elevation to distance, and so on. I know you mean well, but these are inherent human traits. Many of the biases are shaped by our perceptions, and no, they are not something we are acutely or consciously aware of. This could go down many roads of examples into social aspects, physical interactions, beliefs, and so on, but the bottom line is yes, we all have biases and yes, we are unaware of many of these biases.

    You made a subjective test, simple as that. You could have done an objective and subjective test, and then attempted to explain why the results differed, however, you'd have to be very careful that you weren't jumping to conclusions that are not supported by any data. To be blunt again, this doesn't convince me there is any difference in quality, ride characteristics, or anything else that was tested, between the rims you tested.
    Hey Jayem,

    I totally agree that everyone does have bias. I was just looking to irk Alexdi by pointing out the inconsistency of his statements that 'everyone has bias' but he trusts the subjective perceptions of some 'experts'. haha.

    In any case, my comparison test is very much a subjective test. You just can't do science with a sample size of 4-5 regardless of how well controlled a study might be and I'm not interested in being a scientific testing lab. The comments from this thread are helpful though. It just occurred to me yesterday morning as to how I can easily debadge all wheels in a retest so I can address both that comment as well as comments on tire pressure in a retest.
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  100. #100
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    Cool-blue Rhythm Addix vs ?

    Woohoo! Greg Callahan just won the last EWS Enduro race in Madeira Portugal and had the previous EWS race won in Tasmania until he crashed in the last stage. One of the few racers using the new Schwalbe Addix tire compound for both races. Not one flat tire I'm pretty sure, while many other racers were suffering multiple flats, especially in the Madeira race. Sure can't wait for your next "subjective" test of the 2.35 Nobby Nic Addix versus ....... take your pick. Oh crap got to control my biases.

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