Should I bother with aluminum rims, or throw down and go for carbon?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Should I bother with aluminum rims, or throw down and go for carbon?

    Here's the thing....

    For my 29er AM bike, carbon rims all the way. Especially since I'm about 219lbs kitted up.

    For my 27.5 DH bike, I'm torn:

    I currently have Saint hubs with the rear being a DT Swiss FR570 and the front an old Flow ex (I had the rear replaced because the Flow Ex was kinda weak...or I had a bad wheel build). I haven't ridden the DH bike as much as I wanted at my local resort the last couple years but I have the intention on beating the hell out of it this year! One option is to convert to tubeless and simply replace the front Flow Ex with a DT Swiss FR560 rim which is slightly wider than the FR570. If I'm not mistaken, the 560 replaced the 570 in the DT Swiss lineup. OR...I just go all out and get carbon E13 wheels, or something similar. Can I afford it?? Well with renovations and other crap happening at home, it'll be tight...but I can probably get away with it.

    I guess what I'm trying to figure out is will I experience the same performance difference with 27.5, as I did with 29" wheels. I'm over 200lbs and I tend to take stupid lines that don't make sense and muscle the bike through things.
    Intense 951 Evo and Intense Carbine 29

  2. #2
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    IMO, alloy rims are a better choice for DH bikes. It would be altogether too easy to trash a carbon rim under DH terrain and speeds.

    Especially with the price difference, I really don't think it's a great idea.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  3. #3
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    The responsible adult in me says to go with the $300 option of building a new front wheel on a hub that still works, instead of forking over close to $2000 on carbon wheels.
    Intense 951 Evo and Intense Carbine 29

  4. #4
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    You don't really benefit much from a lighter rim on a DH bike, and ruining rims is sort of an acceptable norm in DH riding.

    Even excluding cost, aluminum seems like a better option.

  5. #5
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    Can you afford it? Know that the rear rim, carbon or aluminum, will probably only last a year, assuming you ride hard and often. Can you afford that?

    It's really hard for me to believe there's any advantage to carbon rims on a DH bike, at least at the level of someone who's buying their own equipment. If you were losing big races by a split second, sure every little bit helps.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Robin View Post
    ....I'm about 219lbs kitted up.....I have the intention on beating the hell out of it this year....Can I afford it?.....it'll be tight.......I tend to take stupid lines that don't make sense and muscle the bike through things.
    Your answer is all right there in your post. Get yourself a decent/durable aluminum rim, find a good wheel builder (or better yet, learn to build your own wheels).

    Will those carbon rims perform better? Who knows, but you'll almost certainly be slower when you start checking up instead of sending it through that rock garden because you're afraid of busting those fancy rims you can't afford to replace.
    No dig no whine

  7. #7
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    Christoper Robin being a big guy about the same weight....save your cash...the weight penalty is very small ...and resorts you are not pedaling much anyway
    the trick is ENJOYING YOUR LIFE EACH DAY, don't waste them away wishing for better days

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Robin View Post
    The responsible adult in me says to go with the $300 option of building a new front wheel on a hub that still works, instead of forking over close to $2000 on carbon wheels.
    Responsible adult? I thought you were a mountain biker.

    Go with aluminum and start saving for retirement.
    Love,
    Yer Dad
    Veni vidi velo!

  9. #9
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    I run carbon Derby DH rims on my Balance and have beat the hell out of them. 3 trips to Angelfire, and Enduro races and everyday riding. 3 yrs and no problems at all. I’ve pinged them off rocks when I let the pressure get to low. Not a smooth rider at all. I’ve bent aluminum rims. Never had an issue with these. Also run them on my Riot too, 29er, but all mountain layup. I won’t run anything else. Bulletproof. Final convinced a friend to try them because he was destroying rims on a regular basis. He bought NOX and is a believer now. Get the rims and have a good wheelbuilder build them with your hubs.
    Last edited by Rone Turner; 1 Week Ago at 10:29 AM.

  10. #10
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    OP, no brainer in my opinion....

    The last thing I want to worry about when I'm redlining it through a slick, off camber boulder field is cracking a $400 rim. Assuming you like to ride DH hard go aluminium. I'm cool with carbon on my trail bike that I dance with, but not for a DH brawl.

    Perhaps if you ride DH that is more buffed out and "parky" you'd be fine on the carbon, but I'd still say no.

    The FR570 is a great rim. It is like you said, morphed into the slightly wider FR560, but pretty much same rim I think. I run mine with Flat Tire Defenders - bombproof on some of the chunkiest trails, even with relatively low psi. They set up easily tubeless. To me, like Renthal bars, a no-brainer parts choice.


    I'm not saying carbon rims wouldn't perform great, as I bet they would. They are likely, in some cases, even stronger than aluminum rims. But the mental part of worrying about killing a $90 rim vs a $400 rim would be enough to f0ck with my head during the hairiest parts on the course.

  11. #11
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    The real question is... are you a baller or not?

    This may be unpopular, but I have a preference for carbon wheels with a side of i9 hub. I always choose carbon and when I choose carbon I choose it with a “no questions asked” lifetime warranty. We Are One is reasonably priced and you may even get a solid deal on the “Outliers” as I’ve heard there may or may not be a new DH wheel coming out...

    PS I’m about the same weight as you kitted up..
    Last edited by Shartist; 1 Week Ago at 07:29 PM. Reason: Added PS
    18’ SC Bronson Carbon
    Grip2, Reserve 27 hoops, i9 hubs, Float X2

    2018 SC V10.6
    Grip2, We Are One: The Outlier, i9 hubs, DHX2

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the replies! I ended up being responsible and ordered a new FR560 and new Maxxis tubeless WT tire for the front. The only time I sorta regretted my decision to stay aluminum was when I noticed my FR570 rear wheel was out of true. I've had it for two seasons but with only maybe 10 bike park days at most. That's not a lot. Either way, I rebuilt the Saint hub which is now super smooth and I ordered a Cushcore insert to help with prolonging the life of the wheel.

    I know you don't save weight with carbon... I've just found them to be more durable. BUT, maybe going aluminum on a 27.5 DH bike is the way to go to keep things somewhat compliant and comfortable.
    Last edited by Christopher Robin; 8 Hours Ago at 12:40 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Robin View Post
    Thanks for the replies! I ended up being responsible and ordered a new FR560 and new Maxxis tubeless WT tire for the front. The only time I sorta regretted my decision to stay aluminum was when I noticed my FR570 rear wheel was out of true. I've had it for two seasons but with only maybe 10 bike park days at most. That's not a lot. Either way, I rebuilt the Saint hub which is now super smooth and I ordered a Cushcore insert to help with prolonging the life of the wheel.

    I know you don't save weight with carbon... I've just found them to be more durable. BUT, maybe going aluminum on a 27.5 DH bike is the way to go to keep things somewhat compliant and comfortable.
    Good call.

    10 rides at the DH and if I didn't need to true at least twice I feel lucky.

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