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  • Andy Schultz

Our complete guide on selling and buying used carbon wheels

Updated: Oct 18, 2022


Road bike with carbon wheels

The Benefits of Carbon Wheels

Wheels are the most important components of a bicycle because their rotation and contact with the ground affects performance, safety, and comfort.


Most cyclists opt for carbon wheels due to their decreased weight, superior handling, and less vibration. The stiffer design of carbon wheels enables faster speeds with less effort, enhances power transfer, and produces a more comfortable ride. Given the availability of very inexpensive alternatives to carbon, like aluminum, it should be one of the first modifications made to a bicycle.


Most makers of affordable and mid-range bicycles opt for aluminum or steel wheels. For bikes with a price tag of $2,000 or more, carbon wheels are the best option for gaining speed.


Carbon wheels are made for every type of bike, including fat bikes, gravel bikes and even bikepacking bikes. If reducing weight is your goal, your first step is getting a pair of carbon wheels.


Wheel Aerodynamics

A characteristic of aerodynamic wheels is a rim that is deeper than that of normal wheels. Because of its strength, rigidity, and lightness, manufacturers employ carbon fiber to construct aerodynamic, deep-rimmed wheels. Aluminum cannot be used to create an ultra-deep rim since it would weigh a ton. There are two varieties of carbon fiber rims: those made entirely of carbon fiber and those that combine an aluminum rim with a carbon fiber structure.


Unlike aluminum, carbon fiber wheels are composed of two distinct materials, carbon and resin, and are referred to as composites. Long strands of carbon fiber provide the material stiffness by steadfastly resisting bending, while the resin acts as the adhesive that keeps them together.


Table comparing carbon and aluminum wheels

Carbon wheels deliver speed gains for mountain bikes, gravel bikes, cyclecross bikes and fat tire bikes. Gain the most aerodynamic benefits and savings by buying used carbon road bike wheels at Pedals.


Carbon wheels, light-weight saddle, aero frame and a pro-fit jersey help slip through the wind.


Rim Depth

When alloy was first introduced, rims were shallow and thin, and weight was the main concern for all bikers. Carbon fiber is lightweight and more rigid than metal. The benefit of deep rims is energy savings, and riding long distances makes your ride faster and more efficient. Deep rims stiffen the wheel, making for an efficient transfer of power to the pedals. Rim depth ranges from 45 mm to 55 mm.


One big disadvantage of deep rims is experiencing crosswinds. Deep rims tend to push bikes sideways, making bike control challenging.


Shallow rims are lighter, and even alloy rims are easier to accelerate because they have less inertia. Shallow rims are ideal for climbing hills due to the low weight or less material to the wheel.


Carbon fiber wheel depth chart


Rim Width

The internal distance between the rim walls is measured as rim width. The inner width specifications of most rims are listed by the manufacturer. External width is important for aerodynamics. When you’re shopping for aero carbon wheels, rim width will be the first thing you’ll need to know as tire size depends on this spec.


Rim widths have increased dramatically over the last decade. Road bike rims of 13-15mm and mountain bike rims of 19mm remained unchanged for years. Modern rim width is now around 21mm for road and 30mm for mountain.


Traditional rim designs have evolved to accommodate bigger tire casings with lower pressures. Wider MTB tires ushered in the transition to rider rims, and the industry strove to develop a more cost-effective wheel. The manufacturers produced a stronger and lighter rim. Another factor is the advancement of carbon fiber rims with improved resin systems and manufacturing. Technology advancements resulted in improved strength-to-weight ratios, allowing for wider rims without sacrificing substantial weight or strength. Additional contributors include mountain biking, tubeless technology, and integrating disc brakes.


Since rim brakes are no longer a problem, rim designers have been able to innovate. There are also several other reasons, such as better aerodynamics, easier and more reliable tubeless performance, and a better fit between the rim and the tire for better handling and less rolling resistance.


Low-pressure tubeless setups use wider rims to help support the sidewalls of the tires. This makes it easier to turn at low pressures because it makes it less likely that a tire will roll off the rim. These things add up to better grip and comfort.


Wider rim offers more tire grip


Road bike wheel rim widths

Crosswind Controls


Winds from either the head or the tail have minimal effect on how the bike handles. The way your bike responds to crosswinds, especially if they're brisk, is critical. When selecting a carbon wheel for your bike, the depth of the front rim is an important factor that should be taken into consideration.


A light body (140 lbs) riding a bike with a deep rim (>50 mm) will have less control over the bike if a wind blows at a pace of 25 mph. However, more control will be present if the same body (140 lbs) is riding a bike with a thin rim (50 mm) and is exposed to a strong wind.


Body Weight

You need to think about your body weight, handling prowess, and weather conditions before buying a carbon fiber wheel. The front wheel suffers more damage from crosswinds since it is lighter. The majority of the wind resistance is caused by the rider's weight.


Parts of a Carbon Wheel

Axle

The axle is fixed when the wheel is fastened to the frame, and the hub's bearings enable free rotation of the wheel around the axle. There are two distinct axle types.

The quick-release axle, which is frequently utilized in riding circuits, comes first. By raising the lever, you can remove the wheel. We also make use of thru-axles. The hub and the thru-axle are threaded through the bike's frame, which keeps the wheel from falling undone.

Hubs

The wheel's ability to rotate around the axle is made possible by the hub. Both the front and back wheels have it.


Front Hub

The hub is the center portion of the front and back wheels of your bike. The spokes connect it to the rim, and the axle goes through it. This lets the wheel spin freely.


Rear Free Hub

A freehub's ratcheting mechanism allows bikers to coast without pedaling (like a socket set tool). The hub activates and keeps the wheel turning while the cyclist pedals. Gear cassettes are kept in freehubs. Hubs make the clicking sound you often hear from cyclists.


Rear Fixed Hub (Fixie)

Fixed-wheel bikes, or fixies, have no freewheel mechanism, so pedaling is required to move. Stationary bikes, velodrome and messenger bikes in cities have fixed hubs. If staying fit is a focus, fixed-wheel bikes are great way to stay in shape to loose weight.


Aftermarket hubs can boost your bike's performance because they are lighter and have better bearings than stock hubs. However, the sort of hub you select is determined by the bike you ride, the size of the axle, your riding style, and your budget.


If you’re looking to upgrade hubs or any part of your wheel set, start at Pedals app to find pre-owned hubs and other quality cycling equipment or download the app now.


Spokes

Bike wheels use various patterns of spokes. With tangential spokes, the spokes don't go from the hub to the rim in a straight line. Radial spokes run from the rim to the hub in a straight line. Tangential patterns are stronger than radial patterns, yet radial patterns are lighter.


Wheel Shapes

Unlike alloy wheels, carbon wheels can be mass-produced in a wider variety of intricate designs thanks to the use of molds. Aerodynamics are improved by this tailoring. Weight used to be the most important thing to think about, but newer studies show that aerodynamics are more important than weight when it comes to speed. The exception is climbing steep slopes starting with a 12% grade or more. If you only have a short, steep section, aerodynamics will win. The aerodynamics of a wheel are 60 times more important than their weight.


Tubular

Tubulars have been seen as the best for a long time by serious cyclists and road bike racers. On the outside, tubular tires look the same as clinchers, but they work very differently. Tubulars are completely round, so there is no open part of the tire that needs to be cinched. There is also no need for a tube because the tube is basically sewn into the tire and is a part of it. As a result, the tubular is only one component, but the clincher is made up of two (tube and tire). Tubular tires are often glued to the rim because they tend to move around a bit if not glued.


The main benefit of a tubular is that it keeps you safe. At low pressures or if it suddenly goes flat, it can't (or shouldn't, if it's properly stuck on) pull away from the rim, jam the wheel, and cause a crash like a clincher can. With a tubular, a rider is able to safely slow down and stop.


Clincher

An innertube is essential to the functioning of a clincher. The air is contained within the tube, which exerts a strong force against the tire. When inflating a clincher tire, the air goes directly into the tube. The tire is able to rest effortlessly atop the inner tube.


Tubeless

Recently, tubeless bike tires have become popular. Unlike tubulars, they "clinch" to the wheel and don't need 360 degrees of surface area. Many think tubeless tires are cycling's future. They're lighter, require less maintenance, and get fewer flats since you don't have to worry about tearing or pinching the tube, and they have a sealant inside to prevent minor leaks..


Do carbon wheels go out of alignment?

If you're riding your bike and notice that one of the wheels is out of alignment, it may be out of true. Loose spokes are the most common reason why wheels become untrue. You or a bike mechanic can tighten the spokes on a carbon rim to make the wheel straight.


Durability

Carbon wheels have a high tensile strength and are sturdy and rigid. However, Carbon rims are brittle and can crack from a rim strike. As of today, carbon wheels can’t be repaired, which is a big disadvantage, but what you gain, most cyclists agree, is improved performance compared to aluminum.


The Cost of New Wheels

China is the world's largest carbon-wheel manufacturer. However, there are domestic manufacturers in the US and UK that manufacture their wheels from proprietary methods, materials, and design. Wheels from China start around $400 and brand name wheels range from $900 to $3,500+ (ouch). No matter the carbon wheels you get, you'll be pleased because the performance outweighs the dollars you dropped on them.


Carbon Wheel Care


The Rim Cleaning

Use a dry towel to wipe away the grime. Any degreaser can be sprayed on the rim surface and left to dry. The rim surface can be cleaned with a microfiber cloth.


Brake Pad Cleaning

Any cleaning spray can be used to clean the brake pad region. The broken pad area should be cleaned with a cleanser, then left to dry.


Brake Track Cleaning

Grab a brush and sweep any grit or grime away. Use a brush or cloth to apply any cleaning solution at this point.


How to Sell Used Carbon Wheels


Clean and Polish Them

To completely clean the wheel, apply a cleaning and degreaser spray. Remove all the debris. Pick a polisher and use a microfiber to bring out the shine.


If you want to sell carbon wheels or anything else, tell a story. Talk about the speed gains, bike control, lightness of the wheels and lightness of the bike. If you ride in a peloton, touch on that experience. Cyclists looking for carbon wheels want to know mph gains and improved bike weight.


Include All Details


Rim Benefits

It’s helpful to describe the advantages of carbon rims over aluminum ones. Aluminum rims are slower and less aerodynamic than carbon ones. Products sell more quickly when you list the benefits.


Weight

For handling stress, the wheel's weight is essential. When selling your wheels, be sure to indicate the weight.


Rim Surface

The tube's anchor is the rim surface. The majority of suppliers don't give into specifics on the rim surface. Don't forget that the sellers are seeking for details.


Bearings

The condition of the bearings must be mentioned. Is it in good condition or is it worn out? The attributes should all be listed.


Hubs

You need to identify the type of hub your wheels have. Did they come with the wheels or are they upgrades? Do they make a high-pitched sound like performance hubs or are they silent?


Spokes

Spoke patterns for carbon wheels are crucial. Speaking from an aerodynamic standpoint, blade-shaped spokes are also an option. Do mention the kind of spokes that are on your wheel.


Tires (tubeless and tubes)

Don’t forget to add tires, brand and model. Touch on the performance and popularity of the tire and why you chose them.


Take Lots of Pictures

Use the images as your inspiration when writing the description. Take lots of pictures and show all flaws. If not revealed in the images and buyers call out flaws in person, they have the right to negotiate down the price. If you don’t like to negotiate, call out the damage and price your wheels correctly.


Price Wheels Right

Look for your wheels on reseller websites and other marketplaces to compare pricing. If you're serious about selling, consider dropping the price by 10% to 15%. However, if you have custom wheels or they are very unique, consider increasing the price for their exclusivity..


How to Buy Used Carbon Wheels


Decide Why You Need a Set of Wheels

If you want to gain speed, buy carbon wheels. There’s no other reason for them, with the exception that they make your bike look amazing. Carbon wheels are made for all bike types. If you’re a racer, carbon wheels are a must. If you're an intermediate rider trying to squeeze out a few more miles per hour, carbon wheels are worth the expense. Remember you can also sell your carbon wheels on the Pedals app because there are cyclists who want to buy used carbon wheels not at full price, but want to go fast.

Get Wheel Recommendations from Other Riders

Ask other riders for wheel advice and determine whether to purchase new or used carbon wheels. There are numerous alternatives available at all price points.


Get Educated on Wheels - There's Lots of Details to Learn

There are many different kinds of carbon wheels on the market. Each is different in some way. If you know why you want to buy it and have done enough research, it will be easier to get what you want.


Avoid Carbon Wheels with any Fractures or Damages

Avoid buying damaged wheels. Cracked wheels are not repairable. Once damaged, carbon wheels lose all performance qualities. Look at as many pictures and if you can view the wheels in person.


On the Pedals application, find used carbon fiber bicycle wheels for the various bike brands and models. If you’re interested in a mountain bike, ask the seller if they have a set of used carbon fiber mountain bike wheels that go with the bike. You might be surprised that they do. Same goes for gravel bikes, I put carbon fiber wheels on my entry level gravel bike and one day you’ll find used carbon wheels for gravel bikes from the top brands.


Conclusion

Carbon fiber has had a significant impact on the cycling industry by reducing the weight of bicycles and riders, hence increasing their efficiency. Carbon fiber wheels are for speed-seekers, resulting in a racer appearance. As a result of advances in production and the volume of carbon wheels produced domestically and in China, carbon wheels are available in all price levels.


On the Pedals app, second hand carbon wheels can be purchased for less money. Connect with local bikers that share your enthusiasm and love for cycling while saving hundreds of dollars on quality bikes and cycling gear. Additionally, you'll probably learn about the top local bike paths, trails, and pelotons in your area.







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