Does a race quality carbon wheel set stay true longer than an aluminum one (with equal abuse/mileage) ?

It seems like the properties of carbon would resist flat spots and warping better than aluminum. Is this the case?

Also, is carbon easier to true than aluminum? Aluminum can get bent badly and be rendered useless; does this happen with carbon or does it just crack?


  • 2
    It's an interesting question but I'd have thought that the spokes and nipples would be more responsible for a wheel being true (or out of true) than the rim material. Barring damage, that is.
    – PeteH
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 18:51
  • @PeteH I agree about the spokes being responsible for pulling/pushing the wheel to true, but the rims can bend and get flat, sometimes to a degree that can't be trued with spoke tension adjustment whilst keeping the wheel dish true. I would think that carbon can't warp in this fashion...or can it? And, does it?
    – ebrohman
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 20:28

1 Answer 1


I give you the following, that you can read here:

Talking to Jason Marsh the mechanic of Greg Minaar 2012 DH World Cup Champion about ENVE DH rims (which are carbon), he said that, ”Once you have built them, you don’t need to do anything, the spokes remain tight and they don’t need truing and we use a lot less through the year as they are stronger…”

The user in this forum reports long carbon wheel use with no need for truing, and DTSwiss also recommends the same maintenance interval for carbon and aluminium rims regarding checking if the wheels are true, which is an hint to them being similar.

The main problem with carbon, and this is also true for carbon components in general, is that despite being stronger than aluminium it is also more rigid, which means they don't respond as well to sharp impacts. Think of it as a steel vs an aluminium nail: the first one bends easily but holds the structure, while the steel one is very tough but breaks all of a sudden.

This is also said in this interview with a pro bike mechanic, that says carbon wheels are faster because you can maintain your direction better (more rigid), but have overall less durable because in an accident or impact they are more likely to require substitution. He even says that it is normal for costumers to try both types and prefer aluminum due to their compliancy and comfort.

Getting back to your question, I would say that due to the compliancy and flexibility of aluminium they hold dents and impacts better, as these are just killers for carbon rims. As the mechanic in the interview says, to which I agree, Carbon wheels are an expensive luxury. I personally would easily buy carbon components for my bike with the exception of the wheels, as these components in particular are very likely to have to sustain high impacts due to low tyre pressure, trying to go up a sidewalk or a bad measured bunny hop. We have all been there :)

Edit: You guys are right, I just threw it here :( I will try to improve.

  • 2
    You should summarize the contents of the link. This not only saves readers time, it keeps your answer from becoming totally useless if the link goes away. Commented May 6, 2015 at 20:49
  • (It's also helpful in the situation I'm having now, where the video doesn't play.) Commented May 6, 2015 at 20:51
  • -1: Will change if you summarise the link.
    – mattnz
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 21:35

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