I normally ride regular 700c alloy wheels around town and for sport. Not deep section in any way. They're great, no noise or complaints.

Recently I got a pair of really nice mid section wheels (Zipp 303 firecrest disc).

Last time I was riding them, I noticed a "wooshing" sound when cornering hard and certain times while just riding fast.

I've also heard this noise when being approached from behind by a rider who is passing quickly, much to my chagrin. Often they are riding a nice bike with a pair of deep section carbon wheels.

Since I've never heard this on any other bike I've ridden except the one with the 303's, I've attributed the sound to the wheels.

So my question is, am I correctly attributing the sound to the wheels and, if so, why do deep section wheels sound different than a regular wheel?

If it is the airflow over deep section wheel hoops thats "wooshing", does that mean a less turbulent airflow, i.e. that of the 303's vs an alloy hoop, can and does generate more noise than a less aerodynamic wheel with more turbulent airflow?

  • 3
    I'm confused. You have deeper wheels and you've found they make a different noise to "normal" wheels. And your question is whether deeper wheels make a different noise to "normal" wheels. Didn't you already answer yourself? Sep 23, 2016 at 19:44
  • I don't know where the noise is coming from. Based on what I described I was wondering if I could attribute it to deeper wheels. Is it possible that the wheels aren't making any noise?
    – ebrohman
    Sep 23, 2016 at 22:48
  • You changed the wheels and the noise started. We all know that correlation isn't causation but what else would have caused it? Sep 24, 2016 at 9:22
  • I'm voting to close until question is clearer. From my observation its deep section carbon wheels that are noisy. @ebrohman can you update the question so that it's clearer and doesn't just have a yes/no answer?
    – andy256
    Sep 24, 2016 at 11:18
  • @andy256 edited to clarify
    – ebrohman
    Sep 24, 2016 at 12:57

1 Answer 1


The source of the whooshing sound is contact between tires and road. The sound is present with all road bikes, but much quieter with aluminum rims and tires with thick sidewalls.

What makes carbon wheels loud is that they resonate like acoustic instrument's sound box at the tire noise frequency range and the larger surface is more efficient at transmitting the sound. You can hear the resonant frequencies if you just tap the wheel with your finger nail, a carbon wheel will have a lower pitched and much louder sound.

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