While riding last week, I was going over an obstacle at speed and I did not manage to lift my back wheel, therefore think I damaged the rear rim.

Since the damaged is looking minor, how far is it safe to ride a wheel with a scratch like this on the rim?

enter image description here

  • What material is the rim? Steel? Aluminium? Carbon fiber?
    – marcelm
    Commented May 14 at 8:29

1 Answer 1


It’s impossible to say scientifically, but chances are the damage is not material. You can exercise watchful waiting. That is, leave this photo up, and check back next week to see if anything looks worse, especially if a crack were to propagate or you notice the rim bulging. You can gradually increase the surveillance intervals if it doesn’t fail early.

This is basically a surface scratch, possibly something scraping the rim from the side. If you had a strike that cut through the rim sidewall entirely, that would be something you would ride home carefully and then replace. If it were a carbon rim, I would be more cautious and check it more often. Same if it were an ultralight aluminum rim, which I bet this is not.

I was riding the other day, and one guy had a nail go right through his tire and the rim bed. There wasn’t a sharp edge exposed. He made it back fine. This is something I would be more cautious on as well, with the added complication that you have to take the tire and rim tape off to inspect. I would probably keep riding that, however.

  • 3
    Just a flesh wound. I would deflate the tyre check if there’s any sharp edges on the ding and apply some very light localised sanding/filing to remove the high points if needed to remove the risk of it slicing the tyre over time. Commented May 13 at 18:03
  • @WarrenBurton flesh wound is a good descriptor.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented May 13 at 20:11
  • 1
    @Warren: media.tenor.com/Ue0a6X1iRS4AAAAM/scratch-wound.gif I should post up images of my MTB wheels (light weight XC 24 spoke rims). For years they have been very much along the lines of "Just a Flesh Wound" :) Gave up "Watchful" a long time ago and now I just ride on them. :)
    – mattnz
    Commented May 14 at 2:27
  • 1
    I may add that I have ridden rims for a few kilometers that were structurally very damaged. More than one had long cracks because I had braked through the rim wall, and I think I had a partially broken one as well. Sometimes it took a while to even notice. The rims are held together by the spokes and don't seem to fail catastrophically; instead, they conspicuously go out of shape and feel very weird and soft. Of course, that was casual commuting, not kamikaze downhill. Commented May 14 at 5:32
  • Thank you guys. I'm going bike packing next week and wasn't sure, if the scratch could bring some problems. So, I will center the wheel and see if any problems appear after a while. Worst case scenario, I'll keep a budget for a wheel change while travelling ;).
    – uhetz
    Commented May 14 at 6:43

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