As it is commonly known, carbon is the thing. Also in wheels. The variety is amazing depending on weight, profile, number of spokes, price, quality, technology, design, etc. We will mention two specific aspects: tubular / clincher and braking track.
You don´t need to have designed the Columbia shuttle to know that there is carbon and carbon. You can find it cheaper and with less features and you can also find it of an intrinsic technological level that is only at hand of aerospace industry, Formula 1 and, how not, cycling. Don´t forget that sometimes bikes learn from the plane and car and, in other cases, it is just the opposite.
An averaged quality carbon shows signs of one of the biggest issues regarding made with this material wheels: the terrible temperature on braking surface that could reach up to 300ºF. A last generation carbon also suffers this problem, but not so hardly. Rich people also cry, but due to happiness. In other words, good carbon heats up, but not that much.
The deeper throat (no pun, sorry) of a clincher makes more difficult the heat generated while braking evacuation. In addition to this, the fact of its contact with the tube makes more likely the blowout or, at least, the system malfunction. Some tried to solve this with metallic braking tracks comolded to the carbon rim, what adds weight in a key place in a segment of gram sensible users.
Carbon rims for tubular display a contact with it profile not so deep, more flat. This makes easier the evacuation of the heat coming from pads to rim friction. The market is prone to carbon rims for tubulars, something more complicated for the non-professional, more expensive along with more difficult to repair on the road without a team car. As a consequence, there is a group of cyclists unfamiliar or reluctant to tubular who either contemplate carbon wheels for clincher as an option. That is not something that makers cannot permit if it means selling less black plastic wheels.
The ones that research (is Asia, yes, in Asia) have discovered new resins used to “glue” carbon (nano)fibers that make this braking surface heating to be reduced noticeably. Obviously, it is not at all the maker´s reach, better said, in many cases USA or Italian flagged bike resellers.
Every teacher has his book. Every carbon/resin (epoxy) combo has an ideal braking pad. That is why it is so important using the ones recommended by each brand to obtain a bit more than mediocre result when pressing the lever, not more.
To summarize, we have carbon wheels that heat up less because of the new resins, that would allow mounting tubes/tires without any problem and, consequently, reaching more clientele. Lately we see more carbon clincher wheels the will convince for sure to the ones that reject to the tubular advantages just to avoid its inconvenient. Sound to me like a turn in trends.
I cannot overlook that all of this appears to me as something transitory. In my opinion, discs and tubeless will finally be the ones to stay. Trying to argue it, doesn´t move me away from prediction mistake, but I will take that risk:
– Discs will eliminate braking surfaces heating issues.
– This would allow making less reinforced in this area wheels and, for this, lighter, less rotating mass and an incentive for weight weenies.
– Road bikes would really brake meaning quality and quantity. This would bring more safety.
– There are currently 15.4 pounds disc equipped road bikes
– Road discs are still to be developed, but everybody has pointing ears. This will bring more. Lighter and better discs as happened in the mountain.
– Tubeless wheels (or converted to tubeless via different liquids) are already present in all the environments, including my mom´s car. They are a reality in MTB that has eliminated tubes, reduced punctures and improved bike handling drastically.
– Tubular rolling and handling disappears due to the clear improvement in tubeless road systems. The have been used in by Tour teams for years and a bit less that they are in the market. But it is necessary a mentality change in road cyclist´s mind.
Check 2k12 wheels ranges.