There is no denying in the joy in owning a set of carbon fiber wheels but we know upgrading your stock wheels to a carbon clincher can be daunting. So many technical terms, so many choices, so many specifications. Here are 4 things you need to consider before upgrading to a new set of carbon clincher wheels
Depth – How Deep Is Your Rim Profile
Just because you own the deepest set of carbon fiber wheels does not make you the fastest on your ride, though we can’t argue that it does make you look cool. The general rule is that the deeper a wheel, the more aero it is, but there are a lot of exceptions to this generalization. Aside from the common variables such as how steep the climb and yaw angle. One also has to take into consideration how heavy the rider is and how much watts they usually generate when they are on a flat and even surface. If you ride wheels that are too deep for your weight, your ability to steer and maneuverability might be compromised.
Generally speaking, the 38mm deep lower profile wheel is an all-rounder wheel that is designed to be agile in a sprint and stiff enough to be responsive on climbs. The 60mm mid-profile wheel is designed for more aero performance while maintaining cruising speed. The 88 mm deep-section wheels are designed for one thing only: getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible.
Width – Check Your Tire Clearance
Wider rim helps with the tire profile wider, which helps with rolling resistance and makes a more comfortable ride. What most cyclists forgot to take into account is how the wider tire affects the tire clearance on the frame and fork. Some older frames have very narrow tire clearances on the chainstays and seat stays. Wider rims always add a few millimeters to the width of the tire. A 700 X 25C tire, which is a 25mm width tire tends to run up to 27mm or 28mm on wider rims. Be sure to always measure your fork, seat stay and chainstay clearances to make sure your new wheel and tire combo can fit on your bike!
We have optimized our disc brake (DX) and tubeless-ready rim brake (TLR) series separately, which is why you might notice the rim profiles vary in width between our TLR and DX wheels. Our TLR is still designed around the caliper brakes, which means our rim width is still limited by how wide the calipers can stretch. Our DX is much wider than our TLR series because disc brake wheelsets are not limited by the caliper. As long as the fork and frame have enough clearance, the DX wheels will roll!
If you have ridden a Mountain Bike in the past year, you will notice a wide range of dimension: boost, none boost, 15mm thru axle, 12mm thru axle, etc. There has been a lot of dimensions thrown around. Though road bikes are relatively consistent with their dimensions across bikes, the introduction of disc brakes to the drop bar scene has added a lot of hub dimensions to the discipline.
Make sure the bicycle wheels you plan on purchasing is compatible with the bike you have! We have heard of fellow riders buying a pair of wheels only to find that the bike uses a 12mm thru axle in the front but the wheel had a 15mm thru axle. Irwin’s disc brake wheelset (DX) series are future proof and we provide end caps for the most common frame thru axle dimensions so you can put them on any disc brake bike!
Number of Speeds
Though most wheels have hub cassettes that are both 10 speed and 11 speed compatible, it doesn’t hurt to double-check if the wheel you plan on getting fits the cassette body you have on hand. For the record, all Irwin bike wheel hubs are 10 speed and 11 speed compatible.
Irwin also have 12 speed cassettes body for the SRAM XDR if you have recently upgraded to the 12 speed system.