Saturday, February 28, 2009

Carbon Clinchers? Nope.

We've gone back and forth on the idea of offering a full carbon clincher. And we've had a fair amount of inquiries around this. We had plans on putting together some prototypes this spring but for now, we've decided against it.

Here's what we're thinking:

Would people buy them?
Yes. The siren song of pretty carbon rims paired with a natural aversion to tubular glue make them a quickly growing segment of the market. If we did put one out there, a 40mm deep set would likely weigh between 1550 - 1600g and be priced between $1000 - 1100, making them a very competitive option. So yes, people would buy them and yes, that's usually the only justification needed to bring something to market, but hey, call me a lousy capitalist.

Do I want to build them?
I can only build a finite number of wheels so I really try to only design and build wheels that I can see myself riding and racing. So...

Do I see a reason to ride or race carbon clinchers?
Frankly, no. Obviously they are going to be more convenient than tubulars. When it comes to race equipment though, should convenience really trump weight and price? I tend to think not. Any set of carbon clinchers is going to be at least 200g heavier (+ weight of tubes & rim strip) than the comparatively priced tubular option and any degree of convenience is not worth that kind of rotating weight.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that clinchers should never be used. Tubulars would be a pain in the ass to use as training wheels everyday. But since there's really no reason to use carbon wheels as training wheels, why bother with clinchers?

There's also the possible safety issue. The wrong combination of hard braking could cause excessive enough heat to blow the tire off the rim and that would obviously be a bad thing.

I can't say for sure that we'll never change our views on this, but for now, that's our reasoning. Feel free to tell me I'm way off base on this one. In the mean time, if you really really want a set of carbon clinchers and no one can convince you otherwise, I'd recommend checking out options from EDGE compostites and Reynolds. They are going to be pretty pricey but they are some of the lightest and most durable options out there.

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