Aluminium vs carbon wheels

I’m mulling over swap from aluminium to carbon wheels with tubeless tires on my Specialized Diverge. I’m not a racer but what’s called dedicated enthusiast. Doing mostly hilly 2-4 hrs rides chasing a segment now and again. Do nothing out of ordinary rides. Simply mulling over treating myself but is the upgrade really worth it? Performance wise.


Which diverge do you ride? I have the Carbon sport. Will hang new hoops on in spring. Either zipp 303 s or Enve AG25 (ride the foundation 45 on my Scott road bike).

The stock wheels rode nice but are heavy!

I think a lot of the performance benefits depend on how you ride and where you ride. Could end up just being a cosmetic upgrade or could actually positively impact performance.

But, If you have the money why not treat yourself.


Thanks mate I have the base carbon. Delighted with it but really fancy treating myself with the new wheels. What chain ring is on yours? 1x or double?

I just bought a Checkpoint ALR5.

Looked at options for upgrading the 2kg+ OEM wheels and tires.

I’ve never ridden carbon wheels, so maybe I’m missing out on something wonderful, but I bought DT Swiss GR 1600’s for a little over $500 from Merlin Cycles in UK, shipped to US. Gets me to just over 1700g and a reliable, serviceable, upgradable DT 350 hub. 24mm internal width rim.

I’m sure I’d like a $2500 pair of Enve, or even a budget carbon wheel somewhere in between, and appreciate the benefits over the GR 1600s.

I can afford any bike equipment I want, but my limiting factors are mostly fitness, not equipment related and I’ll dish out for a faster bike and wheels when I’m doing 22mph gravel races. I’m going to spend the rest of the money on a better handlebar and dialing in my fit (lost 30 lbs and in shape now, should spend the $ on a pro fit vs. more carbon parts) and maybe some strength training equipment for the home gym.

If you want carbon and have the means, go for it whether it makes sense to anyone else or not!

Marginal gains, pick your point on the $ spectrum.

One advantage of carbon over aluminum is the ability to mold deeper profiles. So, IMHO, if you want to try carbon try 50mm or deeper. Not all rims perform (handle wind) the same so, do some research on what to buy.

Just like aluminum give some thought to hubs/bearings, spokes, and rim width. Throw on a nice performing tire and you might have a wheel system that will leave you wondering why you hadn’t invested earlier.

Worth it is subjective so, I’ll leave others to comment. However, once you figure out what you want consider buying used. Tons of high end wheels for sale these days at close to half the price. I’ve had great luck going this route for maybe 15 years. Depending on what your coming from there will most likely be a measurable performance advantage.

Will it make you want to throw a leg over the bike more often?

If so, that will lead to continued happiness and improved fitness. What else can you buy that will do that?



I found the switch to carbon wheels on my road bike a game changer. Enjoyment went up with a combination of less weight, a little speed, aero profile and a healthy dose of placebo effect.

In terms of a Diverge, I agree with @anthonylane - it depends on where and how you ride. The OEM wheels are likely pretty low end alloy wheels so the switch to carbon wheels will be a big upgrade, especially on tarmac and hard pack country/fire roads.

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Simple answer - yes, it’s definitely worth it.

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Depending upon the weight difference it may not be worth it for purely uphill efforts, on the flat though the aero benefits are worth it and in between is debatable. Although you may lose out on braking performance (if its rim brake) over a course of a ride it probably marginally worth it. The ‘bling’ factor is probably worth 10x more though :+1:

I also treated myself to some carbon wheels (ok … technically the wife let me treat myself) and love them. My bike is so old that I don’t think I can clear much more than a 25mm tire but 25mm tubeless at 75-80 psi versus 23mm with tubes at 90-110 psi made a huge difference in comfort. I might be marginally faster, they definitely weigh less, but it really makes me want to ride outside every chance I get. Is it “worth it?” For me it was.