Buying Used Carbon Wheels -- Tips on what to look for?

Just as the topic says – any tips when it comes to buying used?

On local Fbook marketplace is a set of 3 year old Zipp 404s. Only used for races, supposed great condition - $800.00. They’d be used for the same thing here - a few training rides, local short course tri’s, and then IM Maryland and 70.3 Eagleman in 2021. Clincher + rim brake. This is year 3 of triathlon and time to move to carbon wheels. Was going to go with the HED 6+'s for a grand, but…

Anything in particular I should be looking for? Any secret “deal brakers” (spelling error/pun) when it comes to used wheels?

For instance, I dont know anything about bearings and hubs. What should should I look at outside of cosmetics?

Give them a good spin while mounted in a bike to check they’re true I.e. Distance between rim and brake pads stays constant. Hold the rim firmly and see if there is any side to side play - that would be an indicator of worn bearings. Inspect the brake track for wear, that alone should give you a reasonable idea of how heavily they’ve been used. Casually cast an eye over the rest of the sellers bike stuff and see whether he seems like somebody who takes care of his equipment!

If it was me I’d probably pay the two hundred extra for the peace of mind of having new wheels with a warranty. Plus I’d probably take a look at the Hed Jet 9s and/or into getting a cheap disc cover for the rear. Generally you want to go as deep as possible for tri racing.


you’re a good man. thanks :slight_smile:

my only only hesitation with going for 9s or discs or anything else deeper is my inexperience with deep rims. Absolutely 0 experience. I’d hate to commit and then be scared to ride those wheels. The IM Maryland courses in particular are infamous for being windy as well, so I’d rather ease into it

Fair enough! A Hed 6/9 combo could be a good compromise in that case, rear wheel depth has little to no effect on handling compared to the front wheel.

get a wheel cover for the back wheel and call it good…unless you are gunning for a Kona slot, the difference between a 808 and a 404 up front isn’t huge.