Rim brakes with carbon wheels

Hi All,

i just pruchased a 2017 Trek Madone SLR frame from a good friend - the frameset is great and is equipped with rim breaks. I have only had disc breaks on my bikes so far - so here is my question: Given this is a nice aero frame, I would want to fit some aero wheels as well. No expierence with rim breaks on carbon wheels so far - any experiences? I am leanings towards the HUNT 50mm aero wheels but I am wondering whether carbon rims with an aluminium break inlay perform better vs. raisin break strips on the HUNT wheels?



Check out Flocycling.com. Really great wheels at a really affordable price. I’ve been riding rim brake 45s and 60s for a couple years now and I have no complaints. In the rain, they take a couple wheel rotations to really bite hard. But it’s minor. In the dry, they stop really well. Light too!

I swear by those on both my Carbon Wheels!


I’m looking at a similar question and basically:

  1. The older style braking tracks (basalt or whatever) don’t work so great. They take a bit of extra time to stop you and some of them really seem to be hazardous depending on the conditions or terrain you ride regularly.

  2. Alu inlays are a workable solution, though they add some weight. My favorite of these are from HED.

  3. The newer style braking tracks found from Zipp (Showstopper), Campagnolo (AC3) and Bontrager (on the Aeolus XXX) seem to have solved the braking issue. They may consume braking pads faster, but they are supposed to have some serious stop to them.

Personally, I’m deciding between the #3 options. I don’t really want the weight penalty of the aluminum inlay and most of the alu inlay rims are done using “yesterday’s” wheel dimensions (17mm internal, 22-23mm external). For me, I’m deciding between the Zipp 303 Firecrest Showstopper and the Campagnolo WTO 45s.

As for the Hunts - the price is great, but the hubs are not fantastic. I haven’t really read a lot about the braking but from the pictures they don’t seem to be using the sort of techniques that Zipp, Bontrager and Campa did (basically, removing a lot of surface resin and adding texturing).

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Caden Wheels. Check out their reviews on google.
Lightest set I’ve ever owned, stiff (absolutely no brake rub), bomb proof, brakes better than any other wheel I’ve had with their own pad, awesome customer service, ~1200usd shipped brand new to your door for decadence or less for the cheaper caden model which is still awesome.

HEDs Jet Plus are 21/25mm internal/external.
Their Vanquish line [disc only!] is 21/30.

I said I liked the HEDs :slight_smile: And I also meant the carbon rims with alu brake tracks (or maybe better described as alu rims with a carbon aero fairing).

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Eh. I have yet to find a carbon rim that didn’t brake like garbage, when compared to alloy. Tubulars are fine for any application, but if it’s a carbon clincher, accept that it’s fine for flat to rolling roads, but any descent longer than a Cat 4 hill is a bit of a mess.

I have friends who descend Cat 2 climbs on carbon clinchers and have no problems, but I simply don’t trust the things to stop and stop quickly if needed. Let alone the whole heat buildup potential issue.

But, I’m really conservative about equipment and ride alloy clinchers except on race days (and even on those, if I’m too lazy to change pads and adjust brakes).


To answer the question, YES, aluminum brake tracks will always stop better.

You need to look at the terrain that you ride on. If it’s mostly flat and/or you don’t usually need to do hard and frequent braking then you’ll do fine with carbon brake tracks.

If you live in an area like the Pac NW where you are frequently dealing with wet conditions you might want to think twice about carbon brake tracks. Or, you may need a summer/winter bike solution or a summer/winter wheel solution.

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My carbon rims combined with Swiss stop pads perform significantly better than the alu rims and whatever pads were on there (probably the factory pads…but they were decent).

Longer or steeper. My local monster climb is a Cat 3 11% av. but has 20-30% hairpin turns which are absolutely terrifying descending on carbon. I’ll give up the 300g and go with alu to get me to the bottom.

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Can’t go wrong with Swissstop pads on carbon rims :+1:t2:

I used the yellow king pads for a while, but after switching to black prince, I found them much better.


They are box rims with carbon fairings, but they’re excellent, light, bombproof box rims with carbon fairings.

For what it’s worth, I have heard many people say that the hed jet blacks (the all carbon version) are just as good braking, but I have no personal experience with them.

Just to be clear, the Jet Blacks are NOT ‘all carbon’. They are, from the HED description:

all-black alloy rim and carbon cap

I run Hed Jet 6+ alloy rims, great stopping (Dura Ace) and all the aero. Minimal weight penalty. Tubeless compatible since 2018 I think.

Totally agree with this (although I wasn’t a cyclist when I lived in PNW). It’s not just braking quality, it’s longevity. If you are doing lots of technical descending in the wet, braking will just eat your expensive carbon rims.


My bad. I stand corrected.

They do look as cool as all carbon. :+1:

Riden in the French and Italian alps on Zipps, no issues whatsoever. On one trip a dude did destroy his old carbon wheels, mostly because he was dragging the brakes (i.e. bad technique). And day to day I find the braking great, improved massively by direct mount brakes!

In the wet, yep, not ideal, but I’m always too fearful of pressing grit into the rim so hard to opine on the true strength or weakness there. => winter bike

It might be worth asking yourself ; "Am I going to race in the rain regularly if at all? "
My experience is that most people complain about carbon rim brakes for their reduced braking performance in wet conditions. Dry, they perform exceptionally unless your doing long alpine descents regularly. Really, they don’t perform that badly if your experienced, use good braking technique and ride according to the conditions.
The reality is, most people don’t ride in the rain let alone race in it and therefore the carbon rim brakes aren’t an issue… unless it rains on the day of your “A” race.