Shimano Carbon Wheels?

TdF viewing has me lusting over Dura Ace C36 or C50 wheels but I don’t see many shimano wheels out and about and there’s not much about the latest shimano wheels online. There is mention here and there of the hubs requiring additional maintenance. Any opinions on new Shimano wheels and hub/bearing maintenance?

I can’t speak to Shimano’s wheels, but I have had Shimano hubs on my mountain bikes (SLX??, XT, XT, XTR) and they have all been flawless. All lasted longer than the bikes they were mated to with zero maintenance. I have never greased them, opened them or done anything to them.

For the record, the same is true for my non-Shimano hubs, although I haven’t had them for as long.

As far as wheels go, they didn’t seem very special up until now. Now they might be a somewhat interesting proposition, although I don’t think they stand out in any way. If anything, the specs are quite conservative (e. g. they have only 21 mm internal rim width whereas comparable wheels from other manufacturers have 23 or 25 mm internal rim width — my 3Ts have 25 mm). So they wouldn’t be my first choice.

However, if you like the way they look, why not? Personally, I wouldn’t go with the C36s, I’d go for the deeper ones, 45-50 mm seems to be the goldilocks depth.

In my experience, shimano wheels have been like a really nicely specc’d Toyota Camry… they don’t exactly move the needle, but they work very well and are absolutely bomb proof. The new wheels look awesome and hope to get a set at some point


Shimano wheels are like the shifting components. Work great but don’t many waves while doing so. People lust after Campy stuff but know Shimano really works better. The wheels don’t hold sex appeal, but they work very well.

I don’t think that’s correct. Shimano is leader in the groupset market for a reason. But they are also one of the last names you think of when you want carbon wheels for a reason. (As for hubs, that’s a different story, although even here I don’t think many top spec road wheels come with Shimano hubs.)

E. g. you see this with the DuraAce wheels: they are not cheap yet relatively far behind when it comes to e. g. rim width and rim depth. IMHO Zipp’s 303S wheelset is a much better deal: similar weight, depth, much wider internal rim width. You can also look to brands like Hunt or even Enve’s less expensive wheels. And if you are willing to spend more, you have plenty of options that are better in other ways.

IMHO one of the reasons is Shimano’s boneheadedness in its market segmentation: you can take e. g. 3T Discus 45|32, Zipp 303S or Enve 4.5s (previously 4.5 AR0 and put gravel tires on them. Shimano is super conservative and rather than build a versatile wheelset, they target it very narrowly: DuraAce means road bike.

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Let’s be honest here, you can run a gravel tire on a 21 just fine. De Crescenzo won SBT on 19.5s. This is the same thing as thinking you need a gravel bike to ride on gravel. Is it better? Sure. Do you need it? No.

And shimano released a GRX wheelset that would compete with any of the wheels you listed except for the ENVE which is $$$.

Here’s the appeal of the C36, and the new shimano wheels generally to me:

The wheels are for an Aethos and will be ridden in SLC where we ride and descend true mountain roads all the time, unless its ski season. So I’m into the C36 for that reason; I want to save energy on the hard climbs, and I don’t want to deal with cross-winds buffeting when I’m going 50 on the descents. If the C50 were available I would struggle to make the decision as I do like the aesthetics and I’m curious about the way deeper wheels will feel. but my CLX 40 have felt buffety enough that I’m not sure I’m interested.

I’m not really that interested in 25mm wide rims on a road bike; I’ll run 28mm road tires virtually all the time, and we have almost no gravel accessible from home in the SL Valley. tires seem to inflate past stated dimensions on 21 mm rims anyway.

AND, I’m not really sold on hookless rims for road tires, or road tubeless; I tried a set of 303 Firecrest last summer and at the recommended pressures they felt sloppy and sketchy cornering on fast descents compared to 90 psi in a 25 mm conti GP clincher. I basically never flat, and I think I might rather deal with replacing a tube, which takes 5 minutes, than I would like to deal with getting sealant all over everything, maybe having a puncture seal and maybe not having it seal, and then struggling with brutal tubeless tire beads on the side of the road.

AND, I think tubeless road tires are a racket. It costs $50 more for a set of GP 5000 TR S than it does a set of GP 5000, and it sounds like the regular clinchers last longer than the tubeless tires.



The issue I see with them is their external width of 28mm, to get the 105% rule that means you can’t go wider than a 25 or 26c tire.


don’t you want your tires to be 105% as wide as your rims, not the other way around?

Let’s be honest: wider tires work better with a wider inner rim. Plus, you get more aero benefits with a wider outer rim, and outer rim width is determined by inner rim width (since you want to keep the weight at a minimum).

I can’t speak for Shimano’s wheels, but with modern 40–50 mm deep aero wheel cross winds are not an issue. I have 3T Discus 45|32s, which are 45 mm deep. When I ride near the coast the winds can be super strong, and I get zero, absolutely zero steering moment from the wind. (I had a different experience with deep Bontrager wheels 6ish years ago when I got a Trek Domane SL6 Disc as a loaner.)

Regarding energy, the only difference is due to weight. But the weight difference is miniscule of the order of 70–100 g for the pair perhaps. It really doesn’t matter. (I live in Japan and we have proper mountains here, too. E. g. last week I rode from pretty much sea level to a ski resort’s parking lot at 1,600+ m elevation — and then down again :slight_smile:)

There are plenty of hooked rims out there. My 3T wheels have hooked rims. :man_shrugging:

I think you are exaggerating here. Two weekends ago I changed my first tubeless tires (my new mountain bike came with tubeless tires). I didn’t need instructions or anything, and it didn’t take longer than putting in an inner tube. The only thing I had to look up was the amount of sealant recommended for my tire size.

In any case, there are tons of options out there if you want to run inner tubes. Most rims accept both.

Look, if you want to get the Shimanos, get the Shimanos. You just asked for opinions here, and I’m just saying that I don’t think Shimano’s wheels are anything special. That’s all.

Nope, you want it the other way around, the outer width of the rim should be wider than the tire. That’s why I think Shimano’s rim width is too small for modern tires. Most road bikes come standard with 28 mm tires these days and accept wider tires. 21 mm is probably optimized for 25 mm tires — 2016 called, they want their default tire width back :wink:

And they work just fine on 21s. Marketing departments sure do work hard to convince consumers that those lab conditioned 3 watt gain is gonna make the difference.

I was talking the aerodynamics haven taken a set of the last generation c50 to the wind tunnel along with a few other brands. They were on par with most of the popular brands.

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Thats exactly right. I suck down as much bike marketing and internet content as anyone, and I don’t doubt that much of this adds up. But I’m certain its not indispensible. I’m just looking for a light, dependable road wheelset that feels lively and responsive, especially when the road is steep and the vert is stacking up.

And I do appreciate your opinions! I will say that tubeless tires on MTB’s are indeed really easy to deal with. But my experience installing tubeless road tires is that they are much, much more difficult; I am not confident I’d be able to get the tire back on outside of my garage, at least with the tire/rim combos I’ve tried.

I too am quite tempted by the new Shimano wheels.

For reference, I’m coming to the conclusion that internal width and, to a lesser extent, depth, make less difference than the manufacturers would have us believe, and that there are much more important things than simply dimensions.

Case in point: I was never wowed by my Zipp 303s. I found the ride very firm, and they didn’t feel that fast to me (running Pirelli P-Zero race TLR in 28c).

Running the same tyre (literally - I took them off the Zipps when I sold them) on Bora WTO 33s, the Boras feel like they have a better ride quality, corner better, and if there’s a loss in aero efficiency, it’s not affecting my average speed on the road, nor my RPE.

It’s also worth noting that the aero engineers haven’t worried about ‘the rule of 105’ for some time now. It’s much more about rim profile and spoke profile. Yes, if your tyre is slightly wider than your rim width, you’ll be giving up a few watts. But it really is a few. Outside of TTing, you’d be better off worrying about staying up to date with your leg shaving,

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Right on, thanks. Know anything about the hubs on Shimano wheels having any special maintenance requirements? “Cup and cone bearings…” I don’t know anyone who’s had shimano wheels in the last 5 years.

I thought the rule of 105 effected cross wind stability.

Shimano hubs in the past rolled really really well when they were cup and cone. Not sure if they are cartridge now but, either way IIRC Shimano hubs didn’t need any more attention than anything else.

They are a little narrow at by 2022 standards with 21mm internal and 28mm external. So, for anything past a 25mm tire they may not be as aero in cross wind (thinking of the 105% rule). Not that you can’t throw on a 28 or 32 tire but, the system won’t be as aero as a 25 is all.

JMO I don’t think you see a ton of Shimano road wheels because until disc brakes took over the rim brake clincher wheels had aluminum brake tracks. Maybe now with disc brakes ruling the market and 100% carbon more Shimano wheels will show up. I don’t know how many bikes are spec’d with Shimano but, when they were aluminum sleeved I don’t recall may bikes with Shimano. Marketing.

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Except it isn’t all marketing and I wasn’t focussing on aero gains (I mentioned the ability to mount much wider gravel tires). Inner rim width determines tire shape, which impacts ride quality. If you put 40 mm gravel tires on rims with 21 mm inner width, they will not work as intended. Wider inner rims will put more tension on the casing, which allows you to ride at lower pressures.

However, I’d say even from an aero perspective, if you design rims that narrow, it means you optimize the tires for 25 mm wide tires. We can argue about how much gains this actually equates to in real life, but a lot of road bikes these days come with clearance for 32, sometimes 35 mm tires. Shimano is behind here, which is odd given that these are new rims.