Product Recommendation

I need new Rims for my Downhill bike. Do I go Carbon or Aluminum?

When I mounted my first Downhill bike back in 2017 I was excited to finally be on a bike that was purpose built for hardcore downhill tracks with rocks and roots. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was the punishment my bike would take. Within months my bars were damaged, I had broken spokes, rims were destroyed, and brake pads worn beyond belief. I quickly learned that a Downhill bike needs to be properly cared for. Thankfully at the time I had an excellent mechanic that would take my broken bike and return it “race ready”.

My first Downhill bike was a 2017 YT Tues CF Pro which shipped with eThirteen aluminum rims. These didn’t last long, and I soon replaced them with DT Swiss EX511’s with the advice that these were bullet proof and could take a hammering. Over the course of the 2017 competition year I went from race to race with these rims. Each visit to the mechanic between races had these rims bent back and trued up. However, by the end of the year these rims were past their useful life. They had more flat spots than rounded curves. And shortly after I upgraded to the new 2018 YT Tues CF Pro MOB Edition which came with eThirteen Carbon rims.

After riding on carbon rims for almost a year I’m in a position where I can compare Carbon with Aluminum rims. On the DT Swiss Aluminum rims, I found the ride and feel quite variable. The rims would flex under some circumstances. Moving to carbon removed the flex feel and over time I became very used to the rigid and consistent feel of the ride. In very rough and tough conditions, the carbon was stiff and unforgiving. I would feel all the chatter and hard hits. The DT’s helped cushion some of the feedback and chatter.

The DT’s could be repaired (to an extent) after a tough ride however the Carbons would just break. And you can’t fix a broken carbon rim. I added the Flat Tire Defender system which helped reduce the chance of breaking, but it didn’t overcome it completely.
A carbon rim is more expensive, and this becomes an issue if you’re having to replace broken rims through the riding season.

From a summary position my view is this. I prefer carbon. I really like the consistent rigid feel about them. However, cost is an issue and its better to have consistency in the rims that you run for an entire race season. And unless you have a stack of backup carbon rims ready to go, then maybe it’s better to settle on a set of aluminum rims, such as the DT Swiss FR560’s.

By Pushys sponsored athlete – Jordan Holzworth

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