Carbon clinchers have made huge strides in the past few years. We've seen them go from being pretty boat anchor heavy aluminum/carbon hybrids to being relatively heavy full carbon rims to impressively light and useful rims which have fully staked their claim in the grand scheme of things. We'd had a bunch of attractive carbon clincher rims come across our desks, and the 38mm struck us as an amazingly versatile basis for our first foray into the world of carbon clinchers. We got a couple of sets of rims, built them up, and have been doing our standard "go everywhere and aim for the potholes on the way" testing routine on them. The end result? Our new RFSC.
So, why carbon clinchers? First, they're aero. Not aero like a 50mm, or 58mm rim, but a very discernible bump in slippery factor from a 24-, 27-, or 30mm rim. Second, they're light. Our RFSC rims come in at about 400 grams. That's really light for an alloy box section rim, and just a few grams less than our 50mm tubular rims. Light. Third, they're stiff. These things JUMP when you push the pedal down. Fourth, well, they're clinchers. Changing flats is easy, you don't have to worry about sending your tires out to get sewn up, if you want to switch tires it's simple as, and you don't have to learn the whole deal with glue and all that jazz.
They're kind of like the ultimate incarnation of the go everywhere, do everything, light, fast, sexy alloy wheelset. They just needed to be made out of carbon to be fully realized.
One thing that people get sketched about with carbon wheels is braking. Using the included carbon-specific pads, the braking in dry conditions is indistinguishable from alloy rims. In wet, there's a little bit of brake lag - just like there is with alloy rims. Brake feel is actually just ducky - it's sure and positive and the brake tracks have an extremely straight and true finish on them so there's no pulsing at all. At all. Heat buildup has proven to be no more of an issue than it is with alloy rims. If you're going down some monster screaming descent, alternate front and back and don't ride the brakes - just like you'd do with alloy rims.
The brake tracks are pretty wide at just a shade over 22mm, and they pair awesomely with 25c tires (and for the record I will never buy a 23c clincher tire again - it's all 25s for me, they're the biz).
At $885, it's easy to find a set of alloy clinchers that cost hundreds more, weigh more, don't give you any aero benefit, and don't feel half as snappy. For a few bucks more (actually, quite a few - but we can't do anything about it), we'll be happy to have a Powertap built into them. Go ahead and train on them.
There's going to be a comment on this post pointing out the contradiction of me advocating training on carbon wheels. This is what's called a paradigm shift. When $885 buys you a set of wheels that will do everything wheels do demonstrably better than a set of alloy wheels that are a couple of hundred bucks more - yeah, I'm fully good with that. These are your desert island wheels.
Delivery is slated for late February, so you'll have them in plenty of time for Jeff Cup.