Light Bicycle Carbon Rim Review [35mm/650B/27.5]

Freshly built LB 35mm 650B carbon rims...

Freshly built LB 35mm 650B carbon rims…

It wasn’t too long ago the idea of carbon mountain bike rims would make my head hurt. But, as more and more riders were using them successfully I started to feel comfortable giving them a try. Of course the stratospheric costs of the premium carbon wheels [over $2K] didn’t compute. I stumbled upon a discussion about Light Bicycle carbon rims on MTBR. The cost was reasonable $200/rim delivered to my door all costs in. The customer service and warranty support seemed excellent so I took the plunge. $400 and 1 month later a box showed up from China with some pretty sweet looking carbon rims inside.

Finish detail...

Finish detail…

I’ve got a client who fabricates composite parts for the aerospace industry and I help them with their quality management system. So looking at a well made composite rim is a pleasure and the LB product didn’t disappoint. Appearance is certainly not the most important thing for a rim, but a company that can build a product that’s finished to a high level of perfection gives you some confidence in the fact they got other details in hand. The rims were straight and weighed ~412g each which is within the specification on LB’s product page. As a comparison the Velocity Blunt 35 is an aluminum rim of the same size/width and it weighs 555g.

Hookless...

Hookless…

This rim is a hookless design which is purportedly stronger and deals with rock impacts better. I haven’t test that out, but I can say this is the easiest set of rims I have ever setup tubeless. 1 wrap of Stan’s tape a a few scoops of sealant then the beads pop into place with a snap using 1 CO2 cartridge. No leaks or hassles. No burps or problems on the trail. I like it! 🙂

LB rim and Hope Hub...

LB rim and Hope Hub…

Brent at Velofix.ca built up the LB rims with Hope EVO Pro2 hubs and Sapim Race spokes.

  • Front wheel weight = 784g
  • Rear wheel weight = 912g
LB rims in my Pivot Mach 6...

LB rims in my Pivot Mach 6…

These wheels were mounted in my Pivot Mach 6 + Pike rig and abused on our rocky and rooty coastal BC trails for over 5 months of regular shredding. At the end of that I gave them back to Brent for a touch up and he said they were still running perfectly straight. They do have a few scuffs and light scratches rocks, but nothing to be worried about.

Testing out the LB rims...

Testing out the LB rims…

How do they ride? There are two main benefits:

  • they accelerate well [lighter weight]
  • corner and steer precisely [stiffness and wide rim supports tire better]

Is it worth the extra cost?

That depends on how much extra. The difference between a LB carbon rim and a comparable Velocity aluminum rim is $100/rim. So that means a aluminum wheelset is going to cost me $700 using the parts I typically spec and a LB carbon wheelset will cost me $900. I would pay the extra $200 for the performance upgrade. If you asked me to pay $600 or $1200 extra I’d say forget it.

Interestingly I have spoken to riders with ENVE wheelsets that cost $2K+ who also owned LB rims and they couldn’t tell a difference when riding them.

More testing...

More testing…

I’ll keep rolling with these carbon rims and see how they hold out long term. I do know 3 or 4 other local riders with LB carbon rims with as much as 18months of use on them and everyone likes them as much as I do. I’ll probably get a wide 29er set of LB rims for my Krampus built up with Hope hubs for tours where weight is more important than bombproofness and ultimate traction/float.

Dirty, scuffed and beat up, but  still 100% true and going strong...

Dirty, scuffed and beat up, but still 100% true and going strong…

 

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Light Bicycle Carbon Rim Review [35mm/650B/27.5]

  1. Wide aluminum rims like the Roval fattie… Know anything about these wheels that would prevent you from recommending them? If I can find some take-offs for about $400, I save $300 over the least expensive lightbicycle build–which prices out to approx $700 (w/shipping). $300 buys me a Season Pass at a bike park, or a significant chunk towards an upgraded rear shock.

    What would you do?

    • @Mike – If you are saving nearly 50% for the wheel set it’s worth considering. I don’t know anything about the Roval wheels.

      I’d look at:

      – inner width
      – rim weight
      – overall wheel set weight
      – type of spokes
      – hub

      If the cheaper wheelset you are looking at is high quality/performance and on a significant sale it could be worth buying. If it’s just lower cost parts I’d skip it as wheels are one area that can greatly improve or degrade your bike’s performance in one swap.

  2. I am considering light bicycle carbon wheels. How well are they holding up?

  3. Vik, nice reviews, and amazing blog you run.
    I bought a Med pivot mach 6 a couple of mnths ago (x01 built) and im amazed by the bike, nevertheless im pretty new at mtb (1 year). At almost 5.10 im debating about changing to a Large frame, but i must say the Medium lets me manouver a lot better than my previous L bike on tight trials.

    Im just about to get a set of LB rims, and change the Sans Arch EX that bought with my bike. I wanted to know if you like the hope pr2 evo hubs, and wanted to ask you why didnt you get the wheels as a set and not only the rims from LB, as the specs youre running are offered from tehm to.

    Thanks and keep writing,

    Christian (peru)

    • At 5’11” I could ride a XL M6, but prefer the Lrg for its manoeuvrability. Most of us can run 2 sizes of frame and should pick based on what elements of performance we care about most.

      I bought just rims because:

      – I got great deals on the hubs
      – I wanted to support my local bike mechanic where I could [ie. wheel build]
      – I didn’t trust LB to build my wheels

      I like the Hope hubs. I have them on most of my bikes so I like having parts that I can swap accessories with and not have to stock parts for multiple hubs.

  4. Hi Vik

    Any update on your LB wheels? Wondering how they’ve held up and if you’d recommend them still.
    I’m considering a build with the LB rim/Hope hub to replace my Mavic Crossmax Enduros, which are great but I’m tempted by the wider rims.
    For the same $900-1000US I’m also looking at the I9 Enduros. About the same weight but only 26mm inner width.
    Thanks
    Jon

  5. Hi Vik, thanks for all you’re reviews, I referenced them a lot when purchasing my M6 with Pikes! You referenced Velocity Blunt 35’s here also, have you tried those on your M6?

    Wondered if you’d recommend them, bit cheaper than the LBs here in New Zealand. Also did you opt for alloy or brass nipples?

    Thanks!

    • @Phil – thanks for the kind words. I’m glad those posts were useful to you.

      I use Velocity Blunt 35’s on my Santa Cruz Nomad which is my winter bike now and has been ridden a lot over the 6yrs I’ve owned it. My GF runs the Blunt 35’s as well and I just bought a new set in 29er size for my Krampus. They are dimensionally identical to the LB 35mm rims. I have had no issues with them for durability or holding tubeless once setup.

      I do find tubeless setup more challenging than the LB rims as they don’t have the same well defined bead shelf. What I do is use a rubber Stan’s rim strip which essentially forms a bead shelf at the edge of the strip. You could also build up a shelf with Stan’s tape or some other tape.

      The LB rims are nicer, but I can get the Blunt 35’s for 50% or less the cost so I can’t justify the LB rims on every bike.

      I use alloy nipples as they are easy to get in funky colours I like. I have never had an issue with a trail bike corroding alloy nipples and I rarely need my wheels tensioned so they don’t get damaged.

      Enjoy the M6. It’s a great bike. 🙂

  6. Have been looking around at some Chinese Carbon Rims for weeks now i’m tempted in ordering a set and was hoping someone here has had some experience in these rims and the Novatec Hubs.

    I’m looking at getting the 38mm depth 700c clincher road wheel set
    http://www.gtl-bike.com/23mm-width-carbon-road-bike-38mm-depth-rim-clincher-700c-tubeless-compatible-gtl-r38cu-c23_p0884.html

    and a set of 29+ inch to convert.
    http://www.gtl-bike.com/carbon-semi-fat-29-rim-42mm-hookless-tubeless-compatiblegtl-f42-c-29er_p0870.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s