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38mm or 50mm Carbon Road Wheels: Which one is better

How To Choose 38mm or 50mm Carbon Road Wheels ?

If you’re unfamiliar with rim depth, put simply, it is the thickness of the rim. When looking at the wheels, at first glance the difference between both is very small. But a lot of factors can affect your ride quality: wheel stiffness, spoke count, spoke tension, air pressure, weight and lastly your proper skill.

When choosing your aero wheels you need to look at the conditions you’re riding in. People living in a region with lots of climbs a 38mm carbon rim could be the better option. The wheel is lighter and a feels lot snappier than a 50mm depth wheelsets. If your usual riding consists of lots of straight roads and doing as many miles as you possibly can the 50mm rim will be the better option. The rim is a lot stiffer and will hold speed better. Just keep in mind, the 50mm rim is more difficult to handle in crosswinds.

38mm carbon clincher wheels

Another question you need to ask yourself is why do you want to upgrade your wheelset?

Is it to win a race or simply to enjoy riding more? If you ride a lot of criteriums or races and this is the only wheelset you’ll use you need to think about the useability of your wheelset. Again, keeping wind changes, tire changes, etc in mind… In that case some go for the 38mm option because they are more manageable and useable in more conditions. This gives you more bang for your buck in the long run. On the other hand you can also think about tactics in your race, do you double down on your strengths or do you even out on your weaknesses?

50mm carbon clincher wheels

Does a climber get the shallower wheels to hurt people on the climb or do they get the deeper section wheels to kind of even it out on the flatter sections. My personal take on this is pretty simple, get the deeper dish wheels and go aero. if you really want to be prepared on any situation on race day you can buy a 50mm wheelset and get an extra 38mm front wheel. If it is too windy or for whatever reason you don’t feel confident riding the 50mm you can easily swap in the 38mm.

Unfortunately we can’t give you a concrete answer on what wheel depth you need. Everyone’s situation is different and you’ll need to make out for yourself what you’re looking for in your wheelset upgrade.

  • Jan 14, 2022
  • Category: Articles
  • Comments: 0