The 5 Clear Benefits of Carbon Fiber Motorcycle Wheels
In the past, carbon fiber motorcycle wheels may have been seen as a frivolous luxury. Unattainable to the average rider and only for the Valentino Rossi’s of the world. However, in recent years, that is starting to shift.
Carbon fiber motorcycle rims are becoming more widely available and, as a result, many riders are thinking of jumping on the carbon craze with upgrades or buying a motorcycle fitted with carbon fiber motorcycle wheels. And now, the debate between magnesium wheels vs. carbon fiber is a no-contest – with carbon fiber landing a knock-out blow.
Although, there are some naysayers out there who are still wondering, “Are carbon fiber motorcycle wheels worth it?”
Here at Damon, it’s a big resounding yes from us. Let’s look at 5 clear benefits of carbon fiber motorcycle wheels.
1. They’re Extremely Lightweight
One of the most obvious benefits of carbon fiber wheels is their weight. You can look at another two-wheeled vehicle to know that carbon fiber is light: bicycles. Bicycle frames and wheels with carbon fiber are considered the lightest and most desirable in cycling. It’s no different in motorcycling.
So, how much lighter is carbon fiber compared to your common aluminum wheels? Carbon fiber is around 50% lighter.
You may think, “OK, but how much difference does the weight of my wheels make to my ride?” A surprising amount.
Motorcycle wheels are attached to the motorcycle on the end of the suspension. As a result, they form a major part of what is known as unsprung weight.
What’s the Difference Between Sprung and Unsprung Weight?
Sprung weight is everything that sits on top of the suspension, including you! Whereas everything else – the brakes, swingarm, forks, brakes, and wheels – is unsprung weight.
Unsprung weight still has to be controlled by the suspension and, if it’s too heavy, it can throw your motorcycle suspension off. Let’s take a look at a real-world example. Say you’re carving through the streets and you hit a pothole in the road. At this point, the wheel is going to be thrown up in the air and try to continue on in this new direction. The suspension’s job is to catch it, slow it down, and keep the wheel on the ground.
This is a whole lot easier if the unsprung weight is kept as low as possible. Lowered unsprung weight reduces inertia and generally gives you an easier ride. Therefore, as wheels are one of the key components that form your motorcycle’s unsprung weight, carbon fiber wheels put riders at a clear advantage over heavier alternatives.
2. They’re Safer Than Heavier Wheels
There’s a lot of fake news out there about the safety of carbon fiber motorcycle wheels. You may have heard through the motorcycling grapevine that carbon easily shatters, it’s super fragile, or it can’t handle high temperatures. None of this is true.
If you buy good quality carbon wheels from a well-known and industry-respected manufacturer, such as Action Composites, you’re in extremely safe hands.
Myth debunking aside, what makes carbon wheels safe? We mentioned above how carbon fiber’s lightweight properties help keep your wheels more firmly on the ground. This is a huge safety boost. Being able to control the front wheel over bumps in the road allows you to brake and steer better – even on poor road surfaces. Additionally, keeping the back wheel rooted to the ground means you can get a better grip when you take unexpected corners. Carbon fiber wheels also have a lighter rotating mass. Therefore, the amount of force required by the rider to change directions – at the handlebars – is reduced significantly.
Carbon fiber wheels lessen the shocks and vibrations that are common in motorcycles with more unsprung weight. Over time, these vibrations can make you uncomfortable, dull your senses or reactions, and contribute to poor motorcycle ergonomics.
To be safe on the road, you need to be comfortable. Carbon fiber motorcycle wheels will help significantly with this.
3. Improve Track Day Performance
For all of you with a need for speed, carbon fiber wheels will also do wonders for your personal best at motorcycle track days. This is no surprise when you consider how lightweight carbon fiber wheels are.
The larger rotating mass of aluminum or steel wheels means they have a harder time changing directions and steering. Carbon fiber wheels are lighter and easier to turn and, therefore, quicker and more responsive to those deep corners you take on the track.
On top of that, lighter wheels spin and stop with a lot less effort than a heavier wheel. This allows for faster acceleration, improved braking, and much smoother turns – assets not just on the track, but in your daily commute as well.
And, if you own a gas motorcycle, carbon fiber wheels may also help your bike have a better fuel economy. On the other hand, why not quit worrying about fuel altogether and buy an electric motorcycle!
Electric motorcycle vs gas motorcycle? Which is better? Check out our blog to find out.
4. They Look Awesome!
There’s no denying carbon fiber wheels look really badass.
There are some riders who may be put off by their modern look and prefer a more vintage style. But, from where we’re sitting, carbon fiber wheels have both style and substance – something Damon’s design team tries to integrate into all our products.
5. The Cost
In the past, the question was not simply a measured, “How much do carbon fiber wheels cost?” – but a more shrill and gobsmacked, “How much do carbon fiber wheels cost?!”
We get it. Carbon fiber motorcycle wheels were previously out of reach to most. This is mainly due to them being an expensive add-on, which could end up costing over $10,000 after all of the additional parts to get them fitted. In the here and now, carbon fiber wheels are certainly not cheap. That being said, they are much more affordable than before and cost around $1500 to $2000 (price is per wheel and largely dependent on bike fitment).
If you want to avoid the cost that comes with changing up your wheels to carbon fiber motorcycle rims, a lot of sports bikes now come with these fitted as standard.
And, if you’re a serious rider, we recommend looking for a motorbike that already has them fitted. Not only will this save you an aftermarket purchase down the road, but it will also help you reduce bike maintenance costs, fuel consumption, and engine vibrations.
Join the Carbon Club
If you want the smoothest, safest, and sleekest riding experience out there, you would really benefit from carbon fiber motorcycle wheels.
You may not have thought the weight or material of your wheels could make that much of a difference in riding. However, we hope that after reading this you’ll understand what the craze is all about and join the carbon club today…