When I was younger, it seemed that road bike rims never broke. Even if the rest of the bike disintegrated or the wheels came off, the rims were fine. That’s not the case now. With road bikes being lighter and more versatile, how long do bike rims last?
Road bike rims can last 3 to 5 years or 12 000 miles without incidents. Aluminum road bike rims will last between 1000 and 5000 miles for an active cyclist, but longer if you have carbon fiber rims. Occasionally, road bike rims can be damaged due to accidents, falls, rough terrain, or negligence.
That’s not to say carbon fiber road bike rims cannot be damaged or broken. With enough effort, anything is possible. The lifespan of your road bike’s rims has a lot to do with two critical things – you and the terrain!
What Causes Road Bike Rims To Break?
Road bike rims can handle a lot of punishment but can get damaged and break in several ways. Some can be considered misjudgment, and other causes are due to bravado or recklessness.
Whatever the cause, if you walk away with only a few scratches, who’s counting, right? Here are some rim-wreckers you should look out for:
If you encounter any rim wreckers on the list, you will have to replace one or both of the rims on your road bike.
When Should Road Bike Rims Be Replaced?
Road bike rims should be replaced when there is visible damage or when the rim has done more than the recommended miles.
Besides some form of disaster hitting you while cycling and you can visibly see damage to your road bike rim, how would you know it’s time to replace the road bike rim, and what do you need to look for?
Here are the top signs your road bike rims are done:
If you damage a few spokes, but the rim is not compromised, it is possible to replace the spokes for several brands without purchasing a new rim. Unless you have experience replacing spokes, it’s best to let a technician take a look and decide if you can fix it or replace it.
It’s not wise to ride without all the spokes in a road bike rim, and they must all be present to give the correct amount of pressure.
How Long Will Carbon Rims Last?
Carbon fiber rims can last over 5 years if no critical incidents compromise the rim’s structural integrity.
Damage to a carbon fiber rim is easily seen, especially when the bond between the fibers and resin is compromised.
Things to consider with carbon fiber rims are:
If the structural layer is discolored, visible, or exposed, replacing your carbon fiber road bike rims would be best. This indicates a substantial amount of wear and tear and is no longer safe to use.
If One Rim Is Damaged, Should You Replace Both?
Unless the aluminum or carbon fiber rims are damaged beyond repair and depending on the cost of replacing the rims on your road bike, it is not necessary to replace them both.
This leaves you with a dilemma: Would you trust the rim you didn’t replace? If you had a significant fall or went over a few nasty potholes and there is a bit of wobble or a shake when you ride, it would be best to replace both rims.
Suppose there is damage that is a manufacturing fault and not caused by the terrain or negligence. In that case, your rims will likely still be under warranty. Always keep your receipts and warranty booklets or coupons.
The Cost Of Replacing Road Bike Rims
Here is when owning a road bike can become costly. Unless it’s an off-the-shelf no-name brand bike, your wallet will feel much lighter if you need to replace both rims.
If a fall or a ‘jumping rock’ caused the rims to get damaged, you might need to go for retail trauma counseling after making the purchase. Unfortunately, accidents can be costly!
Replacing a low-end road bike rim can cost as little as $30 and up to $15 500 a set. Yes, that’s right, for the cost of a car, you can have a new set of DEX-LCM carbon rims!
A lot depends on what you will be spending on new rims.
The type of drivetrain will also impact the cost of the rim replacement, so if you have an expensive road bike, set some finances aside for a bumpy day.
Replace your road bike rims at the first sign of visible damage, even if they are new. At no time is it a good idea to ride it out.
If you regularly do maintenance on your road bike rims and check the spokes for integrity, there is no reason they shouldn’t last more than 10 000 miles, jumping rocks and bears aside.