Road bike (Rim Brake)
Master your product and ride with this comprehensive guide.
Rim Series Explained
Buyer's Guide on Rims
What is a rim?
A rim is the circular part of a wheel that holds the tire, and is attached to the hub by a series of spokes. Most modern rims are constructed out of alloy or carbon fiber. While alloy rims tend to be more flexible and are cheaper to manufacture, carbon fiber rims are hand made, lighter than their alloy counterparts, and are often stiffer and stronger.
At Light Bicycle, we make high-performance rims and other cycling parts from premium carbon fiber.
1. Center channel / rim bed / drop channel
The center channel (or rim bed) is the area over which a tire can be mounted onto the wheel bead. Spoke access holes are drilled into the rim bed so that spokes can pull through for connection to the hub. Rim bed design varies between clincher and tubular rims.
2. Rim hooks
Rim hooks are inward-facing ridges formed around the outer circumference of a rim and offer greater stability and tire retention, especially at high tire pressures. Hooked rims help to keep traditional clincher tires from blowing off at high pressure. Rims with hooks are called hooked rims and those without are referred to as hookless.
3. Bead locks
Bead locks are small ridges set on either side of the center channel. These locks make tires easier to mount and reduce the risk of burping and tire blow-off, especially at lower pressures. Bead locks make all of our clincher rims tubeless-ready.
4. Rim offset
A rim with offset at the spoke access holes on the rim bed is referred to as asymmetric. We employ asymmetric profiles on some MTB rims so that spoke tension between each side of the wheel is closer to being equal. An evenly tensioned wheel will stay in true longer and perform better over time. How to choose between symmetric and asymmetric rims >>
5. Angled holes
Nipple holes are drilled through the rim at an angle (+/-6° typically) which works well with average hub dimensions. This allows nipples to create tension straight in line with the spokes, rather than at an angle. Keeping the nipple and spoke in line results in fewer broken spokes and less need for wheel service.
Tire compatibility: clincher & tubular & tubeless
When it comes to bike tires, you can choose between tubular, clincher, and tubeless options. Clincher tires are the most popular and traditional, while tubeless are a modern variant of the clincher where a tire is seated using tire sealant rather than a conventional rubber tube. A tubular tire, with a one-piece tube built in, differs greatly from the other two in shape and performance. While each option has its own pros and cons, we’re happy to offer a wide range of carbon rims to fit different tire types and intended uses.
Besides one MTB offering (RM29T01), all of our tubular rims are made for Road Disc and Non-Disc uses. Use the sidebar filters on our product page to assist in narrowing down options by using the category “Type”. We label the tubular models with the letter T (for Tubular), such as R45T, R35T disc, and RM29T01.
All our clincher rims come tubeless-ready (with holes at the rim bed by default). Rims over 25mm in depth can be produced without spoke access holes to go fully tubeless without the need for rim tape.
Was this helpful? If you have any questions about tubular or clincher rims, please leave a comment and we’ll get back to you within 24hrs.
Brake interface: disc & non-disc rims
Disc brake and rim brake differ in the locations where braking force is applied. Disc brakes apply force to the rotor via calipers while rim brakes apply the force directly to the edge of the rim itself.
We offer many Road, Gravel and CX rims in both brake styles. Head to our top navigation bar to choose between the two categories and start configuring your Light Bicycle carbon wheels.
Upgrades are available from the high TG surface of our non-disc rims to a grooved graphene brake track for better braking performance. The improved surface helps evacuate trapped moisture between the pad and the rim in wet conditions, and increases friction when conditions are dry so less force is required at the braking lever.
For more detailed information on the braking systems, view our article on Rim Brake or Disc Brake? Is There a Clear Winner?. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.
Rim profile: Traditional & X-Flow
We have recently introduced our most innovative rim profile yet: X-Flow. Compared to the smooth sidewalls of traditional rims, the new waved profile features reduced aero drag, boosted lateral stiffness, and greater impact resistance. View our detailed comparison between traditional and X-Flow rims.
Please note that the X-Flow profile is on limited Falcon Pro road bike rims only.
View all the X-Flow products:
Was this helpful? If you have any difficulty choosing a rim, leave a comment or start a live chat with us now.
ERD: Effective Rim Diameter
To determine the proper spoke length for a wheel build, start with the rim’s ERD. ERD measurements for all of our rims are listed in the rim specs section under each product page. Please note that we measure the ERD from the nipple bed on one side of the rim to the nipple bed on the other (refer to the graphic below), which is different from a nipple head-to-head ERD measurement.
When using different nipples minor changes may need to be made to the calculated spoke lengths. If using an online spoke calculator, round calculations up to the nearest mm.
(1) External nipples with a standard head: most online calculators can use our ERD to get an accurate spoke length.
(2) Internal nipples: add 8mm to the results if using 10mm-long nipples, 10mm for 12mm nipples, and 12mm for 14mm nipples.
(3) External nipples with significantly raised heads (such as DT Swiss Squorx, or Double Square): add 2mm to the results for correct spoke lengths.
If your rim has been discontinued or you’ve forgotten the model type, contact us (email@example.com) for the rim specs. You can also measure the ERD by yourself as shown in the tutorial video below (02:55 How to measure the ERD).
If you need help calculating spoke lengths, please submit a spoke length calculation form of contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a request.
Road rim width: Is wider better?
Around 2010, rims of all disciplines became wider to allow for the use of wider tires. This change in width is especially significant in the road world, given the limited tire clearance of traditional rim brake bikes. The introduction of disc brake and tubeless technologies has greatly boosted both riders’ and manufacturers’ confidence in wider profiles.
Traditionally, road racers installed 21mm tires at 110 psi (10 bar) for everyday use. More recently, the industry has seen widespread adoption of 23mm or 25mm tires by the professional peloton at pressures of around 90-115 psi. Some riders use 28mm or 32mm tires at lower pressures if they intend on traversing more rough terrain, and we’ve even seen the choice of using Cross-Country MTB (XC) wheels by gravel or bikepacking riders.
So what are the benefits of wider tires? Simply put: more traction on mixed terrain, increased stability in corners, and a more comfortable ride. Wheels with wider tire profiles are able to roll at lower rolling resistance, with less risk of pinch flats.
We offer a wide array of road rims with internal width ranges from 17.9mm right up to 25mm (for tires from 23c to 50c). If you’d like us to make something wider for you, or if you need any suggestions on rim width for your bike, please contact us (email@example.com) or leave a comment below.
Rim finish & weave
Rim weave and finish pertains to a portion of the top layer of the rim. Beneath the weave we use unidirectional carbon fibers in all of our products. Simply put, finish and weave options are more about aesthetics than performance.
There are four rim finishes available: paintless, matte, glossy and satin. Paintless rims come out of the rim mold as a finished product, requiring no post-production work like sanding or applying a coating. The paintless finish is limited to our Falcon Pro (road) and Recon Pro (mountain) rims.
Glossy, satin, and matte coatings reflect different amounts of light, resulting in different appearances. Our non-pro rims can be manufactured in any of these finishes. To make a special finish request for your pro series rims, please leave a note at checkout or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Generally, we offer 3 types of rim weaves - UD (uni-directional), 3K and 12K.
Different from decussated/twilled woven fabric, the UD fibers run parallel to each other. In decussated weaves, fiber crosses to form an “X” while twilled weaves are a pattern of diagonal ribs. UD is the most popular weave we use, followed by 3K, and 12K.
There are several variants of the 3K weave: 3K, 3K Twill (horizontal), 3K Twill (vertical), and Hexa-Comb which vary little in performance. “3K” and “Hexa-Comb” are listed as online options for some rims. Similarly, there are 12K variants like 12K, 12K Twill (vertical), and 12K Twill (horizontal), but 12K twill weaves are not listed online.
Was this helpful? Leave a comment below if you need help. Some weave and finish options are not listed online so please get in touch with us if you have any questions.
Decals are the decorative graphics attached to the rim sidewalls. We offer two types of wheel decals: waterslide decals (non-removable) and stickers (removable).
You can send us an image or design for a personalized look. Custom graphics usually add at least $80 USD to the total order and we charge an extra $5 USD for decal installation on each rim.
We’re happy to offer decals and stickers as an option for your rims/wheels free of charge. If you want some extra stickers as a replacement, you can order them separately.
There are four types of holes drilled in our rims: spoke access holes, nipple holes, valve holes, and water drain holes. Take a moment to learn about each hole’s function, and consider whether you need customized diameters on your next Light Bicycle purchase.
1. Spoke access holes
Access holes are drilled into the rim bed/center channel to feed the nipple through the rim to connect with the spokes. We drill centered (staggered), offset, or dual drilling hole patterns depending on the rim type.
Rims with access holes are tubeless-ready, and those without are tubeless. How to choose between tubeless and tubeless-ready >>
2. Nipple holes
The diameter of internal nipple holes is 2.5mm, and external nipple holes are usually 4.5mm. If you’re hoping to use internal nipples, we suggest that you use them for deeper rims (over 25mm in depth).
3. Valve holes
There are two types of valves commonly found on cycling wheels: Presta & Schrader. Presta valves have a 6.5mm valve diameter and are the most popular for mountain bike, road and fat rims. This is our default valve hole size on all rims. For tubeless we suggest using a Presta valve instead of Schrader, but we can make 8.5mm Schrader valve holes by special order.
4. Drain holes
Drain holes are often located 90°/180° to the valve. These holes are designed to evacuate water using the centrifugal force of the wheels. Though not necessary, the 2.5mm holes can help to reduce the amount of water accumulating inside the rim while riding.
If you choose “with drain holes” for your Light Bicycle rim, you will find two drain holes located 90° to the valve rightward on both sides of the rim.
Our pro and non-pro rims feature two distinct manufacturing processes. The largest difference is that the Pro series paintless rims come out of the mold as a finished product.
Let’s learn more details about the process of a regular order.
Step 1 - Material preparation
First, we prepare prepreg carbon fiber (this is just an abbreviated term to describe fabric that was pre-impregnated with resin), an air bladder (if needed), and the serial number label for the rim. Materials are carefully weighed for strict control on weight and quality. The prepregs can have a different resin content and are used in specific areas of the rim, so high attention to these details is required. Our engineers will also confirm special order requests before production starts.
Step 2 - Rim layup
A rim of standard weight typically requires 30 to 40 carbon layers. All carbon rims are hand-laid carefully by our well-trained staff and usually take between 30 and 45 minutes per rim. Our Pro rims use many different material types and have a more complicated layup design, so the process is more time-consuming.
Step 3 - Molding
Our latest generation hot and cold molding facility guarantees the consistent high-quality of our products. Our Pro series products use an upgraded molding machine which ensures a highly scratch-resistant and flawless rim finish, right out of the mold.
Step 4 - CNC Machining
All rims are drilled at an angle (+/-6° typically) with a CNC (computer numerical control) machine using diamond drill bits. We inspect the drill bits every sixty holes.
Step 5 - Sanding
In the detailing process, we detect any resin residue that has wicked away during curing, as well as burrs around the drilled holes. Rim details are amplified during the building process, and we want to offer a premium user experience from building to riding.
Step 6 - Painting
Waterslide decals are usually installed before rim coating, except the glossy decals, which is why we don’t suggest attaching glossy decals to glossy rims. Our Pro series paintless rims require no finishing.
Step 7 - QC & In Place
In between every manufacturing stage, we have a QC check. After a rim is finished, we conduct a final and thorough quality inspection on the product from performance to appearance.
Step 8 - Wheel Building
Your wheels are precision handbuilt and trued by our experienced wheel builders. Wheels are stress-relieved 4 to 5 times so they’re ready to ride out of the box.
Step 9 - Packing
We may take pictures of the products so customers can double check their order if required. Small parts like valve stems, tapes, and decals are stored in small polyester bags and the wheels/rims are kept between foam to absorb possible impacts during shipping.
Step 10 - Shipping
For regular orders, we provide several shipping options depending on whether expedited or value-oriented shipping is required. You can also drop by our warehouse to pick your order up if you live close by. If your order was shipped, tracking is provided with the link sent out in the order confirmation email.
If you have any questions about how we make our rims, feel free to let us know in the comments.
MTB rim series: Recon & Recon Pro
The Recon and Recon Pro are our collection of mountain bike rims. Compared to the non-pro rims, Pro models have an innovative manufacturing process whereby the rims come out of the molds without the need for additional painting or polishing. This requires a specialized manufacturing process with new higher-precision molds and presses.
Pros of Recon series:
(1) Budget-friendly. Single rims cost ~$200 or less.
(2) Symmetric or asymmetric rim shapes available.
*Choose symmetric rims for Cannondale Ai offset frameset.
(3) Wheel size variety. Recon rims are available in 29”, 27.5”, 26”, and 24”.
(4) Weave patterns and finish options. Available in UD, 3K, or 12K twill (vertical or horizontal) pattern, and glossy, matte or satin finish.
(5) Widest range. The external width of Recon rims is up to 50mm.
(6) More customized graphic options.
Why non-pro rims may not be the best choice for you:
(1) Warranty and crash replacement terms are not as long as the Pro series. 3-year warranty with a 3-year 10% crash replacement discount.
(2) More likely to scuff. Rocks and roots leave marks on the surface more easily.
Recon Pro series
Pros of Recon Pro series:
(1) 3%-5% stronger than the equivalent Recon rim.
(2) Higher scratch resistance.
(3) Manufacturing process is more environmentally-friendly (no need for post-production).
(4) The natural UD weave of carbon fibers is visible to the naked eye.
(5) 5-year warranty and an optional lifetime warranty.
Why Pro-series rims may not be the best choice for you:
(1) Only available in 29” and 27.5”.
(2) Only available in paintless finish.
(3) More expensive.
For more Recon technology explained:
Road rim series: Falcon & Falcon Pro
The Falcon and Falcon Pro series make up our collection of road rims. Our Falcon Pro series prioritizes the highest quality possible in both rim layup and molding, leading to stronger and more durable rims with a beautiful scratch-resistant surface.
Pros of Falcon series:
(1) Product variety. You can build wheelsets for either tubular, clincher, or tubeless setups. We also offer road rims in disc brake and rim brake types.
(2) Rim depth range. The depth of Falcon rims ranges from 24mm to 88mm. Lightweight or aero gains - you get exactly what you need.
(3) Finish options and weave patterns. We offer three types of finishes:matte, satin and glossy, and four weave patterns: UD, both vertical or horizontal 3K, and 12K.
(4) Do-it-all wheels. Several Falcon rims are designed for all road uses (paved roads, gravel, dirt).
(5) More budget-friendly. Less than $200 per rim.
Why non-pro rims may not work for you:
(1) 3-year limited warranty and crash replacement.
(2) Not as strong as the Falcon Pro rims.
(3) Less scratch-resistance.
Falcon Pro series
Pros of Falcon Pro series:
(1) Standard layup has increased strength compared to Falcon Series. We use thinner materials to form more layers in the layup without adding weight.
(2) Highly scratch resistant.
(3) The glossier paintless finish stands out more than the matte finish and gives a premium look.
(4) Excellent dynamic balance. Well-balanced rims offer smoother rolling efficiency and more solid tire/road contact.
(5) A more environmentally friendly manufacturing process (no need for post-production).
(6) 5-Year warranty and optional lifetime guarantee.
(7) The innovative X-Flow profile is applied exclusively to some Pro models.
Why Pro-series rims may not work for you:
(1) Limited choice in width and depth.
(2) Only glossy waterslide decals can be installed on the rims.
(3) Not as budget-friendly as a non-Pro build.
For more Falcon technology explained:
Falcon Pro series
Fat rim series: Drift & Drift Pro
Drift and Drift Pro are our collection of fat-bike carbon rims. All of our fat bike rims are tubeless compatible, so forget the need for heavy tubes. We have one Drift Pro model available online: the FS680, featuring an ultra-thin single-wall design.
Our Non-Pro series rims come standard with a 3-year warranty and crash replacement, while our Pro rims come with a 5-year warranty by default which can be upgraded to a Lifetime warranty.
Most of our fat rims come in 26er size, except the RSNOW05 (27.5”). The external rim widths range from 65mm to 85mm, fitting tires from 3.8” right up to 5.0”.
A brief comparison of all fat bike rims:
|Tire Size||4.3" ~ 5.0"||4.3" ~ 5.0"||3.8" ~ 4.2"||3.8" ~ 5.0"|
|Weight||500+/-25g||580+/-20g (HD optional)||500+/-20g (HD optional)||580+/-20g (Flyweight & HD optional)|
|Appearance||UD Matte||12K, 3K, UD
|12K, 3K, UD
|12K, 3K, UD
|Warranty||5-Year or Lifetime||3-Year||3-Year||3-Year|
For more Drift tech explained:
Rim weights: Standard vs Flyweight vs Heavy Duty
Standard, Flyweight, and Heavy Duty rims do not refer to certain rim models, but different layup styles. With so much variance in rider type, terrain, events, and sub-disciplines we fine tune our rims to be suitable for your unique situation. We don’t simply change the weight of rims by adding or removing carbon layers. The entire layup is redesigned to ensure that strength and ride characteristics are suitable for any given situation.
Our carbon rims of standard weight are suitable for most average-weight riders. These rims are made exclusively with Toray T700 prepregs. The production process is simplified when using one primary fabric type.
Heavy Duty Rims
Our HD (Heavy Duty) rims are designed for riders over 220lbs, or for aggressive use on the gnarliest trails. We add material in key areas and rework the angles on our standard layup. The largest change is adding a layer of carbon (typically 3K weave) wrapped around the air bladder in the opposite orientation of the previous wrap. The end result is an increase in overall strength, wall thickness, and stiffness. An HD rim adds approximately 50 grams over its standard counterpart.
Our Flyweight layup is suitable for paved roads, cross country, and XC marathon riders, or for those looking to build the lightest wheels possible. The rider’s weight limit on Flyweight rims is 90kg (198lbs). Our Flyweight layup is significantly different from our other styles; while we still use the Toray T700, we also introduced the T800, which is lighter and stiffer in comparison. Rims that are exclusively made with T800 are too stiff and can become brittle over time, so we use it only where it makes sense. Please note that while flyweight rims are incredibly lightweight, they inevitably make a compromise in strength and stiffness.
Was this helpful? Read our blog (Standard & Flyweight & Heavy-Duty) for a more detailed explanation and the rim weight charts. Leave a comment below if you still have some questions on the various weight styles.
What rim depth do I need?
Rim depth usually depends on your riding style. To simplify your decision, we’ll take a look at the three S’s: Stability, Stiffness, and Speed.
The stability of a wheel is affected primarily by rim depth and profile. A deeper rim profile results in a more aerodynamic wheel that may be prone to being knocked offline by strong crosswind forces. For lighter riders (under 150lbs) this can prove to be an obstacle.
Nothing makes as large an impact on wheel stiffness as the rim depth. A deeper rim is usually stiffer and responds more quickly to pedaling forces. This makes deeper rims more efficient since less power is dispersed as the wheels flex. Shallower wheels tend to be more comfortable to ride, especially on rough surfaces since the rims absorb more bumps and vibrations.
Shallower rims, while lighter, are not necessarily faster. Consider rotational weight, aerodynamic performance, and the entire system weight if you want to buy a faster wheelset.
Lighter or more aero? A deeper profiled rim is more aerodynamic yet heavier, while a shallower, lighter rim will be more comfortable and easier to handle. The benefits of an aerodynamic rim will generally offset the marginal weight gains that come with a deeper profile. If you are riding or racing competitively, then prioritizing aerodynamics becomes paramount. An independent engineer has done some aero tests to find the fastest bicycle wheels on deep rims, among which Light Bicycle AR46 and AR56 rims are rated well.
Inertia or rotational weight should also be considered. Generally, when two wheels weigh exactly the same, the one with more of its weight percentage at the hub (lower inertia) will accelerate more easily. It will feel faster than the wheel that has more weight (higher inertia) at the rim. Hub weight matters far less than you might think for a road wheelset.
How to choose?
Consider all variables: (1) the terrain, (2) rider weight, (3) cycling experience and skill, (4) riding event types.
Picking the correct rim depth should be as much about choosing one that is comfortable and confidence-inspiring as it is about choosing one that is just as fast as possible. An experienced triathlete may opt for 88mm-deep rims because typically the cycling portion of a triathlon takes place on a relatively straight and flat course with very little (if any) group riding. However, if that same rider were preparing for their first Gran Fondo, they may be best suited for 35mm-deep rims since the more shallow rim will be more comfortable and easier to control in a tight group. Think about the 3 S’s (Stability, Stiffness, Speed) when considering the four variables above, to find your answer.
Was this helpful? If you are still confused about depth selection, feel free to leave a comment.
R, AR, WR road rims: what’s the differences?
We categorize and name the road models based on their width, depth, and suggested use. You can find our rims listed as R (Road), AR (All Road), and WR (Wide Road).
R-rims are the narrowest road bike rims with an internal width from 17 to 19mm, paired mostly with tires from 21mm to 28mm. Rim depths range from 25mm to 88mm. R-rims are suitable for riders who use a rim-brake frameset with tight tire clearance, or who want more aerodynamics on smooth roads.
AR-rims are medium width rims ranging from 20mm to 23mm internally. These “All Road” rims are the most versatile rims we offer and are suitable for paved roads, CX races, gravel, and adventure rides. AR rim depths range from 24mm to 56mm and are available in 700c and 650b.
WR-rims are the widest road rims we offer with an internal width of 25mm. These rims are designed specifically for gravel and dirt. The wide profile and hookless available design offer a stable tire stance and comfortable ride over rougher terrain types. WR-rim depths range from 35mm to 65mm and are available in 700c and 650b.
You can also customize your riding characteristics with a mixed depth and width combination. Many road riders tend to pair a WR rim with a deeper AR rim in the back, allowing increased comfort and aero at the same time. For more details, take a look at our blog on the mixed rim combination.
We have also collected some actual measurements of popular road tires on LB rims, which may be useful when choosing a tire and rim combination.
Hooked vs hookless: Which bead type is better?
Traditional clincher rims have bead hooks (inward-facing ridges) around the outer circumference of the rim. This bead type is called “hooked”. “Hookless rims” remove the protrusions and instead have a straight vertical edge.
So why would you need hooks? Hooks provide more stability and tire retention, especially at higher tire pressures. It’s been proven by many rim and tire manufacturers that hooks noticeably increase the pressure at which a tire stays secured on the rim. The tire pressure limit of our hooked road rims is 115psi (60psi for gravel type), while that of the hookless road rims is 70psi (50psi for gravel rims).
Why remove hooks? From the perspective of a rim producer, hookless rims have higher manufacturing efficiency. As for the rim itself, with the material flowing more smoothly and uniformly, the impact resistance of a hookless rim is significantly increased. With the removal of the protruding hooks pushing the tire wall inward, there is a wider tire stance on the hookless rim.
Hookless rims are right for you if you are running wider tires, lower pressures, or are riding on rougher roads. Note that hookless is most frequently paired with tubeless tires, but not all tubeless tires are compatible with all hookless rims.
Hooked rims are right for you if you plan to run high pressure, value aerodynamic gains, and mostly ride on smoother roads.
Was this helpful for you? You may be interested in viewing the more detailed information on hook vs hookless.
Symmetric vs asymmetric: Which to choose?
Is an asymmetric rim right for you?
Asymmetrically profiled rims are designed and drilled with the spoke/nipple holes offset from the centerline of the rim. Symmetrical rims, as a contrast, have the nipple holes drilled at the centerline.
Why asymmetric? At one point in bicycle wheel history, the rear hub carried just one or two sprockets, so tensions between the drive and non-drive side spokes were very similar. As more sprockets were added, the drive-side hub flange moved further leftward creating an increased tension gap between the spokes of each side. Asymmetric rim design allows us to compensate for that hub offset. The centerline of the rim moves toward the non-drive side and the scalene triangle gets closer to that of an isosceles. An asymmetric wheel build tends to be stronger, stiffer, and stays truer longer.
How to orient your asymmetric rims?
List of asymmetric rims:
We only employ the asymmetric profile in some MTB rim designs. Please note that if you use an offset frameset (like Cannondale Ai), please choose symmetric rims or an asymmetric rim with a small (2mm) offset. Find the rim offset information in the rim specs section under each product page.
|XC925||2mm||Recon Pro||29er||25/30mm||23mm||Cross Country|
|XC725||2mm||Recon Pro||650B||25/30mm||23mm||Cross Country|
|AM927||2mm||Recon Pro||29er||27/33mm||24mm||All Mountain|
|AM727||2mm||Recon Pro||650B||27/33mm||24mm||All Mountain|
|AM930||2mm||Recon Pro||29er||30/36mm||25mm||All Mountain|
|AM730||2mm||Recon Pro||650B||30/36mm||25mm||All Mountain|
|AM935||2mm||Recon Pro||29er||35/41mm||27mm||All Mountain|
|AM735||2mm||Recon Pro||650B||35/41mm||27mm||All Mountain|
|AM724||2.6mm||Recon||650B||24/30mm||24mm||Cross Country/All Mountain|
Tubeless or tubeless-ready: What’s best for me?
Rims are advertised as either Tubeless-Ready (with nipple holes) or Tubeless (without nipple holes). To help you make an informed choice, here is a brief comparison of the two types.
1. Tubeless setup
You’ll see Tubeless-ready rims on 99% of bikes out there, with holes to access the nipple and spoke easily. To make a laced wheel fully tubeless, you’ll need to apply tubeless tape to the rim bed to seal the holes.
Tubeless rims do not have access holes on the rim bed - the only hole you’ll see in the center channel is the valve hole. In order to build tubeless wheels, you need to feed individual nipples into the valve hole one at a time and use a magnet to trace the nipples to the appropriate spoke hole. There are also lacing kits available that allow you to pull nipples through these rims with a string or wire.
2. Rim weights
A tubeless-ready rim with holes is slightly lighter than a tubeless rim on average due to the additional holes. Tubeless tape tends to be quite lightweight so the overall weight is still slightly lighter than a tubeless setup without holes in the center channel.
3. Rim costs
There is no cost difference between tubeless-ready and tubeless options when purchasing your rims, but you’ll likely find that a wheel builder or bike shop will charge more to build with tubeless rims. Some builders may not have experience with this type of wheel build and replacing spokes and nipples can become costly if you’re having your local builder or shop do the work. If you’re doing it yourself, then all you need is time and patience.
If you’d like to learn how to lace a tubeless rim, this tutorial video can help.
What is a mullet wheelset? How to order?
Mullet wheelsets use a combination of two different wheel sizes in one wheelset to change the riding characteristics of a bike. Currently, the most common mullet combination is a 29” front wheel and a 650b rear wheel. This is done to make a bike feel nimble, playful, be more comfortable on steep lipped jumps, and potentially handle steep roll-overs more easily.
One major drawback of a mullet bike is the need to potentially purchase two wheelsets from a retailer as they may only stock 29er wheelsets or 650b wheelsets without offering customization services. Here at Light Bicycle, every wheelset is custom built to order so we can make any wheelset combination you can imagine!
Is a mullet wheelset right for you? Please contact your bike manufacturer first to determine if this modification will work for your bike. If it is safe to use, we suggest you borrow a rear wheel from a friend to give it a try.
We offer some preset, high-end carbon 29er front and 650b rear combos but you can DIY a unique combo if you’d prefer. Contact us (email@example.com) to make your dream build come true.
Recon Pro set-up:
EN932 + EN732 ≈ $921 USD +
EN933 + EN733 ≈ $679 USD +
Hubs, spokes, nipples: the basics
As you build up your first carbon wheelset, it may be helpful to know the basics of these components first.
The hub is the central part of your bicycle wheel (front/rear). As the name suggests, the hub serves as an anchor point for the spokes, and a joint between the wheel and frame to keep the wheels attached and moving. Generally, a hub consists of hub shell, bearings, axle, driver body, rotor mount, and end caps.
The spokes are the radiating rods connecting the hub and the rim. They transmit pedaling power, and keep the rims round and true. We offer butted and bladed spokes for different riding conditions. Disc wheels are completely spokeless.
Nipples are the contact point between the spokes and the rim. They are cylindrical in shape to spin freely through the rim holes during the build process, with internal threading for the spokes. We build wheels with external nipples (with a visible end protruding out of the rim) by default.
Hubs we build with at the Global warehouse
Here is a collection of hubs we offer from the Global warehouse. Note that the actual axle sizing and colors may change due to availability. Please refer to the actual hub options on the product page. View the full hub list to see all the hubs we have built with in the past.
1. Value Oriented Options:
2. Mid Tier Options:
3. Premium Options:
Hubs we build with at the North American warehouse
This is a collection of hubs available at the North American warehouse. For all the hubs we’ve built with in the past, view our updated hub list.
Spokes we build with
Below is a collection of spokes we use at Light Bicycle. These spokes are made of stainless steel. To customize your build in any way (using carbon fiber spokes, etc.) please contact us for help (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you’re looking for basic knowledge on spokes, view our article Spokes 101.
|Brand||Model||Type||Weight(g) *260mm||Gauge||Riding Style||Availability|
|Sapim||Race||Double Butted||5.7g||14G||Heavy Duty||North American Warehouse|
|D-Light||Double Butted||4.8 g||14G||Versatile||Global & North American|
|CX Sprint||Aero||5.2g||N/A||Light Aero||Global Warehouse|
|CX-Ray||Aero||4.4g||N/A||Light Aero||Global & North American & European|
|DT Swiss||Competition Race||Double Butted||4.8g||14G||MTB||Global Warehouse|
|Pillar||PSR X-TRA 1420||Aero||4.4g||N/A||Inexpensive Aero||Global Warehouse|
|Wing 20||Aero||4.3g||14G||Light Aero||Global Warehouse|
|Light Bicycle||Oil Slick J-bend||Single-Butted||6.7g||14G||More Flair||Global Warehouse|
Sapim Race is a popular double-butted spoke for race, MTB, BMX, and downhill bikes. The butted middle-part of the spoke improves shock absorption quality. Sapim Race is one of the strongest and stiffest spokes we offer.
Sapim Race is only available online when buying from our North American Warehouse. If you want to special order this type of spokes from other warehouses, please contact us (email@example.com).
Sapim D-Lights are true all-around spokes and work well in a wide variety of situations. Whether you want to ride hard or playfully, D-Lights will likely suit you. The middle section is 1.65mm vs. 1.80mm Race spokes, which leads to weight savings and a comfortable ride quality.
We build our mountain bike wheels with D-Light spokes at both the Global and the North American warehouses.
Sapim CX Ray
Sapim CX Ray offers the best results in the fatigue testing of all the Sapim spokes. With its flexibility and strength, the CX Ray is ultra-versatile and suitable for most types of riding but is especially popular among triathlon and road racers.
We offer CX Ray aero bladed spokes for wheel builds of all disciplines (MTB, road, fat bike) from the Global and the North American warehouses. It is our most popular spoke option for road wheels.
Available at both the Global and the North American warehouses.
Sapim CX Sprint
Sapim CX Sprint is the other bladed spoke option from Sapim. While it looks similar to the legendary CX Ray, it’s manufactured with added stiffness which is why many builders pair the CX Sprint on the drive side with the CX Ray on the non-drive side of the wheel.
At Light Bicycle, we offer a unique spoke combo with the CX Sprints for the rear drive side and the CX Rays for all the other sides. This spoke choice is limited to road wheels from the Global warehouse (special order at the North American Warehouse).
DT Swiss Competition Race
The Competition Race is a lightweight evolution of the older DT Competition spokes. With an ultra-thin middle-section, these double-butted spokes achieve weight savings of a whopping 70g. We offer the Competition Race spokes for fat bike wheel builds from the Global warehouse.
Pillar PSR X-TRA 1420
The PSR X-TRA spoke features Pillar patented cold forge technology. The spokes are lightweight without compromising overall performance. These spokes are suitable for race, MTB, downhill, and enduro riding. Available at the Global warehouse.
Pillar Wing 20
Pillar Wing (20) is Pillar’s highest performing aerodynamic spoke with an extremely unique design that reduces twisting during tensioning. Suitable for race, mountain, downhill, freeride, and enduro riding.
We offer the Pillar Wing 20 in oil slick coating from our Global warehouse.
Light Bicycle Oil Slick J-bend
With the increased demand for oil slick finishes in the mountain bike world, we’re happy to offer this new eye-catching butted spoke option from our Global warehouse.
How to calculate the spoke length?
If you’re interested in purchasing standalone rims only or are hoping to rebuild a previous Light Bicycle wheelset, you may need assistance with spoke length calculation. If so, fill in this form with the details of your new build, and one of our wheel builders will calculate the correct lengths for you!
Leave a comment if you have any questions about spoke selection.
Nipples we use
Here is a collection of all the nipples we use. To customize your nipples, contact us at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
|Sapim||Polyax Secure Lock||external||aluminum||14mm||Global|
|Double Square Secure Lock||external||aluminum||16mm||Global & North American|
|Polyax Secure Lock||external||brass||14mm||Global|
|DT Swiss||Double Square Secure Lock||external||brass||16mm||Global & North American|
|DT SQUORX (PRO HEAD PRO LOCK)||external||aluminum||15mm||Global|
|Standard PRO LOCK||external||brass||14mm||Global|
|Light Bicycle||Brass Oil Slick||external||brass||13mm||Global|
Brass or alloy nipples: which to use?
When configuring your wheelset, you can choose between brass and aluminum nipples. What’s the difference? This is a common question asked by beginners and seasoned riders alike. To help you with your decision, we’ll compare the alloy and the brass nipples in five ways:
Brass nipples generally weigh about 1 gram each whereas alloy weighs about ⅓ of a gram. While this may not sound like much, some wheelsets have up to 72 nipples and they are positioned near the outer diameter of the wheel where rotational weight is more critical.
Brass nipples do not take color like alloy, but we do stock them in both black and silver. You’ll notice that black brass nipples do not look as vibrant as black alloy nipples and they discolor more easily. Alloy nipples on the other hand can be anodized and are offered in a wide range of colors.
If you use standard 12mm long nipples with traditional heads, then brass nipples have more strength. Alloy nipples with a raised head (like double square or hex head) have dramatically stronger shear strength due to the oversized head (and no slot). Most 16mm nipples with oversized heads can achieve full thread engagement, whereas traditional nipples can only get ⅔ engagement in the best-case scenario.
Alloy nipples have less friction when being turned onto steel spokes compared to brass, so they tend to build up easier without spoke wind up (twisting) as often. Alloy is a bit softer than brass so the nipples can round out more easily. A 4-sided external nipple wrench or an internal nipple tool when using hex, double square or DT Squorx nipples is very helpful to prevent damaging the nipples during building.
Some nipples like Sapim Polyax are made from heat-treated 7075 series alloy which is harder and less prone to rounding out. Features like Sapim’s Secure lock or DT Swiss’s Pro Lock help prevent unwinding and loosening of the nipples, which can cause wheels to lose tension and come out of true sooner than they otherwise would. The nipples also sport tapered heads to lower stress at the nipple bed and pull more in line with the spokes.
In most cases, brass nipples won’t corrode as much as alloy nipples. There is more galvanic corrosion between carbon and alloy so only high-quality alloy nipples should be used. Sapim’s high-end alloy nipples have a special corrosion treatment and their salt spray tests show better results than brass nickel plated nipples.
Was this helpful? Leave a comment if you have any questions.
Tire & rim fit charts
What size tire can you fit on any given rim? Please refer to our rim & tire compatibility charts and the recommendations by the tire maker to select the right tire size for your wheel.
Unfit tires can ruin your riding experience. If your tire is too narrow compared to the rim, you risk a pinch flat and rim damage. If the tires are too wide, you may burp air or experience excess tire roll and poor stability.
|Internal rim width (mm)||19||20||21||22||23||24||25||26||27||28||29||30||31||32||33||34||35||40||45||50|
|Tire size 1.9"||√||√||√||√||√|
|Tire size 2.0"||√||√||√||√||√||√|
|Tire size 2.1"||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√|
|Tire size 2.2"||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√|
|Tire size 2.3"||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√|
|Tire size 2.4"||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√|
|Tire size 2.5 - 2.7"||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√|
|Tire size 2.8 - 3.1" (Plus)||√||√||√||√||√||√||√||√|
The recommendations are based on our rim-tire compatibility tests with some of the most popular tires. This chart only serves as a general guide since bead design, inflation pressures, and other variables will affect the actual rim-tire compatibility. Please send the rim profile to the tire manufacturer to double-check.
We don’t suggest choosing the largest or smallest values of a size range. For example, with a range from 1.9” to 2.1”, 2.0” is an optimal option for most riders.
The chart is only applicable to Light Bicycle rims with a unique rim-tire interface. If you use rims of other brands, please send a rim profile to the tire maker for recommendations.
|Internal rim width (mm)||17-19||20-21||22-23||24-25|
|Tire size 23-25C||√|
|Tire size 25-28C||√||√||√|
|Tire size 28-30C||√||√||√||√|
|Tire size 30-33C||√||√||√||√|
|Tire size 33-35C||√||√||√||√|
|Tire size 35-38C||√||√||√||√|
|Tire size 38-40C||√||√||√|
|Tire size 40-43C||√||√||√|
|Tire size 43-45C||√||√|
|Tire size 45-48C||√||√|
|Tire size 48-50C||√|
The recommendations are based on our rim-tire compatibility tests with some of the most popular tires. This chart only serves as a general guide as bead design, inflation pressures, and other variables will affect the actual rim-tire compatibility. Please send the rim profile to the tire manufacturer to double-check.
We don’t suggest choosing the largest and smallest values of a size range. For example, with a range from 25C to 30C, 28C is an optimal option for most riders.
The chart is only applicable to Light Bicycle rims with a specific rim-tire interface. If you use rims of other brands, please send a rim profile to the tire maker for recommendations.
|Internal rim width (mm)||55||60||65||70||75||80||85|
|Tire size 3.8 - 4.2"||√||√||√|
|Tire size 4.3 - 5.0"||√||√||√||√||√||√||√|
The recommendations are based on our rim-tire compatibility tests with some of the most popular tires. This chart only serves as a general guide as bead design, inflation pressures, and other variables will affect the actual rim-tire compatibility. The chart data should be verified with the tire manufacturer.
We don’t suggest choosing the largest and smallest values of a recommended size range. For example, with a range from 4.3” to 5.0”, 4.7” is an optimal option for most riders.
The chart is only applicable to Light Bicycle rims with a specific rim-tire interface. If you use rims of other brands, please send rim profiles to the tire maker for recommendations.
If you still have any questions about tire compatibility, feel free to leave a comment.
Road tires: actual widths on rims
These days, many road riders prefer to go wider with their rims and tires, but the tire clearance of their bike frame sets a limit. In this case, the actual measurements of the tires on the rims can be important to strike the right balance between fit and comfort.
To make your tire choice easier, we’ve collected some useful info on popular road bike tires from Maxxis, Vittoria, Michelin, Continental, and Schwalbe. Specifically speaking, we installed the tires on our R-rims (25 ext wide), AR rims (28/30 ext wide), and WR rims (32 ext wide), and measured the tire width after inflating them up to 60psi.
|Tires||R rims||AR-28 rims||AR-30 rims||WR rims|
|Vittoria Rubino Pro Endurance (28c)||29.30mm||30.80mm||31.05mm||32.20mm|
|Maxxis Re-Fuse (25c)||25.00mm||26.56mm||27.03mm||27.98mm|
|Maxxis Re-Fuse (28c)||28.02mm||29.04mm||29.66mm||30.15mm|
|Maxxis Re-Fuse TR (32c)||31.71mm||32.49mm||32.83mm||33.98mm|
|Continental Grandsport (23c)||23.63mm||25.44mm||26.20mm||27.36mm|
|Continental GP5000 (25c)||25.87mm||26.54mm||27.05mm||28.46mm|
|Continental GP5000 (28c)||28.17mm||29.37mm||29.85mm||31.03mm|
|Continental Gatorskin (25c)||25.73mm||26.65mm||28.00mm||27.84mm|
|Continental Gatorskin (28c)||27.25mm||28.64mm||29.12mm||30.34mm|
|Continental Grandsport (28c)||28.87mm||30.55mm||31.14mm||31.54mm|
| Schwalbe Pro One TR (25c)||25.60mm||28.62mm||28.61mm||29.04mm|
| Schwalbe Pro One (28c)||29.42mm||30.01mm||29.99mm||31.17mm|
|Michelin Power Endurance (25c)||25.85mm||27.13mm||28.69mm||28.97mm|
|Michelin Power Endurance (28c)||27.93mm||29.91mm||30.74mm||31.30mm|
We also rated the ease of installation of each tire. View our article (Road Tires: Actual Widths On LB Rims) for more details and if you have any questions, leave us a comment.
Presta valves: what valve length to use?
We offer alloy valves for tubeless wheel build. The valve core is removable so that you can inject tubeless sealant through the valve without having to pop the tire bead off the rim. The valves are compatible with all rims we produce.
Recommended valve lengths
|Rim depth||Valve length|
How to install a valve on a taped rim?
Step 1 - Locate the valve hole.
Step 2 - Make a tiny “X” with a sharp utility knife for the valve to go through.
Step 3 - Prep the valve by removing the plastic cap, remove the collar and o-ring, then press the valve into the tape.
Step 4 - Slowly twist the valve stem as you push it through the tape and into the valve hole.
Step 5 - Put the o-ring on, screw the collar onto the stem (with the concave base facing the o-ring), and ensure the collar is secure. You can push down on the rubber end with your thumb as you tighten the collar. If successful, the rubber base should mushroom out and seal the rim. Do not over-tighten the collar.
Buy some valve stems as a replacement now. If you have any question in choosing the valves, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you.
Tape: how to choose the tape width?
For tubeless-ready rims (with spoke access holes), you’ll need to tape the rim bed to achieve tubeless setup. We offer high-tensile tapes featuring natural rubber adhesives that will leave little residue on the rim if removed.
Recommended tape widths
|Tape Width||1 Layer (Center over holes)||2 Layers (Left/Right)|
|18mm (Full coverage 17mm rim)||17-23mm||26-30mm|
|25mm (Full coverage 24mm rim)||24-26mm||35-40mm|
|31mm (Full coverage 30mm rim)||30-32mm||41-50mm|
How to tape a rim?
Buy some rolls of rim tapes as a replacement now. If you have any questions about choosing the right tape or rim taping up a tubeless-ready rim, leave us a comment.
What freehub to use?
There are two brands that dominate the freehub/cassette market: Shimano and Sram. If you have a Campagnolo cassette, you’ll require a Campagnolo freehub as they are not compatible with either Shimano or Sram. As standards continue to evolve, the number of compatibility issues increases over time.
Below is a freehub and cassette compatibility chart:
|Shimano||HG 8-10 speed mountain freehub||8/9/11 speed mountain cassette||no|
|10 speed cassette||1mm spacer|
|11-speed road cassette||not compatible|
|HG 10-speed ONLY||10 speed cassette||no|
|other-speed cassettes||not compatible|
|HG 11/12 speed road freehub||8/9/11 speed mountain cassette||1.85mm spacer|
|10 speed cassette||1.85mm + 1mm spacers|
|11-speed road cassette||no|
|12-speed road cassette||no|
|MS 11/12 speed mountain freehub||11/12 speed cassette||no|
|HG+ 12-speed road only freehub||11-speed road cassette||Not compatible|
|12-speed road cassette||no|
|SRAM||HG-style 9/10 speed freehub||SRAM 9 speed||no|
|SRAM 10 speed||no|
|NX Eagle 12 speed cassette||no|
|HG-style 11-speed road freehub||SRAM 9 speed||1.85mm spacer|
|SRAM 10 speed||1.85mm spacer|
|SRAM 11 speed||no|
|XD 11 & 12 speed freehub||Sram 11 & 12 speed mountain XD cassettes (Sram XX1, XX1 Eagle, X01, X01 Eagle, X1, GX, GX Eagle)||no|
|XDR 11 & 12 speed||SRAM 11/12 speed road XDR cassette||no|
|SRAM XD cassette||1.85mm spacer|
|Campagnolo||9/10/11/12 speed freehub||9/10/11/12 speed Ultra-Drive cassettes||no|
|N3W 13 speed freehub||12/13 speed cassettes (9t/10t cog)||no|
|9/10/11/12 speed cassettes (11t starting cog)||AC21-N3W adapter|
|Mavic||Shimano HG-style 8-11 speed mountain freehub||Shimano/SRAM 9-speed cassette||1.75mm Mavic spacer|
|Shimano/SRAM 9-speed cassette||1.75mm Mavic spacer|
|SRAM 10 speed||1.75mm Mavic spacer|
|Shimano 10 speed||1mm + 1.75mm Mavic spacers|
|Shimano/SRAM 11 speed||no|
|Campy-style||Campy 9/10/11/12 speed||no|
For more detailed information on the driver-body standards and cassette compatibility, view our article Bike Freehub Cassette Compatibility Manual. If you have any questions about compatibility, leave a comment or contact us anytime!