Carbon wheels have a PR crisis on their hands.
They symbolize a deep divide that’s only getting deeper as bikes get more expensive. On one side are those who value the returns of buying top-shelf parts. On the other are those who stop buying when those returns start to diminish.
If it were any other product, this would be simple. Riders who could afford carbon wheels would buy them and riders who couln’t afford them wouldn’t. But, for years, riders who could afford them really needed to consider whether they could also afford one or two more over their bike’s life. There was just no guarantee that dropping into a trail a few PSI short wouldn’t end up costing $500 and an afternoon at the truing stand. In 2017, however, things started to change.
In June of that year, Santa Cruz released its Reserve carbon wheel lineup and pledged to replace any rim damanged by riding for as long as it’s in the hands of the original owner. This ‘warranty’ doesn’t read like a warranty. The words “against manufacturer’s defects” would normally be front and center, but they’re nowhere to be found. It didn’t take me long to check. The policy is only 45 words long.
In February 2018, e*thirteen started offering a similar level of coverage. In March, Reynolds joined. Then Enve Composites in June 2019, Weareone soon after and Industry Nine along with them. Revel Wheels launched in February with a lifetime no-fault warranty, as did a new line of rims NOBL released in April. That’s not even a comprehensive list, and it likely will continue to grow.
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