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 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

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