Are carbon rims really stronger than aluminium ones?

How is carbon-fibre, with its reputation for being lightweight but prone to catastrophic failure, now being ridden routinely by mountain bikers?

Detail of the internal rim section of a Parcours Chrono aero road wheel
(Image credit: Future)

In 2010 Fabian Cancellara won Paris-Roubaix for the second time. He attacked at Mons-en-Pévèle and soloed to the velodrome two minutes ahead of Thor Hushovd. 

It might have been just another incredible performance in a spectacular season: the Swiss rider had already won Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, and would go on to win the Tour de France prologue and the World Championship time trial. But there was something different about this victory: it was the first time the ‘Hell of the North’ had been won on carbon wheels – Zipp 303s.

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