Light Bicycle Heavy Duty Carbon Rim

Vital Rating:
Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Do Cheap Chinese Carbon Wheels Last? Two Years of Abuse on Light Bicycle's Carbon Rims
Saving thousands of dollars sounded very appealing, so we bought a pair of $181 carbon rims on our own dime and mounted them to a downhill bike. To our surprise, they're still running strong.
Vital Review
s1600 lightwheelsA 993708.jpg?VersionId=pEROEBS7i1ytLT4mJ

As the banter increases around 29-inch wheels in downhill, we've decided to throw it back to 26-inch days and offer up a very long-term review of Light Bicycle's Heavy Duty Carbon rims designed for downhill and enduro use. With key players like ENVE, Industry Nine, e*thirteen, SRAM, Reynolds and others holding the majority of the carbon wheel market, Light Bicycle has been building steam over the years by creating a price point rim they claim performs like the big names at the fraction of the price. At just $181 per rim, we decided to purchase and abuse a set of rims to see how they would hold up to the others. Grab a beverage and we'll get to it!

Carbon Wheel Basics

Before venturing into specifics, let's address some basics about carbon wheels in general. The first question most riders ask is, "Will a $3,000+ wheelset really make that big of a difference? Is it really worth it?" This depends on a few criteria, mostly based around your experience as a rider and what you're looking for in a wheelset that you may not be getting with your current wheels.

You will notice the most difference if you're a skilled rider who likes to charge lines and are generally aggressive with your bike. Carbon rims are laterally stiffer than aluminum and therefore decrease flex of the wheel in a corner, etc. As a result, many carbon wheels are characterized by a harsher but more precise ride, so if you're looking for comfort in your wheelset carbon may not be the right option for you. This wheel feel is often desired among racers and others looking to make up seconds, so the tradeoff is worth it to them.

Wheel and frame stiffness play a big role in taking the forces you apply at the handlebars / pedals and ultimately directing them to the tire to generate traction and control. The bigger the wheel diameter, the harder it is to keep stiff. Of course it's possible to go too stiff, so there's a balance needed in a carbon wheelset between compliance and stiffness. A wheel of any material needs to flex to a certain extent. This is where high performance carbon wheel testing has proven that a stiffer wheel may be more powerful, but a compliant wheel will stay on the ground, deflect less, and provide better traction. Another argument is having "give" where you need it to eliminate the common issue of overly stiff wheels exploding rather than flexing.

The move to carbon can also aid with quicker acceleration due to less rotating weight. These are the main differences in carbon wheels and they can be substantial. This brings us back to our product at hand, the Light Bicycle Heavy Duty Carbon rim.


  • Full carbon Toray T700 rim material with hookless profile and beadlock
  • Available in 26 (tested), 27.5, and 29-inch sizes
  • Designed for downhill, enduro, and freeride use
  • Internal width: 31.6mm // External width: 38mm // Depth: 32mm
  • Tubeless ready (tape and valve optional)
  • 16, 18, 20, 24, 28, 32 (tested), or 36 spoke holes
  • Max rider weight: 26" - 342lbs (155kg) // 27.5", 29" - 308lbs (140kg)
  • Max tire pressure: 40psi
  • Max spoke tension: 180kgf
  • 3k, 12k, and UD weave options (rim strength and weight are virtually identical)
  • Matte or glossy finish
  • One year warranty
  • Weight: 26" - 485g // 27.5" - 505g // 29" - 515g
  • MSRP: $181-193 per rim

This is Light Bicycle's widest (38mm outer, 31.6mm inner) and tallest (32mm) profile made for aggressive use, and the stiffest and strongest as well. It's offered in both all-mountain and heavy duty versions, and this review focuses on the burlier of the two.

Compared to their previous model they have improved the current one by using a hookless rim profile. This increases strength. There are "beadlock ridges" on either side of the drop channel to help reduce the possibility of a tire rolling off or air burping.

One benefit to the wide profile is improved tire sidewall support, which allows for lower pressures to be run without burping. There's a balance in tire pressure and rim width – too much or too little pressure can decrease rolling speed and traction.

After their first couple years in the industry and many months of testing, Light Bicycle decided to overhaul the manufacturing process. "During the redesign, we focused on five main improvements: carbon length/layup, carbon base ring removal, air bladder removal, internal uniformity improvement, and enhanced testing protocols." From what we've read in other reviews and forums, this overhaul seemed to solve prior manufacturing defects the company had.

Light Bicycle allows you to choose from three carbon weaves, two finishes, and seven decal colors to customize the look of your rims. The layup schedule is predetermined for each model, but you can choose the outer weave layer. There are also an impressive seven hole counts to choose from, allowing you to create some truly unique wheels if you choose. We opted for the matte UD option with stealth graphics, which have been updated since the time of purchase over two years ago.

As long as we paid attention to maintenance of the wheel, including spoke tension, we hardly had to mess with any truing. The rim has not cracked, broken, or delaminated.

Things That Could Be Improved

This brings us to things that could be improved, which is usually easy enough to distinguish with past reviews of carbon rims simply cracking or breaking. We had zero problems with the structure of the rim. They are wider and deeper than other large competitors and comparable in the weight game. Compared to other brands that offer five year or lifetime warranties, Light Bicycle offers just one year of coverage.

Long Term Durability

These rims have proven themselves in the durability department by lasting much longer than other carbon rims we've tested.

If you decide to purchase just the rims, using a professional wheel builder with carbon-specific experience will help ensure the strongest wheels due to specific spoke tension requirements. Careful hub and spoke selection is also key, as they are not created equally and you will get what you pay for.

The addition of Hope's Pro 2 Evo hubs kept our test wheels rolling fast and smooth with sealed stainless steel bearings. The hub shells are machined from forged aluminum billet and have excellent reliability. The engagement and sound of the rear hub is also amazing with a 4-pawl system featuring 40 points of engagement at 9-degrees.

The other caveat we'd like to revisit since the beginning of this review is wheel size. The bigger the wheel, the harder it is to keep strong. We tested 26-inch rims and they took a serious, long-term beating without breaking. This speaks well for Light Bicycles 27.5 and 29-inch versions, though we can't vouch for them without an additional test.

What's The Bottom Line?

Carbon rims have the potential to increase the performance of any bike, and riders with a good amount of experience and skill are most likely to notice the various benefits. At the relatively "cheap" cost of $181 per carbon rim, Light Bicycle's Heavy Duty rims offer notable performance gains for a small price jump compared to a nice aluminum rim.

Based on our positive experience we can suggest giving these rims a go, especially if you've been on the fence about carbon. They're also a good option for those who've experienced issues with more expensive rims and want to try again with one that won't break the bank. Paying attention to small details like the wheel build, tire pressure, and spoke tension will make your investment last longer.

Visit for more details.

About The Reviewer

Matt Swenson - Age: 34 // Years Riding MTB: 27 // Height: 5'11" (1.80m) // Weight: 160-pounds (72.6kg)

He's a ColoRADo native who's been shredding bikes since the age of two and his life revolves around two wheels. He currently works at Winter Park Resort running both the Gravity and XC race series, as well as a new Junior Development Race Program at Trestle Bike Park. He's worked in the medical field but has also built and judged slopestyle events like GoPro/Teva Games, the Colorado Freeride Festival, Crankworx and others. Growing up working in bike shops as a mechanic, he's always been a nerd when it comes to bike components and tech. These days he enjoys the bike park, trail riding, skatepark and dirt jump sessions with his wife and puppy. He's always down to shred a lap at Trestle Bike Park, so don't be afraid to say hi! "Hold the throttle wide open ‘til you see God...then brake."

Photos by Dillon Lemarr


Post a reply to: Do Cheap Chinese Carbon Wheels Last? Two Years of Abuse on Light

In reply to by Dunk

In reply to by tk2

In reply to by bizutch

In reply to by jstnrt

In reply to by jstnrt

In reply to by Verbl Kint

In reply to by adrennan

In reply to by Verbl Kint


Light Bicycle Heavy Duty Carbon Rim
Riding Type
Freeride / Bike Park
Wheel Size
27.5" (650b)
Material Details
Full Carbon Toray T700
Tubeless Compatible
16, 18, 20, 24, 28, 32, or 36
Inner Rim Width
511, 536, 574mm
Glossy or Matte Black // 12K, 3K, or UD Weave
26": 1 lb 1.1 oz (485 g)
27.5": 1 lb 1.8 oz (505 g)
29": 1 lb 2.2 oz (515 g)
• Outer width - 38mm
• Depth - 32mm
• Max weight limit - 26-inch: 342lbs (155kg) // 650B, 29-inch: 308lbs (140kg)
• Max spoke tension - 180kgf
• Max tire pressure - 40psi
26": $181.00
27.5": $188.00
29": $193.00
What do you think?
Where To Buy
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.

More Products

The Latest