How to Clean Carbon Rims

Written by david kiarie
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How to Clean Carbon Rims
The lightweight and strong characteristics offered by carbon rims add to the excitement of on-road cycling. (David Epperson/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Carbon rims are popular with cyclists because of their exceptionally lightweight but strong characteristics and their capacity to provide a consistent and reliable braking surface. Maintaining carbon rims properly can ensure that your carbon rims live up to the light, strong and long-lasting credentials that carbon rims are known for. One way to maintain carbon wheels is by cleaning them regularly.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Cone wrench/ bike tool kit
  • Point tool/metal rod
  • Scouring pad
  • Acetone/denatured alcohol

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  1. 1

    Uninstall the wheels from the bicycle frame. Use a cone wrench to loosen the bolts that fasten the wheel to the bicycle frame. Suspend your bike in a rack and drop the wheels out of the mounting surface to adequately access the entire carbon rim.

  2. 2

    Remove any embedded particles on the rims, including small stones or metal debris by poking at it with a point tool such as a metal rod. Debris commonly gets embedded in wheels over time from the road and elements as you ride.

  3. 3

    Identify discolourations, tacky-feeling areas and smears on the surface of the wheel. Run your fingers along the circumference of the rim's brake surface to feel for width variations and changes in texture. Changes in texture indicate areas that need cleaning, such as parts with brake-pad glazing.

  4. 4

    Scuff the entire wheel's circumference lightly with a scouring pad, starting from the valve hole. Focus on the areas with texture variation and discolouration. Follow a vertical cleaning motion against the direction of wheel rotation on both sides of the rim until all discolourations, tacky areas and smears are removed.

  5. 5

    Wipe the wheel surface with acetone or denatured alcohol. Apply the acetone or denatured alcohol on a clean cotton rag and rub against the wheel until there are no dark-grey dirt deposits on your cleaning rag. Carbon wheels deposit dark surface material when they're not clean.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a clean, soft rag and soapy water to lightly rinse for general carbon wheel cleaning. Avoid high-pressure blasts, as this can force water past wheel-bearing seals.
  • Don't use industrial solvents, abrasives or harsh chemicals to clean carbon wheels or to remove glue. Industrial solvents, abrasives or harsh chemicals damage rim finishes and the adhesive that joins the rim parts.

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