Lighter, stiffer and more available than ever. Is there anything about a carbon wheelset that there’s not to like…? Oh yes, the fact that they’re monumentally expensive compared to most alloy versions and if you do bash your carbon rim too hard it’s unlikely to end in a bit of a ding that only needs straightening with a pair of pliers to sort out. Given such major caveats, if you’re investing in some carbon wheels it is likely you’ll want to ensure that your investment is backed up by a half-decent crash replacement programme.
Legally, a manufacturer’s warranty covers the wheels for material and workmanship defects for two-years, and some companies extend this cover for a longer period of time. On top of these manufacturing warranties, most companies now offer some type of additional crash or accidental damage cover if you break a wheel as a result of an impact rather than a material defect.
Above the standard two-year warranty there’s a whole load of variation in cover offered by different companies. Many cover the original owner only, some for a fixed time period and some only cover crashes when riding – not other breakages or damage. In comparison others will cover the wheel for its lifetime even if it breaks when your bike falls from the top of your car or you melt it with the heat from your exhaust whilst it’s on the bike rack. Price varies too: some companies offer no-cost replacements which include parts, rebuild and postage whilst others give a discounted replacement price which only applies to the rim.
To help you see who offers what we’ve pulled together a comparison of the cover from a range of companies who sell carbon wheels aftermarket. And just in case you feel compelled to shoot the messenger at a later date: to the best of our knowledge all the information is correct at the time of publication for the UK market (but this doesn’t mean manufacturers won’t change their cover – for better or for worse – at a later date). Plus, the majority of cover is at the manufacturers’ discretion so you may not be covered if you’ve been particularly negligent.
Whilst the level of cover varies from company to company, there are standard exclusions that apply across all manufactures: you’re only covered if you are using in line with the manufacturer’s instruction and “as intended” (i.e. you need to use them on your mountain bike), cosmetic damage and usual wear and tear isn’t included (that includes broken spokes and scuffed rims) and, if applicable, serial numbers/logos need to be visible. Most, but not all, companies restrict cover to purchases through authorised dealers only and don’t cover third-party purchases such as through eBay. We’ve included all the details we could get hold of in a big table at the end of the article.
The Top 10
First up, the 10 companies with the best level of cover. These companies either offer coverage for more than five years, or a shorter period of time but without charging anything for a replacement. After that ranking is somewhat subjective as it depends on whether you favour a longer duration of cover, what type of damage is included, a higher level of discount or transferability to a new owner.
1. Sixth Element
Lifetime cover, transferable to new owner, no-fee replacement , all breakages covered regardless of how they happened
- Price: From £989 for wheelset
- From: www.sixthelement.co.uk
Sixth Element has just launched a new crash replacement programme which replaces its previous reduced cost deal and is in addition to a lifetime manufacturing warranty. For a registration fee of £29 your wheels (the whole wheel, not just the rim) are covered against crash damage for life, it even includes the postage (for UK and Europe). Every type of riding and mechanism of damage is included so it doesn’t matter if you break your XC wheels on a DH run or your bike falls off the top of your car. Replacement is like-for-like but you can take the opportunity it upgrade your wheels (for a fee) if you so wish. And if this level of cover wasn’t already favourable enough, it’s transferable to different owners (as is the manufacturing warranty cover), so if you sell the wheels on you should see a better return for your initial investment in the second-hand market. Most of the other companies we looked at only cover the original owner. And finally, if you don’t want to pay the £29 registration fee then the previous replacement cover at £295 per wheel is still available and better than many other companies’ cover.
2. Blueflow wheels
Lifetime cover, transferable to new owner, £180 for replacement, all breakages covered regardless of how they happened
- Price: From £679 for wheelset
- From: www.blueflowwheels.com
Blueflow wheels is a small company based in Nottingham. Main man Stuart hand builds all his carbon rimmed wheels onto Hope hubs using Sapim CX Ray or DT Swiss Competition spokes and he’s a man who stands by the quality of his wheels. In addition to a standard two-year manufacturing and materials warranty he offers a lifetime accidental damage scheme for £180 for which he’ll repair or replace your wheel. You’re covered regardless of how you break your wheels and the cover is transferable to subsequent owners too.
Lifetime accidental cover, original owner only, no fee replacement
- Price: From $1,499 for wheelset and $499 for single rim
- From: www.silverfish-uk.com
E*thirteen offers a lifetime warranty and accidental damage cover on its carbon rim. As long as you’re the original owner there is a no-fee replacement of the rim regardless of how you break them, although if it’s outside the first year of ownership then you’ll need to pay for parts and rebuild costs yourself. In addition, hubs are covered for five years and bearings for one.
4. Santa Cruz Reserve
Lifetime cover, original owner only, no-fee for riding damage, ~50% off RRP for non-riding damage
- Price: From £1,599 for wheelset and £580 for single rim
- From: www.jungleproducts.co.uk
Launched last year Santa Cruz has a lot of faith in the strength of its Reserve carbon wheels. So confident, as well as getting in Danny MacAskill to try and wreck a set, they provide lifetime cover for the original owner if they “break a rim riding”, whatever riding you are doing. Cover will give you the like-for-like replacement of the whole wheel (or rim only if you’ve built your own) and they’ll ship to you within 24 hours wherever you are (a nice holiday saver should you need it). There’s also coverage for non-riding damage at £310 per rim which is a bit over 50% of the cost of new.
You need to register your wheels for coverage (no charge), whether they’re on a Santa Cruz bike or you bought aftermarket. The warranty only covers the original owner so isn’t transferable if you sell on.
Lifetime warranty for original owner only on riding damage for wheels bought after 1 January 2017, additional assurance program for non-riding damage, upgrade scheme for updating from old wheels.
- Price: from £1,000 for a wheelset
- From: Upgradebikes.com
The sharp-eyed will notice this is joint 4th. Reynolds got back to us after we’d first published this article, and made us this video to explain their crash scheme. Riding damage is covered for free and you can pay (starting at $129) for 1-3 years of additional non-riding cover under their assurance scheme. In addition, there’s a subsidised purchase scheme for if you find yourself with Reynolds wheels that have fallen behind new standards and you want to update your ride.
Five-year manufacturing defect and riding breakages cover for no-fee, lifetime replacement cover for non-manufacturing defects and riding damage after five-years at 50% RRP, original owner only
- Price: From £3,100 for wheelset and £1,000 for single rim
- From: https://enve.com
There are a couple of things in ENVE’s cover which are pretty favourable in comparison to some of the others (mind you, you’ll want it after spending so much on the wheels in the first place).
Firstly there’s a five year (rather than the legal two) manufacturing warranty cover for the whole wheel. Riding damage is also included in this. For riding damage after five-years or non-riding damage (regardless as to how you’ve broken your rim) at any point there’s also a lifetime replacement cover for the rim at 50% although this is for the original owner only. The five-year warranty/riding damage cover includes parts and rebuild costs, but for the lifetime and accidental damage scheme it’s only the rim that is covered at 50% so you’ll have to fund spokes, nipples and rebuild costs in addition to that.
Lifetime accidental damage cover, transferable, set price depending on wheel ~50% RRP
- Price: From £599.98 for wheelset
- From: www.trekbikes.com
The cover for Trek Bontrager carbon wheels falls under its Carbon Care programme. In addition to the two-year warranty the company provides lifetime cover for the wheel for all accidental damage whoever the owner is. There are set prices for each wheel but they all equate to about 50% of the RRP. Depending on the model as well as the extent of the damage you’ll either get a rebuild or a replacement for that price.
7. Race Face
Two year crash replacement cover, original owner only, no-fee replacement, damage covered regardless of how it happened
- Price: From £1,548 for wheelset and £599 for single rim
- From: www.silverfish-uk.com
In addition to the two year manufacturer’s fault warranty Race Face also covers for your wheels for any other damage in this period. The full-cost of the whole wheel is covered: rim, hubs, spokes and all, for any mechanism of damage. That’s a great level of cover but it’s sadly restricted to two-years from purchase and is applicable to the original owner only.
8. Industry Nine
Lifetime warranty for manufacturing defects with no-fee replacement, lifetime crash replacement at 50% off RRP, non-crash damage considered on case-by-case basis, original owner only
- Price: From £1,899.99 for wheelset
- From: www.ubyk.co.uk
For wheels purchased after 1 Jan 2018, I9 now offers a lifetime warranty for the original owner which will cover any breakages due to manufacturing or material defects free of charge. Alongside this there is a crash replacement programme (again for original owners only) which covers riding damage and will cost you around 50% RRP for a new rim with parts and rebuild costs included. Although the scheme doesn’t officially cover non-riding damage, I9 is happy to consider things on a case-by-case basis so you may well get a good deal on a replacement.
Seven-year warranty for manufacturing defects with no-fee replacement for the rim (original owner), lifetime and transferable crash replacement cover for rim at 50%
- Price: From £1,799.99 for wheelset
- From: www.2pure.co.uk
For wheels purchased after 1 Jan 2016, Ibis offers an extended warranty for the original owner which covers manufacturing and material defects for seven years. Although your rim is covered for this time (and hub for the standard two years) parts and rebuild costs aren’t, so it will still cost a bit to get back up and running. Ibis also offers a transferable lifetime crash replacement programme (only riding damage included) where you can purchase a new rim at 50% cost. As with the warranty, parts and rebuild costs aren’t included.
Five year warranty and no-fee crash-replacement cover (no other accidental damage included), original owner only and registration required
- Price: From £1,400 for wheelset and £450 for single rim
- From: www.paligap.cc
To be eligible for Stan’s crash replacement cover you need to register your wheels or rims after purchase. After that you’ll have five years of cover for riding damage as well as an extended manufacturer warranty for the same duration. We didn’t hear back from Stan’s and Paligap so can’t confirm all the details like whether postage is included and any other specific T&Cs that aren’t on the website. We’ll update this story if we do hear from them.
Pretty much everyone else offers some kind of programme above a standard two-year warranty but at a less-generous reduced cost replacement for a limited time with exclusions depending on how you broke your wheel.
Three year accidental damage cover regardless of how it happened, original owner, sliding scale of discount (40-30%) depending on age of wheel
- Price: From €2,199 for wheelset
- From: www.poshbikes.com
The German weight-weenies Bike Ahead offers a three-year crash and accidental damage programme for the original owner regardless of how you damage your wheel. Costs are on a sliding scale depending on how old your wheel is, but include rebuild and parts (or you’ll get a complete replacement depending on damage). In the first two years from purchase discount is 40%, then 30% in the third year. After that there’s no official cover but Bike Ahead say that they’ll consider things on a case-by-case basis and make individual offers accordingly.
Two-year cover regardless of how damage occurred, transferable, cost $250-350 depending on rim (parts not included)
- Price: From $1,650 for wheelset
- From: www.boydcycling.com
US company Boyd offers two-year accidental damage cover for its rims and wheels like the ones we reviewed last year. All accidental damage is covered and it’s transferable to subsequent owners too. Depending on your rim it will cost $250-350 for a replacement which includes rebuild costs but not spokes and nipples. If you do damage the hub as well as rim then a replacement wheel is available with 30% discount. Repairs are managed by local service centres including one here in the UK.
Two-year crash replacement for riding damage only, original owner, 50% discount on wheel price
- Price: From £1,649 for wheelset
- From: www.hotlines-uk.com
DT Swiss offers a two-year crash replacement programme on its carbon wheels alongside the two-year warranty. Cover is limited to riding damage only and will cost you 50% of the wheel’s RRP for a repair or replacement.
Three-year warranty and crash replacement cover, original owner, crash replacement at 40% off wheel RRP
- Price: From £1,495 for wheelset
- From: www.mavic.com
To access Mavic’s crash replacement and extended warranty cover you need to make sure you register your wheels within 30 days of purchase. Once registered you get an additional year of warranty cover (three rather than the standard two) and a three-year crash replacement programme. Through the crash replacement cover Mavic will replace your wheel for 40% off RRP but only if the damage is riding related. Last year Dave reviewed a set of Mavic’s XA Pro Carbon wheels.
Three-year warranty, no official crash / accidental damage cover
- Price: From £900 for wheelset
- From: www.specialized.com
Specialized doesn’t officially offer any crash or accidental damage programme for its Roval wheels (like the Traverse SL Fattie we reviewed last year) but does extend the manufacturer’s warranty to three years for any breakages due to material or manufacturing defects. It’s still worth contacting them though as they will consider things on a case-by-case basis.
Two-year, original owner cover, £200 for replacement rim and rebuild
- Price: From £919.98 for wheelset
- From: www.raleigh.co.uk
RSP offers a crash replacement programme of two years for its Calavera wheel which we reviewed at the end of last year. The cover is limited to riding damage only and it will cost you £200 for a replacement rim and the wheel’s rebuild. It’s worth noting though that RSP only offer warranty cover for one year. This means that although you’ll still be covered for two years under the crash replacement programme you will have to pay in the second year even if it’s a manufacturing and material defect that caused the breakage.
Three-year warranty, five-year crash accidental damage cover, original owner, sliding scale of replacement costs depending on age of the wheel
- Price: From £419.99 for single rim
- From: www.hotlines-uk.com
In addition to the an extra year’s warranty (total of three) WTB offer five-year accidental damage cover for its rims. Costs are on a sliding scale: you’ll get 50% discount on the rim in the first two years, 30% in years three and four, and 20% in year five. It’s only the rim that’s covered though so you’ll still need to pay for the rebuild and parts. Cover is only for the original owner too.
Hello? is anyone there?
Pure & Syntace didn’t get back to us with any information and so we’ve not included them. Again, if we hear from them we’ll update this article.
Compare & Contrast
Confused? Tempted? Here’s our handy (Excel) table so you can compare what’s on offer side by side. Remember, this was current at the time of writing, so if you’re counting on that crash cover, then it’s always worth double checking with the supplier before you buy.
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