A guide to the terms used by carbon wheel manufacturers

We cover some of the most common wheel terminology

This is not a comprehensive list, but it does cover some of the descriptions of carbon wheel components and general racing wheel technology, so it should make manufacturer's specifications a bit easier to understand.
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Radial, 2-cross, 2 to 1

These are descriptions of spoke lacing patterns. Radial spokes simply stretch from the hub to rim along the wheel radius and are almost always used on a front wheel.

On the other hand rear wheels are subjected to much greater uneven forces because of power being applied on the drive side. As a result with most carbon wheels, the manufacturers stiffen up the chain side by increasing the spoke count and/or crossing over each other (one or two cross).

Ceramic bearings

These are one of the latest high-tech additions to top end competition wheels, designed to the smooth running and to last longer with low maintenance than stainless bearings.

Spoke butting and blading

Blading simply refers to spokes having a flatter section to help reduce air drag. Often the blading changes direction on the spoke, combined with variable cross section and width. Butting refers to the more circular ends of the spoke where it attaches to rim and axle.

Axle widths

Often the rear axle is wider than the front to provide lateral strength under load. This is more critical for instance with carbon track wheels where sudden and massive power increases occur under sprint conditions.

Minimum rear wheel flexing is required and there has to be some compromise of the Aero qualities of the wheel. Fortunately the use of carbon fibre has allowed innovative wheel profiling to reduce the effects of a wider axle.

HD carbon, high tensile carbon, 3K ...

Many manufacturers use descriptions of particular types of carbon fibre that have been used in their wheel manufacture. However the terms are quite vague and they are never going to tell exactly how and why they have used specific fibres.

We suggest you rely more on actual reviews from cyclists than trying to infer anything from the carbon terminology.

Here we've covered some of the main technological and design terms used by manufacturers in describing their wheels. As carbon wheels are generally aimed at the top end of cycling, we haven't included standard wheel terminology - just the more advanced wording.