Mad Fiber Wheel Testing

Thanks to the advancement of carbon fiber as a build material, bicycle components are reaching levels of strength never thought possible 10 or 20 years ago. So after testing their wheels by the industry standard, Mad Fiber decided that a new test was needed. Something that took into consideration the high level of strength and durability they want their wheels to be known for. For some time now the standard fatigue testing for wheels has involved a 130lb weight loaded onto a wheel while it rolls on a cleated drum at 20mph for 1000 miles. Mad Fiber wheels are still subjected to this test for validation, but to really test the wheels they took this test to the next level.

Their own test, which every wheel they sell is subjected to, is pretty amazing. See it in action after the break!

Mad Fiber’s take on the standard fatigue test not only ratchets the total vertical weight to 200lbs, but they throw in a 100lb side load for good measure. According to Mad Fiber, that is the equivalent of a 400 lb rider on the bike with a 30 degree lean angle, something that is outside of what the wheels will encounter in the real world. The test is run on every wheel that leaves the factory for 2.5 minutes. It doesn’t sound like much, until you see the video with the spokes going limp as they pass by the side load apparatus. After all of that the wheels are still perfectly true and strong. Pretty impressive.

For more on Mad Fiber’s wheel testing, check out their site.


  1. Lou on

    At first I though that testing at 130lb seemed woefully inadequate, and then I remembered there are two wheels and I’m an idiot.

    But come on, show me a standard wheel exploding in this test!

  2. Clare Quilty on

    Do I really need wheels this stiff? How about making them as light as possible, not overbuild them, and still maintain this type of strength?

    If I get in a wreck in which my wheels break, my broken wheels would be the least of my worries. Carbon fiber spinal cord, please?

  3. Eyal on

    Beautiful wheels. Mad Fiber needs to make me happy and release a 35mm depth version. Would prefer to buy these over the new Campag Bora 35.

  4. PK on

    It seems to me that the wheel is proven tough, but the test doesn’t seem to test real world situations. for instance, in the real world a wheel is deflected by the ground, he is deflecting at the front of wheel. so the tension of the spokes 90 degrees from max deflection (which is by the bumpy drum) should be at their normal tension. So I’m guessing the stress put on the drum is mostly independent (aka unaffected) of the stress by deflection (so it’s not the worst case scenario that a wheel can go through).

  5. Psi Squared on

    The test says nothing relative to other wheels unless competitors wheels are tested in the same fashion. Short of that, it is just an impressive marketing video.

  6. Chris on

    Now that they can make wheels that are tough AND light I’d like to see them use some of that engineering expertise to make them more affordable. Not to sound old and grouchy but when I started racing a set of top of the line wheels rarely cost more than $350. These days a top of the line set of wheels is more than 10 times that amount. True, the cost of everything has gone up in the past 30 years but not by a factor of 10+ times.

  7. Alex on

    I’d need to see how competitors’ wheels held up under the same test. Also don’t people weight and unweight as they ride. Another interesting test would be to run the ‘ground’ at the same speed but have the weight shift on and off periodically to show that load spike on the wheels.

    This is the video that really sold me on carbon.

  8. Phil on

    I’m concerned that MF’s claim that a 200# vertical load on a single wheel is equivalent to the loading of 400# rider is an ideal case, at best, and not representative of real world conditions.

    Rider load is not always equally distributed between front and back wheels and the bike is not always ridden on a level surface. IIRC, 60%/40% rear/front wheel loading is not uncommon, as are occasional 20% climbs.

  9. MB on

    @Chris – Inflation since 1983 (in the US) is 133.5% so your $350 wheels would now be $817.13. You’ve got a good point. Although I think you could say the performanceengineering and quality control costs are well worth some of the difference.

  10. vectorbug on

    @chris There are still race wheels available at $300 to $800 (inflation corrected). However, those wheels were probably all manufactured by machines (from the spokes, nipples, bearings, rims and wheel building).

    Anything carbon fiber has to be made by hand, not robots. People are expensive, even when they only make $40 a month. However, Madfiber, Enve and Zipp are all made in the US, so their employees have to make at least minimum wage. Thank Obama.

    That said, its pretty easy to find great carbon clinchers used on Craigslist, ebay, reddit classifieds and a myriad of other sites. Then you’ve got the flash sale sites like chainlove, then amazon. It’s never been easier to get a deal on niche expensive race crap. I own a great set of Mavic Cosmic Carbone wheels found for $400 on CL.

  11. ccolagio on

    campy seatpost jokes…yes! theyre still relevant. NOT. get it? i referenced borat. an old movie that is also no longer relevant.

    Psi squared makes a very valid point – all this company needs to do is show a side by side video of some other popular brand X carbon wheel doing the same test and failing…then, they win. but making up a test that is not an ‘industry standard’ and passing it but not showing any other products failing it is pointless

  12. ant1 on

    i’m sorry ccolagio, i’ll make sure all my future comments conform to your idea of relevance. anything else i can do to make this place better suited for your browsing pleasure?

  13. Mindless on

    Carbon is mad strong when loaded in the direction it was designed to be loaded.

    I am still not convinced it is the best idea when rock strikes to the side are involved. And years of abuse.

    Titanium please.

  14. MissedThePoint on

    I can’t believe how people perceive that Santa Cruz carbon video. There are more different characteristics to production-ready carbon than there are production ready alloys of the various common metals used in sports. Santa Cruz blends their own characteristics into their frames, just as Trek, Specialized, Intense, and all the others make their own special blend. That video just tells me that Santa Cruz understands carbon and want to show it off. There are other brands that don’t understand it as much and overbuild it heavier to get the same level of strength and reliability. Some brands take years to try and get it to a good level, like Turner did. Can’t trust any generic brand really.

    There’s already quite a few patents in carbon production, that can be applied to bikes. I’d like to look ’em up, since patented stuff is explained in detail in the patent forms. I know Enve holds quite a few for bicycle purposes, just like Fox holds quite a few for suspension, and Shimano holds a quite a few for a variety of things, from hub bearing design to electronic suspensions.

  15. Chris on


    I’ve built dozens of wheels myself (personally and professionally) and live a few blocks from Mad Fiber so I totally understand the costs and labor involved. That said, it seems like all of these companies are basically chasing the same market which is the extremely tiny number of people who actually race and somewhat larger audience of posers who think they need pro level gear to ride 25 miles on Sunday. There’s a much larger audience out there to be had but a lot of these companies don’t seem to be going after them. They keep pushing lightweight and aerodynamics, neither of which are really beneficial to the average cyclist in any meaningful way, especially given that most of these wheels come with handling, braking and comfort issues. I’d be much more excited – and willing to spend money – on a wheel that put ride quality first and foremost followed by reliability. Those are two areas where all the carbon wheels I’ve tried seriously lag behind the old school alloy wheels. Having worked on bikes as long as I have I find my tastes running more conservative these days. Hell if I could find and afford a pair of MaxiCar hubs I’d buy them!

    As for used wheels, if you’ve been a race mechanic for as long as I have you’d never buy a used carbon wheel.

  16. greshkov on

    we had a demo set come into our shop so that the staff could try them out. they left our shop a week later out of true. as the second person to ride them and one of the last people to return the wheels in respectable condition, i found them to be nothing special. they are very light and more aero than a standard alloy wheel, but i’ve found the wider, shallower offerings from other companies to be noticeably faster.

  17. robert on

    @MB. the 133% inflation may be accurate to federal reserve reports, but in reality with the dollar losing value, in comparison to raw material costs…. that $350 then would be around $1600 today.

  18. Honeybear on

    @epo pusher–who pays $1000 for a single wheel–go check out the “pic of the day”–you’ll see some pretty ‘spensive Dr. Fred bikes guaranteed!

  19. zemil on

    @ chris — to paraphrase keith bontrager (who probably heard it elsewhere): ” strong, light, cheap; pick two.”

  20. mad rider on

    @alex / santa cruz vid: I’d be more interested in the load that causes first damage than in the “ultimate load” … and if you can spot the damage by just looking at the frame.

  21. Lyndo on

    As a pro canoe racer and masters nordic skiier I have much experiance with carbon fiber.
    Carbon fiber comes in many forms(mostly cloth) that has no rigidity by its self .
    What makes it stiff is the resin used(several types of resin).
    The popping and cracking sound made by the wheel under side load is minute fracturing
    of the resin.Eventuality leading to failure.

  22. Psi Squared on

    Actually, Lyndo, the popping sound is likely the spokes detensioning. LEW VT-1’s did exactly the same thing–under a surprisingly low load….uhm, hand pressure. It was not fracturing going on. Watch this video to see what I mean:

  23. Clark on

    $350 for a set of wheels? I started racing when my BICYCLE cost $350! All Campag with the exception of Universal brakes.

  24. Maximohonores on

    Rode them for six months, clincher ones, found problems from the beginning, they get out of thru, encounter a lot of problems with bearings, the five plies carbon fiber spokes begging to separate from the carbon center body of the wheels form the start, then I notice when ridden, the wheels start to make noises, the bearings get lose from the center body of the wheel, you can notice a side to side movement, one they I prove all taking the axels, front and rear apart, the way MF website shows, only to discover that the material use to fabricate the axe was not chromo moly as they assure in the website, it was aluminum, not the spacecraft graded aluminum found in other wheels. I take a lot of pictures and send my comments to MF, from that moment all my buying experience with MF change for good, they take the wheels back, they replace the wheels for new ones with ceramic bearings for no cost, they send me the wheels free of charge again, but the second set fail the same way the first set does, they took the wheels back again for the second time and returned me the money I pay, I get for the money the ZIPP 808 fire crest on 2013 wish I give away a month ago for 3000 dollars, I use the ZIPP 3 times, I am not a Professional, I never abuse the MF I only ride on them for 600 kilometers. For the record I live in South America country is Chile, MF sent me new wheels ones and took wheels back twice no cost to me. Bad wheels, very, very good post sale service.


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