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July 13, 2017, 6:38 p.m. -  Alex D

Cam, that isn't how spokes work. As a wheel is loaded, the spokes on the bottom and a a handful of neighboring spokes progressively lose tension. As long as tension exists, the wheel deforms only to the extent the spokes contract, typically on the order of a millimeter. (This has been verified empirically and with FEA.) When the load exceeds the available tension, the excess is distributed to the rim, and to a lesser extent, the other spokes.  Alloy rims will taco not long after this point if you introduce a lateral force. Carbon rims will either break or flex. Until you've run out of spoke tension (typically on a bad landing or a major hit at speed), however, there should be no perceptible difference between rims with similar lateral stiffness and other relevant (e.g., width) characteristics. I assume you've experienced an alloy rim with a flat tire. Perhaps even a skinny road-bike alloy with a handful of spokes on a narrow hub. How compliant was that rim? Do you think a carbon rim, equally less a tire, would have been any smoother?

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