I've read so much on the topic that my eyes are about to bleed, and I've concluded that I'm confused.
You have one camp that thinks carbon clinchers are dangerous, and will cause catastrophic failure, and should be avoided at all costs. Then you have the other camp that swears by them and claims they're complete safe to ride.
I ask because I'm in the market for new wheels, and I can't seem to make an educated decisions. Carbon clinchers interest me because you get a deeper, more aero rim, at a decent weight. And sure, yes, they look awesome, too. But if I'm going to die riding these things, then I'd rather not.
Is the danger really there? If so, why do so many companies make them? Are they lying to themselves to just make a profit during this boom?
So, which is it? School me.
For each component on a bicycle, there is an ideal material for that application (given current technology that is). Carbon fiber is ideal for many things... frames, forks, handlebars, and a few other items. But a rim is not a good application for carbon fiber...not unless you're racing and you're willing to deal with the costs of using such a rim.
The reality is that metal is still an ideal application for enthusiast use....aluminum really....given current technology that is. The weakness of carbon being used for a rim is actually the resin. It offers poor braking properties and does not deal with friction/heat well.
Until some kind of new 'super resin' comes along that can suspend the fibers in the desired shape while dealing with all the extremes that a rim endures, I think that aluminum is still the best material for a rim for general enthusiast use.