Aforce Al33 and RFSW3

Despite all of the hoohah around whale-shaped wheels and crazy wide “cravel” wheels and the return of the V shaped aero wheel and all of the rest of the “hey look at me now!” stuff on cycling news and review sites, it’s possible that more people are actually looking forward to owning a new AForce Al33-based set of wheels than any other. We’ve had a set for several months now, I rode them for the majority of the summer and have had a few friends get after it on them since, and the response has been universally glowing. My personal inclination is to say that they’re the best carbon clinchers I’ve ever ridden – more on that in a bit.

To review, the Al33 is 32.5mm deep, 26.2mm wide (max) 25mm wide (brake track), and 19.6 wide (internal). Our test set of rims weighed 470 and 474g. The brake track is coated with a unique ceramic-ish coating that both allows an alloy wheel to have a durable black brake track, and it provides a really hard finish so your brake pads and not your brake track gets most of the wear. It’s tubeless ready, although of course regular clinchers fit and work just great on them (I installed a Schwalbe One today without any levers, then inflated with a pump, though this performance can not be guaranteed for every tire every time). Valve stems on tubes should be 48mm, while Stan’s 44mm tubeless valves fit perfectly if you want to go that way.

The rims are made of a slightly different alloy than standard bike rims, which feels and sounds harder than standard rims. Measured stiffness is outstanding, and durability has been great so far (our test set has about 2000 miles on it thus far – a little more on the front, a little less on the rear).

Though the eye, arm, speedometer, and butt-mounted aerodynamics sensors all point to this being a quick and easy to handle set of wheels, we are arranging a wind tunnel test on behalf of the manufacturer and distributor in order to verify this. We hope to have that test complete by the end of the month.

For our builds, we will be doing both a standardized build with your choice of our black hubs or black White Industries T11 or CLDs and bladed spokes (which will inherit the RFSW moniker), and a full range of custom road and disc builds with any of the other hub and spoke components we use.

Darn sexy, huh?

Our perhaps uncharacteristic silence on the project has been because we just didn’t want to jerk anyone’s chain too much before we knew that the rims were made, through QC, and on a boat headed to the distributor. That has now all happened, so we have constructed the site pages where you can check out all the options (go into the store and then into the "Custom" section for REALLY all the options) and pricing.

We are scheduled to get our first rims in late February, and will ship completed builds as soon thereafter as possible. Given the vagaries of shipping, customs delays, domestic shipping, and our rapturous joy at getting “are they here yet?!?!?!?  I NEEEEEEEED them for a ride this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!” emails, it would be prudent to consider that earliest in hand delivery will be around March 10th.

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Oliver, Solid logic, and we're not anti the non-ceramic surface at all.A couple of course corrections, though – pads are $20 sold on our site now, so the total spend in pads would be roughly $120 over a 20k mile lifespan (and my 3k mile estimate is a guess – it could be 5k I don't know) and so a $110 premium over Kool Stops. For some people these will be an expensive alloy wheel, for a lot of people these will be a cheap carbon wheel. Carbon wheels hammer pads too. I have no idea what percentage of wheels die of old age versus catastrophe or boredom. I know that looks count for a phenomenal amount in a lot of wheel purchases. Again, no idea what the actual mix coming in is, and we don't yet have costs on the machined track rims yet so we can't price them, but if it's a feasible thing to do of course we'll offer them.


Dave,As sexy/blingy as the ceramic'ish coating may be, I have my doubts that is a good option for most people. Why? First, what percentage of people out there have actually had to retire a set of wheels/rims because they wore out the brake tract? My guess is that percentage would be very small. Far more common is wheel replacement due to the rim getting bent from potholes/crashes or simply because the owner has moved onto something new for their N+1 bike. Second, having to buy what are probably relatively costly brake pads every 3K miles can get pretty expensive in the long run. So $30-50 carbon specific pads every 3K miles versus $10 Kool Stops that will last most people 10-15K miles. The extra cost difference is roughly $250 over 20K miles of usage. That's a huge premium for $750 wheels.


Hi Erik,You're going to be looking in the Custom Builds section for that, as RFSW3 by definition means black hubs, black brass nipples, black Sapim bladed spokes. We can make those Pillar spokes available on request, just be aware that they are going to add about $230 over the cost of bladed Sapims. They're not cheap.Dave


Thanks for posting the information about these! Dream wheels now closer to reality:RFSW3 wheels, 20/24, front: radial; rear: chef’s choice, tubeless-ready w/ valves, silver logos+T11's, black, with 48-tooth ratchet ring+Pillar Mega Lite SS Rainbow Spokes+Black alloy nipples (unless deemed unwise)


Hi Graham,Thanks. It's definitely not a verboten combo. In fact Powertaps go great with the Al33 as we expect it will be a build that a lot of people will want to use for racing and training, the sometimes elusive one set quiver. Every time we add products and options it takes a bit of time to get things nailed down tight. We've got the Powertap option in custom builds now (just added) so it's ready to go. Honestly not sure what's going to become of Select as a category. There are so so so many options of when iterations, we're just trying to help people not melt their brains trying to decide on a set of wheels. Not positive whether we're helping or hurting with that the way things are set up now.Dave


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