Al33 is dead, long live Al33.
When we first heard about these rims in the late spring of 2016, it was a dream come true: an aerodynamically astute alloy rim that, wait for it, was all black and looked like carbon. What magic is this? I rode a set all that summer, and came away favorably impressed. The waiting stunk, but these things always take more time than people originally budget, and soon enough they were in production.
The subject of aerodynamic worth is convoluted to say the least, but we insisted that if AForce was going to make the claims they wanted to make, they had to be tested and verified as such. The results of the ensuing test were eye-opening for us, and continue to inform our baseline aerodynamic beliefs.
Customer response and satisfaction were huge. Brake performance was more or less out of this world, and here was a carbon looking wheel that you could do downhill repeats on Mt Doom, riding the brakes, and not have a worry in the world.
The US distributor did a wonderful job of smoothing out the lumps of a new supplier, which made beating the drum for them very easy for us. With the distributor's efforts, they fit seamlessly into our operation.
Alas, nothing lasts. The shift to disc brakes (which, long story short, was among other things significantly driven by the mania for carbon clinchers) happened at lightning speed, reducing the overall market audience. AForce never got up to speed with disc versions of the rim, being at their capacity just to keep the rim brake rims going. Their operations never matured significantly, and we actually wound up fielding all sorts of inquiries and service calls from all over the world. Apparently they stink at answering emails. Eventually this corroded event their business to business relationships, but we held out hope for the new Al25 and disc brake Al33s that were under development.
When the Al25 arrived, well, we didn't love it. It seemed like a dead end product like we've seen a few times before. Sadly, we told the distributor that it wasn't a product we'd want to use, with which I guess he agreed, and things rolled out from there. AForce is now apparently mostly selling coffee on their site, so while this was a great chapter, the chapter is over.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options still in the rim brake market, and though we're building too many wheels to maintain and update the site as thoroughly as it needs, we've brought some new options on, and there are some other things that we're waiting to hear more about. The Al33 will for sure be missed, but we're glad to have had it and life will move on.