Darwin has had his hand on the steering wheel of our business for a while now. We've organically evolved into a full service custom wheel building shop, because that's what the demand is for, that's where we can impart the most value, having our own products is onerous and limiting in terms of working capital requirements, vendor hassles and risk (watch this for a fun look at why label brands might not be all they're cranked up to be), and the market is exceptionally well suited to supply everything we need in order to build the wheels we think you should be riding. Our strongest suits have always been as selectors/editors, and assemblers, and we've stripped everything away to just do that. Happy times all around.
A particular benefit of this is that we're unlimited in terms of what we can use. If we think one rim or hub is a unique tool for your application, we can use it without regard to our own brand components or needing to shift inventory or developing new products for a specific use at a rate beyond our capacity. If Stan's doesn't update their rims to something that we see a need for, Easton has something. If the RaceFace ARC24 is out of stock for an extended spell, why look the WTB KOM series covers that ground exceptionally well. New rims come out all of the time, use patterns change which might make one combo make way more sense, and as I just wrote in an email a few minutes ago, it's evolved to the point where the easiest route is just to contact us and tell us what kind of bike, tires, and use situation you've got, and we'll hit you back with our best options and a heaping dose of why we think each would be well suited to the task. All at assembly quality and pricing that, sorry to say it (but not really because that's become our space), the typical LBS is woefully unprepared to match.
So having gone deep on the rims that it would be a weird week for us not to send out several builds of, we'll now take a quick look at some of the rims that we use often enough but are maybe in the backwoods of Select or Custom builds, or are maybe off the menu entirely (and in that vein, the new site is crazy close to launching).
The Grail is the "King of One Thing" - cross tubeless. Tire fit is a bit tight, but you want it to be. One of the more remarkable experiences I had with this rim was riding at Providence Festival of CX (sadly now somewhere in CT), coming off of this weird launch ramp over a curb off of a downhill and onto pavement, going about 20 in a vain attempt to stay with a group I didn't belong with in the first place. I went about 6' through the air, landed front tire first, at exactly 90* to the bike's direction of travel, and the tire (which had maybe 21 psi in it) stayed on. Tubeless cross has its limitations, but tires staying on the rims without burping doesn't have to be among them. It's also a lovely rim for gravel and some road disc use, but tire selection is important. We can guide you through that.
Kinlin TL23 (not pictured)
Kinlin TL23 is a very economical rim which we've used several times for disc 650b wheels. It punches WAY above its price point in terms of finish quality, and the 23mm internal width is fantastic for a big range of tires that get used in this new breed of "700c with road tires/650b with gravel tires" bikes.
A nice, light, economical, low profile rim that's well made and features an asymmetric profile for rim brake rears and disc brake use. Not quite as light as DT claims it to be (we get ~430 for symmetrical rims and ~440 for offsets), but still a very useful rim. Slightly narrower at 18 internal than a lot of the current crop, it works great when frame space is limited, or when you just want a light, low profile, no-nonsense wheel. Unlike the not-quite-as-nicely finished DT460, this comes in the full range of drillings down to 20h. Lighter riders eat this one up.
We love the i23 (23 internal) version of this for both 700c and 650b gravel builds. It's light enough, strong enough, very classy looking, has a great tubeless interface, and makes for happy customers.
RaceFace ARC series
RaceFace is Easton's sister brand for mountain bike applications, and RaceFace rims share every accolade we've given to Easton rims. They're just outstandingly made. Options for 650b and 700c (and even 26), with widths appropriate for everything from wider gravel tires to fat tires. Dave's go-to for his own mountain bike wheels (I just referred to myself on the third person, sorry). Love. These. Rims. They're also launching a component carbon mtb rim in August, which is reasonably priced and covers the bases under which we will consider carbon to be beneficial and applicable. Of course we're still ultra enthusiastic about the alloy versions, as you should be as well.
Stan's MTB rims
Despite focusing more on their carbon-rimmed wheel systems, Stan's did a refresh on their alloy mtb series for 2017. The Crest, Arch, and Flow (in ascending order of burliness) are nearly ubiquitous at any mtb race or event, and for good reason: they're good and competitively priced. Stuff that works without costing you all of the fun tickets - what a concept.
So that's just kind of a quick skim of some of the non-headline, but still very relevant, rims that we use in certain cases. There are more, but it's summer (finally, thankfully) and time is short. The last post of this series will be a summary overview, but first you should join us at the Vermont Gran Fondo this weekend.