Sea Change

What a difference a month or two makes. A bit less than two months ago, we warned of clouds on the horizon for rim brake rims. Now, HED Belgium+ are reduced to stock on hand, which is all 20/24 and quite limited. Easton was the curve ball we didn't quite see coming - they're limited to almost none and from all appearances they're gone. Boyd has limited drillings of the Altamont series and the coated ceramic (not really ceramic) rims are being discontinued once stock runs out. There are a handful of sets of AForce machined side wall in 20/24. 

Through our history, it's been more normal for the crown of best selling product to change from year to year. There were two or three years when the Rail 52 held the crown, but in other years the title has passed from year to year. That's the nature of the bike business, which absolutely thrives on technological change (notice the value-neutral word there) and where no word sells better than "new." But even in that context, this is a bit jarring. These were supposed to be stable, bedrock products, no?

Fortunately, there are other options. Velocity Quill rims are something we've just overlooked the last few years. Some of you might remember that we had a pretty substantial issue with Velocity A23 rim quality when they brought production from Australia to the US. In the "time flies" category, that was so long ago that I still lived in MD when that happened. I moved back to RI in 2014. The current Quill is something of a Quill 2.0, as the product that was first launched was aggressively light and it had some unwanted characteristics from that. The current production is a very nice rim at a reasonable weight, and the pricing doesn't hurt it either. We've now got a full range of options for them on the site.

The Rail 25 (as I write this Mike is fixing some of my ham-fisted site management) is also a new option. Except for depth, dimensions are the same as for Rail 55. These build into quite light wheels which are fun to ride. Subject to the usual caveats about rim brakes and carbon, these are every day wheels for the vast majority of people. The pricing, as with the Rail 55, overlaps with the higher end of alloy. Tons of people like light wheels, tons of people like to never ever think about what the wind is going to do to their steering, and tons of people like the look of shallower wheels. Think of these as sort of a high tech Belgium+.

While we're baffled that people don't see more opportunity in rim brake rims, it is what it is. The producers who continue to make good products for them are going to win our support, and they will hopefully do well by doing good. 

In other news, have you all noticed how many people are out riding? It's just amazing, and great to see.

Today's title brought to you by one of my two favorite Beck records (the other being Guero), but Sea Change has Lost Cause on it, and if you've never heard Lost Cause, it's one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. Give it a whirl


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  • Dan V on

    Don’t want to commit a faux-pas here, but I think it was mentioned previously by Dave, so here goes… I think DT Swiss makes some very nice alloy rim brake hoops. This is coming from a rider POV, not a builder of course. But it might be worth looking into repping them as well, since they have some nice options available.

  • Scott on

    The options appear limited when I’ll need to replace the 24/28 rims on my Nimbus Ti wheels… will I have any options for that day?

  • Scott Sehm on

    Morning Phase is as good as, or better than Sea Change…it’s very much in the same style but more relaxed, darker and if you have good subs be prepared for things to fall off your shelves.

  • Todd on

    Agree totally about Lost Cause

  • Ron on

    I have a set of those Rail 52’s and love them , also like my new Rail 25 and glad your back into the rim brake scene



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