Some rim updates and thoughts on weight

As we mentioned in yesterday's post, we imagine a lot of you are crawling the walls with boredom. There's no cycling race news, or any substantive cycling news of any sort, and all the news that's in the general news ticker is bad. So we've decided to empty our cart of blog topics to give you a few moments of escape.

You're also probably getting "Important Corona Update" emails from everyone from your dentist to the pet shop you bought a goldfish from 6 years ago, and we respect that. If you want to hit the unsubscribe thing, we won't take offense. 

Today's post is about two rims - one that has been that won't be, and another that hasn't been that won't be, and some amount of "why," and some amount of thoughts about weight.

We've liked Easton R90SL rims since the day they came out. For a quality, reasonably priced, well spec'd rim, they're hard to beat. They've also had a special place for rim brake cross tubeless, being the best rim for that application for a good while. And for a long time we were one of the only places to get 20h rim brake rims. As much as we couldn't tell you why we had seemingly unique access to them, that access is now gone. Easton won't be making 20h rims anymore. This could be because rim brake rim business is tapering (which it certainly is) or because they don't want custom builds eating into their factory build business (which I wouldn't like but I would understand) or for some other reason. We've always found them to be excellent rims. The 24, 28, and 32 hole versions still go strong, as do the 28 and 32 hole disc brake versions. Just the 20 hole version is gone. 

We have two 20 hole rims left, so if you're out there and you've been hankering for an Easton build, please get in touch. The reality of the moment is that they'll probably last a little while - sales have slowed to a crawl - but with only two left it doesn't take much for them to go forever.

Another rim that's not to be is the Al25 disc from AForce. Even with the modern era's predilection for wildly revisionist history, we can't say anything other than that we've loved the Al33 rims. They hit a spot in a market at a time when we just couldn't believe how right they were. We've really liked them. We put our friends on them, we put ourselves on them, we put you on them, and everyone more or less loved them. AForce's astonishing lack of any marketing efforts might have made them a better fit for our little niche in the world, as they seemed like a secret that was shared by only a few. 

But two (and a half) things are happening to bring this party to an end. The first is that the US distributor is basically a personal warehouse for us. We've sold a veto proof majority of the rims they've brought in, and they can't/don't want to continue to buy ever increasing minimum orders of rims to sit on them and sell to us on demand. 

The second is the C25 product. When we first heard of them, the story sounded like a sincere effort to raise the pulse of every weight weenie out there at the expense of making a great product. Then we got them, and we knew it. The set we got weighed 345g each, which for a 20mm wide internal and 25mm deep rim is light enough to give me night sweats. The spoke tension drop when you install a tire is out of hand, and not even the offset spoke bed could make me feel good about that. Light a lot of other light rims, they get quite (quite) unstable when you get up over 100kgf on the spokes, and with spoke tension drop like that you need to get over 100kgf on spoke tension. Plus there was the ever present "these things are just going to fall apart in use" backbeat playing in my brain.

Production versions are slated to add some heft, bringing them up to maybe 380, and then die wear might put another 10g on them. That would make them 55g (or 12%) lighter than Boyd Altamont Lite rims. We like Altamont Lites, and have had great experience with them, but not once ever have I thought that making them 12% lighter would improve them. They're what I would consider to be minimalistically reliable rims. With a somewhat heavy heart I told the distributor of our lack of enthusiasm for these suckers, and that turned into that. 

And now the part about weight. We're not weight weenies. We aren't looking for ways to make your bike heavier, but we have a low tolerance for the cult of light weight. We've seen "better" weights make "worse" products more than a few times. It's an easy thing to put into your mind because it's easy to measure. "Claimed weight" where companies subtract some large chunk of an item's weight because "everyone lies" is still absolutely a thing. And it's just dumb. There is no purpose for which I think a 390g rim in which I have minimal confidence and which can't handle spoke tension would ever seem a better recommendation than a 445g Altamont Lite, or the supremo 465g HED Belgium+. Whatever might be gained through weight (if anything) would be lost through diminution of other beneficial traits. Sorry to be blunt about it, but sorry not sorry. 

That's about it for today, some delayed rims hit this morning and what do you know we're building wheels in a very responsible socially distanced way today.  


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  • Dave on

    ryn – There’s still some big part of a year’s worth of rims at the distributor, Boyd Altamonts are so very similar, and other alloys like HED aren’t far behind in the alloy race per the tests we did here https://novemberbicycles.com/blogs/blog/wind-tunnel-testing-the-al33-xr31tfsw3-and-other-alloys?pos=1&_sid=9b3f30961&ss=r

  • ryn on

    what’s going to be the go to ‘semi aero’ rim brake alloy rim if no more Al33?

  • Xavier Estala on

    @David Jones it’s not a fad, it’s here to stay. My next road bike will be disc.

  • David Jones on

    I really hope this disc craze takes a dirt nap. I have zero interest in them on a road bike. It’s sad to see rim manufacturers having to cave in to a fad, but unfortunately must to stay alive.

  • dave on

    Thanks, all. Pete – I agree. People were wicked skeptical about the coating lasting but all in all we’ve seen pretty incredible durability from it. It’s still a golden era for good rim brake rims, even if Al33s leave our portfolio (they will still be available for a while at least).



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