Sunset of a golden age?

A few years ago, we marked the dawn of a new golden age for alloy rim brake rims. The Al33 and Kinlin XR31T went to the wind tunnel and smoked it, proving that well-shaped shallower rims could punch above their depth. Durable "ceramic" (not really ceramic) coatings gave the hot all black look, and gave braking performance that leaves anything but good discs in the dust. The Pacenti era had passed, and the Easton R90SL took over for them and left them in the dust. HED had widened the remarkable Belgium rim into the Belgium+, still the best made alloy rim in town. Then we had Boyd Altamont and Altamont Lite join the party, also with the ceramic (not really ceramic) brake track option. And there was a pile of others waiting in the wings when one of those, for whatever reason, wasn't right. You couldn't walk across a room without tripping over a great new rim with the right shape and width and everything being just about what you wanted. 

All good things come to an end, and we are seeing an unwinding of this era.

We'd been the only place we saw that had the R90SL available for 20/24 builds, and a bit ago that went away, leaving us with a 24h minimum drilling there. We bought several of them when we caught wind of this, so we're down to our last. But 24 and greater lacings are still available and no mention at all is made of their demise. 

Have you ever seen a cooler sunset picture?

The Al33 has had a wonderful run, but with the rim brake market declining and us apparently being the people who sold all the Al33s, plus an onerous minimum order and long long lead times, the US distributor has regrettably but understandably decided to pull back on them. The ceramics are almost gone, the machined brake track versions are in solid supply, and both are only available in 20/24 lacing. 

The Boyds are the next on the chopping block, with ceramic Altamont Lite out of stock in 24h and not coming back, and the ceramic Altamont out of stock in 32h and not coming back. Though there appears to be good stock of the remaining variants, they're being run out and when they gone, they gone. The lack of a 24h Altamonte Lite makes builds with them sort of untenable, so we pulled that whole line. The remaining options are all still listed on the site. 

HED hasn't made any announcements about the Belgium+ going away, which is why you haven't heard me screaming. But I did see one worrying little telltale that concerns me. For my money, that's the one alloy rim brake rim that can't go away.

There are still plenty of others around - DT makes some nice rims, Kinlins are ok, etc. But what had been a total golden era looks like it is fading into the past. We've never seen so many favorite components sail into the sunset. 

Mike posts a cool survey tomorrow, part 1 of the wheel build thing goes up on Wednesday, and who knows the world might have ended by Thursday. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. 


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  • Zed F on

    I hope alloys don’t go away completely. I think the engineering behind Magnic Lights is ingenious, and they won’t work with composite wheels.

  • Pete on

    I like the picture, Dave. Between what faintly appears to be the mast and rigging of a moored sailboat and the shape of the bridge, I’m reminded of the suspension bridge crossing Eggemoggin Reach to Deer Isle, Maine where I spent a few of my teenage years attending a sailing summer camp. Those were great times.

  • Dave on

    Weiwen – Eventually, yes

  • Weiwen on

    Just curious: what do you mean the AForce distributor is pulling back on them? Does that mean they’re not going to distribute them in the US anymore?

  • Dave on

    DOESN’T ANYONE LIKE MY ARTY PICTURE!?!?

    Yeah, huh end rim brake wheel sales are down quite a bit. We sold a majority of rim brake wheels – by a lot – for years and years and then it was like someone flicked a switch and it’s been heading more that way since.



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