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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  • Dave on

    Well, first I’m sad because no one commented on my super arty picture that I took the other night. Second, I didn’t mean for this to be alarmist. There will be good rims around probably forever. Maybe not some of the ones we’ve like so much for the last few years, but others. But if anyone really wants a set of AForce ceramics, those are the ones that are in super tight supply. No idea how easy or hard (or expensive, critically) it would be to get them from Europe, but we know where to go to do that if needed.

    AC – does it make sense to hoard toilet paper? Was just in the market today and the shelves were… wait for it… wiped clean. What is the point of that? It’s ridiculous to me.

    Joe – Never say never but between us chickens, a huge driver of the industry’s push to disc was that they didn’t want to deal with carbon rim brake rims, but no one was in any hurry to take carbon out of the equation (which are much better at supporting high margin $2000+ price points and which consumers had come to view as the only high end option). The word we hear is that innovation/research into carbon rim brake rims is D-E-A-D dead. They can be a good choice for some people, but for our account unless we’re pretty darn comfortable/familiar with a customer, they’re not something we’d consider offering as a general thing to everyone. Sometimes people make inappropriate choices.

  • Kevin on

    Well, that sucks. To pile onto Lennie’s post, do I need to order a set of AL33 rims for future consideration?

  • Joe on

    oh yeah…and heat tolerant! That’s probably the biggest thing right there!

  • Joe on

    Rim brakes will surely come back, although in a slightly different format. Using the rim as the braking surface just makes way too much sense for it to die forever. Probably going to need some kind of cheap, accurate, strong, supple carbon technology….but that will undoubtedly come.

  • AC on

    hoard not hard.



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