Aerodynamics are easily but expensively quantified. Weight is easily and cheaply measured, but in reality it's difficult to quantify. People like the feel of light stuff, wheels in particular. Whether that's a scientifically valid feeling or placebo, I can't say. Shallower rims look like they should be lighter, and deeper rims look like they should be heavier. Put two otherwise exactly matched bikes on the rack at the bottom of a hill, but put a set of deep wheels on one and shallow wheels on the other, and ask people to choose a bike to climb and descend said hill. My guess is that nearly 100% of people would choose the shallower ones.
The two most popular questions we've gotten regarding the AI33 rims thus far are "will they fit in my bike?" and "how does the weight compare to x?" I can't answer the first question universally, but the second one is easy because the AI33s we have weigh 470g per rim. Some people are skeptical that a rim as deep and wide can be 470 and have requisite strength and durability, which is somewhat funny because the Kinlin XR31 is very nearly as deep and almost as wide is a 485g rim and people think they're tanks. Other people look at the AI33 compared to a 400 or 425g rim and say "boat anchor." For me, the boundaries described by the ~450g Easton R90SL at the light (but not as deep or wide) end and the Kinlin is great territory for road rims.
Adding to this is that more people are choosing to do their organized riding in gran fondos and centuries and big ass gravel rides and fewer people are road racing. I know that road racing racer days in the US are officially down, which lines up with what we hear from people. If you're riding a gran fondo, it seems logical to me that you'd want wheels that feel great - that are lively and light and offer perfect control - versus a racing environment where you just want any go fast help you can wring out of your wheels. And if I go on a nice two hour ride by myself or with friends, I don't much care about the 15 or 20 (or 60 or 90) seconds I may be giving away by less than optimized aerodynamics, I really just want everything to work and feel great.
But that's the challenging thing - how much weight is too much weight? Does the fact that AI33 rims each weigh 100g per rim less than Flo 30 rims make a tangible difference? Do any of the analytic calculators that always say that aerodynamics trumps weight actually accurately model weight's effects? And does feel indicate any physiological effect, or is it all just a feeling?
More questions than answers today.