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Thursday
Jun292017

Rim Reviews: Best of the Rest

Darwin has had his hand on the steering wheel of our business for a while now. We've organically evolved into a full service custom wheel building shop, because that's what the demand is for, that's where we can impart the most value, having our own products is onerous and limiting in terms of working capital requirements, vendor hassles and risk (watch this for a fun look at why label brands might not be all they're cranked up to be), and the market is exceptionally well suited to supply everything we need in order to build the wheels we think you should be riding. Our strongest suits have always been as selectors/editors, and assemblers, and we've stripped everything away to just do that. Happy times all around. 

A particular benefit of this is that we're unlimited in terms of what we can use. If we think one rim or hub is a unique tool for your application, we can use it without regard to our own brand components or needing to shift inventory or developing new products for a specific use at a rate beyond our capacity. If Stan's doesn't update their rims to something that we see a need for, Easton has something. If the RaceFace ARC24 is out of stock for an extended spell, why look the WTB KOM series covers that ground exceptionally well. New rims come out all of the time, use patterns change which might make one combo make way more sense, and as I just wrote in an email a few minutes ago, it's evolved to the point where the easiest route is just to contact us and tell us what kind of bike, tires, and use situation you've got, and we'll hit you back with our best options and a heaping dose of why we think each would be well suited to the task. All at assembly quality and pricing that, sorry to say it (but not really because that's become our space), the typical LBS is woefully unprepared to match. 

So having gone deep on the rims that it would be a weird week for us not to send out several builds of, we'll now take a quick look at some of the rims that we use often enough but are maybe in the backwoods of Select or Custom builds, or are maybe off the menu entirely (and in that vein, the new site is crazy close to launching).

Stan's Grail

The Grail is the "King of One Thing" - cross tubeless. Tire fit is a bit tight, but you want it to be. One of the more remarkable experiences I had with this rim was riding at Providence Festival of CX (sadly now somewhere in CT), coming off of this weird launch ramp over a curb off of a downhill and onto pavement, going about 20 in a vain attempt to stay with a group I didn't belong with in the first place. I went about 6' through the air, landed front tire first, at exactly 90* to the bike's direction of travel, and the tire (which had maybe 21 psi in it) stayed on. Tubeless cross has its limitations, but tires staying on the rims without burping doesn't have to be among them. It's also a lovely rim for gravel and some road disc use, but tire selection is important. We can guide you through that.

Kinlin TL23 (not pictured)

Kinlin TL23 is a very economical rim which we've used several times for disc 650b wheels. It punches WAY above its price point in terms of finish quality, and the 23mm internal width is fantastic for a big range of tires that get used in this new breed of "700c with road tires/650b with gravel tires" bikes.

DT RR411

A nice, light, economical, low profile rim that's well made and features an asymmetric profile for rim brake rears and disc brake use. Not quite as light as DT claims it to be (we get ~430 for symmetrical rims and ~440 for offsets), but still a very useful rim. Slightly narrower at 18 internal than a lot of the current crop, it works great when frame space is limited, or when you just want a light, low profile, no-nonsense wheel. Unlike the not-quite-as-nicely finished DT460, this comes in the full range of drillings down to 20h. Lighter riders eat this one up. 

WTB KOM

We love the i23 (23 internal) version of this for both 700c and 650b gravel builds. It's light enough, strong enough, very classy looking, has a great tubeless interface, and makes for happy customers. 

RaceFace ARC series

RaceFace is Easton's sister brand for mountain bike applications, and RaceFace rims share every accolade we've given to Easton rims. They're just outstandingly made. Options for 650b and 700c (and even 26), with widths appropriate for everything from wider gravel tires to fat tires. Dave's go-to for his own mountain bike wheels (I just referred to myself on the third person, sorry). Love. These. Rims. They're also launching a component carbon mtb rim in August, which is reasonably priced and covers the bases under which we will consider carbon to be beneficial and applicable. Of course we're still ultra enthusiastic about the alloy versions, as you should be as well.

Stan's MTB rims

Despite focusing more on their carbon-rimmed wheel systems, Stan's did a refresh on their alloy mtb series for 2017. The Crest, Arch, and Flow (in ascending order of burliness) are nearly ubiquitous at any mtb race or event, and for good reason: they're good and competitively priced. Stuff that works without costing you all of the fun tickets - what a concept. 

So that's just kind of a quick skim of some of the non-headline, but still very relevant, rims that we use in certain cases. There are more, but it's summer (finally, thankfully) and time is short. The last post of this series will be a summary overview, but first you should join us at the Vermont Gran Fondo this weekend. 

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Reader Comments (7)

Thanks for the video link, Dave. I had a good idea of how the system worked, but it is still truly eye-opening.

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered Commentersalvatore

Sort of not unlike anything else - you take your eye off the road and things get off track in a shocking hurry. It's not a game for just anyone, and a "rad" decal idea and 5000 instagram followers is absolutely not any sort of qualification for being a product manager.

June 30, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterdave

Why no love for Pacenti? They don't get a mention in the rim reviews series. Odd, they seemed to be the goto rim* at a November up to the last year or so.

* I get this entire series of posts has been around busting the myth of a goto rim

July 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrent

The answer to this could be a multi-page treatise, but it won't be. Anyway, you're right that there really is no one go to rim. Even when we were selling Pacentis at a high rate, other rims were selling, too.

On Pacenti rims, we - and we were far from alone in this - saw a higher than acceptable rate of durability problems with the SL23. They were lovely rims that built well and rode very well, but ultimately too many of them had spokes pull through. It was close to a year after we shipped the first set out that we saw the first problem, and a few others followed soon after. We were very far from alone in this, and in fact I think that we've been proportionally less affected by it than most others, but once we started seeing a bit of it and hearing others having it, our enthusiasm for them dropped quickly. The replacement rim, the Forza, is nice but unfortunately comes with the baggage of that situation.

No SL25s had this issue in our experience, but they were discontinued and replaced with a Forza disc version.

We've never had to warranty any other aluminum rim for this or any other issue, at least so far as I can remember (and I have a pretty good memory). There have been plenty of other rims in history where things like this have come up (there is another somewhat popular alloy rim that was also recently changed after barely one production year because it was a bad rim, but we don't work with that particular brand), so it's not unprecedented for something like this to happen, but after what did happen we're content to wait and see a bit.

July 3, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterdave

Clement 36mm MSO tubeless tires work quite awesome on Grails (for gravel), and Hutchinson Toros for cross were flawless last season, I was running less pressure than from back when I raced solely on tubulars.

July 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike

That's good to know apt the Pacentis. I'll keep an eye on mine. If they do crank, would that be a candidate for your crash repair service?

July 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Yes, absolutely

July 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDave

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