Just a small observation but looking at the high end wheels there seems to be a trend of heavier rims. In recent years we’ve seen some really light wheels.
Take the 2010 Reynolds MV32-T, the 32mm deep wheelset. It’s been listed at an impressive 1000 grams per pair. But the 2011 version, the “Thirty Two” will now weigh 1066g. Still very light but a weight gain of over 6%. The same is true for other wheels in the 2011 Reynolds range, the new rims each weigh in about 30-40g heavier.
It’s a similar tale with other high end firms. Zipp’s 202 goes up by a more modest 15 grams. Edge Composites, currently renaming itself Enve, also sees the weights of its rims rise, the popular Edge 45 rim is going up in weight by over 10% too.
I’m not claiming an exhaustive survey of the entire sector. My point is that we’ve got used to bike bits getting lighter and lighter over the years and now we’re seeing these cutting edge manufacturers not just holding the weights constant, instead many are going to add more material back into the rims.
For cycling spectators the differences are invisible. Any pro bike has to weigh a minimum of 6.8kg, so ultra light bikes are out of the question anyway. It’s more a question for customers, anyone buying bike parts in recent years has got used to ever-lighter things, suddenly here are some examples of this going into reverse. Will the prices fall?
I’ve spoken to a European distributor for one of the manufacturers named above and the idea is increased returns. No longer are a few people opting for carbon rims, sales have been booming. And in turn so did the warranty claims. It’s hard for a manufacturer to put a weight limit on wheel, it’s easier just to beef up the material for next year. So whilst the consumer faces heavier wheels, hopefully they’ll get more durable wheels. The fashion for “weightweenie” parts has brought technological benefits but the lightest wheels going aren’t necessarily suited to everyone.