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27 Dec

Rim round up. What rim should you choose?

Posted by Malcolm Borg

Here is a rim round up of all the things I know about bicycle rims. You can over think this one alot. so here is the process simplified.

1) Looks, only you can decide which looks better but most people think the HED Belgium + has the asthetics nailed down.

2) Stiffness. This is very important as stiffer rims lead to stiffer wheels and smaller tension changes in the spokes when you pedal. this means longer spoke life. wider rims are stiffer rims and deeper rims are stiffer rims. Asymmetric rims lead to stiffer wheels and higher lowside spoke tension whicn in turn means longer spoke life. Now you know why the Mavic Open Pro is only offered in builds here in a 36 spoke rear. It is narrow and shallow and not very stiff at all.

3) Width. wider is generally better as above wider rims are stiffer rims but wider rims also change the tyre profile for the better. The more semicircular the tyre becomes the better it handles, you know like tubs do. 

4) Depth. well deeper can be more aero depending on the profile. if the profile is right (BORG50C) then stability in cross winds is very good. the more rounded the prolife the better for aero dynamics and cross wind stability. 

5) Tubeless or non tubeless. Tubeless of course because you can run non tubeless tyres on them as well. the omly reason to go with non tubeless rims is because you need a silver rim or your 120kg+ and need the H Plus Son Archetype. or you just like the look of the non tubeless rim. back to point one only you can decide that.

6) Carbon or alloy? Carbon rims dont wear out quickly so they actually  might pay for themselves. The ones i offer are either very stiff, light or aerodynamic, one is all three. Braking is good too even in the wet but you mostly buy because you like the look back to point 1).

7) welded or sleeved joined? well its a looks thing. in practice sleeved joined rims can be very good so welding offers potenially a seamless join and more uniform mass distribution but when you are riding you'll never know so it is back to point 1 again.

8) How round? Modern wide rims are too stiff to true radially anyway. Big tension changes are needed and that compromises spoke life. i have not found one brand of rim to be rounder than any other except for high end dt swiss rims. Most rims are about 0.5mm to 0.6mm round from most brands. and it not worthwhile trying to make them rounder as you can't feel this when tyres are mounted and riding anyway. The carbon rims i use can be very good (the last one I used was round to within 0.1mm). Making the rim rounder than the rim wants to be is a silly idea as that means spoke tension unevenness. So dont consider this when picking a rim all rims are round enough. Trying to make a wheel rounder is a fools errand that will mean a compromise in build quality. Now you see how I define build quality not what most people think.

All the wheels i build are reliable and have the same guarantee so you can actually buy on point 1 alone. Now you know why you can over think this.

Rims choice - rim brake clincher or tubeless compatible clincher

Mavic Open Pro or the Open Elite £42 to £48.

Black silver or grey 32H or 36H

This rim is 20mm wide 19mm deep and 15mm internal width. Weight is about 435g and the join is welded. The rim has double eyelets. Some think this is the hallmark of a good rim. It is isn't. It is the hallmark of a rim that requires the top and lower walls tying together because this rim is not stiff enough or the spoke nipple bed is not thick enough to handle the loads placed in it. The H Plus archetype is a rim that can take higher spoke tension and higher loads and there are no eyelets and washers are not even needed.

The brake track is smooth like on most rims so braking is good.

In the rims favour the grey version does look good and currently they are very round. In fact the rims i have been recieving lately are the roundest of all brands. Tyre fitting is pretty straight forward but that is all i have to say in it's favour. It is not a stiff rim and i think rear wheels with 11 speed dished hubs work best with 36 spoke rears and sapim race spokes as a minimum. I would not suggest it for riders over 100kg as because the rim is not that stiff so spoke breakages become increasingly likely. The rim works best with symmetric hubs or for geared hubs old shimano 10 speed hubs. The rim design has not changed for a long time. Please dont buy them because you think there is no better rim, there is but buy them because you want the look of a narrow shallow rim or that grey colour and are willing to accept the compromises.

Ambrosio excelight -£70 black only 28H and 32H

It looks on paper a bit like the mavic open pro. 19mm wide, 18.5mm deep, 14mm internal width. It has double eyelets but is 450g. It is also a bit stiffer than the open pro so a 32 spoke wheel with an 11 speed hub is a viable proposition for many. Still it is narrow, shallow not that stiff, expensive and quite frankly you can spend you money on a better rim. Still some want the narrow shallow look and if you do this is not a bad choice.


BORG22 (Kinlin XR22T/RT) £40

20H, 24H sym/asym, 28H sym/asym and 32H sym/asym

 24mm wide, 19mm internal width, 22mm deep and 450g. 20H to 32H drilling. 24H to 32H drilling for the asymmetric rim (3mm offset) for rear wheels. 

My view this is a stiff medium weight rim than builds into reliable wheels. Sapim HM nipples washers are best used so you can max out the spoke tension to 1250N. Tyres are a tighter fit but if you use tubeless rim tape then most tyres go on and come off without issue. Tubeless tyres set up very easily. They are round enough (0.5mm roundness is common) and flat allowing even spoke tensions. Sleeve join is generally smooth and the brake track is smooth.

Simply it does the job of being a rim very well indeed.

BORG31 (Kinlin XR31T /RT) -£55

18H, 20H, 24H sym/asym, 28H sym/asym and 32H sym/asym

24mm wide, 19mm internal width, 31mm deep and 490g. 20H to 32H drilling. 24H to 32H drilling for the asymmetric rim (3mm offset) for rear wheels. The profile is a rounded V. 

My view this is a very stiff rim than builds into reliable wheels. Sapim HM nipples washers are best used so you can max out the spoke tension to 1250N. Tyres are a tighter fit but if you use tubeless rim tape then most tyres go on and come off without issue. Tubeless tyres set up very easily. They are round enough (0.5mm roundness is common) and flat allowing even spoke tensions. Sleeve join is generally smooth and the brake track is properly machined.

Simply it does the job of being a rim very well indeed and I think it is hard to beat. They are lighter rims and there are more expensive rims. None however are as stiff. If you want the stiffest wheels that can be built without going for the the Flo30 rim then pick this. 

Pacenti SL23

This rim is no longer made. I am including it as i built alot of wheels with them. There have been two version. V1 was a good rim until they cracked. Few did for me but still not a great record. This rim was reliably round and flat, stiff too. 18.5 mm internal width, 24mm external width and 26mm deep. Weight was 440g average. I currently use two,pairs in 18F/24R and 20F/24R drillings. They have built into light and stiff wheels as did all the wheels i built with them. 

The version 2 rim is how not to make a rim. They started off good but consistency deteriorated as production continued. They where not reliably round or flat but worse still in service the plate at the join rattled loose. Superglue fixed this but not all customers where happy with that. 

The replacement is called the Forza time will tell if it is 3rd time lucky for Pacenti. The factory making the rims has changed but the new rim is all new. The rear is asymmetrically drilled.

Size: ISO 622 - 700c
Width: 24.0mm
Inner bead width: 20.0mm
Section Height: 25mm
ERD: 591mm
Weight: 460g
Welded Construction
Hole Count: 20, 24, 28 & 32

I will start building with them as the new spec looks good. However the BORG22 (kinlin xr22t) is under half the price and never goes wrong so the only reason to pick the Forza rim is looks it wont be a better rim than the Kinlin. 

DT Swiss R460 -£40

24H, 28H and 32H

This is a good rim. 23mm wide 23mm deep. 18mm internal width. Drillings from 24H to 32H. It is 18mm internal width and 460g but are often a bit heavier. It is a sleeve joined rim but the join is smooth It has a balance of characteristics. I like the rim but the kinlin XR22T exists and this offers an asymmetric rim for the rear and given both rims are the same price i really struggle why anyone would pick the R460 over the kinlin rim.

DT Swiss RR411 -£65

20H, 24H symm/asym 28H sym/asym and 32H sym/asym.

A new rim from DT Swiss. 22mm wide 21mm deep, 18mm internal width, tubeless tyre compatible and 435g in weight. The best bit there is an asymmetric (2mm offset) rim for the rear wheel. The rims are stiff and not so light that reliability should be an issue. Like all high end Dt Swiss rims they are flat and round but since this applies to most rims that hardly matters. Braking on Dt swiss rim is good like most rims. The join is welded. You pick this because you like the look and want  DT Swiss rim. The rim comes with spoke nipple washers that must be used and DT swiss silver squorx nipples. You can use conventional nipples if you like but the since conventional nipples require shorter spokes than the squorx you will need to check the ERD. It is however no better at being a rim than the BORG22 (Kinlin XR22T/RT). You are probably realising which are my favourite rims are now.

DT Swiss RR511 -£65


32mm deep, 22mm wide and 18mm internal width. The rim is tubeless compatible. It is stiff and weighs 530g. The rim is welded and the brake track is smooth. You must use the supplied nipple washers and ERD stated is withe squorx nipples. Using different nipples changes the ERD. It is a good rim for heavier rider but it is has a weight limit of 120kg. The rims main problem is the Kinlin XR31T which is lighter, cheaper, wider and come in asymmetric form. It is simply a better rim in many ways so i cant think of a reason to pick the RR511. 

Ryde Pulse sprint -£70

20H, 24H sym/asym, 28H sym/asym and 32H sym/asym

22mm wide, 22mm deep, 18mm internal with and the rear rim is asymmetric which is nice. The rim is sleeved joined but the join is smooth and the brake track is smooth and thin. The rims party piece is its weight 385g. With extralite hub in 24H and 28H drilling and Cxray spokes you can have 1210g wheelset.that is the only thing going for it.

Tyre fitting is tight  (Continental tyres go on fairly easily for me) and the rim is not tubeless compatible. I tried mounting a schwable one tyre and that was hard then i realised how am i going to get it off. It took me an hour to do that. 

Rider weight limit is 85kg but spoke nipples washers don't seem to be necessary with this rim. 

You only buy this rim to build a very light clincher wheelset and accept all its faults.

Kinlin XR220 -£35

20H, 24H, 28H and 32H

 Weight of this is 383g, this is why it exists. It is narrow at 18.2mm and 13.6mm internal width. It is 22mm deep and is surprisingly stiff govin the lack of weight and profile. The rim does not need nipple washer, it is sleeved joined and the brake track is smooth. The rim is suitable for riders up 85kg and 24 spoke rears are best avoided except for children. The rim is not tubeless compatible but unlike the ryde rim you can fit tyres with ease. The rim is not tubeless tyre compatible. You buy for the weight and to hell with its flaws.

My own set are built up as a 28 spoke 2x set with Sapim laser spokes. They work quite well.

Ryde pulse comp

I do struggle with this one getting the tyres on it. Enough said really. Conti GP400sII tyres go on without too much hassle but forget trying to a tubeless tyre i actually failed to mount a hutchinson atom.

Selling off remaining stock half price i make the rim sound worse than it is. They are light and stiff.

DT Swiss RR440 -£ 75

20H, 24H sym/asym, 28H sym/asym and 32H sym/asym

21mm wide 20mm deep 16mm internal width and 450g. The rim has single eyelets. This is the only narrow, shallow rim i actually like and recommend because they build into stiff wheels. The rear rim comes in asymmetric drilling. The rim features a welded join and the normal consistency Dt Swiss is known for.

 H Plus Son Archetype -£55

20H, 24H, 28H, 32H and 36H colours black, grey or polished silver

This rim is 25mm deep, 23mm wide, 17.5mm internal width and 485g in weight. It has a v section profile that is slightly rounded. The spoke nipple bed is over 3mm thick and therefore there is no weight limit. The rim can handle more spoke tension that you can comfortably apply with nipples rounding. The join is invisible on the black  and silver rims there is no evidence of the weld apart from a couple of tiny marks on the rim tape bed. The grey rim has a line where the anodising has coloured the weld differently. The brake track on the black and grey rims are anodised and this will become silver with braking. The rim is not as stiff as some other modern rims but a 24H and 28H combination with 11 speed road hubs and sapim race spokes on the rear is stiff enough for most riders in the normal weight range 65 to 90kg. Tyre fitting is pretty easy and rims are not tubeless compatible. You can set tubeless tyres on them but dont expect the bead to remain locked in place with no air pressure. A good rim that never goes wrong.

HED Belgium+ - £130

25mm wide, 20.5mm internal width, 25mm deep and 465g. It is a stiff rim that will impress you. HED pinoneered wide rim for road racing if you discount touring rims which have been wide for a while. This rim is very expensive but it does have a couple of flaws.

Tubeless tyres are loose fit with 2 layers of rim tape and there is no asymmetric profile. If you can afford these rims you can afford more layers of tubeless rim tape. They are reliable rims with a welded join. The brake track is very smooth but narrow. Kool stop and aztec do pads that are narrow so use these. 

You buy these because of the way they look, there width and there consistency. Are they worth the money, no but you dont buy them for value, you buy them because they just look right. 

update on the HED. - HED UK obviously are not bothered about selling rims to wheel builders anymore. There online price is £130 there trade price is a joke. I wont be buying more rims for stock. current stock is obviously going to be sold at £130 but further stock will be sold at £145 i.e I wont ever sell another one of these rims again. There are cheaper rims. It looks like if you want a HED rim you have to buy a HED wheel now.