I was doing some visits to potential suppliers this week. One is to a recent entrant into rim manufacturing.
Their core business has been the production of rim manufacturing machines for other rim manufacturers. They have also been producing motor-cycle rims for some time and have now expanded their scope to include bicycle rims.
I was specifically looking at this 51mm AL6061 rim weighing 650g. A 41mm alternative weighs 550g. The rim is rolled into shape then welded rather than pinned as is the case with lower level rims.
At least one company has offered these to the market with some cyclists and people in the industry having tested them out. They have no specific complaints, but nor have they been overly impressed.
It might be possible to offer these alongside the carbon wheelsets that I have been producing for quite a few years now. A lot depends on spoke type and appropriate hub, but a comparable weight could be achieved.
The price point would need to be at a seriously significant discount to a comparable carbon-rim wheelset, though. Otherwise for a reasonable premium, a customer could upgrade to the more desirable carbon model.
I’ll need to head over to Kinlin and Gigantex pretty soon to check out what are the very latest options as 2012 model year looms.
One advantage of being small is flexibility. It won’t take too much to put a quality product together and get it road tested. What does take time is ascertaining quality and that is as much about keeping an ear to the ground as anything else.