As I said, I’m going to try out the new 23mm wide H Plus Son TB14 low-profile clincher rims. I’m going to rebuild one of my Mavic Classic hub wheelsets with the black 32H version, and the straight-pull Sapim Laser (2.0-1.5mm double-butted) spokes should arrive this week. The rims are available in high polish, hard anodized grey, or black. The two rims I received weigh an average of 503gr each. The TB14 has a welded seam and machined sidewall, though unlike Mavic and others, H+Son anodizes the rim after the machining process, so the sidewall and top of the rim are a uniform colour (until the brake pads scuff off the anodizing). Compared to the high polish silver version, the black rim has a somewhat coarse brushed finish. Similar to some Italian rims, the TB14 has a a counterweight at the valve hole to balance the internal sleeve at the seam. It’s a pretty classy rim.
I’m enthusiastic about wider rims for clinchers, and for a classic steel bike the low profile of the TB14 makes a better aesthetic match than a Hed Belgian or a heavy duty touring rim. Weight-wise, the TB14 falls in between those other two rims. Though it would be nice if the rims were lighter, they’d probably need to take metal out of the sidewalls to do that, which isn’t necessarily a good idea since often rims are retired because the brake pads have thinned and weakened the rim over time. I’m going to use these rims on my commuter/cross bike, since that will be the harshest brake pad use. I will know how well these rims build up later this week, but it’ll take a lot of wet weather riding to see how well the rim wears. At this point, I’d say that Mavic rims are the best for sidewall wear resistance. The Hed Belgian rim, though it is strong against impacts and builds up extremely nice, isn’t remarkably long lasting at the sidewall in Seattle winter conditions.
If there is one rim brand that I find particularly disappointing, it would be DT-Swiss rims. Their finish, especially the black, weathers poorly, the light weight rims have cracked often at the spoke holes, they are a bit hard to mount up tires (though not as bad as a Campagnolo rim) and they seem to wear pretty quick at the sidewall. They also cost 10-20% more than Mavic, and don’t offer a wide rim lighter than their full touring rim.