Wheels and rims… search for net discussions about the long-discontinued Mavic MA40 and you’ll stumble upon arguments consisting of an ounce of reason and a pound of poison. The terms “wheel expert” and “insufferable” are sadly nearly interchangeable. It’s possible that the more experienced you become, the worse it gets…except maybe Steve Hed. I’ve only talked with him directly a couple times, but he strikes me as a mellow dude. Anyways, I’ll share some news and views before I myself become intolerable:
H Plus Son rose to fame a couple years ago as the purveyor of THE hot rim for fixed-gear bikes, the “SL42”. At 42mm tall and 19.5mm wide, the SL42 was the tallest alloy V-type rim available for a while. As fixie riders began taking the tricks into a more aggro direction, H Plus Son started developing wider V rims (the 43.3 x 22mm “Eero” rim) for increased strength and to accommodate large volume tires. Until now H+Son’s rim line-up ran counter to my equipment philosophy and needs. While the SL42 (and similar “Formation Face” rim) are very stylish in urban fixie scene, their narrow width conflicts with my HED-inspired preference for wider rims to improve the profile of my clincher tires. And the wider Eero is a disgusting 790gr (in all fairness, it is designed primarily for abusive trick riding). With aluminium rims, you can’t get those tall profiles without significant weight penalties, and outside of trick riding I wouldn’t want those tall profiles anyways unless they incorporated a toroid shape, aerodynamically superior to V-type rim cross-sections. Since my shop caters almost entirely to road, touring, and vintage bikes, I haven’t built wheels using H Plus Son rims except for a couple of the Seattle fixie riders whom I know personally.
Then almost out of nowhere H+Son introduces the TB14, a very traditional looking box-section rim, 23mm wide and just 14mm tall with double eyelets. As I said, if I wanted a tall rim, I want the shape to approach a toroid, but for low-profile rims a box-section is perfectly acceptable to me. Sure, a Hed C2 Ardennes rim is aerodynamically cleaner by some margin, but to get real aero gains you need to go deep like a Jet4 or Jet6 wheel. The TB14 weighs a claimed 490gr (I’ve weighed Ardenne rims at 485-492gr) and would look oustanding on a vintage bike as well. The TB14 has a welded seam and machined sidewalls, which Jobst Brandt will incessantly tell you is complete rubbish, but I really appreciate. The TB14 is available in a sweet, sweet polished silver or anodized black ($70 retail), as well as the $80 hard-anodized finish (Jobst hates that too). 28, 32, and 36H drillings available.
Cross-section diagram after the jump