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Noob question on gray rims

Old 12-05-16, 10:17 PM
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Dougbloch 
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Noob question on gray rims

As I delve more into the world of C&V bikes I see a lot of old rims - Mavics for example - with gray rims. Yet most of the C&V bikes I see have silver rims. What bikes did these type of rims come stock and when?

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Old 12-05-16, 10:22 PM
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Loose Chain
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The MA4s I believe are mid to late 80s. I bought a set for my Pinarello back about that time. The rims are hard anodized even on the braking surface. Which over time will wear to silver, well, sort of. The MA40s, are those early 90s, I think so. I have two sets of those.

They are good rims, you can use them with confidence.

The current equals would be the Mavic Open series of rims.
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Old 12-05-16, 10:48 PM
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nice rims- i had them on an 80s specialized and now on my 81 centurion. they do wear over time to be sort of sliver... which depending upon your aesthetic... can be a plus or minus.

here they are on a bike.. sorry its not a close up but you can see the brake wear. front has a lot more as one might suspect!

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Old 12-05-16, 10:59 PM
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So did these come on Japanese, French, and more? Italians?
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Old 12-05-16, 11:40 PM
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probably all sorts. the set above came from an 86 Japanese built frame-
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Old 12-06-16, 01:11 AM
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My '86 Miyata 710 has gray anodized Ukai rims as factory equipment.





The brake tracks of the rims have worn through the anodizing, and are quite silver now.


Last edited by Cougrrcj; 12-06-16 at 01:15 AM.
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Old 12-06-16, 01:18 AM
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They grey is hard anodized aluminum. It is a chemical conversion of the rims skin into aluminum oxide. Aluminum oxide is hard, harder than the parent aluminum rim. This hardness means it is slightly more resistant to wear than unanodized rims.

Plus, grey's got cool factor for 1980's kids. <-- the Oingo Boingo generation.



You can get clear anodize but I believe most shiny aluminum rims are coated with a thin skin of pure aluminum . Aluminum is shiny but soft and wears off quickly. It is a osmetic treatment.


Me, I'm from the 60's and 70's. Make mine shiny. <-- sex, drugs, rock & roll generation
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Old 12-06-16, 01:24 AM
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I had a pair that went 17,000 miles until I caught the lip of a pothole I bunny hopped and put a 1 1/2" indent in the rear rim. Bumped it home. There was no more brake track. Front wasn't a whole lot better. Over those mile I might had touched a half a dozen nipples with a wrench. Served me well. (My last high end tubular wheels. It was sad to see them go.)

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Old 12-06-16, 01:26 AM
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I have hard anodized dark grey Mavic Open 4CD rims on my (heavily upgraded) Miyata 912 rain bike. The braking surfaces are only partially worn after over 1800 miles. A very pleasant surprise is that I don't get any of that filthy gray aluminum oxide all over the rims and brakes after a rainy ride! Fenders help for the rest of the bike but the rims and brake pads stay remarkably clean, too.
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Old 12-06-16, 01:40 AM
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Dark colored hard anodizing on rims from the 80's was sort of a double edged sword, They looked really nice on the bikes from the 80's and early 90's, but some of the lighter, thin walled rims like the Mavic GEL280's and to some extent, the GL330's had anodizing on their braking that wore unevenly because the rims had such thin sidewalls that the braking surface/sidewalls tended to flex and warp inward and outward between spokes just from the static spoke tension, so you get patterns of wear that end up looking lake dashes on the sidewalls of the rims, which can look quite nasty till the wear eventually evens out after a lot of miles. It didn't help that these lighter Mavic rims also seem to have quite thin anodizing, compared to other model rims from Mavic or other brands like Wolbers from the 80's. The heavier walled MA40's seem to have less of this problem.....
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Old 12-06-16, 01:45 AM
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Not certain re exact dates but those green/yellow label rims are more late 80s or early 90s. In the early- to mid-80s Mavic MA-40 rims came with red labels. MA-40s are an excellent, well-built, sturdy (but not too heavy) rim. A disadvantage is that the anodized brake surface shows some wear over time. Call it patina. Silver/polished rims were de rigeur prior to the spread of anodized rims in the mid-80s.
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Old 12-06-16, 05:45 AM
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Dougbloch, I first noticed the dark rims around the late '80s, IIRC. I've had two wheel sets, one Sun Mistral and one Mavic OP CD. The Mistrals are pretty low mileage with mostly unchanged brake tracks, the OPs are showing some brake track wear which doesn't bother my sense of aesthetics.

I don't think dark rims, as much as I like them, work well with all bikes. I used the OPs on a bike that I made non bright as much as possible (head set, stem, h'bars, and seat post) and the Mistrals finally found a home on a white Olmo. Dark rims are good if one wants to emphasize the bike more so than the wheels and tires.

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Old 12-06-16, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1
Dark colored hard anodizing on rims from the 80's was sort of a double edged sword, They looked really nice on the bikes from the 80's and early 90's, but some of the lighter, thin walled rims like the Mavic GEL280's and to some extent, the GL330's had anodizing on their braking that wore unevenly because the rims had such thin sidewalls that the braking surface/sidewalls tended to flex and warp inward and outward between spokes just from the static spoke tension, so you get patterns of wear that end up looking lake dashes on the sidewalls of the rims, which can look quite nasty till the wear eventually evens out after a lot of miles. It didn't help that these lighter Mavic rims also seem to have quite thin anodizing, compared to other model rims from Mavic or other brands like Wolbers from the 80's. The heavier walled MA40's seem to have less of this problem.....
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Old 12-06-16, 09:02 AM
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+n on all they said about the MA40. Good rim, looks good especially on a dark bike. Will eventually lose the anodizing and still look good.
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Old 12-06-16, 09:09 AM
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CD in Mavic French, A hard anodizing surface treatment, I have a MTB rim set using this surface treatment.

braking was Irregular, so I Put an abrasive compound pad set on, and with a couple wet , steep, down hill stops that winter

the CD layer was scoured thru , and I Put the softer compound pads back On.
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Old 12-06-16, 09:31 AM
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It was mostly just a fashion trend that started in the early 80s and continued another 10-15 years or so.

Originally there were the exotic and unobtainable Mavic SSC rims that some pro teams used but we only saw in pictures. These were in use as early as 1978. There was also the Martano black. The Mavic SSC's and the Martanos were very expensive and IIRC heat treated. The anodization marked them as such. (actually not sure if the Martano blacks were HT, perhaps someone recalls)

By the early 80s some 'black' anodized rims showing up on obtainable bikes. These were usually just regular rims that were anodized instead of polished, and were not functionally any different. They were perceived as trick, becaused they looked like SSC's. By the mid 80s seemingly most rims had to be black, otherwise they weren't cool.

Last edited by Salamandrine; 12-06-16 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 12-06-16, 10:41 AM
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The MAVIC SSC rims go back to 1975, with the original colour being blue. Prior to that that MAVIC had offered a gold anodized Extra-Legerre. The grey SSC came out circa 1978-1979. By the mid-1980s most rim manufacturers were offering grey, brown or black, hard anodized, road rims.

Colour anodized rims were also very popular with the BMX crowd in the very late 1970s and many rim manufacturers first foray into colour anodized rims was via BMX.

Another problem with hard anodized rims is that they are more susceptible to spoke pull though. This is attrbuted to the harder surface layer, which is more brittle. Micro-cracks can form when the spokes holes are drilled or punched. Since the oxide is molecular bonded to the aluminum, the cracks can extend into the aluminum and propogate to the point where spokes start to pull through the rim.
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Old 12-06-16, 10:43 AM
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Thanks everyone for the history lesson. Although I am partial to polished silver rims, I like the looks of the gray anodized rims and the silver that surfaces underneath.
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Old 12-06-16, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag


You can get clear anodize but I believe most shiny aluminum rims are coated with a thin skin of pure aluminum . Aluminum is shiny but soft and wears off quickly. It is a osmetic treatment.

I'm having trouble following you. Aluminum rims coated with aluminum? Why would they do that?
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Old 12-06-16, 11:16 AM
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Pretty much everything through the end of the 70's had polished rims (and 27" size in the US). Anodizing and 700c started showing up in the late 70's and became more common into the 80's. I think by 1990 27" was pretty much gone, and there weren't that many polished rims around either.
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Old 12-06-16, 11:55 AM
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These Mavic MAs are my favorites. They're clear anodized, so they always look like I polish them. All I ever do is wipe off the dust. The rims on my other French bikes are age-appropriate bare aluminum and I'm tired of polishing them.

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Old 12-06-16, 12:29 PM
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I have two sets of Wolber GTX2 that are like new. They appear to be well made.
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Old 12-06-16, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Flog00
I have two sets of Wolber GTX2 that are like new. They appear to be well made.
Agree, as I noted, Wolbers seems to have a thicker(?)/tougher anodizing compared to Mavics. After some miles now, my Wolber Profil 20's still look brand new after I cleaned them up, with barely a hint of wear on their braking surfaces.....
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Old 12-06-16, 03:50 PM
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I know this is shallow, but I really don't like the stickers on the Mavics on anything after the red labels. I know, just remove them....

I also struggle with the ridiculous prices old Mavics bring on eBay. My next set of grey anodized rims will likely be a new set of H Plus Son tb14 in grey hard ano for ~$40 more than a pair of used Mavics. Better to true a new rim than a 30 year old Mavic plus the machined sidewall is a better braking surface IMO.

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Old 12-06-16, 03:59 PM
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Haha, my first really good R/C race car about the early 90's had hard-ano shock absorber cylinders with exactly the same color! (An LX-T conversion kit on a Junior T, if anyone cares at all)
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