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Matrix Clincher Rims - Bad Reputation?

Old 10-27-05, 10:48 AM
  #1  
yuyax
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Matrix Clincher Rims - Bad Reputation?

I was just wondering. I keep finding negative comments about how terrible these rims are.

I have 2 pairs of these rims. One pair I rode (yes, past tense) quite a bit and never experienced a problem. I rode mostly on bike trails and smooth roads.

What were the problems with these rims? And why do they have such a bad reputation?

Thanks
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Old 10-27-05, 12:17 PM
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Not sure what version of the Matrix rims you are talking about, but I've got a newer set that I've got tons of training miles on and have no problems. I've even got several races on them. They've been fine and have only needed a little truing one time on one wheel.
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Old 10-27-05, 12:21 PM
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I have matrix rims on my 85 Trek 670. They were the rims that
Trek used (house brand?), they are 20 years old, have thousands
of miles and no problems.
I think that Matrix were sourced from Araya
T-mar, otherguy?

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Old 10-27-05, 12:48 PM
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The ones that I have are the aero profile ones, charcoal dark grey in color. The name 'ISO' rings a bell but I am not sure.

Glad to hear that there are other people with positive experiences. Sheldon Brown does make a comment about how terrible they are.
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Old 10-27-05, 03:26 PM
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I have a pair of Matrix Titans that lasted 15+ years and many thousands of miles. Finally retired them when a couple of the spoke hole ferrules started to pull through. But I definitely got my money's worth out of them.
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Old 10-27-05, 06:18 PM
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I have seen several die of just that curse - nipples pulling through the rim...but...these were all wheels that had lots and lots of hard miles on'em. I personally have never had a failure with one of these rims.

The point to observe here, I guess, is that rims are expendible, and do wear out, both from fatigue failure (like ferrule failure or rim joint failure) or from excessive braking surface wear. You have to inspect wheels carefully and regularly, because a catastrophic failure while riding is, well, catastrophic.
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Old 10-28-05, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by lotek
....I think that Matrix were sourced from Araya
T-mar, otherguy?

marty
The Matrix rims were originally manufactured in the USA by Tru-America. While it would not surprise me if Trek off-loaded production of some or all of the line to a foreign manufacturer, I have no knowledge of it.

Personally, I have no extended experience riding Matrix rims, but I have not heard complaints from the many cyclists that do.

The only road rims that I have had a personal problem with are Campagnolo Omega, which I started riding in the early 1990s on my Marinoni and Gianella. The nipples would start pulling through after about 20,000 km. Wheel guru Jobst Brandt is convinced that hard oxidized rims, like the Omega, are more suspectible to failure. He argues that micro-cracks are created when the manufacturer punches the spoke holes into the brittle hard anodizing. The cyclic loading of the rim eventually causes these cracks to propogate into the underlying aluminum, which weakens the area around the hole and allows the nipple to pull through.

My personal experience supports Brandt's case, though I did not realize it until after I had read his argument. Apart from the abusive, heavy hit or crash induced failures, the vast majority of wheel rebuilds that I have performed are due to spoke pull through on hard anodized rims. This could also be due to the current prevalence of this finish, but I do not recall doing many rebuilds for this failure mode prior to the introduction of hard anodizing. For instance, my favourite vintage wheelset used a set of Fiamme yellow label rims and they had had about 150,000 km on them before I had failure between the double eyelets.
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Old 10-28-05, 07:00 AM
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you know I should have known that, I just ruined a "made in america" sticker
from my '85 wheelset (they don't hold up to finish line bike wash, or was it
degreaser?).
Knew I always liked the polished look better than anodized for a reason.
T-Mar are you aware of the same problem on Mavic Rims (i.e. SSCs)?
I've heard that Campy had problems back in the late 80's to mid 90's
but hadn't heard anything about other anodized rims.

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Old 10-29-05, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by lotek
Knew I always liked the polished look better than anodized for a reason.
T-Mar are you aware of the same problem on Mavic Rims (i.e. SSCs)?
I've heard that Campy had problems back in the late 80's to mid 90's
but hadn't heard anything about other anodized rims.

marty
Yes, the problem exists on Mavic rims. I've also seen it on hard anodized Araya rims. I can't honestly say if I've seen it on SSC rims, as not too many cyclists around here ride them. However, rims with double eyelets/ferrules should be more resistance to the problem. Rims without eyelets, like the Omega, would seem to be most prone to the problem. If Brandt's root cause analysis is correct, then the solution would appear to be rather simple. Punch the spoke holes prior to anodizing.
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Old 02-11-17, 04:03 PM
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Matrix Journey Clincher 700C 36h Rim

About 3 years ago paid $35 for a NOS Matrix Journey rim from a local bike shop. I laced with 2.0 mm spokes for a front wheel mounted on a vintage Guerciotti SLX 84' frame. I rode 4.5K on this rim without issues. After initial truing and tensioning did not have to make further adjustments. Average spoke tension I used on this rim is 107 KGF. I like to find manufacturer's spoke tension recommendation - maybe from Trek? Companies mentioned who may have manufactured this rim for Trek, AFAIK are no longer around.
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Old 02-11-17, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by muysal View Post
I like to find manufacturer's spoke tension recommendation - maybe from Trek? Companies mentioned who may have manufactured this rim for Trek, AFAIK are no longer around.
The Matrix rims were made by Trek. The extrusions were made by an outside company, but they were rolled, pinned, and drilled at the original Trek "old red barn" in downtown Waterloo, WI. and then hard-anodized off-site. They date from a time before rim tension specs were regularly published; for spoke counts above 32H, a tensiometer was generally not needed and wheelbuilders tensioned by "feel."

The dubious reputation of Matrix some people have mentioned probably dates back to the original "Iso" (as in "isosceles," referring to the cross-section shape of the extrusion) tubular tire rims. There was a batch with poor anodizing (lots of pitting) that may have led to this assessment (I have a bunch of these reject rims I use to stretch new tubular tires). Or perhaps because the Iso rims didn't have eyelets, and builders were expected to use rim washers under the nipples, but didn't always do so, leading to cracking at the spoke holes. That said, I've never had a problem with the Matrix rims I've built into wheels. But then I use the rim washers on the Iso rims and the eyeleted rims never had a problem in my experience.
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Old 02-11-17, 08:13 PM
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At the end of the day what motivates you more, giving a positive rating or giving a negative rating.?
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Old 02-11-17, 08:18 PM
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23 years ago, my Trek 930 came stock with Matrix clinchers (26"/ 32h/ double-eyelets) and they've lasted just fine even to this day; so... I dunno. I've heard some talk over the years about the poor-quality anodizing, but I've never experienced a problem with it myself.
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Old 02-11-17, 11:13 PM
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I've got a set of Matrix ISO C-II wheels. I am not a fan. One is really lopsided and goes out of true often. Plus the sidewalls of the tire where they contact the rims gets worn away so that I am afraid of side wall failure. My Mavic CXP33 and Open Pro rims don't do this.
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Old 02-12-17, 02:23 AM
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Originally Posted by yuyax View Post
The ones that I have are the aero profile ones, charcoal dark grey in color. The name 'ISO' rings a bell but I am not sure.

Glad to hear that there are other people with positive experiences. Sheldon Brown does make a comment about how terrible they are.


This rim (32 straight bladed spokes) was used for a documented more than 100.000km by a rider 6ft4 tall and about 200lbs without any problem. It was sold on and is still in use, for all i know.

Last edited by martl; 02-12-17 at 02:29 AM.
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Old 02-12-17, 06:16 AM
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Matrix rims have always been known for being extremely tough, as has been my own experiences.
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Old 02-12-17, 06:40 AM
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When I built up our tandem I got what was purported to be the rear wheel that was on it when it had been retired and disassembled. Original Atom hub but strung into a Matrix rim of unknown model. It wore a sticker from a bike shop on Martha's Vineyard. It had been strung incorrectly with the valve hole between converging rather than diverging spokes. Maybe that says something about the wheel's longevity, or I should say its shortivity. After maybe 1000 to 1500 miles it broke a spoke. I replaced but after another 500 or so it broke another. As I was examining it prior to fixin' I noticed the cracking. Longitudinal cranks between spoke holes. Of course we don't know what history it suffered before we got it. I do know its history after that - it got tossed immediately. I've never seen any other rim crack like that but what do I know?
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Old 02-12-17, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by yuyax View Post
The ones that I have are the aero profile ones, charcoal dark grey in color. The name 'ISO' rings a bell but I am not sure.

Glad to hear that there are other people with positive experiences. Sheldon Brown does make a comment about how terrible they are.
I've had several models, never a problem. "ISO" is for isosceles triangle, part of the design or branding, I can't remember which. They were the aero models and the spokes often created cracks around the holes. Mine were fine. They were marketed vs. the Wolber Profil(e) and Profil(e) GT.

The Titan is a good, solid wheel, with eyelets, in the same vein as Wolber's Super Champion Alpine, Araya's CTL-370 and Sun's M14-A.

I had an all-silver set once, 36-hole, appeared to be a box section and they were very strong. I don't remember the model name. The finish level was not great, but the rim was money in the bank for durability.
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Old 02-12-17, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
"ISO" is for isosceles triangle, part of the design or branding, I can't remember which. They were the aero models and the spokes often created cracks around the holes. Mine were fine.
It was both design and branding that led to the "Iso" moniker. I remember Tim Isaac (who designed the rim) having a chopped-up Nisi Laser rim on his drafting table, from which he was taking measurements during this design process. The cracks you mention may have been due to failure to use the rim washers when building the wheels. These were unique rectangular washers that fit into a channel in the rim:

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Old 02-13-17, 07:39 AM
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I have owned only one set of Matrix rims, Matrix Swamis, with an asymmetrical rear rim on my '98 7000ZX. I've had them since new and they've survived quite a bit of abuse over the years. I did have my doubts about the radially spoke'd front wheel, but that's been proven unfounded.

I've never seen any Matrix rims that weren't OEM spec'd by Trek...shame.

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Old 02-13-17, 08:04 AM
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Working as a mechanic back then I saw some Matrix come in separated at the seam. Some were cracked out at the nipple opening, and quite a few had the dreaded "wavy" sidewalls. Mostly they came through in good shape after many miles. I think the biggest beef I heard from others was building them. It was harder than what came from Mavic, about the same as Araya. Tough to get round, and the wavy sidewalls made lateral true a guessing game. Personally, I liked them as they seemed to be tough rims. In particular the Titan and ISO C were durable.
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Old 02-13-17, 09:38 AM
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Bought a wheelset several years ago, Titan rims laces to 105 hubs.Been on three bikes, and currently on a Tempo.No problems at all.

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Old 02-13-17, 06:24 PM
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As I recall, Sheldon Brown said that Trek "cheaped out" on the (Matrix) rims.

I have no experience with them.
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Old 02-13-17, 08:13 PM
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I did have a problem with cracking on a couple spoke holes on a rear 6 spd Matrix "Titan S".

That said, it was OEM on a 1988 Trek 1000 and had at least 30K miles on it, with many of those urban commuting on our crappy northern potholed roads. It's currently still in use on my son's Schwinn Traveler. I told him keep an eye on it.
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Old 02-13-17, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
I told him keep an eye on it.
You love your son and you believe he will be that careful??? Would you ride them? I wouldn't.
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