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Time line for materials used to make rims

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Time line for materials used to make rims

Old 12-15-12, 08:24 AM
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Time line for materials used to make rims

I was discussing the metal used in Mavic G40 rims with a friend the other day. I thought the rim was aluminum or some aluminum alloy. He thought it was a magnesium alloy. That got me thinking about the history of bicycle rims. I think it went something like this orderwise: first came wood, then iron, then steel, then stainless steel, then aluminum, and then ??? And by the way, who is right on the Mavic G40 rim material?

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Old 12-16-12, 09:37 AM
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You need to add the metal clad wood rims to the list.
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Old 12-16-12, 09:47 AM
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Araya had Titanium rims "Tita-Ace" gold in the latter 70's. Used quite well by Nakano in the professional match sprint.
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Old 12-16-12, 09:59 AM
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I don't I ever heard of Mavic or any other rim manufacturer advertise what there alloy is. Whatever the cocktail is I am sure it is a closely guarded secret.

Stainless rims? who made those and when? Were they widely used?

They make rims out of carbon nowadaze and Mark Cavendish just loves them.

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Old 12-16-12, 10:10 AM
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I always understood the G40 to be an alumiunum alloy by virtue of the fact that MAVIC never touted the composition. Had it been some more exotic, like magnesium, I would think that it have been exploited in the advertising. However, I can't say that I've ever seen the alloy designation in black and white and wouldn't doubt that there is some magnesium present.

The timeline is basically correct, though one has to consider that there was/is lots of overlap. For instance, wood rims were still popular even as the first aluminum rims were being introduced and while aluminum is currently the most popular, the extreme bottom end of the market is still the domain of steel, while carbon fibre is the material of choice at the high end. Also, along the way there were some brief period of popularity for subcategories like rims with ceramic sidewalls and plastic wheels. I consider stainless steel to be a subcategory at best
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Old 12-16-12, 10:19 AM
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That is kind of a generalization in the OP.

First, I would think you can't compare rims before and after the invention of the pneumatic tire, that would be comparing apples to oranges. Prior to the pneumatic tire, whether it was wood clad to iron or iron clad to wood, it is hard to differentiate between the "rim" and the "tire". Both were structural.

For the pneumatic tire, both wood and steel were in existence at the same time for rims.

In the late 19th century, at the same time of the wood and steel rims for the pneumatic tire, aluminum cost more per ounce than gold. That is the main driver as to why aluminum didn't get a toehold into the pro peloton until the early/mid 30s. That doesn't mean some overly wealthy yahoo didn't make aluminum rims 30-40 years prior.

Also, stainless steel rims? When were those ever more than a gimmick?
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Old 12-16-12, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
...Stainless rims? who made those and when? Were they widely used?....
Yes, there were stainless rims but as I said, I'd consider them a sub-category. Araya had an ST-series in the early 1980s which duplicated their open section, plated steel rims. They performed better in the wet but at a higher cost to the bicycle manufacturers, so they did not have wide popularity.
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Last edited by T-Mar; 12-16-12 at 10:45 AM. Reason: add scan
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