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Do rims wear out?

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Do rims wear out?

Old 09-12-22, 05:25 PM
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bblair
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Do rims wear out?

Group ride today and a friend commented that he had the same wheels as I do (American Classic Victory 30 alloy) and after a few years they "wore out." Apparently, according to him, the brakes wore down the rim walls to the point that they just folded! Mine are 6 years old, and of course, AC is out of business.

Should I worry?

Is this the excuse that I am looking for to buy those cool CF wheels?
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Old 09-12-22, 05:38 PM
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Yes, they do wear out. How long? Well that depends on how much braking you do and what sort of weather you ride in.

I've only ever worn out one set of alloy rims, a set of Fulcrum Racing 5's on my all-weather work commute road bike (the UK winter "grinding paste" road grime really killed them).
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Old 09-12-22, 05:38 PM
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For bikes with rim brakes it's inevitable, that's how friction works.

As for disc brakes, even those need the rotors replaced eventually.
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Old 09-12-22, 05:39 PM
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Yes, absolutely. This is one of the reasons I use disc brakes.
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Old 09-12-22, 05:41 PM
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Many aluminum rims have wear markers (indentations) so you know when they are worn. Lifespan really depends on how much braking you have done, but yes you can wear them out.
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Old 09-12-22, 06:07 PM
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Yes, especially for rim brake wheels. I have done it before where the sidewalls were worn very thin. For your Victory 30's, I believe the brake track is raised and you will see the grooves fade away as it gets worn too thin. Or just send them to me for inspection and disposal so you can buy your carbon wheels. Seriously though, if the hubs are still good, they would be great to have some carbon rims laced to. Pretty sure a decent 40-45mm rim at 18 front/24 rear would get you a sub 1400g set of aerodynamic wheels.
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Old 09-12-22, 06:25 PM
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I see the grooves, but did not know that they also function as wear indicators. Here is what my front looks like today; the rear is similar.
I mostly ride on good roads and here in Ohio we have some very steep, but short hills. None of those 20 mile descents through the mountains. And I am not a "Clydesdale."
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Old 09-12-22, 08:00 PM
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Here in the PNW, my wife and I ride our tandem quite a bit in the wet. Wet roads with no current rain are the worst. We wear out rims in about 2 years. I replace them on alternate years, so only 1 rim/year. It's easy to transfer the spokes to a new, identical rim, but in your case, sooner or later you'll need a new rim or rims and a new set of spokes for each rim.

Eventually, the rim gets thin enough that tire air pressure bends the upper edge of the rim out and the tire blows off the rim. Having been doing this for a long time, I can tell what "too thin" is, but I can't tell you what that looks like. A pin micrometer would be helpful, but I don't have one anyway. It's quite a noticeable hollow though, easily felt with a finger. Your striated rims are a bit odd. Check your pads. They probably need replacement. Looks like you get bits of gravel imbedded in them. Frequent cleaning of the pads helps, as does wiping the rims down with rubbing alcohol when they look dirty. Lots quicker than washing the whole bike.
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Old 09-12-22, 08:59 PM
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yes they do wear out

I have only seen this happen once with a touring bicycle on Youtube

I have a 15 year old bike with rim brakes. I just replaced my rims with the same model. The difference in rim thickness was basically the grooves in the sidewall were a little smoother.

I'm convinced I probably wouldn't wear out the rims in my lifetime
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Old 09-12-22, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by bblair View Post
I see the grooves, but did not know that they also function as wear indicators. Here is what my front looks like today; the rear is similar.
I mostly ride on good roads and here in Ohio we have some very steep, but short hills. None of those 20 mile descents through the mountains. And I am not a "Clydesdale."
​​​​​​If there's any doubt bring them to LBS and ask their mechanic.

It isn't time that kills rims, it's use of brakes, and any grit that gets between the rims and brake pads. So the fact that someone else's same ones are worn after X years isn't a problem in and of itself. Really hard to get good enough pictures to say over the internet, so if the wear indicators aren't readable get a second opinion.

The thing is nice carbon rims will wear out too. It'll take years but I was never willing to shell out for really good ones with rim brakes. I got an affordable set to try and they didn't brake as well as I was used to with alloy.
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Old 09-12-22, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by bblair View Post
I see the grooves, but did not know that they also function as wear indicators. Here is what my front looks like today; the rear is similar.
I mostly ride on good roads and here in Ohio we have some very steep, but short hills. None of those 20 mile descents through the mountains. And I am not a "Clydesdale."
Yours doesn't have a deep groove that serves as a wear indicator, but if I recall, your brake track is built up and extends a tad wider than the rest of the rim. When it starts wearing flush with the black part of the rim, it's getting very thin. The brake track will also feel smooth, thus reducing the braking performance (but only to what rims were like before machined braking surfaces). Somebody let me know if I'm recalling this brand and model incorrectly.
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Old 09-13-22, 05:18 AM
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This is why you should regularly clean the debris from your brake shoes. Once a month if not more often.
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Old 09-13-22, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by bblair View Post
Group ride today and a friend commented that he had the same wheels as I do (American Classic Victory 30 alloy) and after a few years they "wore out." Apparently, according to him, the brakes wore down the rim walls to the point that they just folded! Mine are 6 years old, and of course, AC is out of business.

Should I worry?

Is this the excuse that I am looking for to buy those cool CF wheels?
Friction = heat = wear. Physics. How fast? It depends on your usage and the preventive maintenance you do.
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Old 09-13-22, 05:49 AM
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In addition to wearing through the braking surfaces, aluminum rims will begin to crack, at the spoke holes usually. Aluminum doesn't have infinity flex cycles like the stainless steel spokes do, and since the rim is always flexing, it will start to develop cracks. But just like brake surface wear, the key word is "eventually". By the time the rims wear out you'll be ready for new hubs anyway and you'll probably just replace the wheels.
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Old 09-13-22, 07:16 AM
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I keep my bike clean and have annual maintenance by the LBS. Replace the brake pads when they recommend. Not very expensive and I trust their judgement.

That said, I am going to give them a close inspection today, thanks for the responses.

P.S. I have already been window shopping for new wheels. I just know they'll make me faster.
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Old 09-13-22, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by bblair View Post
P.S. I have already been window shopping for new wheels. I just know they'll make me faster.
They do. At least the deeper CF wheels make a froosh sound which sounds faster.
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Old 09-13-22, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
They do. At least the deeper CF wheels make a froosh sound which sounds faster.
While I liked the froosh sound that obviously gave me an extra 4mph average speed, I could really feel the breeze tugging them around on fast twisty descents. Kind of wrecked my zen, so I'm getting some shallower rims next.
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Old 09-13-22, 12:22 PM
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When I was a kid I rode so much that I wore the chrome plating off the steel rims of my trusty J C Higgins. I taught myself how to change a rim
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Old 09-13-22, 12:30 PM
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What's the cost of rim replacement vs. rotor replacement?
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Old 09-13-22, 01:06 PM
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When I was commuting daily in the rain, I'd wear out on average one rim per year. The drill then was to grab (another) Mavic Open Pro rim from the rack, and move the spokes one by one from the old rim to the new. Took about an hour per wheel, including truing. While I was doing this I could watch TV. Good for another year. Since spokes last 100,000's or more stress cycles, these should last longer than me. Spokes on the front wheel should last forever, if you are running rim brakes. Spokes will last longer on rim brake bikes than disc-equipped bikes, due to the transmission path of braking forces.

Most folks kill rims from impacts long before they wear out, so the issue of rim wear is largely moot. At the high-volume bike Co-op I work at, the ratio of wheels busted from impacts vs. rim wear is 10:1.

Economics: rim brake pads cost what? $5 per pair on Fleabay? And Open Pro rims are now selling at less than $25 each. And new disc-equipped bikes are substantially more expensive than the previous generation of rim brake bikes, so someone buying discs for costs savings will never catch up.
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Old 09-13-22, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
What's the cost of rim replacement vs. rotor replacement?
Depends who does the work. To replace the rims you need to rebuild the wheel, this is more work than changing a rotor. If you do it yourself it's the cost of the rims you choose, if not you have to add what this costs in your market.
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Old 09-13-22, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
What's the cost of rim replacement vs. rotor replacement?
It obviously varies. Your question is akin to- 'how much does a bike cost?' because it doesnt take into account all the product differences.

Which rim and which rotor are you asking about? I will google the prices for you and post them.
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Old 09-15-22, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
When I was commuting daily in the rain, I'd wear out on average one rim per year. The drill then was to grab (another) Mavic Open Pro rim from the rack, and move the spokes one by one from the old rim to the new. Took about an hour per wheel, including truing. While I was doing this I could watch TV. Good for another year. Since spokes last 100,000's or more stress cycles, these should last longer than me. Spokes on the front wheel should last forever, if you are running rim brakes. Spokes will last longer on rim brake bikes than disc-equipped bikes, due to the transmission path of braking forces.

Most folks kill rims from impacts long before they wear out, so the issue of rim wear is largely moot. At the high-volume bike Co-op I work at, the ratio of wheels busted from impacts vs. rim wear is 10:1.

Economics: rim brake pads cost what? $5 per pair on Fleabay? And Open Pro rims are now selling at less than $25 each. And new disc-equipped bikes are substantially more expensive than the previous generation of rim brake bikes, so someone buying discs for costs savings will never catch up.
where are you finding Open Pros for $25?
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Old 09-15-22, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
where are you finding Open Pros for $25?
Actually $18 each new, plus shipping, if you buy 10. I'm not going to tell, because I may want to scoop these. I probably won't live long enough to need (even more) Open Pros, but its nice to have a secure inventory of beloved reliable bike parts. Aside from being inexpensive castoffs, another benefit of the old-school narrow rims is that using these prevents you from doing foolish things like using tires >25mm. I've tried 28 and 32mm tires on the road and they are heavy and slow, and unnecessary unless you are a Clydesdale on dirt roads. Second benefit is that they prevent you from going to discs, which on the road are heavy, fussy, expensive, and fundamentally unnecessary.
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Old 09-16-22, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
Actually $18 each new, plus shipping, if you buy 10. I'm not going to tell, because I may want to scoop these. I probably won't live long enough to need (even more) Open Pros, but its nice to have a secure inventory of beloved reliable bike parts. Aside from being inexpensive castoffs, another benefit of the old-school narrow rims is that using these prevents you from doing foolish things like using tires >25mm. I've tried 28 and 32mm tires on the road and they are heavy and slow, and unnecessary unless you are a Clydesdale on dirt roads. Second benefit is that they prevent you from going to discs, which on the road are heavy, fussy, expensive, and fundamentally unnecessary.
Maybe great back-in-the-day, but it seems like false economy to buy cheap rims that are so fragile that you have buy them by the dozen.
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