is the only component maker capable of
supplying all of a bicycle's drivetrain components, from
pedals to rims. In this edition of Tech Talk, Tim Laflin
examines Campy's updated '98 rim lineup. (We also have
Tim's exclusive review of Campagnolo's
What can I say about rims? Well this year Campy has cut the pork and addressed some key issues that I had with the old rims. The first big issue that really confused me was the shear number of different rims that seemed to overlap.
There are two major types of rims. There are tubulars and clinchers. Most of the world rides on clinchers due to the expense of tubular tires and the pain involved in acutally fixing a tubular. To this end Campy has taken a bit radical approach this year: It will offer one rim choice to the tubular tire buyer. An array of six different rims are available to the clincher buyer. In all reality this is probably the best for all concerned.
The rims for this year are of the same high quality you expect from Campy, but in the last two years two major improvments have been brought to market. Campy is now going to offer what it calls SWT or side wall treatment. Mavic has been doing this for quite some time and it drives up the rim price to the point that not many of the competitors have been willing to follow. The second improvment is the HPB or high performance braking control surface. All of the rims in the line receive one or the other.
There are a few ways to make rims that works well. The cheapest way was to take a single wall extrusion and weld the seam and grind it back flat. The drawbacks to this product were many. The first was that the spoke nipples had to be shielded from the innertube. The second was the rim lacked side to side stiffness. All this changed when the dual wall rim was invented. The second wall allowed for two improvments. The innertube could now ride higher, above the spoke nipples, so flats were much less common from the nipples sharp edges or long spokes poking through the tube. In the single wall design the only thing that protected the tube was a strip of sacraficial rubber over the heads of the nipples. The second benefit was a much stronger rim. The rim now had an enclosed box section to increase rigidity.
All Campy rims are at least dual wall construction. I want to make a short statement of the two types of construction for Campy rims. The HPW rims are joined rims with an insert that gets rivited into place to hold the rim together. This style of rim has historically had a very noticable seam during braking. I will give Campy credit that they are the best in the industry with this technique, but I have been spoiled with the SWT machined side wall that is without seams. The SWT rim is welded at the joint in the rim and then machined to the correct dimension without the need for the joining insert like the HPW. The HPW side wall treatment is better in durability and braking performance (especially in the wet). The call as to which to pick will be more of a choice of the conditions you ride in. If you live in England and you have a lot of rain the choice is easliy HPW. If you live in Phenoix, Arizona I would probably go with the smoother-braking SWT.
That is it for the Campy rims this year! The choice is simple now. Last year the all the rims came in 3 colors and there were more of them. This year picking a Campy rim has never been easier and the new SWT means you do not have to go to Mavic to get the smooth braking. You still have a choice of HPW for bad weather. Unless stainless steel eyelets are mention in the rim discription the rims do not have eyelets.
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