Alloy rims with ceramic coatings are definitely more expensive, so why bother paying more for this exterior coating? Are they actually better than non coated rims? Valid questions when one considers that ceramic rims come at a premium price. They also require dedicated brake pads which is something else to think about when opting for a pair of wheels with this unique coating.
The first ceramic coated rim that I got really excited about was the Boyd Altamont. On first examining it I was very impressed with how perfect the finish was. The brake track moved seamlessly into the rest of the rim. At a glance one might confuse it for a disc rim as the transition was flawless and almost invisible. The bead blasted surface was also executed perfectly. The finish is a very dark grey colour and it's definitely one of the nicest looking alloy rims on the market today. But looks aren't the whole story so I thought I would reserve judgment until I had built one up. The first pair went together beautifully. I was very impressed with the overall quality of the rim while under working tension. It offered the right amount of resistance to each additional volley of tension and when I was at full tension the rim exhibited no adverse reaction whatsoever. This was a good sign of properly heat treated alloy.
Boyd Cycling offers two versions of the Altamont. The regular at 495 grams and the "Lite" at 445 grams. Both rims were designed with a 25mm tire in mind, though it's certainly feasible to use tires from 23mm all the way up to cyclocross widths like 32mm. The internal width of the rim is 19.86mm. Both versions have welded rim joints which adds strength to the equation.
One of the advantages of a ceramic coating is improved wet weather braking. However, one must use the supplied SwissStop BXP brake pads to achieve that goal.
Boyd claim that their ceramic coating will not wear off. They are on the second generation of this coating and the newest version is of course the best yet. I noticed that the ceramic coating added an extra degree of overall stiffness and strength but without being brittle which is paramount.
What about spoke hole options. The Altamont is available in 20, 24, 28 and 32 holes. Enough options to satisfy everybody from racers to cycle tourists.
This rim was designed without metal eyelets so I would highly recommend that you have them built up with Sapim HM spoke nipple washers. This will prevent any future cracks near the spoke holes.
A nice touch was the decision to use water transfer decals that are baked into the rim. No chance of them coming off prematurely.
Lastly is the assurance of a tubeless compatible set up. Boyd has altered the internal dimension and made this rim completely tubeless friendly. The new bead locking shape ensures that the tire won't burp whether you are running higher road pressures or very low pressures used by cyclocross riders.
So if you're thinking of having a set of alloy wheels built up you should seriously consider the Altamonts. Though a bit more expensive, their level of quality and performance won't be easily matched with less expensive non coated alloy rims.