During regular Winter time off-season maintenance I noticed that one of the 
rims on one of my bikes showed a shallow but nonetheless significant score 
mark around the entire braking area surface.  Upon closer inspection of the 
brake pads I found a small rock stuck in one of the pad grooves (the ones 
that are supposedly there to expel water from the rim while braking when 
wet) that caused the damage.  The front rim on this bike was replaced in 
2004 after having been taco'd in a crash, but the rear dates back to the 
late 90's.  The front shows lesser wear.  Both rims are venerable Mavic 
Open Pro's.

So, I'm wondering two things:  1) what is the normal life expectancy of 
aluminum rims, and 2) why brake pad manufacturers insist on installing 
those grooves when everything I've read about them says that they do little 
or no good for anything.  In the case of the first issue, there is no good 
way to measure rim wear unless the manf. has installed dimples or holes or 
grooves on the braking surfaces that act as wear indicators.  A caliper 
won't do any good because the "tire hook" prevents the caliper from seating 
properly against the inside of the rim.  In the case of the second issue, 
are there solid pads available that do not have these slots in them, 
therefore minimizing the chance of a rock getting caught?

I never had rim wear problems until I moved to an area where I had to do 
most of my riding on trails constructed from compacted limestone 
screenings.  Before that all my riding was on hard surfaced roads.

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