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  1. #1
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    Rolf Prima Tandem Wheelset vs. Custom wheel and hub

    Am getting a Calfee Tetra Tetra and am wanting feedback about wheels. Hope to ride 2,000 miles next year, on hilly terrain in the midwest. Team weight is 280 pounds. I like the look of low spoke tandem wheels but unfortunately, cannot put the Shimano Sweet Sixteen on this bike because of the 145.

    I have heard about a number of good hubs out there including Chris King, White, DT/Swiss, etc. Has anyone found a reason to not like the Rolf (other than expense and graphics), or believe that a hub from one of the companies above plus Mavic or Velocity wheels would be far and above the better choice.

    Thanks for your advice.
    John Lee
    Tandemless at this time

  2. #2
    Bill G Bill G's Avatar
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    I ran the Rolf wheelset on our Co-Motion Robusta for some time, nice looking wheelset and they performed well and they look great. We weigh in at 350LBS plus the weight of the tandem, for me at the end of the day I still like my custom built 36 spoke Velocity deep V rims built up on the lite weight White Ind tandem specific hubs. The Velocity wheelset is easier to maintain and keep true being a heavier tandem team and they perform very well. There not as lite as the Rolf wheelset, but there still pretty lite for a good stong tandem wheelset. No matter witch hub you may choose if you decide against the Rolf wheelset I recommend the Velocity deep V rims for a tandem application, there hard to beet and look good. Plus your looking at about $600 verses $950 for the Rolfs, thats $350 for somthing else for your new tandem.

    Good Luck,
    Bill G
    Co-Motion Custom Primera Tandem (AKA The Marrage Counselor)
    da Vinci Custom Joint Venture 700 Tandem (AKA The Marrage Therapist)

  3. #3
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    We use Velocity Aerohead rims, 32H front, 36H rear, with Chris King hubs and DT Revolution spokes.
    You can also use ti spokes (lighter, pricier). We are a sub-250 lb tandem team
    New on the market this year: Topolino has a tandem wheelset out with 145 rear spacing. Have Topolinos on my sngle: sub-1400 grams, 24 spokes front, 30 rear (18 drive side, 12 non-drive side). Over 3,000 miles on wheelset, never had to true them. C/f spokes and hubs.
    Calfee apparently tested a pair of Topo wheels that he respaced for tandem . . . think 13,000 miles, including RAAM event in '06.
    Nothing against Rolfs, but these are other choices.

  4. #4
    shut up and ride
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    why not go all the way and get these from precisiontandems.com:

    ZIPP-WALKER WHEELSETS
    Zipp 808 & White Industries Hubs build by Dave Walker
    $1,900.00
    Weight for 700C 1132g R, 915gg F = 2047g/set
    Front and Rear 145mm set without q.r.
    Lighter than 2006 model Sweet 16 wheels!
    Special Order

    with the 808 rims (don't know if they're clincher or tubular) they won't be the lightest but they will be the fastest, and more importantly look the fastest

  5. #5
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    I have a pair of 42 spoke/Mavic rimmed/Shimano hub wheels, a pair of 36 spoke Fusion rimmed Hugi hubbed wheels, and a pair of Bontrager Racelite Tandem wheels. The bontragers are by far the best overall wheels. Our team weight is similar to yours.

    Why buy an ultralight frame and then worry about the "sturdiness" or cost of a high performance wheelset? Running a heavier, less aero wheelset on that frame is ludiocrous. Fine for a Cannondale frame, but you just ponied up $5000 for a sleek racing set-up!!! Frankly, a racing set of wheels offers more bang for the buck than the frame.

    BY the way, we had this discussion on this site about 2 weeks ago. Look up the ranting. There's a guy here who has exactly 100 miles of tandem experience who will set you straight.

  6. #6
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    ahem...

  7. #7
    Cyclist, Inline SpeedSk8r Sk8erByker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElRey

    Why buy an ultralight frame and then worry about the "sturdiness" or cost of a high performance wheelset? Running a heavier, less aero wheelset on that frame is ludiocrous. Fine for a Cannondale frame, but you just ponied up $5000 for a sleek racing set-up!!! Frankly, a racing set of wheels offers more bang for the buck than the frame.
    Agreed that the wheels will offer more bang for the buck than frame. However, it's ridiculous to not be concerned about the "sturdiness". If a wheelset fails in the middle of the ride, it no longer matters how "high performance" the wheelset was. If you are sagging in, or crippling home, the heavy & less aero wheelsets will still be on the road. If you are racing, then by all means select the "fastest" wheelset. But, for the remaining 99% of us, definitely ensure at least "minimum sturdiness".

    We tried the low spoke boutique wheelsets with less than acceptable results. We're happy to be back on our ultra-reliable 36 spoke Velocity Deep V's & White Industries.

    Obviously, the low spoke wheelsets are fine for many teams, but there's also a ton of failures.
    Charlie & Pat

  8. #8
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    dude... I couldn't resist.

  9. #9
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    Wheels don't matter much either when you got a cracked frame
    "The cycling community is so small that it is nearly inbred." - Steve Tilford

  10. #10
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    quite frasnkly, if I'm buying a frame like that I'll modify a set of Mavic K's or something. My 36/Fusion/Hugi wheels are fine on my Cdale. I won't even ride them on my Co Mo.

  11. #11
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill G
    There not as lite as the Rolf wheelset, but there still pretty lite for a good stong tandem wheelset.
    Rolfs are about 77 grams lighter... 2.7 ounces if you prefer. About an .04% weight reduction.

    The reduction in aero dynamic drag is a bit more substantial at the component level (wheel to wheel), but once you factor in drag generated by the rest of the tandem and of course the drag that riders contribute, the net reduction in total aerodynamic drag on the tandem is equally insignificant for non-competitive pursuits where fame and forture weigh in the balance.

    However, they look really spiffy and do make for a more lively and responsive feeling machine compared to stock 40h wheels, and even a bit more spry when compared to the 36h conventional wheelsets.

  12. #12
    shut up and ride
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElRey
    I have a pair of 42 spoke/Mavic rimmed/Shimano hub wheels
    42 hole? those are special

  13. #13
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    sorry... typo. 40 spoke. I don't proof my typing on web forums very well...

  14. #14
    shut up and ride
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    too late, i've already been out to the garage to drill a couple more holes in my 40 hole rims...

  15. #15
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    Thanks for all of your feedback. To Zona, I have seen the Topolina wheels and are impressed by their technology and look. Unfortunately, if a spoke is broken on a ride, you have to ship them back to the factory. They told me that their tandem wheels will be ready shortly.
    Counselguy

  16. #16
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    It all depends on who you know as a wheel builder but I have always felt that a Hand built wheel by a wheel builder that has discussed your riding style and what you want from a set of wheels, will be a better bet than most of the "Off the Shelf" custom wheel sets that are around. I am lucky in that I have 2 such builders that I use and they both came up with superb sets of wheels that have lasted and suited me down to the ground. Put it this way. 4 years of hard use offroad that has not been exactly gentle on the wheels and I sent both sets in for retrue this year. One set only required a retrue but these are the Spare off road/ Road use wheels. The other set has had a 400lbs all up weight throwing them down hills- hitting rocks, having front wheel blowouts, and have not been treated kindly. 3 new bearings in the rear hub- 2 spokes on the rear whel replaced as they were bent and a retrue front and rear was all they needed. Not bad for a set of wheels that are half the price of "Special" Tandem wheels I could have bought with a Branded name on them when I built up the Tandem. And they are lighter.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  17. #17
    Bill G Bill G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sk8erByker
    Agreed that the wheels will offer more bang for the buck than frame. However, it's ridiculous to not be concerned about the "sturdiness". If a wheelset fails in the middle of the ride, it no longer matters how "high performance" the wheelset was. If you are sagging in, or crippling home, the heavy & less aero wheelsets will still be on the road. If you are racing, then by all means select the "fastest" wheelset. But, for the remaining 99% of us, definitely ensure at least "minimum sturdiness".

    We tried the low spoke boutique wheelsets with less than acceptable results. We're happy to be back on our ultra-reliable 36 spoke Velocity Deep V's & White Industries.

    Obviously, the low spoke wheelsets are fine for many teams, but there's also a ton of failures.
    We also rode the low spoke count Rolf wheels for a short time and went back to oure trusty 36 spoke Velocity deep V rims & White Ind hubs on our Co_Motion Robusta.
    I agree 100% and pretty much said the same thing above in my post about boutique (Rolf) wheels with a little less detail. You are right they have there place for racing and they do look cool. Truing the Rolf wheelset on the other hand was a lot more of a pain than a 32, 36,40,48 spoke configuration but over all they performed ok in the short time that we ran them. Oure Velocity deep V & White Ind hub wheels stay in true, perform great and never really give us any problems, at the end of the day that is what really counts.

    Take Care,
    Bill G
    Co-Motion Custom Primera Tandem (AKA The Marrage Counselor)
    da Vinci Custom Joint Venture 700 Tandem (AKA The Marrage Therapist)

  18. #18
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    What's the deal with the White Industry hubs besides the fact they look dead-sexy?
    "The cycling community is so small that it is nearly inbred." - Steve Tilford

  19. #19
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Counselguy:
    Saw the first Topolino tandem rear wheel at Interbike. Have run a Topo front wheel on our tandem.
    On the Topolinos, 13,000 miles without a broken spoke, including RAAM in 2006 . . . not bad!
    Have heard of one broken Topo spoke issue and that happened when single bike was being shipped by air.
    Also heard someone rode Topos off road a couple thousand miles, without any problems!
    Last time we broke a spoke was back in the 1980s . . .
    But, anything can happen; there is no fail/safe system.
    But you are correct, IF you break a Topo spoke it has to be shipped back to the factory.

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  20. #20
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    state of the art 40 years ago....

  21. #21
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    Rolf Tandem Wheel vs.

    Zonatandem: I really do like the Topolinos and would strongle consider them except that you can't put a disc brake on it. I am told that their tandem wheel will be ready for sale in February.
    Counselguy

  22. #22
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    We used the Rolfs last year. We are 290lbs and trained hard on them. We raced hard on them on rough roads. One turn in the 7springs, PA road race was a downhill diminishing radius onto very rough surface and I took it very hard on the second lap to stay with the leaders. The race officials callled this turn "the crash site" it was so bad. The wheels were fine and still are. I have nothing but praise for them, .... right now.

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