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  1. #1
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Wheels - Rolf Prima & Topolino - Feedback Wanted

    I'm toying around with picking up a second set of 'go-fast' wheels for a new tandem and I've narrowed it down to two different brands: Rolf Prima & Topolino. While the models I'm looking at are geared towards tandems (Prima Vigor Tandem & AX 3.0, respectively) I'd also be interested in hearing from anyone using any of these wheels relative to their satisfaction with the product and customer support. In this regard, single-bike users may also have some pertinent feedback.

    So, here are the specific questions:

    1. Whose got 'em, what's your bike's total ride-away weight, which ones do you have, are they your 'daily drivers' or are they only used for 'special occasions' and how many miles have you put on them.

    2. Any problems or have they delivered flawless performance?

    3. For those who have had problems, what were they and how was it resolved?

    4. If you had to get a new set of wheels would you buy them again. If not, what would you get and why?

  2. #2
    Senior Member joe@vwvortex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    I'm toying around with picking up a second set of 'go-fast' wheels for a new tandem and I've narrowed it down to two different brands: Rolf Prima & Topolino. While the models I'm looking at are geared towards tandems (Prima Vigor Tandem & AX 3.0, respectively) I'd also be interested in hearing from anyone using any of these wheels relative to their satisfaction with the product and customer support. In this regard, single-bike users may also have some pertinent feedback.

    So, here are the specific questions:

    1. Whose got 'em, what's your bike's total ride-away weight, which ones do you have, are they your 'daily drivers' or are they only used for 'special occasions' and how many miles have you put on them.

    2. Any problems or have they delivered flawless performance?

    3. For those who have had problems, what were they and how was it resolved?

    4. If you had to get a new set of wheels would you buy them again. If not, what would you get and why?

    We have the 05 model of the Rolf Prima Vigor tandem wheels on our 32lb CoMo - combined rider weight is the 350lb range.

    I've have had several problems with the wheels since we've owned them. First i've had a couple of the spokes front and rear come loose for no apparent reason. My initial front rim had a dip in the braking surface causing vibration under braking. I've also had issues with the rear wheel bearing adjustment loosening and creating a wobble in the rear wheel.

    Each time CoMo has been great in fixing the problem - of course it meant sending the wheels back to them. They replaced the front rim and retensioned the spokes all the way around and I've not had a problem since. I do carry one of thier spoke wrenches/nut drivers though just in case.

    The same with the rear hub - I don't particularly like the rear hub design - because the bearing adjustment is set by three tiny set screws. You also have to remove the disc adaptor to get to them. Again - don't know why they kept coming loose - but I had it happen twice. After the first time I tried to readjust and tighten after the second time I sent em back and they replaced all the hub parts. I've not had any problems since. The wheels are true and have worked well over the past year.

    Their customer service is excellent - and their turnaround time on the fixes was very fast. Just disappointing that i've had to deal with the issues. Others I know have had problems with the bearings wearing out prematurely but I think it's the bearing adjustment which comes loose - people don't notice and then the bearing fail.

    As for getting them again - not really sure as they have been fine since having them fixed by Rolf.
    Administrator and Contributing Editor - Vortex Media Group

  3. #3
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Have ridden Rolfs on singles/tandem but only for test rides. Nice. But no long term usage.
    Topolinos: have them on my single with about 3,500 miles on 'em and they are my only set of wheels. I weigh in at 135 lbs/bike under 18 lbs. No issues whatsoever. Great wheels, smooth and light. Never even have trued them. Great wheelset at the price.
    Have used the front Topo on our tandem a couple times, worked great and no issues.
    Would I buy them again? Definitely.
    Would we buy a pair for the next tandem: You bet!
    Riding Bike Patrol yesterday for the El Tour de Tucson; stopped for a racer who broke a couple spokes on his racing single . . . OOPS they were Bontragers . . . end of the ride for him. Stuff happens!
    As backup/go fast wheels or even daily riders, we'd recommend the Topos.
    Just our opinion/experience.
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  4. #4
    DoubleTrouble cgallagh's Avatar
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    We have Rolfs on our Co-Mo Roadster. They came with the bike we got used. Previous owner had less than 100 miles. We have over 1500 on them. We have not experienced any problems. The wheels are still true and are fine. If we do not have any problems I plan on having them inspected after 2500 just to see if all is still good. I have considered getting another wheelset for daily riding and saving the Rolf's for special needs rides but for now they are all we have. The bike weighs approx. 34 lbs with nothing extra on it, add about 4 lbs for the back rack and bag. We are a 300 lb team.
    Two blondes walked into a building-You think one of them would have seen it.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    I'm toying around with picking up a second set of 'go-fast' wheels for a new tandem and I've narrowed it down to two different brands: Rolf Prima & Topolino. While the models I'm looking at are geared towards tandems (Prima Vigor Tandem & AX 3.0, respectively) I'd also be interested in hearing from anyone using any of these wheels relative to their satisfaction with the product and customer support. In this regard, single-bike users may also have some pertinent feedback.

    So, here are the specific questions:

    1. Whose got 'em, what's your bike's total ride-away weight, which ones do you have, are they your 'daily drivers' or are they only used for 'special occasions' and how many miles have you put on them.

    2. Any problems or have they delivered flawless performance?

    3. For those who have had problems, what were they and how was it resolved?

    4. If you had to get a new set of wheels would you buy them again. If not, what would you get and why?

    1. I have Rolf Prima Vigor tandem wheels on a CoMo Speedster (2005). Total ride-away weight approximately 375 lbs, we have about 5000 miles on the Rolfs. These are the only wheels we have for the tandem

    2. No problems with the wheels, they have been flawless. However, I hate the skewers, they are very finnicky. For some reason the rubber gasket causes the skewer to open on it's own if tension is not just right. I actually bent one of the skewers while clamping it down a little too hard, they are being replaced on my next parts order with Salsa's or something nicer.

    3. N/A

    4. If I bought a new tandem, I would opt for the Rolfs. I know others have had nightmares with them, so maybe I'm just lucky. The nerd in me really enjoyed the engineering specs that shipped with the wheels, showing the exact tension of each spoke and runout measured to the hundredth of a millimeter. I have heard repairs on these wheels are very expensive if you go through Rolf. A few more thoughts, they look very sexy and have a definite aero advantage, but are no lighter than a decent set of tandem wheels. Buy for aero, not for weight savings, and keep in mind that if you have any problems they cannot be fixed locally.

  6. #6
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Summary of feedback TO DATE from this forum & Hobbes:

    Yr Model: Team weight -- mileage -- failures (service) - buy again

    ’03 Rolf’s: 388 -- n/a -- spokes (good) -- Unk. Note 1
    ’04 Rolf’s: 270 -- 9,000 -- hub/bearings (good) -- Yes. Note 2
    ’04 Rolf’s: 280 -- n/a -- none (n/a) -- not stated
    ’05 Rolf’s: 261 -- 2,500 -- none (n/a) -- Yes
    ’05 Rolf’s: 295 -- 8,600 -- hub/spokes (good) -- No. Note 3
    ’05 Rolf’s: 350 -- n/a -- spokes/rim/hub (good) -- Undecided.
    ’05 Rolf’s: 375 -- 5,000 -- none (n/a) -- Yes. Note 4
    ’06 Rolf’s: 300 -- 2,600 -- none (n/a) -- not stated.
    ’07 Rolf’s: 290 -- 2,600 -- none (n/a) -- Yes
    ’07 Rolf’s: 340 -- n/a -- none (n/a) -- Yes
    ’07 Rolf’s: 400 -- 2,600 -- none (n/a) -- Yes. Note 5

    ’03 Bonts: 270 -- 12,000 -- none (n/a) -- No. Note 6
    ’05 Bonts: 350 -- 1,500 -- hub (good) -- No. Note 7
    ’05 Bonts: 350 -- 2,500 -- hub (good) -- Yes


    Notes:
    1 -- ’03 Rolfs: Good wheels, and if buying high zoot wheels would buy again. However, given the early trouble I might not choose to buy high zoot again.
    2 -- ’04 Rolfs: Would probably buy again because they are a good compromise of cost, low drag and low weight.
    3 -- ’05 Rolfs: Early failures shook confidence, drove acquisition of second conventional wheelset for every day use. Not being racers there is no good reason to get lightweight fast wheels, but in this case they came on the tandem as original equipment.
    4 -- ’05 Rolf’s: Stock skewers have proven to be finicky.
    5 -- ’07 Rolfs: Initial issues with noise from the front wheel. Rolf re-tensioned the wheel at 100 miles and no issues since.
    6 -- ’03 Bonts: Too heavy and other quality/value issues would likely drive purchase of high-end lightweight conventional wheelset or other brand/model of performance wheels.
    7 -- ’05 Bonts: Failed to meet needs / expectations for racing wheelset: brake surface, bearings, and weight plus ‘other’ issues make them less than ideal for competitive purposes.


    Topolino's will, for the time being, have to wait for a future opportunity. We have ordered up a set of the '08 Rolf's with the updated rims: reduced from 34mm deep to 32mm, with material added at the spoke bed and a standard size brake track vs. the ultra-narrow one in previous models. Total weight is purportedly now 1,830 grams vs. 1,490 grams for the Topolinos vs. 2,245 grams for Bontragers.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 11-21-07 at 08:34 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member joe@vwvortex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    Summary of feedback TO DATE from this forum & Hobbes:

    Yr Model: Team weight -- mileage -- failures (service) - buy again

    ’03 Rolf’s: 388 -- n/a -- spokes (good) -- Unk. Note 1
    ’04 Rolf’s: 270 -- 9,000 -- hub/bearings (good) -- Yes. Note 2
    ’04 Rolf’s: 280 -- n/a -- none (n/a) -- not stated
    ’05 Rolf’s: 261 -- 2,500 -- none (n/a) -- Yes
    ’05 Rolf’s: 295 -- 8,600 -- hub/spokes (good) -- No. Note 3
    ’05 Rolf’s: 350 -- n/a -- spokes/rim/hub (good) -- Undecided.
    ’05 Rolf’s: 375 -- 5,000 -- none (n/a) -- Yes. Note 4
    ’06 Rolf’s: 300 -- 2,600 -- none (n/a) -- not stated.
    ’07 Rolf’s: 290 -- 2,600 -- none (n/a) -- Yes
    ’07 Rolf’s: 340 -- n/a -- none (n/a) -- Yes
    ’07 Rolf’s: 400 -- 2,600 -- none (n/a) -- Yes. Note 5

    ’03 Bonts: 270 -- 12,000 -- none (n/a) -- No. Note 6
    ’05 Bonts: 350 -- 1,500 -- hub (good) -- No. Note 7
    ’05 Bonts: 350 -- 2,500 -- hub (good) -- Yes


    Notes:
    1 -- ’03 Rolfs: Good wheels, and if buying high zoot wheels would buy again. However, given the early trouble I might not choose to buy high zoot again.
    2 -- ’04 Rolfs: Would probably buy again because they are a good compromise of cost, low drag and low weight.
    3 -- ’05 Rolfs: Early failures shook confidence, drove acquisition of second conventional wheelset for every day use. Not being racers there is no good reason to get lightweight fast wheels, but in this case they came on the tandem as original equipment.
    4 -- ’05 Rolf’s: Stock skewers have proven to be finicky.
    5 -- ’07 Rolfs: Initial issues with noise from the front wheel. Rolf re-tensioned the wheel at 100 miles and no issues since.
    6 -- ’03 Bonts: Too heavy and other quality/value issues would likely drive purchase of high-end lightweight conventional wheelset or other brand/model of performance wheels.
    7 -- ’05 Bonts: Failed to meet needs / expectations for racing wheelset: brake surface, bearings, and weight plus ‘other’ issues make them less than ideal for competitive purposes.


    Topolino's will, for the time being, have to wait for a future opportunity. We have ordered up a set of the '08 Rolf's with the updated rims: reduced from 34mm deep to 32mm, with material added at the spoke bed and a standard size brake track vs. the ultra-narrow one in previous models. Total weight is purportedly now 1,830 grams vs. 1,490 grams for the Topolinos vs. 2,245 grams for Bontragers.
    Good info. Interesting that they changed the brake track surface - it is very narrow. I may be selling mine soon - so I can get a front disc version.
    Administrator and Contributing Editor - Vortex Media Group

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Another data point:

    2004 Bontis, a few 1000 miles, approx 300lbs. Used for trailer towing and training type rides. No issues whatsoever. Only reservation is that they are expensive versus touring wheels and heavy versus racing wheels. As a do-it-all wheel which comes cheap on a Trek tandem that can use standard spokes in an emergency I think they have a lot going for them.

    Another thing to try given your team weight would be to try something like an American Classic CR420 rim with a slightly beefier or disc hub as the brake track on those isn't very strong. That would build into something extremely light.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cavalão's Avatar
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    Anyone else have the Topolinos? The Ebay post got me to looking into them, but I am skeptical that they are beefy enough... going by the specs they are the exact same wheel as regular with wider hub spacing in rear only. Any experience with them?

    I have the Bontrager Tandem Race wheels, and they are neither light nor stiff... and we have had rear hub problems too in addition to broken spokes. Our team weight is about 350lbs, but hopefull will get down to 335 in a few months

  10. #10
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    They are discussed throughout my Calfee Journal entries from March forward:
    http://www.thetandemlink.com/calfee_tandem.html
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 08-25-08 at 08:13 PM.

  11. #11
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    I am seriously looking to get the Topolinos, but have not ordered them yet. I even traded an email with the eBay guy, but backed off on that. I spoke with a guy at ETR this year who managed to split a Rolf or Bontrager (can't remember which) rim on the first day. Had to buy something on the spot to ride the rest of the weekend. We discussed wheels both before and after this incident, and he said if he were to get wheels today, he would get the Topolinos. (He has a green Calfee, by the way).

    In my review, they seem like the ones to get, despite the price jump. I just got an email back from Rafe at Topolino on tire recommendations, but he was a little vague. My question is what tire size I should get with these; I am running 700x28 now, but the Topolinos are 19mm rims, which seems like we want to go down a least to 25. Our team weight is 260, so I am not really worried about load. I want to accelerate!

    TG, what tires are you running on yours?

  12. #12
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    We run Vredestein Fortezzas in 700 x 23, inflated up to Topolino's max tire PSI rating of 135 psi. Our team weight is about 285 lbs and we enjoy very smooth roads. If we had chip seal to deal with we'd likely run 700 x 25 at 120 psi.

    None of the boutique wheels seem to be immune from issues, but at least for me the warranty support has been outstanding. That said, I will continue to maintain that boutique wheels should be looked at as a second set of wheels, not anyone's sole wheelset as most issues can't be addressed in the field.

    Again, I'm not really bothered by non-catastrophic issues that allow you to ride home can be and are addressed promptly by the manufacturer. Most of the issues I've learned of or experienced with the various boutique wheels seem to fall into that category. However, in all cases, having a second set of wheels on hand -- at home or at events -- was prudent and kept folks rolling.

    This is why I underscored the value of warranty coverage in the thread that provided the link to the set on Ebay.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 08-25-08 at 10:52 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member transam's Avatar
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    1) We have the Rolf Prima Vigor Tandem wheels on our Supremo. Total ride-away weight is 310. They used to be our daily wheels, but have picked up another set of wheels (White Ind hubs with Velocity Fusion rims) for daily riding and use the Rolfs for special occasions. The Rolfs have about 3000 miles on them.

    2) We've had two problems with the wheels. The first was a funny "shush shush" sound that developed in the rear hub at about 2500 miles. It was eliminated by taking the hub apart and giving it a thorough cleaning. No more noise.
    Second problem was self inflicted when the same rear wheel slipped in a crack in a wooded bridge and bent the rim. Needed to be sent to Rolf to be fixed.

    3) See above. BTW, Rolf did a great job of repairing the wheel. His work included new rim, new spokes and thorough inspection/cleaning of the hub. At $275 (including shipping) it wasn't cheap.

    4) Would definitely buy again.
    Last edited by transam; 08-25-08 at 02:58 PM.
    Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed.

  14. #14
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Have had Topolinos on my single bike; no problems with 4000+ miles on 'em. I weigh 135 lbs and they are my only single wheels. On rare occasions have had to ride gravel due to road construction(s) and also quite a bit of fresh chipseal this year in northern Utah.
    Current tires are front Maxxis Courchevel 130#; rear Michelin Pro Race 110#, 700x23s.
    Originally the wheels were sent from Rafe with a set of free tires, Hutchinsons.
    Excellent wheels, no issues at all.
    If we ever needed new tandem wheelset would get the Topolinos.
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  15. #15
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    The weight, and the reported ride qualities of the Topolinos are seductive. However, I've got to say just eyeballing them they look to be very unaerodynamic.

    Nonetheless, I'd still like to have a set for rides with lots of climbing, just can't quite justify itright now.
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  16. #16
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    The weight, and the reported ride qualities of the Topolinos are seductive. However, I've got to say just eyeballing them they look to be very unaerodynamic.
    While there are wheels that most certainly have less aero drag, I don't think "unaerodynamic" is necessarily how I'd describe the Topolino wheelset. At the worst and even with the very beefy 2:1 aspect ratio kevlar/carbon hybrid spokes and the fat plastic terminators, they are probably on par aero-wise with a set of 28/32 conventional wheels built up with Deep-V rims, while being a full pound lighter. The Rolfs are definitely more aero than the Topolino wheels, but no where near as light, stiff or comfortable... particularly on an alloy-framed tandem.

    Again, from my most recent Calfee Journal Update...

    Spin Down Testing: Perhaps the most interesting thing I've done with respect to wheels during the past few months was some spin-down testing. In short, I mounted the front wheels from our Topolino Carbon Core AX-3.0T, Rolf Prima Vigor Tandem and White Ind / Velocity Deep-V wheel sets to the front of my Calfee Pro single bike along with a set of Campagnolo Eurus and Campy Record / Mavic Open Pros and used an electric motor to spin the wheels up to 60 mph, at which point their speed decay was captured by my wife's Garmin 305 using the wireless speed sensor. You can find some graphs below that depict the results and draw your own conclusions regarding wind resistance, inertia, speed decay rates, and the like. Now, bear in mind, this was when the front wheels were forced to a starting speed of 65 mph. Therefore, I suspect if I had only accelerated the wheels to 20 mph or even 30 mph approximating average flat line speed range for your average tandem team * all of the various different front wheels would have had very similar looking decay rates, with perhaps a slight edge / lower drag being indicated on the run-down times for the low-spoke-count wheels. If it ever starts to rain here I may investigate that theory by reducing the voltage feeding electric motor to reduce the revs / top end starting speed.

    Last edited by TandemGeek; 08-25-08 at 08:26 PM.

  17. #17
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    I'm going to Interbike and will be asking the Topolino folks a lot of questions... I've been eyeballing them for quite some time. They look like good/better than the others for climbing wheels and so-so aero wheels. I know the Topo spokes are aero shaped, but the Ksyeriums with fat, flat spoked did not fair well in the tests I saw... so I think bigger spokes do translate into significantly more drag.

    Of course I think the only way to really tell whats going on is torque measuring accelerometer for measuring the amount of energy it takes to get a wheel going and then a wind tunnel to determine the actual wind resistance through the air in forward motion through the air. (Not just spinning, that would only measure the spinning drag of the wheel, not the profile of the wheel through the air)

  18. #18
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CactusJackSlade View Post
    Of course I think the only way to really tell whats going on is torque measuring accelerometer for measuring the amount of energy it takes to get a wheel going and then a wind tunnel to determine the actual wind resistance through the air in forward motion through the air. (Not just spinning, that would only measure the spinning drag of the wheel, not the profile of the wheel through the air)
    Exactly, and when I last asked Topolino had not done any wind tunnel testing on their wheels. The principle, Rafe, does have some pretty extensive wind tunnel time from his work on the Spinergy Rev-X wheels and understands intuitively what the big drivers are on drag, etc...

    Bottom Line: We have used 36h White Ind / Velocity Fusion wheels, 36h White Ind / Velocity Deep-V wheels, '08 Rolf Prima Vigor Tandem wheels, '07 Rolf Prima Vigor Tandem Wheels, and the Topolino AX 3.0-T wheels on our Calfee and by far I prefer the Topolino wheels.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 08-26-08 at 12:05 PM.

  19. #19
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    Your wheel aero testing graphs are very interesting and, perhaps, the only quantitative testing I've seen that might indicate a real difference in available wheels. It's somewhat surprising that Rolf/Toppolino haven't previously done this sort of thing and incorporated it in their promotional campaigns.

    A couple of observations;
    -The data obviously also reflects the quality of the wheel bearings, as well as the aerodynamics of each wheel.
    -Most cyclists experience at 60 MPH are rare (if ever). The data would seem a lot more meaningful at speeds in the 15-25 MPH range. What's really pertinent is the deceleration rate (MPH/sec-slope of the curve) at normal riding speeds. That rate would be more closely proportional to the total drag imposed by the wheel (rotational aero and bearing drag) on the bike.
    -Another potentially significant complicating factor is rotational inertia. A heavier wheel, especially if the extra weight is in the rim, will tend to spin down slower than a lighter one. This "flywheel" effect is, of course, undesirable in a bicycle wheel. Not sure how you can account for this in your testing. Perhaps some kind of low speed test (to minimize aero effect) could be used to estimate rotational moment of inertia (weight on string wrapped around mounted rim).

    I guess you've awakened the long retired, mechanical engineer in me.

  20. #20
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Your wheel aero testing graphs are very interesting

    Interesting yes, but actually something of a novelty and red herring.

    The take away is that there's really not all that much difference even in a simple, unscientific experiment like the one I conjured up. That's one of the reasons I threw the much lighter single bike wheels into the mix, noting that even with a starting speed of 60 mph the single bike wheels with the shallow, lighter rims fell right in with the tandem wheels all sporting much heavier deep section rims. Yes, the spoke count did seem to be the driver for the variance between the two large groupings; however, in most real wind tunnel testing it is that larger and deep section rim that yields the vast majority of aero improvements.

    Had I spun the wheels up to only 30 mph I suspect the Garmin's accuracy would have plotted all of the wheel profiles along a very tight curve.

    The bearings were really a non-factor since the wheels were unweighted and spinning free. In fact, preload on the bearings would have had a bigger impact had one of the wheels been brand-spanking new.

    You'd really need a dynamic wind tunnel test with the wheels mounted on a tandem to figure out just how much (if any) aero advantage a Rolf would have over the 36h wheelsets... noting that a tandem has about 1.5x as much drag as a single bike. So, even the very slight aero advantage that a wheelset can provide on a single bike will be further eroded on a tandem... remembering that it's the total amount of drag you're trying to reduce and once you realize just how much drag you're talking about with a tandem carrying two full-size adults, knocking off a few grams of aero drag isn't going to do much for you unless you're chasing seconds on a time trial course.

    There are actually quite a few on-line resources for aero wheel testing:
    Rolf has a pretty cool tool, although http://www.rolfprima.com/techinfo_aero.php
    University Studies: http://www.soton.ac.uk/~aijf197/Whee...%20Summary.htm
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 08-27-08 at 01:01 PM.

  21. #21
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    Perhaps the most interesting thing I've done with respect to wheels during the past few months was some spin-down testing. In short, I mounted the front wheels from our Topolino Carbon Core AX-3.0T, Rolf Prima Vigor Tandem and White Ind / Velocity Deep-V wheel sets to the front of my Calfee Pro single bike along with a set of Campagnolo Eurus and Campy Record / Mavic Open Pros and used an electric motor to spin the wheels up to 60 mph, at which point their speed decay was captured by my wife's Garmin 305 using the wireless speed sensor. You can find some graphs below that depict the results and draw your own conclusions regarding wind resistance, inertia, speed decay rates, and the like.....
    See why he calls himself the Tandem "Geek", not "Guy" or "Dude"?

    I am not an engineer, nor do I play one on the internet. So I have a few questions that will undoubtedly prove that:

    Wouldn't rim weights also dramatically affect this test? I know you said to "draw you own conclusions about inertia", but that's a little hard to do without knowing rim weights, and the boutique wheel manufacturers don't seem very forthcoming with that information. Individual wheel and complete set weights, yes, but rim weights? No.

    If rim weight is a factor, how much of what we're seeing is aerodynamics and how much inertia?

    Lastly, if it is mostly aerodynamics, does anyone know exactly what percent of the bike/rider combination this wind-cheating technology actually represents?

    This last I believe to be the only truely important number, yet I can never find it for some reason! Component tests in a wind tunnel absent a bike and rider simply allow component manufacturers to brag that their (whatever) is 17.5% more aero than the competition's. But if you knew that number only represented a .5% or even .005% decrease in the overall bike/rider drag, it might give one a little better perspective on whether or not to drop upwards of a $1000 for that component.
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  22. #22
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    I read something somewhere where Lance said that merely raising his thumb a little on the aero bars caused an amazing difference in overall drag -- a lot more than you would think a thumb in the overall cross section would be able to do. But it is the stuff at the front that counts the most; aero rear brakes just aren't worth much.

    I should note that the top of a wheel on a bike going 30 miles and hour is going 60 miles an hour -- while the bottom is going 0, relative to the ground. So measuring drag at 60 is not a bad idea. But there is no question TG's test is not a compelling reason to buy or not buy one of these wheels.

  23. #23
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onegun View Post
    Lastly, if it is mostly aerodynamics, does anyone know exactly what percent of the bike/rider combination this wind-cheating technology actually represents?

    The rider is far and away the largest component of aerodynamic drag. You can argue whether aerodynamic wheels, or helmets make the next biggest difference, but both are an order of magnitude below rider position in importance.

    This link is a little dated, but gives some perspective http://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard/a...rodynamics.htm

    Aero wheels in that data were worth 18 seconds over a 40k TT compared to conventional 32 spoke wheels. Some modern very aero wheels, such as Zipp 808's might push that out to as much as a minute.

    Whereas rider position can make as much as 5 minutes difference over just 10k.
    http://www.analyticcycling.com/RiderAeroStudy.html

    So we're talking pretty small time differences in time amongst difference wheels that are only relevent if your time trialing, and then only if your fast enough to be competitive.
    Last edited by merlinextraligh; 08-27-08 at 02:36 PM.
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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Wouldn't rim weights also dramatically affect this test? The 30mm Velocity Deep-V is 520 grams and I would have to expect Topolino's 30mm deep section rim to be a bit heavier since they have 12 fewer spoke hole drillings, with the '07 Rolf Prima Vigor being the heaviest yet owing to it's 34mm deep profile and having only 20 spoke hole drillings. Conversely, the MAVIC Open Pro rims are around 470 grams and the Campy Eurus rims are likely somewhere around 500 grams. Weight should have some influence, but once again there are so many other uncontrolled variables that the inertia factor simply gets blurred and you look once again to the overall results: very tight and similar profiles where the most obvious difference -- the number of spokes -- seems to be the only big discriminator in this one experiment that clearly favored lower spoke count relative to having a slower rate of speed decay.

    does anyone know exactly what percent of the bike/rider combination this wind-cheating technology actually represents?

    As always, there's a plethora of data on Analytical Cycling

    Cervelo has a pretty good page on this which appears to be identical to this page.

    And, well, if you have a lot of time on your hands: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard/aero/index.htm

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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgg3 View Post
    But there is no question TG's test is not a compelling reason to buy or not buy one of these wheels.
    Nor was it intended to be. Again, I would maintain none of the boutique wheels should be looked at as anyone's sole set of wheels or as a good value. At best, they should only be considered as a second set of wheels by the folks who have the $$ and don't need to justify the expense who are looking to sex-up their tandems with a few exceptions:

    1. In the the case of the truly aero racing wheels, very fit cyclists who are looking to improve their personal best for time trials or competing in no-kidding, sanctioned races might actually reap the benefit of the expense.... so long as they do their training on higher-drag, conventional wheels not on their racing wheels (after all, that's why they're called "racing wheels").

    2. In the case of the Topolino wheels, having used them on both our Carbon and steel framed tandems, while I like them on the Calfee I was amazed at how they transformed the Erickson's ride qualities... and for someone who wanted to get the vibration dampening qualities of a carbon frame for about 1/3 of the cost, they'd be a great choice that could either forestall the total tandem upgrade or eliminate the need all together.

    Again, for recreational cyclists, none of these wheels are a practical choice for every day use if one of the goals of your riding is improving your fitness or performance or if you're value conscious. From a fitness standpoint, you don't want to make your training rides easier... you want them to be 'training rides'. Remember, training rides aren't supposed to get easier, you just go faster and further as your fitness improves. Going faster by making it easier only works for a couple rides. From a value standpoint, once you damage or wear-out one of these wheels outside of the warranty what would be a relatively affordable rim change ($80?) will become more like a $270 fix.

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