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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 01-23-09, 11:58 PM   #1
Alex & Deya
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Topolino Wheels Question

We are looking into getting the Topolino Tandem wheels. Currently we are riding the Rolf Prima tandem wheels. We like the wheels and our only issue is the noise and feel of the front wheel while doing tight fast turns. Mi question is, how do the Topolino wheels behave in technical tight turns at high speed? Any info is greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-24-09, 02:09 AM   #2
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Curious to know what you are experiencing with the front wheel. My wife and I are a light team (220 lbs) and are using the Rolfs as well. In tight corners, I can hear the front rim rub (what I am presuming is the front brake pads). We don't have the pads floating millimeters away from the rims, but I am surprised we seem to be experiencing that much deflection. I have become a bit more cautious in corners now because of it.
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Old 01-24-09, 05:56 AM   #3
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I'm watching this one!

Ill be following this thread with interest, as Im getting ready to pull the trigger on purchasing wheels for my current Calfee build. Am I correct that Tipolino wheels are still NOT Disc brake compatible? At present time Im leaning toward the Rolf Prima with rear disc brake. My team weight is 290 lbs, and I'm planning some good mountain cycling this summer.
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Old 01-24-09, 06:01 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Alex & Deya View Post
Mi question is, how do the Topolino wheels behave in technical tight turns at high speed?
For our team weight of #285, very much like conventionally-spoked 32h wheels.

You can find additional comments on the Topolino wheels in updates #8 - #11 of our Calfee journal: http://www.thetandemlink.com/calfee_tandem_8.html

You'll also find some observations on our experience with both the '08 and an '07 set of Rolfs in updates #5 - #11, although they heavily influenced much of what was described in terms of handling issues in nearly all of the earlier updates.
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Old 01-25-09, 03:07 PM   #5
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We really like our Rolfs but the attraction of lighter wheels for those climbing events and rides sounds great. We would like to use the Topolinos in those special occasions when lots of climbing is required but as we all know if you climb you most come down and wandered if the Topolinos being that light could be stiff enough laterally.

Tandem Dude wrote; I can hear the front rim rub (what I am presuming is the front brake pads)

We came to the conclusion that is not the brakes rubbing, we loosened the front brake on a turn, and the pads were quite separated from the rim and still made the noise and vibration. I believe it maybe just be some flex on the rim or the hub/axle.

That is some good information TandemGeek.

TandemGeek wrote; You can find additional comments on the Topolino wheels in updates #8 - #11 of our Calfee journal: http://www.thetandemlink.com/calfee_tandem_8.html That is some good information TandemGeek.
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Old 01-25-09, 06:15 PM   #6
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Calfee and Topolino have discussed and have some ideas regarding a tandem specific disc wheel, but it is a back burner item for both, no target dates or anything specific. As a point of reference, Steve at S&S said that he and Craig had talked about aluminum couplers for 4 years before they actually went into production.

BTW was that the jet stream I saw on the Stage Coach century?
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Old 01-25-09, 08:39 PM   #7
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Calfee and Topolino have discussed and have some ideas regarding a tandem specific disc wheel, but it is a back burner item for both, no target dates or anything specific. As a point of reference, Steve at S&S said that he and Craig had talked about aluminum couplers for 4 years before they actually went into production.

BTW was that the jet stream I saw on the Stage Coach century?
Yes rode the Stage Coach Century. It was a fun event and perfect weather. Did you do it?
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Old 01-25-09, 09:43 PM   #8
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Yes rode the Stage Coach Century. It was a fun event and perfect weather. Did you do it?
Yes we did do it, and had a great time. Weather and support were great. Hope to do it again next year.
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Old 01-26-09, 11:56 AM   #9
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Yes we did do it, and had a great time. Weather and support were great. Hope to do it again next year.
Was that awesome Calfee tandem we saw at the Stagecoach yours?
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Old 01-26-09, 01:05 PM   #10
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Was that awesome Calfee tandem we saw at the Stagecoach yours?
That was us, unfortunatley you saw us from your truck as you were leaving about an hour before we finished.
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Old 01-26-09, 03:59 PM   #11
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That was us, unfortunatley you saw us from your truck as you were leaving about an hour before we finished.
We had few friends helping some sag stations on the ride, so we went to check on them. We did see your tandem before the start and it. Some day well get one for us.
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Old 05-21-09, 12:53 PM   #12
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Was recently in the LBS and saw a set of Topolinos of the new hub design come in with a cracked hub. Having cracked 3 of the old design on my single, I would not recomend these on a tandem.
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Old 05-21-09, 01:20 PM   #13
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We have Rolf wheels also. If I take a peek at the wheel on a high speed decent, even while going straight, the deflection is really amazing, although not felt at the bars. It makes me wonder whats going on at the rear. These wheels are extremely durable, and very comfortable. Sonoma County roads are well known for there pot holes. Heck, the carbon steerer tube scares me more.
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Old 05-21-09, 01:49 PM   #14
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We really like our Rolfs but the attraction of lighter wheels for those climbing events and rides sounds great.

It would have to be an event with an awful lot of climbing, such as an uphill time trial to make up for the decreased aerodynamics.

Aerodynamics almost always trumps weight. And I'm willing to bet the Rolfs have substantially less drag.

If you look at what's being used in professional racing there is a big trend more aero(and there fore heavier wheels) even in races with substantial climbing. For example Tyler Hamilton won the US Pro championship in Greenville which included multiple climbs up Paris Mountain with Zipp 808's wich are about the same weight difference from say a Zipp 303 as the Rolfs are to the Topolinas.

If you go to analyticcyling.com and play with the model, assume 300 watts power, and 5% grade, reducing the drag coefficient even 2/100ths, increases speed more than decreasing weight a pound.

So even on a 5% grade, the Rolf's are likely faster, and they're certainly faster on descents, and flats.
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Old 05-21-09, 04:54 PM   #15
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FWIW I believe they are working on the King of the Mountain series

http://www.planetultra.com/KOM/index.html

and just have the Heartbreak (the easiest one) left to do. I believe only two tandems have ever finished this series before given the amount of climbing it has. (we are one - a slow one, but one just the same).

It seems they are very fast, and are apparently looking for more speed.
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Old 05-24-09, 12:19 AM   #16
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Was recently in the LBS and saw a set of Topolinos of the new hub design come in with a cracked hub. Having cracked 3 of the old design on my single, I would not recommend these on a tandem.
Chichi, Thanks for the information. That is good to know.

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I believe only two tandems have ever finished this series before given the amount of climbing it has. (we are one - a slow one, but one just the same).
You are correct those three events are hardcore and not just the climbs, some of the descents on Mulholland are just crazy! Great job finishing the three events
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Old 05-26-09, 09:10 AM   #17
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FWIW I believe they are working on the King of the Mountain series

http://www.planetultra.com/KOM/index.html

and just have the Heartbreak (the easiest one) left to do. I believe only two tandems have ever finished this series before given the amount of climbing it has. (we are one - a slow one, but one just the same).

It seems they are very fast, and are apparently looking for more speed.
Obviously there's a heck of a lot of climbing in those rides. But there's also a heck of a lot of descending.
I'm pretty certain on all of them, you're spending more miles descending or climbing grades of less than 5%, than you are climbing grades above 5%.

Given the above rough calculations that you're going to be better off with the aerodynamic advantage, than the weight savings for everything at or below a 5% grade, the Rolfs should be measurably faster than the Topolinos, even on those courses.

This is why we went with Rolfs for Everest Challenge.

And its also why you see deeper dish wheels being used on climbing stages of major races more and more frequently.
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Old 05-26-09, 10:36 AM   #18
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Obviously there's a heck of a lot of climbing in those rides. But there's also a heck of a lot of descending.
I'm pretty certain on all of them, you're spending more miles descending or climbing grades of less than 5%, than you are climbing grades above 5%.

Given the above rough calculations that you're going to be better off with the aerodynamic advantage, than the weight savings for everything at or below a 5% grade, the Rolfs should be measurably faster than the Topolinos, even on those courses.

This is why we went with Rolfs for Everest Challenge.

And its also why you see deeper dish wheels being used on climbing stages of major races more and more frequently.
I would just like comment on the aerodynamic issue.

Normally I would say yes, but with Mulholland many of the descents are so technical that you are not going to make up any time on a descent unless you are really good at it. There is one turn on Deer Creek that has a long steep straightaway before it that makes it look like you are going to fly off the road and drop two or three thousand feet into the Pacific Ocean. (Very pretty - scared the crap out of me.) Much of the rest is very steep and very curvy. In other words, you are working the brakes so much that aerodynamics are really not an issue.

With Breathless Agony the descent is not timed. Sure you can let it rip - I think we averaged about 45 MPH for most of an hour and with more aero wheels maybe we could have gone faster, but why?

Heartbreak you probably would get some advantage with the more aero wheels.

Also, keep in mind it is not the speed advantage over X distance - it is the speed advantage over X time. Since we spend so much time going up hills we will never catch the fastest guys on the flats and descents even if we were to travel at the speed of light on them.
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Old 05-26-09, 12:24 PM   #19
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With Breathless Agony the descent is not timed. Sure you can let it rip - I think we averaged about 45 MPH for most of an hour and with more aero wheels maybe we could have gone faster, but why?
Wow! you are fast. For us to average 45MPH for an hour would require a grade of about -8% without thouching the brakes or coming out of the aero position, starting at 20,000' and ending at sea level. Wait, the highest paved road pass in the world is just shy of 16,000'.. we are out of luck.
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Old 05-26-09, 12:31 PM   #20
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Obviously there's a heck of a lot of climbing in those rides. But there's also a heck of a lot of descending.
I'm pretty certain on all of them, you're spending more miles descending or climbing grades of less than 5%, than you are climbing grades above 5%.

Given the above rough calculations that you're going to be better off with the aerodynamic advantage, than the weight savings for everything at or below a 5% grade, the Rolfs should be measurably faster than the Topolinos, even on those courses.

This is why we went with Rolfs for Everest Challenge.

And its also why you see deeper dish wheels being used on climbing stages of major races more and more frequently.
I agree with reversegear. In actuality most of the descents on Mulholland are super technical and steep, the road conditions are so bad that even singles have hard time making it to the bottom, there is no advantage to a tandem when you have down hills with 16% plus grades, were the roads are super narrow or in bad conditions and there are switchback after switchback with 180 degree turns. All the climbs are well over 5% grades with long climbs that reach over 22% with the flattest parts of the climb at 10%. On Mulholland when you had a 5% grade it felt as it was flat. On Breathless the timed portion is 74 miles and almost 12,000 ft climbing, with only one substantial down hill that is about 6 miles long with several very tight turns, you do the math. On these rides is all about weight and fitness and how fast you can climb and not about Aerodynamics on the descents, regardless of how fast you can descend if you cant climb Aerodynamics wont help.
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Old 05-26-09, 12:59 PM   #21
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^ There is a reason you don't see Topolino wheels in the Giro or the TDF. They have to be terrible aerodynamically.

Conversely you do see deep dish, low spoke count wheels being used in alpine stages of professional races, precisely because the aerodynamic adavantages still trump the weight penalty even in moutainous terrain.



Another example would be Team High Road using Zipp 404's for the most mountainous stage of the TOur of Califiornia, when they could have gone to Zipp 202's



Another way to think abou this is 1lb off the weight of a tandem is going to be something like .25% to .3% of the total bike/team weight. When you run the numbers through a model that takes into account weight, and aerodynamics that little weight change hardly results in a measurable change in speed.

However, changes in aerodynamic drag do result in measurable changes even at relatively slow climbing speeds.
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Old 05-26-09, 02:56 PM   #22
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^ There is a reason you don't see Topolino wheels in the Giro or the TDF. They have to be terrible aerodynamically.
We hope to qualify this in two weeks at the Tennessee Tandem Rally, assuming we end up on a steep descent with another team whom we've benchmarked our downhill speeds.

For years we've ridden together -- they on their Co-Motion and we on our Ericksons with conventional wheels -- and we've always been able to pull them in our draft such that they never had to brake when tucked in and coasting down the bigger hills.

At GTR we had our Calfee fitted with the Topolino wheels and that was definitely not the case. Not only were they having to feather their brakes, several other friends were also carrying more speed on tuck and coast descents. For Tennessee we'll leave the Topolino wheels at home and use our Rolfs in an effort to confirm if it is, in fact, the wheels that are the source of the added aero drag OR (heaven forbid) if the very unaerodynamic Calfee frame design, i.e., the oversized, handwrapped headtube and 2" downtube also is a contributor.

However, aero aside and having just gotten back on the Rolfs for a short ride yesterday after about 200 miles on the Topolino wheels I will say that even on the Calfee the Topolino wheels are noticably more comfortable on rugged road. Of course, conventional wheels are also more forgiving of rough pavement than the Rolfs as well.

More to follow...
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Old 05-26-09, 03:08 PM   #23
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Wow! you are fast. For us to average 45MPH for an hour would require a grade of about -8% without thouching the brakes or coming out of the aero position, starting at 20,000' and ending at sea level. Wait, the highest paved road pass in the world is just shy of 16,000'.. we are out of luck.
Oh, I don't think we are that fast - probably just a lot heavier. We don't need anything close to 8% to reach 45mph. With the exception of Barton Flats and the flat running into the finish it was pretty easy for us. Stay in the tuck position and watch out for wind gusts at the corners.

http://www.cyclingpros.com/onyxprofile.htm

You should ride Breathless. I am sure you could do it, and finish well - very likely faster than us.
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Old 05-26-09, 03:22 PM   #24
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...At GTR we had our Calfee fitted with the Topolino wheels ... For Tennessee we'll leave the Topolino wheels at home and use our Rolfs...
I'm interested in your experiment but I'm especially pleased to know that you are back riding well enough to be able to do the experiment. See you at TTR.

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Old 05-27-09, 05:06 AM   #25
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I'm interested in your experiment but I'm especially pleased to know that you are back riding well enough to be able to do the experiment. See you at TTR.
Thanks. "Well enough" is actually pretty ugly, but riding ugly IS still better than not riding at all. As Tim P. observed while riding behind us, I still can't do much 'ankling' with my left foot, it can't bear a full load and I'm stuck in sandals until the swelling goes down and some minor surgery on my left big toe is taken care of in mid-June and fully heals. So, yeah... we're riding but it ain't pretty. Thankfully, we had friends at GTR who were willing to hang back with us on Fri & Sat and the whole gang of 'usual suspects' plus a few other teams played-nice on Sunday and let us set the tempo out front so we were able to enjoy the last day as part of a larger group.

Looking forward to seeing y'all at TTR; however, don't think we'll see anyone until Friday and even then Metcalf Bottoms climbs are definitely not doable for us at present. Therefore, we'll likely head into the park when the larger groups turns left towards the foothills and ride up the river to the small rest area where the Metcalf Bottoms loop crosses the river. We'll either wait there or intercept the larger group so we can enjoy the spirited ride back down the river to the 'Y'.
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