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  1. #1
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    Rolf Prima Tandem Wheel-Spoke Replacement

    We're preparing for a week long bike trip out of the area with our newer Co-Motion, fitted with new (2008) Rolf Prima Tandem Wheels. It occurred to me that we should be carrying spare spokes (and a spoke wrench?) for the Rolfs to avoid the possibility of a spoke failure ending our trip. Has anyone out there field-repaired (replaced a spoke) a Rolf Wheel? Any pointers or special equipment repquired?

    Barry

  2. #2
    Senior Member joe@vwvortex's Avatar
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    I just repaired a spoke on our back wheel. The only sell them in sets of 5 with nipples. You'll need their nipple driver or equivalent. To replace the one that I needed to - I had to remove one of the crossing spokes and then retention both while truing. Its been fine ever since. I was surprised they sold me the spokes without telling me that I wouldn't be able to tension them correctly without sending the wheel to them.
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  3. #3
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    Joe
    How old/how many miles were on the wheel?
    If I understand you correctly, you were able to replace the spoke WITHOUT sending in the wheel to Rolf. Is that right?
    Barry

  4. #4
    Senior Member joe@vwvortex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barry.cohen View Post
    Joe
    How old/how many miles were on the wheel?
    If I understand you correctly, you were able to replace the spoke WITHOUT sending in the wheel to Rolf. Is that right?
    Barry
    Wheels are 4.5 years old - probably 9-10k on the wheels. The spoke popped on a Sunday - I emailed Rolf that day and on Monday I got a reply saying I needed to call and order the spokes as they don't sell them individually. I was able to true the wheel and spoke tension appears to be even. It's held up fine and stayed true over the past couple months.
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    Broken Spoke

    We broke a Rolf Spoke (rear wheel) on our Co-Motion down a ~14% grade (scared the heck out of us). Fortunately, we didn't crash as it would have been very nasty at best. The broken spoke took lots of paint off the frame as it made the worst racket until we could come to a stop.

    We got the wheel repaired at local bike shop (had to order the spoke) and three weeks later broke another spoke on same wheel in a large century ride. This time we were going up an incline so came to an immediate stop and didn't lose more paint on the frame. Excellent sag wagon (bike shop) could not repair wheel for us to finish ride as they didn't have the right spoke, though they had many, many other ones.

    Frustrated, sent the wheel off to Rolf to rebuild. ~1,000 miles later the rebuilt wheel is doing fine.

  6. #6
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    We got the wheel repaired at local bike shop (had to order the spoke) and three weeks later broke another spoke on same wheel in a large century ride. This time we were going up an incline so came to an immediate stop and didn't lose more paint on the frame. Excellent sag wagon (bike shop) could not repair wheel for us to finish ride as they didn't have the right spoke, though they had many, many other ones.

    Frustrated, sent the wheel off to Rolf to rebuild. ~1,000 miles later the rebuilt wheel is doing fine.[/QUOTE]

  7. #7
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    Howell
    How many miles/how old was the wheel that failed?

    Barry

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    If I might, and having followed the traffic on your post to Hobbes as well, any systemic problems with Rolf wheels seem to be related to when they were produced and were resolved with each successive generation and/or solved by fixing an in-house variabilty issue.

    Early on (1st Generation Rolf Prima Vigor Tandem), spoke breakage was a real problem. While it was usually just one spoke that would break -- resulting in a very out of true wheel -- one of our friends (~300lbs) had the second-paired spoke break while making their way back to the starting point of their ride. Again, with a single or even two spokes broken the wheel was still rideable and, in fact, went back to being true when the second spoke broke. However, once the wheels were sent back and fixed by Rolf there were no reoccurances. Purportedly, there was a problem with how the spokes were laced and once that problem was addressed spoke breakage was no longer a problem.

    The next problem was front flange failures. In their effort to get excess weight out of the wheels the 2nd Gen. Rolf Prima Vigor Tandem wheels used front hubs that were drilled between the spoke holes to remove unnecessary material. Unfortunately, the holes acted like stress risers on quite a few wheelsets such that cracks would propogate between these holes and a section of the flange with spoke head attached would break away. Again, while those who had these failures knew they'd lost a spoke and had to stop and secure it, they were all able to finish their rides and sent the wheels back for repair under warranty. Rolf rebuild the front rim around a new hub (without the extra holes) with new spokes and there have been no further problems reported.

    There have also been a number of reported spoke pull-throughs on rear wheels as well as a few instances where the rear rims split along the spoke beds spanning several spokes, the most recent of which was mentioned in another recent posting here at BF.

    Again, a single spoke failure has not purportedly caused any wheel failures as hypothesized by at least one Hobbsian and they even seem to hold up when a paired-set of spokes fail. However, as you can surmize, there have been a variety of different types of Rolf wheel failures. While spoke failures would probably be hard to mitigate through a regular wheel inspection, I suspect a regular inspection of hubs (for anyone with a set of Rolfs sporting the drilled front hub) and the rim for signs of stress cracks would be a prudent practice to adopt.

    Again, and in closing, having paid close attention to feedback from the folks who have been using 'racing wheels' from Rolf, Bontrager, Shimano/Santana and Topolino over the years as well as acquiring and using two different sets of Rolfs as well as Topolino AX3.0Ts, I will continue to advocate that while they can be used as everyday wheels it is not their strong suite IF you want to extract their full value over the life of the wheels. Instead, I believe folks who log the majority of their mileage in non-competitive circumstances are better served using a conventional wheelset for a few very simple reasons:

    1. Even the best conventionall wheelsets cost less than the boutique racing wheels.
    2. The performance improvements offered by racing wheels are negligible for speeds under 20mph
    3. If some is looking to reduce the weight of their tandem, a pair of 32h and/or 36h conventional wheels can be built up using White Ind. hubs & Velocity Fusion rims that will be on par with the Rolfs, and lighter than the Bontrager & Shimano/Santana wheels.
    4. Boutique racing wheels do not lend themselves to field repair and use proprietary parts that must be obtained through an authorized retailer or the OEM.
    5. For those who truly need 'racing wheels' for time trials and other speed events, a set of HED or ZIPP rims mated to White Industry hubs while more expensive would actually yield lower coefficients of drag than any of the pair spoke wheels.
    6. And finally, if you ride on racing wheels every day then they are, in fact, your every day wheels. Therefore, any performance advantage that was paid for is lost since that performance advantage will have been assimilated into your level of effort on daily training rides.

    Bottom Line: If you haven't had any problems with your Rolfs, having subjected them to any hard hits that may have over-stressed any spokes, and a close inspection of the hubs and rims doesn't reveal any hairline stress cracks you'll probably do just fine for 9 days of riding.

    However, IF you have a problem that's limited to a broken spoke you could obtain some extra spokes from Mark Johnson at Precision Tandems and pick up an inexpensive 3/16" nut driver from the Home Depot, Lowes or Sears and install spokes to get you back on your way. As time permits, and assuming they're out of warranty anyway, you could then send them back to Rolf or take them to an approved Rolf dealer for a proper rebuild. Again, history seems to suggest that when Rolf rebuilds one of their wheels they tend to be quite reliable.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all your feedback.
    As a point of reference, I've had Shimano low spoke count wheels on my single bike for six years of absolutely great riding. Never had to re-true or change a spoke. In my mind, they have always rode much better than the original wheels on my Litespeed. I've never regretted the purchase or the decision to use them as daily riders. The ride is significantly more comfortable and responsive.
    With that background, and the generally positive feedback on Rolfs, I had no problem using them as daily riders on my Co-Motion. With the feedback I've gotten here, I will continue to do so with a little more confidence. I'm planning on bringing replacement spokes on my week-long trip.

    Barry

  10. #10
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    Quote:

    "How many miles/how old was the wheel that failed?"

    I'd guess that the wheel probably had ~ 2,000 - 2,500 miles on it before it failed.

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    Alternative Wheelset

    TandemGeek wrote:

    "3. If some is looking to reduce the weight of their tandem, a pair of 32h and/or 36h conventional wheels can be built up using White Ind. hubs & Velocity Fusion rims that will be on par with the Rolfs, and lighter than the Bontrager & Shimano/Santana wheels."

    Though I like the perceived increased efficiency (speed) from our ROLF's, I like the idea of having a more durable wheelset for everyday riding. Will you please provide a link for investigating (purchase) your recommendation in #3?

  12. #12
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HowellGC View Post
    Though I like the perceived increased efficiency (speed) from our ROLF's.
    There's no question the Rolf's feel as though they cut through the air more efficiently... it's simply a function of speed / % reduced drag and the faster you go the greater the benefit. The problem aerodynamics and wheels is that even if you get a 25% - 40% reduction in aero drag from your wheels, it may only represent a 2% reduction in total drag on you and your tandem. Now, from a practical perspective that may still be a good deal. Regardless, and as you note, you can definitely 'feel' the difference between a low aero drag wheel and a conventional wheel, but the perceived increase in efficiency may be a bit greater than the actual increased performance.

    Bottom Line: If I want to have a big grin on anything but technical terrain, I put the Rolf's on our tandem. They look great and they feel fast. Of course, if the roads are in less than ideal condition or there will be steep technical descents, I'm putting on our 36h conventional wheels.


    Quote Originally Posted by HowellGC View Post
    ... I like the idea of having a more durable wheelset for everyday riding. Will you please provide a link for investigating (purchase) your recommendation in #3?
    For very competitive pricing I'd check with Mel at TandemsEast.com (tandemwiz@aol.com) who has been building tandem wheels for 21 years. As it turns out, he and I came up with the same answer for a strong, lightweight conventional wheel that won't break the bank.

    That said, any competent wheel builder who has experience building wheels for tandems should be able to build-up a set of what will work out to be about 1850 gram - 1,900 gram conventional wheels using the White Industries MI5 front hub (low flange) and the Daisy rear tandem hub (mid-flange) laced up to a set of the Velocity Fusion rims using race quality double-butted spokes.

    If you plan to run a rear disc you'll pay about a 50 gram weight penalty using either a true disc hub like the White Ind. MI6 or sticking with the left-hand threaded Daisy model and using the thread-on DT disc adapter + the weight of the rotor and mounting hardware.

    For example, our test wheelset was built up using Sapim Leader spokes and the White Ind. MI6 rear disc hub and came in at a weight of 1,950 grams. If I had used the Daisy hub hub that would have dropped the wheel-only weight to 1,908 grams and if I'd spec'd Sapim's Lazer 'race' grade double-butted spoke they would have come in around 1,830 grams.

    Now, if you want to get silly light and cost is no object, you could have it laced up with Sapim's Aero bladed spokes: they cost about 3x as much as the double-butted variety but 'could' yield a slight aero improvement while shaving off quite a few grams. Again, back to our test wheelset, the Sapim CX-Ray aero spokes would have dropped their weight down to around 1,780 grams with the disc hub, or 1,740 with the Daisy hub.

    Under the premise of full disclosure, I will note I have always liked the deeper-section Velocity Deep-V rims, mostly for how they look on tandems but also for their very robust sidewalls: we nailed a very deep pothole in a paceline doing 25 mph (Note: never draft behind a tri-geek on a tandem) and while both rims brake tracks were buggered-up, the rims held up quite nicely otherwise... enough to get us back to our car where I was able to massage the brake tracks enough to make the tandem rideable for at least a short metric century. So, with that history I sold our Fusion test wheels and we now ride a 2,005 gram White Ind MI5/Daisy & Velocity Deep-V wheelset built using Sapim's standard Leader spokes. Again, the same wheels built with theLaser 'racing' spokes would have come in around 1,927 grams and if I'd spec'd the Sapim CX-Ray aero spokes they would have come in around 1,834 grams, albiet for an additional $216!! Like I said, nice spokes but they ain't cheap.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 07-02-09 at 03:52 PM.

  13. #13
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    Tandem Geek - Thank you for the informative post. Appreciate it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member joe@vwvortex's Avatar
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    What do you think about DaVinci's V-22 rims? I've been contemplating going to discs front and rear which would require me to get at least a new Rolf front wheel - which isn't cheap and it would be easier to just sell a complete set than a front wheel. The DaVinci looks good in 700c. Never been a big fan of Velocity rims - but they are very popular in the tandem circles.

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  15. #15
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    The V-22 is a great tandem rim at a great price that's perhaps the only tandem-specific rim made today. However, the low-volume sales means limited colors (i.e., one - Silver), only two drilling options and the profile is semi-aero like the Fusion. It's very much middle of the road in all respects and is probably best described as a cross between the Fusion & Mavic A719.

    As for Velocity rims, I've been using them since 2000 on mountain tandems (Aeroheat AT) and on our road tandems since 2002 when I discovered Mavic was no longer producing the CXP30's that liked so much. On the bright side, the Velocity Deep-Vs had the same profile but cost about 30% less and weighed about 15% less. Needless to say, I've been advocating Velocity's rims because when everyone else was abandoning the tandem market they made a conscious decision to jump in with both feet and continue to offer a wide range of rims that are suitable for use on tandems. Well, that and they have proven to be excellent rims.

    Just for kicks, here's a potpourri of the 700c road rims that you'll find on a lot of tandems... Sorry, no details regarding FIR rims because I couldn't find any....

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Velocity Aerohead @ $65 MSRP = Too light for a tandem wheel unless you're a flyweight team with good roads.
    700c ERD = 602mm, Weight 425g, 20mm x 21mm, 14 different color choices & 9 different drillings including 40 & 48.




    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mavic CXP33 @ $85 MSRP = a mere shadow of the CXP30 but about all Mavic has for a tandem performance rim these days.
    700c ERD = 596mm, Weight 470g, 19.6mm x 23.5mm, silver or black & 28h, 32h or 36h drillings.




    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Velocity Fusion @ $72 MSRP= Sweet spot for lightweight tandem rim used with narrow tires.
    700c ERD = 591mm, Weight 475g, 19mm x 25mm, 19 different color choices & 7 different drillings including 40h.




    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Velocity Deep-V @ $72 MSRP= Same as Fusion, but 17% deeper and 9% heavier for a slightly more robust wheel.
    700c ERD = 582mm, Weight 520, 19mm x 30mm, 16 different color choices & 9 different drillings including 40h & 48h.




    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Velocity Dyad @ $65 MSRP = Touring / Tandem-specific rim made for wider tires but still quite robust despite the light weight.
    700c ERD = 596mm, Weight 480g, 24mm x 22mm, black or silver with 32h, 36h, 40h & 48h drillings




    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    daVinci V-22 @ $55 MSRP = Super robust, do everything all around tandem rim at a great price.
    700c ERD = 594mm, Weight 560g, 22mm x 24mm, silver only in 36h or 40h drillings.




    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mavic A719 @ $75 MSRP = Traditional modified box-section 'trekking' rim with eyelets, preceded by the ever-popular but problematic T217.
    700c ERD = 594mm, Weight 560g, 24.6mm x 19.8mm, silver or black only in 36h drillings




    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sun CR18 @ $45 MSRP = Dirt cheap, time-tested box section trekking / tandem rim for narrowish tires.
    700c ERD = 612mm, Weight 484g, 22.5mm x 15.5mm, silver only in 32h or 36h drillings




    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sun RhynoLite @ $30 MSRP = Dirt cheap, time-tested box section trekking / tandem rim for larger tires
    700c ERD = 612mm, Weight 565g, 27.5mm x 15.5mm, black only in 36h, 40h or 48h drillings

    Same profile as CR18, just wider. There's even a Rhyno Lite XL @ 29.5mm for really wide tires.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 07-02-09 at 08:21 PM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member joe@vwvortex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    The V-22 is a great tandem rim at a great price that's perhaps the only tandem-specific rim made today. However, the low-volume sales means limited colors (i.e., one - Silver), only two drilling options and the profile is semi-aero like the Fusion. It's very much middle of the road in all respects and is probably best described as a cross between the Fusion & Mavic A719.

    As for Velocity rims, I've been using them since 2000 on mountain tandems (Aeroheat AT) and on our road tandems since 2002 when I discovered Mavic was no longer producing the CXP30's that liked so much. On the bright side, the Velocity Deep-Vs had the same profile but cost about 30% less and weighed about 15% less. Needless to say, I've been advocating Velocity's rims because when everyone else was abandoning the tandem market they made a conscious decision to jump in with both feet and continue to offer a wide range of rims that are suitable for use on tandems. Well, that and they have proven to be excellent rims.
    I remember the CXP30's - a friend had them on his Cannondale Tandem - he too was bummed when they were discontinued.

    I have to agree that my only reservation on the DaVinci's is that they are limited to minimum 36 holes. Being all silver is a minus but i'd be willing to live with it if they were considerably better than the Velocity's. Looks like I might give the Deep V's a shot if I move forward with this mod.
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