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  1. #1
    Tandem guy
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    Topolino AX3.0-T....anybody have this wheelset?

    I'm contemplating upon the notion of purchasing this wheelset, and I'd like to hear the thoughts of others who might be riding on such beasts. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I have a set of them, they are great wheels and a great company as well. I don't think you will be disappointed.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  3. #3
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Hang around till TandemGeek weighs in on this one. I know he owns a set, (along with Rolfs, etc), and I believe I read a post from him before on their strengths and weaknesses.
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  4. #4
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    What wheels do you have now, what's the goal for the new wheelset, and what kind of terrain will you be riding?

    If the goal is to be faster, then a set of Rolf's is going to be faster in most all conditions, except perhaps a pure hill climbing TT.

    The Topolinos are going to be about a pound lighter, but they've got to be substantially less aero, and aero trumps weight in almost all applications.
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  5. #5
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    What are you hoping to achieve with these wheels? Gram shaving, an aesthetic update, performance, comfort or reliability?

    - They score high on gram shaving and comfort, in fact they're off the charts on both accounts. There are simply no lighter-weight wheels out there for tandems (nor for single bikes in most cases) and their ride qualities can provide a carbon-frame-like feel to what was (at least before we took delivery of our Calfee) and already very comfortable Erickson steel tandem.

    - Aesthetics are pretty subjective: I thought they were not all that attractive at first, but have since come to like they way they look on certain bikes, e.g., they really look great on our nude carbon Calfee tandem. So, if you want an eye-grabbing wheelset that is also quite high on the technology cool factor, they'll definitely make your tandem stand out from the crowd sitting still or while in motion with their their yellowish spoke blur. Conversely, if you prefer to be subdued.... well, let's just say you can't really turn down the volume.

    - Performance wise, the unusually wide cross-section of the hybrid carbon & kevlar spokes put them on par with conventionally spoked 40h and 48h tandem wheels in terms of wind drag. I'm not not convinced the bearings are as 'free spinning' as the less expensive ones used by White Industries or Phil Wood's very nice but more expensive Swiss-made bearings. Then again, they could just require more wear-in time to 'free-up'; we've logged just under 800 miles on our Topolinos and the front wheel had to be replaced (see below), so the time clock was reset to just about zero on that wheel. Regardless, what we observed while riding is that we are consistently slower while freewheeling down steep descents when we use the Topolino wheels compared to several different sets of conventional wheels using White Ind & Phil Wood hubs and our Rolf Prima Vigor wheels which, coincidentally, also use White Ind hubs. The Topolino's also exhibited similar spin-down decay to conventionally-spoked deep-section wheels during some bench testing that I also address in Update #1 of our Calfee Journal. So, if you're looking for "fast wheels", the Topolino's would not be my first pick by a long shot and despite claims to the contrary, the reduction in rolling mass is negligible: from a pragmatic standpoint it's a static weight reduction (period). All that said, the placebo effect from their light weight and vibration dampening is really amazing; they're a pleasure to ride on particularly on rough roads. Of course, rough roads can create problems of them own, e.g., tough on spoke networks and threaded spoke ends.

    - Reliability: Let's see, where to start. If you acquire these wheels and plan to use them with Shimano 10 Speed cassettes, be sure to acquire a set of American Classic's adapter clips, otherwise the oddly splined Shimano cassettes will damage the hard-anodized but still somewhat soft Topolino cassette carrier body; very cheap insurance vs. dropping $100 + shipping for a replacement carrier from Topolino. Although we haven't experienced a breakage, some of the other folks we know who acquired Topolino's tandem wheels back in 2007 and 2008 and who rode them hard ended up with broken spoke-end terminators... that's the small threaded end on the composite spokes that gets laced to the nipples. I also recall at least one, perhaps two reports of cracked hub bodies. Topolino was good about replacing them under warranty and I'm told the terminators have since been beefed up. Again, we have not had any spoke failures. However, we did have problems with our front wheel's hubs that caused us to return the front wheel to Topolino twice before the front wheel was simply replaced. The first was a problem with axle slippage during hard out of the saddle climbing, resolved with a new set of axle end-caps and then a persistent bearing noise (mis-seat?) that couldn't be corrected. Again, support from Topolino was very good and the front wheel was eventually replaced under warranty. The only downside to the support is the costs associated with shipping the wheels back to Topolino, not an inexpensive proposition when you consider the replacement value insurance number of $1,400. Finally, after our last tandem rally of 2009 I noticed that the rear wheel had gone out of true... something that I really did not expect to see given the various endorsements made by 'big teams' and in light of our somewhat more modest team weight of 280lbs.

    I still need to get a nipple driver so that I can true my rear-wheel and we'll continue to use the wheels on special occasions or on our Erickson should we ever find ourselves with Calfee out of commission. But, in the big scheme of things, I would make sure I matched my goals with the actual features offered by the Topolino wheels, or any other wheels for that matter. Having spent a couple years playing with high end wheels I find that aside from the placebo effect on performance and their good looks, conventionally-spoked wheels still seem to be the best value, most reliable choice anyone can make for a tandem, even for those who are competing on their tandems. If someone truly has a need to boost their performance with some wind-cheating wheels, get ready to shell out for some of the wheels that actually DO provide more substantial aero drag reductions, such as the ones mentioned in other threads here on the forums.

    So, for what it's worth, that's my assessment. Other's have reported no problems and are quite happy with their Topolino's, so your results may vary as well. As with any boutique wheels, I would still recommend they be acquired as a second set of wheels if you ride all the time, just so you have a back-up wheelset if there is a problem.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 01-06-10 at 08:53 AM.

  6. #6
    Tandem Vincitur Ritterview's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    I have a set of them, they are great wheels and a great company as well. I don't think you will be disappointed.
    To what extent were the Topo's used on RAAM, and where did you find them most useful? Climbing? Comfort for long hours in the saddle on sketchy roads?

  7. #7
    Tandem guy
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    Wow! Thanks for all of the info......probably a bit more than I can fully digest at the moment, but now I'm thinking that it might be a good idea to look at a few other wheelsets. To provide a little information about us, though, my wife and I are both 55 years of age and have been riding a very dated and heavy tandem for just over 25 years now. We have since purchased a new tandem built by Bob Brown out of St. Paul, MN, and I'd just like to find another reliable wheelset that'll move the bike a little faster while shaving a couple of pounds, too. The wheelset we're currently riding on consists of a pair of 48h Mavic 519 rims with Phil Wood hubs and a Shimano cassette that we've had for about five or six years now. While they've been a great set for recreational riding, they're still quite heavy. I also used to race on a single bike in my 20s and 30s, and while I no longer care to do this again, I'm thinking that it sure would be cool to have a nice, lightweight set of wheels to beef up the performance of the new tandem. Our team weight is currently at about 350 pounds (hope to reduce that soon), so I'm certainly looking to have a set where our weight won't present any issues. The terrain we typically ride on consists of paved backroads with many rolling hills and flat stretches, although, there are some hills that definitely require stand-up climbs. I might also add that we'll do two or three century rides over the course of a summer as well.

    Regarding the purchase of a new wheelset, I'm not overly concerned about the aesthetics. In fact, I tend to think that the Topolinos would look quite nice on our new bike since the lugs and logos are accented in gold. Above all, though, what I'm really hoping to achieve is to find a wheelset that we can consistently ride on that'll improve the performance and speed of the bike while maintaining a peace of mind that we won't be having any reliability issues.

    So, with that said, perhaps my next question would be to ask for any further recommendations other than the Topolinos. Of course, Rolf has been mentioned, so I certainly wouldn't mind hearing the thoughts of others regarding their wheelsets. While I've looked at some of their wheels, I've been a little concerned that our team weight might be an issue. I certainly wouldn't rule out conventional wheels, either.

    Thanks again, everyone!

    Jim

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim_pridx View Post
    ... any further recommendations other than the Topolinos.
    Polished 36h or 40h White Industry Daisy tandem hubs (hole count dependent on your combined team weight and/or if you'll travel with loaded panniers, etc...) built up with silver anodized Velocity Dyad rims.

  9. #9
    Tandem guy
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek View Post
    Polished 36h or 40h White Industry Daisy tandem hubs (hole count dependent on your combined team weight and/or if you'll travel with loaded panniers, etc...) built up with silver anodized Velocity Dyad rims.
    Thanks once again! Your insight has truly been very helpful! It really is great to be a newbie on this site to find great folks here!

  10. #10
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    We're around your team weight, and regularly ride on Rolf's. We haven't had any duarability problems in 7500 miles or so.

    One thing to consider however is that any low spoke count wheel is going to be an issue if you do break a spoke. Rolf's are not very user serviceable, and much less so in the field. Thus, they would not be the best wheelset if your doing things like multiday tours, or riding far from support.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
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  11. #11
    Tandem Mountain Climber
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    You may also consider the Davinci wheelset.

    The rims they use are tandem rated and pretty light. They use White Industries hubs also.

    They come in at a good price point for what you get.

  12. #12
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    While we do not have Topolinos on our tandem, do have them on my single bike.
    With over 9,000 miles on them, have not had any issues.
    They've not gone out of true at all, and we do have some harsh roads here in AZ.
    Have used the Topo front wheel on our tandem, but no extensive mileage.
    Nice to have an outstanding /reliable American product!
    Just our input . . .

  13. #13
    Tandem guy
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    I think I've actually ruled out the Topolinos, primarily because of the price. Besides, I'm not really sure what I'd do if I ever had a breakdown if I were to be 30 or 40 miles away from my home - or elsewhere, for that matter - but that's just due to my lack of knowledge about these wheels. So, I think I've resolved myself to purchasing more of a conventional wheelset. But, thanks everyone for your input. It's greatly appreciated!

    Although, I do have a question for TandemGeek (or anybody, for that matter) regarding his thoughts of using the White Ind. Daisy hubs on Velocity Dyad rims: From what I've been reading about the Dyad rims, they have a width of 24mm that best accommodates 28mm to 32mm or wider tires, and while I'll probably be running a 28mm tire in the rear (never wider....maybe even a 25mm) for this set, I'm wondering if a narrower rim might be a better choice if I want to use a 25mm or narrower tire on the front. The Velocity Fusion rim is one I'm considering for both the front and rear, but what I'm really looking for is a complimentary wheelset with higher performance capabilities to the heavier and "bombproof" set I'm currently using. Any thoughts?
    Last edited by jim_pridx; 01-08-10 at 12:04 AM.

  14. #14
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim_pridx View Post
    From what I've been reading about the Dyad rims, they have a width of 24mm that best accommodates 28mm to 32mm or wider tires, and while I'll probably be running a 28mm tire in the rear (never wider....maybe even a 25mm) for this set, I'm wondering if a narrower rim might be a better choice if I want to use a 25mm or narrower tire on the front. The Velocity Fusion rim is one I'm considering for both the front and rear, but what I'm really looking for is a complimentary wheelset with higher performance capabilities to the heavier and "bombproof" set I'm currently using. Any thoughts?
    My assumption was you would more likely be using 28mm tires, hence the Dyad. There are folks who run 25mm tires on the Dyads, but it's a stretch and the tire shape is not ideal. So, yes, if you plan to run 23mm or 25mm tires (for whatever reason), then either the Fusion or Deep-V would be a good choice. Gram counters tend to use the Fusion, I'm partial to the Deep-V and from a practical standpoint it's hard to tell the difference: we've used them all.

    You didn't ask, but I'll weigh in on tires size for a moment. First of all, I can think of a good reason to have different size tires on the front & rear of your average road tandem, unless you simply needed a spare and didn't have the same size on hand or ended up with a fork that limits you to a 25mm tire (e.g, Alpha Q X2).

    As for running narrow tires, we are a 275-280lb team and run 23mm and 25mm tires, but it's simply because we have silky-smooth roads here in the Atlanta area and I don't like how 28mm or larger tires 'feel', based on a sample of 1. Our first tandem came with 28mm tires and I was so put off by the 'spongy-feel' and less than precise cornering feel that I took them off after the first ride. To be fair, if I stuck with them I suspect I would have adapted just fine, but elected not to adapt and installed a set of the same tires I used on my road singles, 23mm Vredestein Fortezzas, which is what I've used ever since. Of course, in the mean time we've ended up with Alpha Q carbon forks that limit us to a 25mm tire so that simply reinforced my original tire decision.

    Frankly, the rolling resistance and aero differences between 23mm and 28mm are, again, not significant enough in my mind to be something that drives a tire-sizing decision. Comfort and reliability, subject to your local road surfaces and conditions and total weight, are what should drive those decisions... or frame / fork constraints, e.g. the aforementioned Alpha Q X2 fork constrained to a 25mm tire. For elite cyclists who are racing the clock or other elite cyclists in meaningful competitive events, those .2% or 1% differences all add-up but for everyone else... not so much.

  15. #15
    Tandem guy
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    Thanks, TG! At the moment I'm a little torn between the Fusion and Dyad rims, but I'll ponder on it over the weekend. Either would probably make for a very nice wheelset for the tandem. Regarding tires, I think I can safely say that I've noticed some significant differences in rolling resistance amongst various brands and widths of tires, but some brands especially seem slower than others while the widths have been more negligible. I've never tried the Vreds, so that may be something I'll have to try soon. The roads we ride on are typically paved asphalt farm roads where some are in great condition while others are not so great. For the most part, though, they're pretty good.

    BTW, I lived in Doraville for a brief time back in the late 70s and did some extensive riding on many of the backroads north of Atlanta. I recall it as being a very nice place to ride and would love to do it again if I ever get the opportunity.

  16. #16
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim_pridx View Post
    Regarding tires, I think I can safely say that I've noticed some significant differences in rolling resistance amongst various brands and widths of tires, but some brands especially seem slower than others while the widths have been more negligible.
    No doubt, it is truly the tire's materials and construction that really determine performance more so that size. Note that in this somewhat dated plot of test data compiled by Jobst Brandt many moons ago that two of the tires that exhibited low rolling resistance were 28c Avocets....


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    Has anyone had any experience with disc wheels for the rear. I have a carbon Mavic Comete clincher disc wheel that I would like to use, but it would be nice to know if it had much chance of standing the extra load (we are around 300lb).

  18. #18
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    ^ Spacing is one problem. Your disc is likely spaced to 130mm, and most tandems have wider rear spacing.

    I talked to HED about getting a longer axle for our HED Disc to allow use on our tandem with 145mm spacing. They said it could be done but they strongly reccomended against it.

    Whether, that was just what there lawyers made them say or good advice is open to debate.
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    I can modify the hub to 145mm spacing so that won't be a problem. Just wondering about the strength of the rest of the wheel.

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