Bontrager vs. Rolf Wheels
For purely cosmetic reasons, my wife has decided that our new tandem is going to have low spoke count wheels. Does anyone have any comments that would help me decide between the Bontrager and Rolf tandem wheels?
We are a fairly aggressive team, who will never do loaded touring. No racing, but fast century and supported tours. Since we live in northern California, a fair amount of climbing (and descending ) is a part of almost all our rides. Team weight is 350lbs.
Your team weight is close to mine. Let me know which ones you buy. If the spokes last 6 months and if you can't feel the front end getting sloppy on the downhill turns, I may buy a pair.
Originally Posted by galen_52657
Changing your tune??
The Trek T2000 I ordered will come with the Bontragers if it ever comes in. I'll soon be happy to tell you my oppinion of them, though it may not mean much because of my limited tandem experience.
Howdy from Tucson!
We use a light weight set of wheels and its neither of the two you mention. We spec'd Velocity Aerohead rims, Chris King hubs, DT Revolution DB spokes. 32H front, 36H rear.
A light set of wheels, maybe a tad less weight than the great Rolf tandem wheels and about $100 less. 5,000 miles on the wheels; have never trued them.
We weigh: Pilot 135, stoker 110 and tandem sub-30 lbs.
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/Zona tandem
Both are only offered in 145mm which shouldn't be a problem if you spec'd standard 145mm spacing on the Erickson.
The Bontragers @ 2245 grams per set are a bit more robust and therefore heavier than the Rolfs at 1855 grams per set.
The Bontragers use a custom bladed 14g spoke that can be replaced with a standard 14g spoke for field repairs; a plus for travel and/or a reminder that you'd be prudent to acquire a few spare spokes for the Rolfs (and the Bontragers for that matter) so that you don't get caught-out with a broken spoke.
Note: I keep 3 spokes in Debbie's seatpost that are held in suspension by two rubber corks; one small and one medium. The corks are drilled with three holes each that the spokes pass through and then inserted into the seatpost with the small cork first and the medium-size cork fits snuggly in the bottom of the 27.2 seatpost which keeps the spokes from falling into the seat tube.
Let's see, what else to I remember. The Rolf's have a 34mm deep section rim (very nice and very Aero) whereas the Bontragers use a 30mm deep section rim - same as Deep-V and the discontinued Mavic CXP-33.
Rolf's & Bontrager wheels come in one color scheme: Black with black hub and silver spokes. Of course, both rims have gaudy graphics and you'd better like Orange and Yellow if you go with the Rolfs and don't feel like spending a few hours removing the decals.
DT-Hugi makes the hubs used on the Bontrager whereas the Rolf have moved from the DT-Hugi hub to one using a proprietary design made here in the US. Of course, if it's made in the US it's most likely made by Mike Hadley (Hadley Racing - Santana's high-end hub producer) just based on the description and finish. White Ind. also uses a 3 pawl design, but their full line is polished and not anodized and the end-caps look all wrong. In either case, they both look like pretty good hubs and should come with your choice of Campy or Shimano splines.
Trek dealers can service the Bontrager wheels whereas I believe you still need a Rolf-certified dealer (and there aren't a lot of them) for parts and service on the Rolf wheelset.
Bottom Line: I still prefer the conventional component wheel approach (CK, White, or Phil hub w/36h Deep-V rim); however, of these two rims I'd probably have to give the nod to the Bontragers for stiffness, durability, and customer support and the nod to Rolf for the spiff design with deeper section rim and cool factor. I'd want to verify what my customer support options were with the Rolfs before heading down that road and while they should be "stiff enough" I still suspect that they will not be as stiff or as durable as the Bontragers over the long-haul.
Time for a change.
I know you go for lighter weight stuff in the U. S. than we do in the U.K. but it sounds to me as though these wheels were custom built to specification. That is the way to go and it is something that I am always trying to stress to U.K. Tandem and solo riders. A good wheelbuilder will put a lot into a wheel, most of it is strength of the wheel as his neck is on the line if his wheels fail.
Originally Posted by zonatandem
I would prefer to go this route than take a "Stock" item off the shelf, even if it has a good name attached to it. You would probably find that a Handbuilt "Custom" wheel would besides being stronger and lighter, would also be cheaper than the named set of wheels
Not at all...just don't want to be the test dummy.... If they work, thatís great. Personally, I would trade away some aerodynamics for stiffness and front-end road feel, but thatís just me.
Originally Posted by ottodog
Well hopefully our Co-Mo Supremo with Rolf Prima Vigor wheels will be here this week, and I can give you some first-hand feedback. But at this point it's not looking to promising.
We have been running the bontrager wheels for two years with no prolbems.
We are a 355 lb team and ride a lot of fast club rides and centurys in northern California.
We sometimes run a brag break on the bike and still no prolbem.
The wheels are hi on the inherant cool factor.
My wife and I recently upgraded from Cannondale Alum to Custom Ti Frame. Local Bike Shop spec'd Bontrager Tandem Lites for our bike, which we used probably 25 miles total. My wife was very uncomfortable in stoker position, going from a rather straight up cruiser position (which we modified for her on Cdale years ago- something akin to a beach cruiser position) to road bike position (I didn't really know what I was doing and our new bike is a "racer"). Anyway, long story short, we changed wheels immediately after purchase to give her/us a more stable feel, in conjunction with other changes in seat post, handlebars, etc...
Why the post? I have two brand new Bontrager Tandem Wheelsets, with Bontrager tires and tubes already mounted, with Salsa Skewers sitting in my garage...i.e..looking for a good home. If you decide to move forward with Bontragers, I would be happy to take the sticker price off your purchase, ship these to you to see if you like them. We can figure out the mechanics if you are interested. I'm in Clearwater (presently in the middle of a hurricane). Don't know where you are, but presume shipping them would be no problem. Return email if interested. email@example.com
Scott, I have both the Bontrager Tandem Lites and the Rolf Prima Vigor Tandem Wheel sets. My wife and I also ride fast century and double centuries in California. Our team weight is close to yours at 330#.
About a year ago we had upgraded the wheels on our CoMotion Cappucino with the Bontragers. In June of this year we purcahssed a new CoMotion Robusta wich came stock with the Rolfs. As a result we have about 5000 miles on the Bontragers and about 3000 miles on the Rolfs.
I can say that as far as handling goes, both sets are rock solid. Not once have I experienced anything that could be described as the front end getting sloppy.
Now let's talk about durability. The Rolfs have had zero issues. No broken spokes and true as can be. However, the Bontragers rear hub failed at about 2500 miles while finishing the climb up Honeyrun at the Wildflower Cetury in Chico. Bontrager warrantied the repair by replacing the hub pawls with Shimano DuraAce instead of the Hugi. That made me wonder if there had been problems previously. About 4 months later we decided to take the "old" tandem for a ride. I noticed that the front Bontrager was slightly out of true. The next day I dropped it off at the LBS to have it trued. On our return home my wife was carrying the front wheel into the house, when PING, the front hub flange broke.
Well, to Bontragers credit they warantied both the front and rear wheels with a brand new set. In fact we just picked them up yesterday. They don't even have rim tape on them yet, so I haven't had a chance to give them a try.
In summary, the bontragers have had some problems, the Rolfs have not. However, I think the measure of a company is how they stand behind their products, and to that end, Bontrager has done an excellent job. My guess is the experience I had, was the exception not the rule. One last observation, the Bontragers are a better looking wheel set.
I was going to post a question similar to this but thought that i would resurrect this post to see if anyone has anything further to add to this post??
If you really want a high performance wheel the Rolf is the one. We've been racing on a set for almost two years and have never even thought about needing to true them. They are super fast because they are really aero, not to mention that they are 3/4 of a pound lighter than the Bontragers. That's a huge amount of rotating weight savings. The only tandem wheel set that is lighter is the Chris King with a Velocity rim. They are about 50 grams lighter but much slower especially in the turbulent air of a pace line.
Having ridden Treks equipped with the Bontragers and now having a Burley equipped with the Rolf's, I can't say I've noticed any difference in stiffness or performance ('course we're a sub-300 lb. team), which, to my mind, makes the Rolfs better due to the lighter weight. My stoker greatly prefers the Rolf's because they look better. I have to agree with her.