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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 09-05-11, 03:54 PM   #1
DubT
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Topolino or Rolf

If you were going to upgrade your wheels and they were going to be your daily use wheels (315 pound team) which would you choose the Rolf or the Topolino?

I know there is a price difference but putting that aside which set of wheels would be your choice and please tell me why.

Thanks in advance,

Wayne
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Old 09-05-11, 04:34 PM   #2
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How hilly will your rides be? Central Illinois isn't exactly alpine, but you may travel.

Rear caliper or disc?
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Old 09-05-11, 04:35 PM   #3
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We're not looking to upgrade as we have been satisfied with our Rolfs for over 6 years. That said, and acknowledging I have no first hand experience with the Topolinos, I believe the Rolfs are the better choice for us. Reasons:

1) We've had excellant customer service from Rolf on both occasions we've needed support. We required replacement of the front hub when the flange cracked after 5 years. The new hub has much beefier flanges. We also required complete wheel rebuilds after denting both rims on a huge submerged pothole this Spring. All work was out of the warranty period, but priced very fairly IMHO. No experience with Topolino from a customer service perspective, they'd be an unknown quantity for us - perhaps better, perhaps worse.

2) Assuming Topolino would provide equivalent support, the choice comes down to which design philosophy you buy into. The Rolfs are heavier, but the Topolinos carry more spokes and the spokes appear to have a larger cross-sectional area. Both wheels appear to have similar rims. All else being equal, I would expect the Topolinos to climb and accelerate better, while the Rolfs should have less drag at speed.

In general, riders overemphasis weight reductions vs. aero improvements in making equipment decisions given what should be expected from running calcs for this sort of thing. Wikipedia has a good article which covers the weight vs. aero tradeoff http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_performance.

For us, aero trumps weight. Other teams may vote differently, or bring other perspectives to further flesh out the debate.

Good luck with your decision!
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Old 09-05-11, 05:01 PM   #4
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How hilly will your rides be? Central Illinois isn't exactly alpine, but you may travel.

Rear caliper or disc?
Illinois is not hilly but we do travel. We rode the Tulsa tough in the spring and it had some decent hills.

Caliper!
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Old 09-05-11, 06:38 PM   #5
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How about a custom wheelset with either the Hed Belgium C2 rim or Velocity A23. I haven't had any experience with either on a tandem but maybe someone here has. Just thought the extra width would be good and I know the Hed tests quite well in the wind tunnel (as far as low profile rims go).
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Old 09-06-11, 08:10 AM   #6
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I own both. If I were to choose from the two for daily use, I'd pick the Rolfs hands down. My decision is based solely on reliability. My Rolfs are 2005 models and also had suffered the front flange failure described earlier. Like Diablordr, Rolf repaired the wheel at no charge even though they were well out of warranty. No further issues since, with approximately 9 or 10 thousand miles use.

The Topolinos are a beautiful wheel set that offer a ride quality second to none. If reliability weren't an issue they would be my choice by a long shot. Unfortunately, reliability seems to be an issue. I had a rear spoke failure at the stainless end that is bonded to the carbon spoke. The failure occurred within the first 500 miles (280 lb. Team). Since I live on the west coast it was a 3 week turn around to get them repaired. Insured shipping to the east coast was $100.00 for the warranty repair to boot.

I'm not alone in having had failures of this nature. Two of my team mates on our RAAM team, had exactly the same failure. One occurred several weeks before RAAM this year. The other was during RAAM while descending into Mexican Hat in 2009. Together, with the review provided by Tandem Geek, I've decided to be pretty cautious about when and where to use them.
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Old 09-06-11, 11:21 AM   #7
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Neither.

White Industries hubs, Velocity Fusion Rims, CX-Ray or DB14 spokes.
36 spokes would be good.

A reliable reasonably lightweight wheel that can be easily repaired and maintained.
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Old 09-06-11, 02:37 PM   #8
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Neither.

White Industries hubs, Velocity Fusion Rims, CX-Ray or DB14 spokes.
36 spokes would be good.

A reliable reasonably lightweight wheel that can be easily repaired and maintained.
Second that.
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Old 09-06-11, 08:06 PM   #9
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Thanks for all of the input. We have decided to go with the Topolino's. The light weight and comfortable ride won out. Michael at Calfee was supportive of both wheels but suggested that for us the Topolino's would be a good choice. We ordered the black ones.

Wayne
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Old 09-06-11, 08:26 PM   #10
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Late to this party, but for what it is worth, our current set of rolf's, which replaced a set in which the spokes pulled through the rims, have spokes pulling through the rims, at ca. 2000 miles. 330 lb team. Originals were used with disc brakes, but replacements were not: no difference in lack of durability. Having read almost every available thread here on this issue, I believe team weight (and to a lesser extent disc brakes) are the main issue. Light team? Go for Rolf's. Bit heavy? Don't unless you think of rims as something you use up in a year and get replaced. By the way, we really love the ride/road feel of the Rolfs!
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Old 09-07-11, 12:04 PM   #11
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We are a 340 lb team and have experienced exactly the same issue with our 2010 Rolf's. A spoke pulled through on the front rim and stress fractures are apparent on the rear wheel. The wheels are now back at Rolf for replacement under warranty.

I have been working with Mel at Tandems East and have a new set of wheels built with Velocity Deep Vs with WI MI6 hubs on the way. The Rolf's will be relegated to backup and special occasion status.


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Late to this party, but for what it is worth, our current set of rolf's, which replaced a set in which the spokes pulled through the rims, have spokes pulling through the rims, at ca. 2000 miles. 330 lb team. Originals were used with disc brakes, but replacements were not: no difference in lack of durability. Having read almost every available thread here on this issue, I believe team weight (and to a lesser extent disc brakes) are the main issue. Light team? Go for Rolf's. Bit heavy? Don't unless you think of rims as something you use up in a year and get replaced. By the way, we really love the ride/road feel of the Rolfs!
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Old 09-07-11, 02:20 PM   #12
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Hi,

We have had good luck with the Rolf's for 4-5 years, we did break one spoke at the nipple on a highway rumble strip, I think, at least that is what we hit that day. I was forced to move out across it.

How much are people paying for a standard set of wheels (with disc brake) like the ones mentioned above?
Any builders you would endorse.
I was considering a back up set.

thanks, Rob
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Old 09-08-11, 09:02 AM   #13
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Supremo with WI hubs, Velocity Deep V's and cx-ray spokes. We like em'.
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Old 09-08-11, 12:21 PM   #14
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Interesting weight results. A 280 lb team really doesn't have that much margin before overloading the wheels.
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Old 09-08-11, 12:22 PM   #15
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Supremo with WI hubs, Velocity Deep V's and cx-ray spokes. We like em'.
Nice bike! 11-Speed ?

Wayne
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Old 09-08-11, 05:58 PM   #16
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How much are people paying for a standard set of wheels (with disc brake) like the ones mentioned above?
Any builders you would endorse.
hanks, Rob
Joe Young wheels, Texas. http://www.youngwheels.com/ Great guy to deal with and we love the wheels, even though negotiating the details from Michigan got a bit tedious. How much? Well, depends on the choices, of course. My advice is to talk with Joe and describe your needs/desires and he will help you get just what you SHOULD get. And for something really special, ask him what his warrantee is!
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Old 09-09-11, 11:58 AM   #17
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Rolf has already rebuilt our wheels and they are on the way home with all of the costs covered under warranty. I cannot complain about their customer service. I too like the way the Rolf wheels ride. I just don't think they are the wheel of choice for our particular circumstances. We will use the Rolf's as special occasion and backup wheels.

Our new wheelset from Tandem's East will be our everyday wheels for training and distance.


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We are a 340 lb team and have experienced exactly the same issue with our 2010 Rolf's. A spoke pulled through on the front rim and stress fractures are apparent on the rear wheel. The wheels are now back at Rolf for replacement under warranty.

I have been working with Mel at Tandems East and have a new set of wheels built with Velocity Deep Vs with WI MI6 hubs on the way. The Rolf's will be relegated to backup and special occasion status.
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