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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 10-31-11, 06:24 PM   #1
2frmMI
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Rebuild Rolf hubs w/ non-Rolf rims?

My rebuilt Rolfs have failed again after low miles: the standard crack failures of the rims at the spoke holes. Seems to me that the hubs are OK, just the rims that are not actually suited to the task. So my question: could I have the hubs built up with some other, better, rim? How about Velocity Deep V's? I have some of those on a pair of Phil's and they haven't had any issue in 2+ years. Of course this may be apples and oranges since the Phil's are high spoke count and the Rolf's are low. But anyway, has anybody tried this? I would hate to just throw the Rolf's away, but I will not pay to have them rebuilt by Rolf again, given the extremely limited lifespan. (p.s. 320 lb team)
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Old 10-31-11, 07:18 PM   #2
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What did Rolf say about the cracking on the rebuilt wheels?
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Old 10-31-11, 11:12 PM   #3
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The Phil/Velocity combo are almost bombproof but not as light as Rolfs. There is a trade-off.
Hi-zoot low count wheels are fine for lighter folks and non-every day riding.
We ride 32H front/36H rear Chris King hubs laced to Velocity Aeroheads and we are a sub-250 lbs team.
Works great for us!
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Old 11-01-11, 04:39 AM   #4
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What did Rolf say about the cracking on the rebuilt wheels?
On the first cracking event, with much argument from me, they agreed to a rebuild at their cost. It is the rebuild that is now cracked after way too few miles. I have not contacted them. Should I? Even if I had them repaired, at their expense or mine, what good is a wheel that can't make it through a season? They haven't seen service now for well over a year, since I first noted the new cracks. Looking at them sitting useless in the basement made we wonder about a possible alternate rebuild, and hence the post: has anyone rebuilt with non-rolf rims, and with what experience?
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Old 11-01-11, 04:48 AM   #5
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Hi-zoot low count wheels are fine for lighter folks and non-every day riding.
Yes, but at the time we bought these, they were being advertised as "light enough for race day, strong enough for every day", or wording something like that. Of course in hindsight...
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Old 11-01-11, 07:31 AM   #6
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We cracked a Rolf rear two weeks ago (actually I think it began eight weeks ago). We have a set of Spinergy wheels "on the way", so I'm anticipating that the Rolfs become our spare wheels. Given the spoke count of the Rolfs, I don't think you'll be able to reuse the hubs.
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Old 11-01-11, 09:08 AM   #7
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We are a heavier (350 lb) team. We got roughly 1-year (7,000 miles) out of our Rolf's before noticing cracks where the spokes enter the rim on both the front and back wheel. We are now riding on Velocity Deep Vs with Phil Wood hubs, 32 spokes in front and 38 in back. Rolf rebuilt the wheels but they are still sitting in the box unused. We haven't noticed any change in performance other than a slightly stiffer ride. Personally, I like the having the confidence that we will be able to complete a ride without worrying about failing wheels.
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Old 11-01-11, 11:47 AM   #8
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On the first cracking event, with much argument from me, they agreed to a rebuild at their cost. It is the rebuild that is now cracked after way too few miles. I have not contacted them. Should I? Even if I had them repaired, at their expense or mine, what good is a wheel that can't make it through a season? They haven't seen service now for well over a year, since I first noted the new cracks. Looking at them sitting useless in the basement made we wonder about a possible alternate rebuild, and hence the post: has anyone rebuilt with non-rolf rims, and with what experience?
How about get them to rebuild 'em again, then sell your "freshly rebuilt" Rolf wheels on, for example, eBay... then build/get what you want.
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Old 11-01-11, 01:40 PM   #9
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How about get them to rebuild 'em again, then sell your "freshly rebuilt" Rolf wheels on, for example, eBay... then build/get what you want.
Hmmm. Don't know if I'd feel good about that. Maybe if I could sell to a 250 lb team...
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Old 11-01-11, 06:20 PM   #10
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Hmmm. Don't know if I'd feel good about that. Maybe if I could sell to a 250 lb team...
I'll take 'em off your hands for $200.

Feel good about that?
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Old 11-01-11, 06:48 PM   #11
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When we were at the Midwest tandem ride I listened to the Rolf sales pitch and almost bought a set. I came home and posted a question about them on this site and the concenses was that they have rim issues. I bought Topolino's and after 800 miles we are still smiling. Light fast and very comfortable.

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Old 11-01-11, 07:24 PM   #12
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Be aware that Rolf changed rim designs in the last year, so previous group consensus may no longer apply.

When we trashed our rims last Spring, we were given the option of using either the old design (which we owned, and had not had issues with) or moving to the new rim. We opted to go ahead and rebuild using the new rim. At this point we likely only have 500 miles or so on them, so no long term test results yet.

The new rim is not as tall and is slightly wider than the old design, other changes beyond that - including whether the rim design addresses the old cracking issue - would need to be addressed to Rolf.
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Old 03-26-12, 05:30 PM   #13
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Thanks. FWIW, I received a response from Rolf who confirmed that within the last year they have a new spec rim that is "more robust". No idea if that changed the weight much.
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Old 03-26-12, 08:45 PM   #14
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We have a set of Rolfs (not the new rims) and have had good luck with them. We probably only have 3-4k miles on them. We are 270 lb team. I was nervous when we bought them and thought we might a backup set of wheels (or every day wheesl), so we ordered a set of White Industry hubs laced to Velocity Fusion rims (36h). I still have this "backup set" that has maybe 20 miles on them - anyone need a set of all-but-new wheels? They're pretty sporty, black rims, black hubs and black spokes.
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Old 03-27-12, 06:58 AM   #15
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If you're having trouble with the rims cracking, and don't want to rebuild them as Rolfs, I'd start completely over. The high spoke tension inherent in the paired spoke design leads to the hub flange failing, as well as rims cracking.

Going on 4 years of riding Rolfs, and I'd guess around 15,000 miles ( guess because they're not our only wheelset, and I don't have mileage by the wheel) the front has failed once at the hub flange. That lead to essentially a new front wheel. The rear rim has failed twice. IIRC, the first failure was warranted, the second was done at a crash replacement price, but the last one they charged me full price.

The last failure was in less than a year from the previous rebuild. However, I first noticed it after we'd pulled a bob trailer, so I think a teamweight of 340-350, and the tongue wieght of the trailer was pushing our luck.

My conclusion is that if you're not a very lightweight team, you can likely expect ROLF's to have a somewhat limited lifespan. For us that limited lifespan is acceptably long. However, we're going to have a set of conventionally spoked Deep V's built up for the occassions we tour with the bike.
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Old 03-27-12, 07:11 AM   #16
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Be aware that Rolf changed rim designs in the last year, so previous group consensus may no longer apply.

When we trashed our rims last Spring, we were given the option of using either the old design
Our rear was rebuilt in just the last few months. Our LBS handled it, and that wasn't discussed. I'll have to take a look at the rim and see if I can tell a difference.

I did note that both of the newest rims have wear indicators ( a little round indent in the brake track) My understanding is that these were added to meet European Union requirements. Perhaps the rim was redesigned at the same time they added these.
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Old 03-27-12, 09:12 AM   #17
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Our Rolf wheels were rebuilt last fall under warranty. They were the original wheels that came on our CoMo and developed cracks around the spoke holes after about 7,000 miles. We had new wheels built by Tandems East consisting of Phil Woods hubs and Velocity Deep-V wheels. We have been riding the new wheels exclusively and have not even taken the Rolf wheels out of the shipping box. I guess I need to take them out and see if they have the "new" design.

We have disc brakes on our tandem. It would be interesting to know if most of the Rolf failures are associated with disc brakes and the increased stress they place on the spokes during stopping.

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Old 03-27-12, 10:06 AM   #18
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Thanks. FWIW, I received a response from Rolf who confirmed that within the last year they have a new spec rim that is "more robust". No idea if that changed the weight much.
Anyone know if this is yet another "more robust" rim spec., as in addition to the one that they introduced in 2008? The pre-2008 rims are 34mm deep and have a very narrow brake-track. In 2008 Rolf went to a 32mm-deep rim with a deeper spoke bed, conventional width brake track and added the aforementioned EU rim-wear indicators.

We have owned both the '08 and '07 Rolfs, and opted to keep the '07s and sell the '08s: the '08 rear wheel seemed to have a lot of lateral deflection under hard cornering which was disconcerting. Our '07 Rolfs have perhaps 1,500 miles of use without a rear disc, noting they share duty on our Calfee with a set of Topolino's and a conventional set of 36h wheels. We ran the Topolino's all-year in 2011 and have fitted the Rolf's with a rear disc for 2012; we'll see how that goes. I already miss my rear caliper rim brakes, despite how well the Bengal disc works: I just like the feel of caliper rim brakes.

Our rear-Topolino has about 3,500 trouble-free miles and our 2nd front wheel has about 2,500 trouble-free miles. The 36h White Ind / Velocity Deep-Vs have perhaps 1,000 miles of use, noting they were the second set of conventional wheels purchased for the Calfee. The first set was used for some testing against the '08 Rolfs and used a Velocity Fusion rim to bring them in at around 1,850 grams... same as the '08 Rolfs.

Our Erickson is running a nearly identical set of White Ind / Deep V's that have 25,000 trouble-free miles of use, noting the front wheel had a small bearing and end-cap tolerance issue when we first took delivery that was quickly addressed by Lynette.

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Old 03-27-12, 12:19 PM   #19
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Our Rolf wheels were rebuilt last fall under warranty. They were the original wheels that came on our CoMo and developed cracks around the spoke holes after about 7,000 miles. We had new wheels built by Tandems East consisting of Phil Woods hubs and Velocity Deep-V wheels. We have been riding the new wheels exclusively and have not even taken the Rolf wheels out of the shipping box. I guess I need to take them out and see if they have the "new" design.

We have disc brakes on our tandem. It would be interesting to know if most of the Rolf failures are associated with disc brakes and the increased stress they place on the spokes during stopping.
We had our rear pull spokes out the rear rim on an earlier 2005 model set with a disc brake. We now have the newer version circa 2010 with front and rear brakes and so far so good. So who knows. I've had my fair share of issues with spokes detensioning and creaking both front and rear. Rolf in fact had to relace our new front disc wheel three times with a different pattern until they finally solved the creak.
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Old 03-27-12, 12:38 PM   #20
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We had our rear pull spokes out the rear rim on an earlier 2005 model set with a disc brake. We now have the newer version circa 2010 with front and rear brakes and so far so good. So who knows. I've had my fair share of issues with spokes detensioning and creaking both front and rear. Rolf in fact had to replace our new front disc wheel three times with a different pattern until they finally solved the creak.
Sounds like fun. I like Zona's idea. Get something that works and ride it 50,000 miles
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Old 03-27-12, 02:49 PM   #21
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We have disc brakes on our tandem. It would be interesting to know if most of the Rolf failures are associated with disc brakes and the increased stress they place on the spokes during stopping.
The initial failure of our Rolfs was on a trip to Tuscany during which we used a disk as drag brake, and we were suspicious that this contributed. The second failure, however, occurred without us ever installing the disk (we live in quite flat midwest).
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Old 03-27-12, 03:56 PM   #22
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We have disc brakes on our tandem. It would be interesting to know if most of the Rolf failures are associated with disc brakes and the increased stress they place on the spokes during stopping.
No disk brakes on our Speedster

Our initial failure was due to cracking of the flange on the front hub. Rebuilt by Rolf, new hub design, flanges look to be stronger.

Subsequent failure was due to dropping the Speedster into a massive pothole disguised by water on the road. Both rims were dented and Rolf recommended replacement of the front hub. Rolf reused the rear hub.

No subsequent issues, but mileage on the rebuilt wheelset is still low (probably less than 2000 miles) at this point.
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Old 03-27-12, 09:04 PM   #23
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to sum up the thread: Lighter, Cheaper, Stronger; pick two.
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