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Rolf Vigors vs. American Classic 350's

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Rolf Vigors vs. American Classic 350's

Old 05-03-05, 06:57 PM
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55/Rad
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Rolf Vigors vs. American Classic 350's

A lot of people have been asking me about the American Classic 350 Sprints and how they ride in comparsion to my other wheels - particulary the Rolf Prima Vigors. I realize it's unfair to compare these 2 as they really are very different wheels serving different purposes. Heck, a better comparison would be the Vigors to the AC 420's and the AC 350's to the Rolf Prima Elans. But this is what I have...

The specs: American Classic 350's w/Sapim spoke option - 32/Rear, 28 Fr, 1275 grams/set, semi-aero (28mm) rim similar to a Velocity Aerohead. American Classic hub with newer bearings. Extremely light wheelset purchased for the purpose of climbing specific rides.

Rolf Prima Vigors - 16/Rear, 14/Front bladed spokes with 34 mm aero rim. White Industries hubs. 1455 grams/set. Purchased for all around use.

I rode the Rolfs for about 200 miles on the Santana and then switched the tires (tufo C-Elite) over to the 350's and rode them for about 100. Hills, flats, solo, pacelines, dry, wet - certainly enough to make some solid observations.

Both are light and fast as advertised but holding the AC's in my hand leads me to describe them as "stupid light". Both spin up really well - demonstrably better than the Race X-Lites and Race Lites I've been riding. This gave me the impression that my overall ability to "get up and go" (accelerate) from any speed was improved. Because of this, climbing seemed faster at the same effort level - one of the key reasons I wanted lighter wheels in the first place.

While both sets climbed really well the edge in this area goes to the 350's as expected. But it's certainly not a big and overtly noticeable difference. On sustained flats and descents, the Rolfs far outshined the 350's for 2 simple reasons - they sustain momentum much better and because they just feel smoother and more solid, they instill a higher level of confidence. No "chatter" whatsoever.

Overall, both sets are excellent choices and I am happy to have them, but if I had to choose one, the answer is easy - the Rolfs.

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Old 05-03-05, 07:06 PM
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Hey Rad --- I've actually had those 2 wheelsets in mind. How much $$ did each set go for and where did you make the purchases?
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Old 05-03-05, 07:13 PM
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The MSRP on the Rolf's is $850 and the AC's is $600 + $100 for the Sapim spoke option. Rolf's are fairly difficult to find at discount - I got mine new on Ebay for $700 - but the AC's can be found pretty cheap on a regular basis. I paid $500 but promised not to reveal the retailer.

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Old 05-03-05, 07:22 PM
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Thanks for the review and info Rad. $700 for new Vigors sounds like a good deal, the $500 350's sounds even better. In your opinion, paying the extra $100 for the Sapim's would be worth it?

Maybe someone will have some input on the AC 420's as well.
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Old 05-03-05, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by celticfrost
In your opinion, paying the extra $100 for the Sapim's would be worth it?
The payoff with those spokes is down the road becasue of their durability. If I was paying the money for a high-end wheelset I'd get them.

I read a lot of good things about them on the Zipp website. The closest competitor to cx-rays are the DT swiss aerolites, but I don't know if they have the same alloy/properties (they are the same shape/profile though)
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Old 05-03-05, 07:49 PM
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55/Rad, I emailed you earlier this week asking about the Vigors vs Elans. After thinking about it some more (and e-mailing Rolf) I decided to order the Vigor RS wheelset. Some of the roads here in the bay area are rough and I wanted the extra durability.
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Old 05-03-05, 07:50 PM
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I have to say I agree with 55/Rad just from everything I have read in this thread and in others. I have the Rolf Prima Elan Aero wheels. They are a less aero rim at only 1295g, and 24mm deep. But, they spin up very fast, and are excellent for climbing. As far as smoothness on descents and cruising on the flats, they are also glass smooth. In this respect they are probably very similar to Vigors, as they share the same hub and bearing design. However, the less aero rim will most likely provide a slightly less advantage on the flats and descents, even though they are very smooth.

One thing I have come to really enjoy from these wheels, is the freakish strength of its design. One would think by the smaller spoke count, and overall light weight, they would be easily knocked out of true, and require alot of maintenance. So far, that couldn't be farther from the truth. These wheels are much tougher than I had anticipated, and have required nothing other than a light lube of the pawls when I first purchased them.

My guess, from 55/rads review, is the Elan Aeros would probably edge out the AC-350 Sprints as well. However, that is just my educated guess, as I have not ridden the 350's myself. From everything I have heard, I recommend the Rolf Prima line to anyone looking for a very refined alloy clincher wheel.
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Old 05-03-05, 08:08 PM
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Patriot glad you like your wheels, but in all fairness to the AC 350s he is comparing them to a 34mm aero rim which is no doubt very stiff.
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Old 05-03-05, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by celticfrost
In your opinion, paying the extra $100 for the Sapim's would be worth it?
I'm not 55', but I'll throw in my $0.02 anyway.

If you're getting 350s as a race wheel, it's definitely worthwhile. The thin face of the cx-rays, as well as the light weight, really make the wheel spin noticably easier than a 28F/32R wheelset with regular spokes. You really notice the difference at speed, especially riding into a headwind. Bottom line, the extra $100 yields a major benefit, and the total cost is still low for a racing wheel.
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Old 05-03-05, 09:16 PM
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Have not riden either but the older Rolf Vector Pros are very nice too and some times can be found as new for not much money. Overall, I will say that Rolf wheels are expensive, very strong, and will give you a bump in average mph by 1 to 1.5, or that is what I found when going to the Vector Pros after standard Mavic Open Pro 4 32 hole rims. Perhaps that's like comparing a Ford Tarus to an Audi.
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Old 05-03-05, 10:38 PM
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well i just purchased my set of rolf prima vigors 184 miles on them so far and here is my honest opinion/review on these particular wheels. first off you really notice the the extremely small braking surface, it takes a few extra minutes to line the pads straight but it's no big deal. also the rear wheel is a tad bit off center, i believe it's the dish (correct me if i'm wrong). according to RBR a few folks have seen this with these wheels but i don't think it effects much. the finish and look of the wheels were very good but who really cares about looks, right. holding the vigors in one hand and my mavic ksyrium elites in the other you can feel a difference in weight but the real difference is on the road. they made my regular after work climbs easier, i definately felt the 220+ gram difference from my mavics. they roll very smooth and i personally can't tell alot of difference from an aero perspective. alot of people say they are harsh riding wheel but the feel alot like my mavics.the roads i ride can be pretty rough and i've hit a few pot holes and so far they remain true. i really hope they last a while cause i'm liking them sofar
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Old 05-03-05, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by roadbuzz
I'm not 55', but I'll throw in my $0.02 anyway.

If you're getting 350s as a race wheel, it's definitely worthwhile. The thin face of the cx-rays, as well as the light weight, really make the wheel spin noticably easier than a 28F/32R wheelset with regular spokes. You really notice the difference at speed, especially riding into a headwind. Bottom line, the extra $100 yields a major benefit, and the total cost is still low for a racing wheel.
http://zipp.com/tech/documents/Anote...eshape_001.pdf

Some good info there.

I'd be interested in how the DT Swiss Aerolites stacked up against cx-rays for lesser wheel builds though.
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Old 05-04-05, 07:13 AM
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Regarding harshness - The 350 is a harsher wheel than the Rolf. Riding them on the Scandium Santana, I noticed I could identify the stiff properties of the frame to a greater dregree - meaning I wouldn't want to be on these in an all day event. I rode the Vigors on the Santana in a rain filled metric and never once gave a thought to comfort, or discomfort as the case may be.

Re: Elans. These are a fantastic wheel as well. I originally test rode these and wanted them over the Vigors, but the more I read led me to believe the Vigors better suited my personal goals and needs. And the Vigors were cheaper. It's almost unfair to compare the Elans to the 350's as, although they are similar in a lot of respects, one is a $950 wheelset and the other is $600.

Re: X-Lites comparison - weight wise, there is only a difference of around 50 grams. But the big difference, as noted above, is the acceleration. The X-lites are fantastic wheels for sure, but the difference in response from changes in effort was noticeable - more so than I expected. We all hope that a new (name that part) will have more than a cosmetic effect, but reality is few things really do, especially if you are replacing something that is already quite good. The Rolf's surprised me in this respect.

Those of you who contacted me wondering if I was going to sell the AC's - no, not now. I've never done any real racing but I'm thinking more and more of trying. I'm sure if and when I get to that point, I'll be very happy to have them.

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Old 05-04-05, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by 55/Rad

Re: X-Lites comparison - weight wise, there is only a difference of around 50 grams. But the big difference, as noted above, is the acceleration. The X-lites are fantastic wheels for sure, but the difference in response from changes in effort was noticeable - more so than I expected.
Some of this is maybe caused by differences in wheel stiffness. Your force input is translated in forward motion better with a rigid wheel (I would think)

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Old 05-04-05, 08:44 AM
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I have a set of Elan Aeros and borrowed my brother in laws AC 350s to compare, as I had shopped myself goofy and wanted to see what my second choice rode like. I was wondering, more specifically, if there would be a noticeable difference in stiffness in the rear wheel between the Elan and the 350. I note a bit of "tail wag", if you will, with the Elans and thought that the design of the 350 might prevent much of that.

It doesn't. At least not enough to make me want to make a permanent trade for the 350's. Still a bit of tail wag, but the Elans seemed to have more, I dunno, character about them. While it stands to reason that this is due to the extra weight taken out of my wallet, that point doesn't stand very well as I got the Elans for just a bit more than 350s retail for.

The front wheels of both track very well, and, while probably not quite as stiff as my OP/Record everyday wheels, are plenty stiff on the downhills for my tastes.

I wouldn't run either wheelset as an everyday wheel, but I weigh 185 pounds. For a climbing specific wheelset, though, I give the edge to the Elans.
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Old 05-04-05, 08:54 AM
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How do you think Rolf Vigors would compare to AC 420s? They seem very similar on a spec sheet to me.
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Old 05-04-05, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ImprezaDrvr
I was wondering, more specifically, if there would be a noticeable difference in stiffness in the rear wheel between the Elan and the 350. I note a bit of "tail wag", if you will, with the Elans and thought that the design of the 350 might prevent much of that.

http://www.damonrinard.com/wheel/

With the same number of spokes the rear is a 40-60% more flexible. Adding 4 extra spokes isn't going to cure tail wag when you are pushing the limits of rim weight.



On heavier wheels with thicker spokes this is less of an issue. Only on really light stuff I think this would be noticeable.

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Old 05-04-05, 11:25 AM
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Awesome thread! Thanks, 55/Rad. THIS is what I wait for when I come here.


I want new wheels.
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Old 05-04-05, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by 53-11_alltheway
http://www.damonrinard.com/wheel/

With the same number of spokes the rear is a 40-60% more flexible. Adding 4 extra spokes isn't going to cure tail wag when you are pushing the limits of rim weight.



On heavier wheels with thicker spokes this is less of an issue. Only on really light stuff I think this would be noticeable.

A good article, yet one more to put in the wheel folder.

With respect to comparing the 350's and Elans, though, I saw room for improved stiffness in the 350s through a combination of round spokes and a 3 cross lacing instead of the bladed barely crossing spokes on the Elans. This is based on the notion that lacing spokes does in fact increase stiffness a bit, which is either accurate or not depending on which article you read or expert you listen to. And the further notion that a bladed spoke will have less resistance to a lateral force than will a traditional round spoke. However, when you're talking about Revolution spokes, it would seem that the difference is slight.

The most interesting thing about this article is the finding that rim stiffness doesn't vary between pairs of spokes on paired spoke wheels.
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Old 05-04-05, 02:18 PM
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When my Elans first arrived, I noticed a little bit of side to side movement in the wheel. Is this the "tail wag" you're referring to? I know I took mine apart as soon as I got them to lube the pawls as shown in the instruction manual. When I put them back together, I made sure I held the collar with the three allen screws very tightly with my hand to squish the whole hub together snug, but not too tight. The tiny wiggle is now gone.
If you are referring to "tail wag" as being some kind of flimsy movement in the rear wheel becuase the rims is so light, I have to say I have noticed nothing like that. Even on descents approaching 50mph, the entire bike is light, yet very smooth and straight as an arrow.

Now, if only that rear hub "PING" would go away.

After cleaning and relubing the freehub pawls last night, I still notice the higher pitched ping from one of the cogs in the hub. Oh well, the nature of the beast I guess. Knowing a little about machining, from what I can reason since I have heard of it before, when some hubs get the pawls machined, one or two of the spots may get a little hotter than the rest from the milling bit. That one spot as a result will get slightly harder as a result, which gives it a higher pitched, and slightly louder "ping" when the pawl travels through it. So, you hear three higher pitched "pings" as all three pawls travel over that spot per revolution. Neato.
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Old 05-04-05, 02:19 PM
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pics?
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Old 05-04-05, 02:43 PM
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No, the wag I'm talking about isn't due to the hub, it's flex in the wheel. It's not a huge deal, and the only way I really notice it is by (do this at your own risk) watching the rear end of the bike when I'm pedaling. I can literally see the chainstay moving laterally, and it's not due to frame flex (well, maybe a bit, but it's definately more noticeable with crazy light wheels than with my regular wheelset).

Don't get me wrong, this actually isn't a big deal to me, just an observation made in comparing the 350s to the Elans. I'm thrilled about the Elans and look forward to them helping me in the Iron Horse and a couple of hill climbs this year.
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Old 05-04-05, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by 53-11_alltheway
The payoff with those spokes is down the road becasue of their durability. If I was paying the money for a high-end wheelset I'd get them.
I don't buy the longevity argument. All decent spokes in a properly built wheel last forever.
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Old 05-04-05, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
I don't buy the longevity argument. All decent spokes in a properly built wheel last forever.
I think it's becasue they are aggressively butted.

I looked up the price of DT Swiss Aerolites. Not really any cheaper (most likely due to exchange rate)

The closest you can get with a domestic spoke in an butted oval profile is one made by wheelsmith. These are reasonably priced, but not the same profile.

Of course round butted spokes are cheaper still, but on a high-end wheelset I'd still think I'd like the oval butted spokes. If you are paying that much money might as well......

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Old 05-04-05, 06:04 PM
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Chainstay movement? Wow. I hopped on the bike for a quick 60min today and hammered up a hill on high gear to see if what you say is happening to mine as well. I keep thinking if your wheel is "wagging", then it has more to with the frame than the wheel. I didn't notice hardly anything on my bike. And my frame as you know is a carbon frame. I notice some flexx down towards the BB from the seat tube and down tube, but don't see any real flex (wagging) in the rear. That's kinda strange. I did hear a couple tiny pings while mashing hard up hill in higher gear. I wonder if my cassette needs to be retorqued? That was all I noticed. Other than that, it was rock solid climbing.
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