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Anyone racing with 24 spoke wheels? (Low spoke count)

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Anyone racing with 24 spoke wheels? (Low spoke count)

Old 11-26-19, 06:59 AM
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torger
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Anyone racing with 24 spoke wheels? (Low spoke count)

I'm having spoke count angst for my tandem aero disc wheel build! Tandem hubs I get get hold of have 36 holes. That means 36 or 24 spokes to keep to standard cross lacing patterns.

I've noted that typical racing tandem aero disc wheel builds have 28 spokes on 28 hole hubs, but I don't have that hub, and I prefer using same hubs as the gravel wheels for easy swap without disc misalignment.

While 28 (aero) spokes has av very small drag increase compared to 24, from my research it seems like 36 is past the tipping point causing a significant increase in drag, especially at high speeds, and with the tandem speeds can indeed be quite high (I'm guessing the rotational drag component is pretty strong with that high spoke count, ie the drag caused by having to spin a "fan"). In other words, from a performance perspective I really want to go with 24 spokes.

36 spokes is clearly intended for touring wheels, it's overkill for wheels designed for tarmac racing. 28 seems like ideal for that. 24 is probably pushing it a bit. Rolf Prima actually makes tandem disc wheels with as little as 20 spokes front and 24 back(!) though, they seem to use Sapim CX Speed spokes, which seems to be a heavier version of the CX Sprint (which in turn is a heavier version of CX Ray). CX Speed spokes doesn't seem to be available for private wheel-builders though, so CX Sprint is the stiffest aero spoke I can get as far as I know.

I don't worry about the rim as I will get a custom made to order rim which is extra reinforced. It seems like most 28 spoke aero wheel builds are made on standard rims, ie not extra reinforced. So the extra reinforced rim and using the modern heavier CX Sprint bladed spoke I hope I will get a strong and stiff enough wheel. The wheels will then look about the same as a Zipp 404 disc wheel, which have 24 spokes in 2 cross front and back, and my rim will be around 55mm deep.

There will be no standing up and sprinting, we only ride tandem occasionally so we don't do that sort of "advanced" riding, so I think we will be a bit less sensitive to flex in that regard. Truing the wheel once in a while is fine too. Suddenly exploding when just riding along would not be so great though. I know the wise thing is to just go with 36 spokes and let it be, we won't win any races anyway, but the aero weenie bug is like the weight weenie bug, if there's an optimization to be made, I really want to do it.

Any experience/comments about this type of wheels?
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Old 11-26-19, 10:46 AM
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20 spoke Rolf Vigor

About a year and a half ago I picked up an old set of Rolf Vigor tandem wheels for $330 on EBay. They have 20 radial spokes on the front, 24 rear. The front wheels weighs 1144 grams and the rear is 1635 grams. This is with a Conti GP4000sll and 65 gram inner tubes mounted. I guess you can subtract about 300 grams from each to get a naked rim wheel weight. We are 320 lbs. team, and I guess the bike weighs in around 33lbs.

We've only put about 300 miles on this set of wheels since we got them, (only use them for special event - see "ditched the suspension seat post" thread) but they are at least 12 years old. They still run dead straight and seem perfectly rock solid for us. I should note too that when these rims were made the fashion was to use a very narrow tire. These rims are only 18.5 mm outside (something like 13mm inside). According to charts I've seen, even putting on a 25c tire on this rim is pushing it. I don't know what Rolf was thinking. Did they expect people to put 23c or even 20c tires on these things, on a tandem!?
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Old 11-26-19, 02:06 PM
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Just don't go this route: Performance Wheelset Decision on New Tandem?

Yes the above crash occurred due to hitting potholes, but I still believe a much stronger wheel would have had a better chance of survival.

Lessons learned by various tandem users... deeper rim sections = a stronger wheel. I have LB 55 deep rims which IMO would be plenty strong enough using 28 spoke lace up, but with the added torque of disc brakes I opted to do 32 spokes per. Ether Sapim or DT aero spokes should be fine for roads and nominal weight teams.
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Old 11-27-19, 01:14 AM
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I read that thread and indeed that type of crash I would prefer to avoid... Rolf Prima does 24 rear and 20 front even with disc brakes, but they do have CX Speed aero spokes, a type which is not available to private builders, and is even more heavy duty than the Sapim Sprint. I'm currently researching Pillar Wing spokes though, the Wing 23 model is plenty heavy duty, seems to be about as stiff/strong as a CX Speed 14G (not sure which variant Rolf Prima is using, the heaviest is a 13G model at 7 grams per spoke, see data here: https://radtechnik.awiki.org/spoke.html).

The Pillar Wing has a new patented aero profile that is seen on the new Campagnolo Bora WTO (not sure it is Pillar's spoke or licensing or something else though) so the aero performance should be good.

So I think that stiffness can be achieved for proper handling and feel with an adequate spoke choice. CX Rays will probably not be stiff enough, maybe CX Sprints will be lacking too, but I think something like the Pillar Wing 23 will do it. However the example crash is not about broken spokes or lack of stiffness, but the rim has broke possibly due to too few spokes. As far as I understand they were using a standard Zipp rim (not reinforced) and a quite shallow profile. I'm getting a custom reinforced rim with 55mm profile, and I'm planning to skip nipple holes too (insert nipples via valve hole and guide with magnet or wire). The normal motivation to skip the holes is not having to use rim tape for tubeless, but it also makes the rim stronger as the fibers are uninterrupted.
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Old 11-27-19, 11:14 AM
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Why not make/buy aero covers for the 36 spoke wheels?
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Old 11-27-19, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by OneIsAllYouNeed View Post
Why not make/buy aero covers for the 36 spoke wheels?
Could be nice for the rear wheel in a race situation I guess, but I would want a disk wheel at the front. And it's a winter project called "build the best aero wheels I can for reasonable money". The plan is to make use of my wheel building tools and actually make some wheels . I'm currently in the research phase, figuring out parts and layout.
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Old 12-10-19, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by torger View Post
I read that thread and indeed that type of crash I would prefer to avoid... Rolf Prima does 24 rear and 20 front even with disc brakes, but they do have CX Speed aero spokes, a type which is not available to private builders, and is even more heavy duty than the Sapim Sprint. I'm currently researching Pillar Wing spokes though, the Wing 23 model is plenty heavy duty, seems to be about as stiff/strong as a CX Speed 14G (not sure which variant Rolf Prima is using, the heaviest is a 13G model at 7 grams per spoke, see data here: https://radtechnik.awiki.org/spoke.html).

The Pillar Wing has a new patented aero profile that is seen on the new Campagnolo Bora WTO (not sure it is Pillar's spoke or licensing or something else though) so the aero performance should be good.

So I think that stiffness can be achieved for proper handling and feel with an adequate spoke choice. CX Rays will probably not be stiff enough, maybe CX Sprints will be lacking too, but I think something like the Pillar Wing 23 will do it. However the example crash is not about broken spokes or lack of stiffness, but the rim has broke possibly due to too few spokes. As far as I understand they were using a standard Zipp rim (not reinforced) and a quite shallow profile. I'm getting a custom reinforced rim with 55mm profile, and I'm planning to skip nipple holes too (insert nipples via valve hole and guide with magnet or wire). The normal motivation to skip the holes is not having to use rim tape for tubeless, but it also makes the rim stronger as the fibers are uninterrupted.
I don't think the common wheel failure scenario involves spoke failure due to exceeding its yield strength. I would anticipate the failure would instead involve rim failure or spoke/nipple pull-through in the rim. Temperature-related failures, common on tandems, involve rims melting and tires blowing off.

But spoke failure due to low spoke count and/or exceeding their yield strength must be rare. I've never experienced it, nor seen it. The only spoke failures I regularly encounter involve fatigue or high impacts causing complete wheel destruction that not even a 3mm OD spoke would prevent.

(And your link attests to this: Je dicker die Speiche desto kürzer ihre Lebensdauer die durch die ständigen Lastwechsel ohnehin in ihrer Elastizität und zusammenhalt des Metallgefüges begrenzt wird.
or, Google translation, not great:
The thicker the spoke, the shorter its life is limited by the constant load changes anyway in their elasticity and cohesion of the metal structure.)

So I'm wondering why you're so focused on spoke gauge? Especially since the tension wheel's inherent strengths lie in spoke elasticity, not brute strength.

And getting a "stiff" wheel has less to do with spoke gauge than it does with spoke count, average tension, lacing pattern and rim choice. This has been debated thoroughly on various forums, but the consensus is pretty clear that unless you building wheels with piano wire, stiffness isn't a function of spoke gauge. So I think you're focusing on the wrong parameter. Rim strength would be number one if you ask me, then hub flange strout-ness if your using so few spokes and/or considering anything other than tangential lacing. (Remember that many hub manufacturers do not warranty their products when built radially.) And, to reiterate, a 100% stiff spoke would result in a terrible wheel because elasticity is a desirable quality in spokes. (My quote above was added later, which also supports my point.)

The only reason I could understand utilizing significantly larger spoke gauge would be trying to achieve the highest strength nipple/spoke interface. However, I don't know if that's even an issue. If you apply enough tension for spoke failure, I'm pretty sure it's the spoke failing (probably at the elbow) and not the nipple. But I could be wrong.
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Old 12-11-19, 12:15 AM
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Thanks for the feedback!

Regarding spokes I've looked at how others, ie Rolf Prima, has made low spoke count tandem wheels, and they use a heavier spoke than in normal aero wheels. Should be noted that a "heavy" aero spoke like the Sapim CX Speed (the one Rolf Prima uses) or Pillar Wing 23 (the one I plan to use) is still more flexible than a typical round spoke. I had initially looked at the number one aero spoke, the CX Ray, and became worried that it would be too flexible for this application, and indeed I suspect that it is. Even in normal wheel builds builders often use the slighter heavier CX Sprint on the drive side.

I've also read on some wheel building site, unfortunately I don't remember the reference now, that low spoke count can somewhat be compensated for with a heavier spoke. I'm sure you're right that spoke gauge should not be number one, rim strength should be (and indeed the custom rim is focused on strength), but I think that the spokes should still be heavier than a standard build. I can also be said that a deep section rim will help stiffness, so I think it's more feasible to make a low spoke count deep section wheel than a low profile.

Talking about Pillar spokes, the Wing 23 (1.45x2.3mm) has about the same stiffness as the double butted round spoke PDB 1415, which is 1.8mm in diameter. It's their stiffest aero spoke. If one would want even stiffer/heavier then cnSpoke has Aero373 (1.5x3.2mm) but it's hard to source and requires an aero slotted hub, and I think that would be overkill.

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Old 12-12-19, 07:37 AM
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The people at Calfee strongly advised us against 24 spoke wheels. Not because the wheel would be prone to failure, but because the lateral flex in the wheel would negatively affect the handling.

that said we have a pair of Zipp 808’s 24 spokes front 28 rear. As originally built, with aero bladed spokes, the front wheel did feel too flex under hard cornering.

Rebuilt with 14 gauge round spokes, the wheel feels acceptably stiff.

for context we’re a 340 pound team, and have raced cries and road races on those wheels.
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Old 12-13-19, 03:38 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
The people at Calfee strongly advised us against 24 spoke wheels. Not because the wheel would be prone to failure, but because the lateral flex in the wheel would negatively affect the handling.

that said we have a pair of Zipp 808’s 24 spokes front 28 rear. As originally built, with aero bladed spokes, the front wheel did feel too flex under hard cornering.

Rebuilt with 14 gauge round spokes, the wheel feels acceptably stiff.

for context we’re a 340 pound team, and have raced cries and road races on those wheels.
Very interesting. We're going to be in the range 290 to 350 (130 - 160 kg) depending on who I'm riding with, 290 will be the most common configuration. 28 spokes would have been my preferred count, but couldn't sort it out with the hubs I had at hand. While the Wing 23 spoke is stiffer than the bladed spokes used in Zipp 808 original builds (Sapim CX Ray in the front I think), my rims are shallower which means longer spokes. It seems likely that I will have to expect some lateral flex at least with the heavier team configuration. We're not aggressive racers though but just like to go fast in the straights, so I think we can live with some flex.
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Old 12-21-19, 07:09 PM
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We only do group ride racing . . . We are running Kinlin XC279 36H rims on CK hubs with CX-Ray spokes. This combination has worked extremely well for us. That said, If you are looking for aero, the spoke count is not nearly as important as wheel/tire section. You want deep wheels the same width as your intended tires. It's a package. If you use aero spokes, the count is not all that important and the least of your issues. Better to use more of a thin spoke. They'll put less force on the rim, both because there's more of them and because of their elasticity, and they'll last a lot longer also due to elasticity. There are some deep and wide alu rims available. A Force is probably the best available right now and it comes in 32H drilling. It's still only 24mm at the brake track so 25mm tires might be a bit too wide, but 24mm tires are available. Otherwise it's carbon. I'm not familiar with carbon rim availability, but I believe there are some offerings with custom drillings.

IMO a few heavy spokes is the wrong way to go for both aero and durability.
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Old 12-23-19, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
IMO a few heavy spokes is the wrong way to go for both aero and durability.
Thanks for the feedback. You may be right, but now it's too late :-O , the rims have just been made and is on its way here, it's 25mm external and 55mm deep. Depth is okay as I don't want to goo too deep due to crosswind sensitivity. I would have preferred a little bit wider still though but could not find a suited budget-friendly alternative which was wider than that.

Regarding spokes my ideal choice would have been 28H, but available hub options / prices made me go for 24, as it's a budget build. Had budget not been an issue I would probably have sourced some White Industries or even Chris King 28H hubs.

Fair to say, I wouldn't recommend any other to go this 24H route, but this has sort of become a challenge I'm curious to see if the wheel can be built and will be stiff enough. If it fails, I need to get 36H rims and ~€400 will be down the drain... I'll let you know, but delivery times are long so there's probably a few months still before I have wheels built up, and then even some more months before I can do proper testing.

Regarding aero impact of spoke count, I tried to make some research and I asked an aerodynamic expert. The expert I consulted recommended me to pick a lower spoke count than 36 if I could. Finding documentation on spoke count effect of really high counts is not so easy as noone is really testing 36 spoke wheels, as aero wheels are not made with that high spoke count. It also seems that many comparisons exclude rotational drag (the power required to rotate the wheel, the wheel sort of acts like fan). 36 thin aero spokes vs 24 thicker but still aero spokes? I think the 24 case will be somewhat more aero still (and is what Rolf Prima tandem wheels are using), but the 36 count is probably the wiser way to go. This time I got a bit adventurous though...
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Old 12-23-19, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by torger View Post
Thanks for the feedback. You may be right, but now it's too late :-O , the rims have just been made and is on its way here, it's 25mm external and 55mm deep. Depth is okay as I don't want to goo too deep due to crosswind sensitivity. I would have preferred a little bit wider still though but could not find a suited budget-friendly alternative which was wider than that.

Regarding spokes my ideal choice would have been 28H, but available hub options / prices made me go for 24, as it's a budget build. Had budget not been an issue I would probably have sourced some White Industries or even Chris King 28H hubs.

Fair to say, I wouldn't recommend any other to go this 24H route, but this has sort of become a challenge I'm curious to see if the wheel can be built and will be stiff enough. If it fails, I need to get 36H rims and ~€400 will be down the drain... I'll let you know, but delivery times are long so there's probably a few months still before I have wheels built up, and then even some more months before I can do proper testing.

Regarding aero impact of spoke count, I tried to make some research and I asked an aerodynamic expert. The expert I consulted recommended me to pick a lower spoke count than 36 if I could. Finding documentation on spoke count effect of really high counts is not so easy as noone is really testing 36 spoke wheels, as aero wheels are not made with that high spoke count. It also seems that many comparisons exclude rotational drag (the power required to rotate the wheel, the wheel sort of acts like fan). 36 thin aero spokes vs 24 thicker but still aero spokes? I think the 24 case will be somewhat more aero still (and is what Rolf Prima tandem wheels are using), but the 36 count is probably the wiser way to go. This time I got a bit adventurous though...
28 seems to be a sweet spot. I run 36H because that's what my CK hubs have. They were new in '03, still going strong..
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Old 12-30-19, 12:41 PM
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Sweet 16 (spoke) wheels

They’ve been reliable for me. Over 10 years, lots of fast riding. Rims are heavy. Rear hub is 160mm for no dish wheel (Santana).
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Old 01-08-20, 11:17 AM
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Small update, just got the rims. These are lightbicycle R55D (55mm deep, 25mm wide, 27mm at widest point), a custom version which is reinforced with about 100 gram extra, so the rim weighs 600 grams each instead of ~490 for the standard version. Finish seems great, so it seems to be a good choice for a budget build. Now I'm going to measure the ERD so I can order the spokes and then start building. To further strengthen them I have skipped the rim bed spoke nipple holes, so there will be a magnet and lots of patience/swearing to get the spoke nipples in.


Lightbicycle custom reinforced rims

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Old 01-08-20, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by torger View Post
Small update, just got the rims. These are lightbicycle R55D (55mm deep, 25mm wide, 27mm at widest point), a custom version which is reinforced with about 100 gram extra, so the rim weighs 600 grams each instead of ~490 for the standard version. Finish seems great, so it seems to be a good choice for a budget build. Now I'm going to measure the ERD so I can order the spokes and then start building. To further strengthen them I have skipped the rim bed spoke nipple holes, so there will be a magnet and lots of patience/swearing to get the spoke nipples in.
Magnet?
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Old 01-08-20, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Magnet?
Yeah... throwing the nipples through the valve hole and trying to catch one (in right direction) by a magnet at each spoke hole. Could be somewhat challenging with aluminum or brass nipples . Even stainless steel is not magnetizable in many cases ...
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Old 01-08-20, 07:46 PM
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Buy a couple of cheap screws of the right thread that have a head small enough to fit through the hole. Worst case a cheap, non stainless spoke and cut off the threaded section. Nipples aren't that magnetic compared to something threaded in them.
Also start with the spoke hole opposite the stem so spokes aren't in the way.
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Old 01-08-20, 09:32 PM
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Need to buy some Enve nipples with tool forget the magnets
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Old 01-09-20, 12:29 AM
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To just get a quick ERD measurement with the stuff I had at home I used a sewing thread with a metal necklace chain tied to the middle (anything with some weight and metal to be attracted by a magnet will do, the chain was quite good as it's easy to get through the spoke hole and gives quite a lot of weight and metal), and then a magnet from the outside to guide. The chain was heavy enough so the weight helped dragging it around by just rotating the rim.

When threaded through I tied the nipple to the thread end and pulled it back through. Easy to do without having to mess about, but slow to tie and release the nipples from the thread. Maybe I'll satisfy with this, as I'm not in a real hurry building this wheelset, but I'm sure using a proper tool / kit designed for the purpose will be faster.

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Old 02-08-20, 06:14 PM
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I really don't understand why these aren't the first - and really only - way to go: Rolf Tandem Carbon Race. https://rolfprima.com/products/tandem-carbon-race
i don't know of any other manufacturer making a tandem rated wheel these days. We run them on our custom Calfee Dragonfly as daily drivers and they could not be any better for us.
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Old 02-08-20, 10:41 PM
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Spinergy makes tandem rated wheels:

​​​​​​​https://www.spinergy.com/store/categ...le/type/tandem
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Old 02-09-20, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Joint Venture View Post
Spinergy makes tandem rated wheels:

https://www.spinergy.com/store/categ...le/type/tandem
Thanks, forgot about those. Not as sexy as the Rolfs, but nice wheels. We had a set on an earlier bike and liked them.
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Old 02-13-20, 08:15 AM
  #24  
merlinextraligh
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Originally Posted by JMarino View Post
I really don't understand why these aren't the first - and really only - way to go: Rolf Tandem Carbon Race. https://rolfprima.com/products/tandem-carbon-race
i don't know of any other manufacturer making a tandem rated wheel these days. We run them on our custom Calfee Dragonfly as daily drivers and they could not be any better for us.

1) they’re disc brake only, so that’s a limiting factor,

2) not a fan of the paired spoke approach. It requires significantly higher spoke tension. The aluminum rimmed Rolf wheels we have have have suffered a number of rim and hub failures as a result of that design.

The carbon version may be better, but given the inherent nature of the design I’m a skeptic.
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Old 02-20-20, 11:20 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
1) they’re disc brake only, so that’s a limiting factor,

2) not a fan of the paired spoke approach. It requires significantly higher spoke tension. The aluminum rimmed Rolf wheels we have have have suffered a number of rim and hub failures as a result of that design.

The carbon version may be better, but given the inherent nature of the design I’m a skeptic.
Why? I still have some old Rolf single bike wheels, maybe year 2000 model. Their spoke tension spec is very low. Never out of true, never a spoke problem.
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