Below are some of the common questions we receive, if you don't see the answer to your questions, don't hesitate to contact us here.
Additional Technology questions
Additional Product questions
Additional Compatibility questions
Additional Brake questions (Rim & Disc brake)
Additional Tires & Tubeless questions
Additional Service questions
Q: Why does Rolf Prima pair the spokes at the rim?
A: By pairing spokes at the rim we are able to neutralize the left and right pulling forces, which allows us to build with fewer spokes, making lighter and more aerodynamic wheels.
- Imagine a very flexible rim using 10 evenly spaced spokes. It is easy to see how the rim will not run true because the rim is too flexible to resist the unbalanced left and right pulling forces under the tensioned spokes. With conventional lacing, the rim needs to be stiffer (heavier), more spokes need to be used or the spoke tensions need to be lowered. All have negative consequences.
- Imagine that same rim with 10 paired spokes. The paired spokes balance the left and right forces so the wheel runs true. As spoke counts go down, everyone else has to use heavier rims. Not us.
For more on our technology visit our Tech page here
Q: How do Paired Spokes allow Rolf Prima to build stronger wheels?
A: Rolf Prima wheels get their strength, stiffness and stability through the use of high spoke tensions. By pairing the spokes at the rim, we can build each wheel with a higher and more targeted spoke tension than a traditionally laced wheel. Because the left and right side spokes meet at the rim at the same point, the left and right pulling forces from the high tensions are negated allowing the use of higher tension with no lateral trueness issues. These higher tensions increase stiffness and improve spoke durability by decreasing the load-cycle the spoke experiences. As the wheel rotates and each spoke comes in contact with the road surface it goes through a full tension to detension process under the weight of the rider. Higher tensioned spokes will not go from full tension to zero tension - that is easier on the spoke. See Paired Spokes explained
Q: Why is one rear hub flange bigger than the other?
A: When you stand on the pedals, the chain pulls on the cogs of the rear wheel. This puts a torque into the rear hub. That torque gets transmitted through the spokes to the rim - that's what makes it turn. Our patented Differential Flange Diameter™ on the rear hub helps spread that torque to the non-drive spokes so it is not absorbed by only the drive side spokes. The larger flange provides a lever arm to provide that mechanical advantage. See Differential Flange Diameter explained
Q: How are hand-built wheels better than machine built wheels?
A: Most bicycle wheels sold today are built using machines. For run-of-the-mill wheels this can work, but to build a truly light wheel with uniform tensions, you just can't match the skill of human hands. Every Rolf Prima wheel is carefully hand-built using a painstaking build process that enables our wheels to run true longer - without the need for constant attention or a "break-in period". In effect we build each wheel three times with two stress cycles in the build to seat and stretch all components.
Q: Do Rolf Prima wheels have max rider weights?
A. Yes and No. Every wheel from every manufacturer has limits but it is more than just weight. It also involves riding style and road conditions in your area. Some wheels are built for ultra-lightweight as #1 and some are built to be a bit stiffer. If you're a heavier rider or you tend to stand and throw the bike around, you should probably look for a wheel with increased stiffness. For that reason you may not want to go with our lightest wheel options like the Èlan. We might steer you towards wheels that we build with more spokes, stouter rims such as the Vigor, Echelon, or Ares6. View our "Wheel Advisor" for more help or contact us to find out which wheel best fits your riding needs.
Q: Is my wheel Shimano 9, 10 & 11 speed compatible?
Rolf Prima wheels configured with a Shimano® freehub body that are 2013 or newer are 9, 10 and 11-speed compatible, older than 2013; these wheels are 9 and 10 speed compatible.
Q: What size tire can I run?
Q: Do my Rolf Prima wheels have to come back to the factory for all service needs?
A: No, the only service we require that is performed at the factory is a full wheel rebuild. Any routine service can be performed at your local shop.
Q: Why don't other companies use paired spokes like Rolf Prima?
A: We patented paired spoke technology which restricted other companies from using it in their wheels. While other companies copied it in the early ‘00’s, we defended the patents we had put so much effort into. Along the way, we also have licensed several wheel companies over the years and now numerous companies build with paired spokes.
Q: Why is all the information on your website so technical and dense?
A: Rolf Prima is a technical company owned and run by Engineers. We like accurate information and correct answers. While some customers (and our marketing folks) like things that are easy to understand and are willing to compromise total accuracy in the name of simplicity, that’s not good enough in the world of precision craftsmanship. The minds behind our products like linear, concrete, accurate things, and don’t apologize for it. But that means the knowledge you’ll find here is as bombproof as the wheels we make. We’re sorry if that’s annoying at times, but it’s the only way we know how to do it. At the end of the day, we think you’ll admit that this is a good thing. After all, these detail-obsessed, engineer-types are the same folks that made and designed your car’s brakes (and airbags and…)
This all being said, we’re real people, not robots (and not a nameless corporation) so if you need help figuring something out, just give us a call and someone will get you the answer you need. Our sales staff are all fluent in “technical” and “regular person” English, and really eager to help. How’s that for a compromise?
Q: Why does Rolf Prima use internal spoke nipples?
A: Internal nipples allow us to make a stronger wheel with higher spoke tensions for better fatigue life and stiffness. External nipples have a flange that is loaded in tension under the pulling forces of the spokes. Internal nipples are loaded in compression. Under higher tensions a nipple in compression lasts longer. As a bonus, aerodynamic performance is also significantly improved since the nipples are located inside the rim creating less wind drag. View our wind tunnel results here
Q: Why does Rolf Prima use J-bend spokes?
A: The age-old question: Straight pull versus J-bend. The J shape of the spoke where it enters the spoke hole of the hub allows it to rotate slightly in the spoke hole under the torque loads coming from the chain/cogs. This movement helps the spoke absorb this input force more easily - increasing fatigue life. If you look closely at many straight pull hub designs, many try to replicate this feature including one that uses 2 flanges per side (4 per hub) with straight pull spokes threaded into brass barrels joining the flanges to allow rotation. In effect, a heavy way to replicate the benefits of a J-bend spoke. We cut to the chase and use the best spoke shape around - J bend.
Q: How does Rolf Prima test carbon clincher braking?
A: We use the ISO4210 standard as a base starting point but it is not tough enough. So, we have our own in-house standards. Read more about our testing Here.
Q: How do you join your alloy rims?
A: To understand why the joint matters, it is important to know the processes. We roll our extrusion into a helix that will eventually become two rims. After a rim is rolled, it is cut and then requires the two faces from the cut to be joined together. There are three main ways to join a rim: pinned, welding and sleeve.
Pinned: Only the cheapest of rims are pinned. Pinned uses two steel dowel pins jammed into formed or extruded holes in the rim to hold the rim together. Pinning only holds the mating rim faces at the two pins so the brake track and spoke bed of the rim have a lot of flexibility to move relative to each other. This is why some cheaper rims tick in the brakes at the seam. We do not pin any rims.
Welding: This came to the forefront to replace pinning on nicer rims about 30 years ago and was a big improvement. Welding can create a nice, finished looking joint but it has some tradeoffs. The material in a rim is heat treated to increase the strength of the material. Without this heat treatment step, aluminum is not strong enough to be a bike rim. The flash welding process generates an enormous level of heat at the joint area creating a “heat affected zone”. This heat affected zone degrades the heat treatment of the material surrounding the joint making the material at the joint weaker than the material everywhere else in the rim. This is not to say it doesn’t work, just that in our experience this unnecessarily makes the joint the weakest part of the rim. We have full welding capability in our Oregon facility, but with all of our experience we have decided to sleeve join our rims.
Sleeve: Sleeve joining uses a form fitted sleeve in the exact shape of the inner cavity of the rim to span the joint. It is about 2.5” long and weighs typically 4-5g. In our process, this sleeve is a press fit - meaning it is incredibly tightly fitted and requires a specialized press to insert. We use epoxy as an insulator to minimize the potential for any noise but the epoxy is not a structural part of the joint. What we like about this process is that the sleeve effectively doubles the wall thickness in the immediate area of the joint making it the strongest part of the rim and it does not affect the heat treatment of the material. We then machine the brake tracks after joining so the brake track is completely smooth.
Q: Which wheel is for me?
A: Here is a breakdown that helps show which wheel is best going to fit your needs. click here
Q: Does Rolf Prima make 650c size wheels ?
A: Contact our sales department for options - firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-308-7700
Q: Where are Rolf Prima wheels built?
A: All Rolf Prima wheels are hand-built in our Eugene, Oregon facility by our skilled builders. Meet our builders.
Q: Does Rolf Prima recommend a maximum tire inflation pressure?
A: The size and tire pressure are related and are dependent on the inner width of the rims. Check you wheel for a sticker indicating the rim size. The format is similar to ‘622 x 25TC’. Correlate the 2nd number to the tire width and pressure in the chart below. In this example, a 25TC wheel could use a tire as narrow as 40mm at 35-60 psi (tubeless) or as wide as 67mm (2.65”) at 20-35psi (tubeless).
Q: Are Rolf Prima wheels approved by the UCI?
A: This is an area of much confusion and it affects a small portion of riders. Unless you are racing mass start UCI road, UCI Cyclocross races or draft legal ITU triathlons, this does not really apply to you. The UCI/ITU approval rules only apply to those events. For many road races, cross races, the vast majority of triathlons (Ironman, IM70.3, almost all local tri’s etc) and time trials the requirements do not apply.
The UCI labels some wheels as “non-standard” and these need to be tested and approved. Below are the criteria for a “non-standard” wheel according to the UCI and ITU. If a wheel meets any of these criteria, it is “non-standard”.
- Rim taller than 25mm
- Fewer than 16 spokes
- Spokes with thickness over 2.4mm
See the UCI list for approved wheels.
** Rolf Prima “Standard” wheels which do not require UCI approval: Aspin, Elan family. These can be used in UCI/ITU and other events.
Q: Can I get replacement decals for my Rolf Prima wheel?
A: Yes, replacement decals are on our store
Q: What length presta valve should I use?
A: Low profile wheels (22mm): Elan & Aspin use a 35mm or longer. For deeper alloy rims (32mm) like the Vigor, Echelon & Tandem use 48mm or longer. Our deeper section carbon wheels (42mm and 60mm) come with valve extenders.
Q: How long do wheels last?
A. Wheels are not indestructible and they will not last forever. We engineer and test extensively to give you the longest wheel life we can, but every part of a wheel has a limited useful life due to wear, stress, and fatigue. Fatigue is when a force is repeated over a large number of cycles and it can eventually cause a material to crack or break. Wear can occur from extensive use – such as brake pads wearing on the rim brake walls. You, the rider, play a role in the longevity of the wheels. If you are heavier, ride hard or aggressively then you may need to replace the wheel and/or its parts more frequently than riders who are lighter, ride gently or carefully. Several factors can change the condition of your wheels: rider weight, speed, skill, terrain, maintenance and more. Because there are many variables, it is not possible to give an accurate timetable for replacement. To be safe, inspect your wheels frequently and replace the wheel or parts more frequently. If you are not sure, speak to your dealer. If you crash or hit large obstacles, inspect your wheels carefully and have them inspected by your dealer. As a rule of thumb, light-weight, high-performance wheels and other parts require more care and more frequent inspections even though they are tested extensively. With wheels, remember that a rim wears as you use your brakes, so the rim must be replaced occasionally.
Q: Are Rolf Prima wheels compatible with Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM?
A: Yes. Shimano and SRAM systems use the same freehub body shape. Campagnolo however is different. Rolf Prima makes wheels that are compatible with either Campagnolo or Shimano/ SRAM drive systems. You will need to specify which system you need when buying your wheels. Don't worry though, if you change systems later, existing wheels can be converted to either system. For more information, click here for conversion instructions.
Rolf Prima wheels configured with a Campagnolo® freehub body will fit 9, 10, 11 and 12 speed Campagnolo® ED compatible cassettes if they are 2009 or newer. Older than 2009, will still be 9 and 10 speed compatible. Rolf Prima wheels configured with a Campagnolo® freehub body will not fit 8 speed Campagnolo® ED compatible cassettes.
Q: What is the size of the bearing in my hubs?
A: Here is a breakdown that shows which bearings are in your wheel. click here
Q: How do I know if my hub has the T2 High Engagement?
A: Here is a quick image to compare your drive ring and pawls to. click here
Q: Does Rolf Prima recommend certain brake pads?
A: Yes. There are differences in feel between carbon and alloy braking surfaces. Some of the pads that come standard on bikes are fairly soft. These can be very “grabby” on alloy or carbon brake surfaces and may even cause a stutter feeling. For alloy brake surfaces, we recommend Rolf Prima Brake pads. These are a moderate pad for all conditions that provide good braking performance on our alloy and carbon wheels. Brake Setup Instructions
Q. Will the brake tracks on Vigor Alpha Stealth and Elan Alpha Stealth eventually show wear??
A. Yes. While our Stealth Ballistic coating is tough and designed for use on fire arms, under braking over time the coating will show wear. It will eventually appear silver like a regular brake track. This is normal and safe and is only cosmetic. The coating will last best when used in dry conditions. Riding in the rain or having grit or sand in your brake pads will accelerate the show of wear.
Q. What disc brake axles are your wheels compatible with?
A: There are a lot of options for “standards” now with disc brakes. Since we hand build all wheels in Eugene, Oregon we can build your wheels to order. Click here for a chart of which wheels are available in which configurations.
Q. Are Rolf Prima wheels 6 bolt or Centerlock? Does it matter?
A: For 2017 we switched the majority of our wheels to be Center Lock compatible. For 2016 and earlier, our disc brake wheels were 6 bolt compatible. Center Lock to 6 bolt adapters are also available.
Q. Carbon rim braking - What should I know?
A: Any carbon rim can be damaged by incorrect braking technique. Please read the Owner's Manual because it contains a lot of Important Safety Information. In addition, here are a few other things to note about braking on carbon rims.
Q: What size tires can I use for my tandem wheels?
Q: Can I run my Rolf Prima wheels tubeless?
A. Mountain Bike wheels: Yep. Since 2012 all mountain bike wheels are shipped tubeless ready including valves.
A. Cyclocross wheels: Yes. Since 2017 models are shipped tubeless ready. Earlier models can be converted to tubeless with one of our kits.
A. Adventure wheels: Yes. since 2017 all Adventure wheels are shipped tubeless ready.
A. Road wheels: Yes, since late 2018 all of our road wheels are tubeless compatible and can be converted with a kit. Many earlier models can also be taped and run tubeless, here is a table of what is tubeless.
Q: Why can't Rolf Prima service older, Trek-built, "Rolf Wheels" branded wheels?
A: Rolf Prima wheels are manufactured with different components and specification than the old "Rolf Wheels" branded wheels manufactured under license by Trek Bicycle Corporation. Rolf Prima is a separate entity and has no affiliation with Trek. Trek is servicing all warranties related to the "Rolf Wheels" brand manufactured through December 31, 2001. For more information on servicing "Rolf Wheels" branded products click here.
Q: What can I do if I crash and my wheels get damaged?
A: We can often rebuild any crashed wheel, by using your existing hub and rebuilding it with a new rim, spokes and nipples. It is more cost effective to rebuild a wheel, than to replace it and with our timely turn around policy you are not without your wheel for long. Read more about our factory service options here.
Q: If my wheel comes out of true, what should I do?
A: Rolf Prima wheels with internal nipples are not any harder to true than a traditionally laced wheel. Actually they are easier because of the paired spokes. You will need to remove the tire and rim strip to true them and that is part of the reason we put so much time into our build process. Our build process eliminates the normal "break-in" period most wheels have. You won't be constantly truing them - in fact we hear from many customers that they have never had to true them.
Q: If I break a spoke on a ride, can I ride home?
A: Yes. As with most wheels, In most cases by opening your brake pads you can ride home or to a bike shop for repair.
Q: If I break a spoke, does it have to be replaced with the exact same type of spoke?
A: We suggest replacing a broken spoke with a Rolf Prima spec'd spoke, however in a pinch, a standard J-bend spoke of the right length can be used.
Q: My wheel is making a noise
A: This is complicated since there are many parts on a bike. The first, and most important, thing to do is to isolate the noise. Try changing wheels on the bike; if the noise is still there with a different set of wheels, the noise is not coming from the wheels (change only one wheel at a time so you know if it was front or rear). Try the wheels on another bike- is the same noise there? Once you have determined the noise is coming from the wheel and you have determined which one (front or rear) here are some common items to check. Note that below is a list of the top contenders. It could be something else.
- One of the most common causes of noise coming from a wheel is a rattling valve stem. Sounds crazy, but it is. If the valve stem is unthreaded, try placing a small piece of tape around the valve stem where it enters the rim. This will dampen the noise. If you have a threaded valve stem; thread the small nut that came with your tube onto the valve after the tube is installed. Tighten lightly.
- Not the valve stem? It could be worn bearings. Remove the wheels from the bike and spin the axle in your fingers. Is it rough or noisy? If so, it is time for a bearing replacement. Contact your local bike shop or view options on our Factory Service page.
- If you determine it is the rear wheel and it is making a creaking noise, it may be a dry axle. Follow the instructions in the Service Manual for disassembling the hub. Apply oil and reassemble.
Q: What size spoke wrench do I need for Rolf Prima wheels?
A: For older Rolf Prima wheels with internal nipples use a 3/16 spoke wrench for truing. For 2018 and later wheels, we use an standard square drive internal nipple. For external nipple Rolf Prima wheels you can use a standard spoke wrench or a square driver. Specific spoke wrenches for Rolf Prima wheels can be purchased from the Rolf Prima store
Q: What type of grease do you recommend for hub service?
A: Standard white lithium grease works well especially if cut with a small amount of chain oil.
Q: Where is the serial number for my wheel located?
A: Wheel models older than 2017 - serial numbers are located under the rim strip near the valve hole - see here. Carbon and alloy tubular rims and mountain bike wheel models have their serial numbers located on the rim near the "American Flag" decal.
2017 and new model years have the serial number located near the valve hole on the spoke bed of the rim.
Q: How do you clean Ballistic Armor coated hubs and rims?
A: The best option is 99% Isopropyl alcohol. For some things that isn't strong enough in which case, acetone should work. If you need to bring out the big guns, automotive brake cleaner (found in the automotive sections of many stores) will do the trick. Be careful not to rub on the decal logo as these may remove it.
Q: Can ceramic bearings be serviced?
A: Yes. Most of the time when someone thinks a ceramic bearing is “bad”, it really just needs a little TLC. See this video from our friends at Enduro on servicing ceramic bearings. You can also buy the grease syringe for re-greasing HERE