Born and bred in Eugene, Oregon, the Rolf Prima Ralos wheelset is engineered, built and tested to withstand the current demands of XC racers and trail riders.
We’ve never used a Rolf wheelset before but have heard about their technology as they have quite a following on the road scene. We’ve rounded up a bunch of 27.5 wheels and were eager to try their entry, the Rolf Prima Ralos. The basic specs are 1590 grams at $899. They got our attention with a light and affordable wheelset that’s built for XC, Endurance Riding and beyond.
So the specs check out but what about build quality, lateral stiffness, durability, tubeless compatibility, rim width and all those details enthusiasts geek out on? Well the news is good so read on.
Video: How bomb proof is it?
Design and Engineering
The core of the Rolf design is their paired spoke technology. This design allows Rolf to put left and right side spokes to be placed close to each other and offset each other’s forces on the rim. Instead of forcing the rim to snake left and right to meet each spoke, each part of the rim is pulled equally from the left and the right side. This becomes more critical as the spoke tension gets higher, the rim gets lighter and fewer spokes are used.
The other key part of Rolf’s system is they design each hub, spoke and rim for each other. They optimize for the strength and weight they need for a particular purpose and build the components so the system has no weak links or overbuilt/wasted parts.
The hubs are nicely engineered to withstand the day-to-day abuse in all kinds of weather. The ratchet mechanism is sturdy and precise. And the freehub body is built out of stainless steel so it will not be marred by the cogset that eats into the freehub with each pedal stroke.
Video: Wheel Stressor – Wheel Building Process
Wheel Build and Testing
Machines do a great job of building wheels these days. But they still do not compare to what a master builder can do. Thus all the best wheels are still hand-built. Rolf Prima hand builds every single wheel in Eugene, Oregon just as they’ve done since the company was founded in 2002.
A really good addition to their process is they load the hub laterally with a very powerful machine on each side during wheel assembly. They retrue the wheel, and load each side of the wheel again before truing for a final time. What this does is allow the spokes, nipples and hub to bed in to each other and settle in a little bit. This puts the alignment out of true a bit but retruing it dials it in for the long haul. This is why brand new wheels from other brands snap and pop during the first few uses. Rolf bypasses this ‘breaking in’ period with a wheel that stays even through the initial stresses.
Continue reading for more on the Rolf Prima Ralos 27.5 wheelset and full photo gallery.