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Rolf Prima gets rad with new Black Rock carbon MTB wheels

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Rolf Prima gets rad with new Black Rock carbon MTB wheels

When you think flow trails, Rolf Prima probably doesn’t come to mind, but with their new Black Rock wheel set, maybe it should. Aimed squarely at the more aggressive side of the trail/all mountain spectrum, the Black Rock is named after a local Oregon dirt playground, and the wheels are built to play the part…

Rolf Prima gets rad with new Black Rock carbon MTB wheels
All photos c. Rolf Prima

Offered only in 27.5″, the Black Rock starts with a carbon rim that features a 33.5mm external, and 28mm internal width with a hookless profile. Laced with their iconic paired spoke design, 24 round Race spokes front and rear hold the wheels together, each laced to their XST U.S. made hubs. To drive the wheels forward, the XSTs feature a CNC machined titanium free hub with their T2 high engagement 48t drive mechanism and the hubs run Centerlock brake rotors. The XST hubs also guarantee that the wheels will fit a huge range of mountain bikes with axle options for almost everything except 20mm – they even have an option for Leftys. The hubs can also be speced with Shimano/SRAM 10/11 speed free hubs or SRAM XD.

The wheels also include the option for customization directly from Rolf with custom colored decals, hubs, or rims (upcharge applies).

Available now, the Black Rocks sell for $2299 a set.

  • 27.5” Carbon clincher, tubeless ready, hookless rim
  • 33.5mm external width
  • 28mm internal width
  • 1565g/set  [725g/740g]
  • XST – hub platform, US made, CNC titanium freehub w/ T2 high engagement drive mechanism
  • Thru axle, boost and QR axle options
  • $2299/set

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39 Comments
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Seraph
Seraph
5 years ago

You lost me at Rolf.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  Seraph

Indeed.

chadquest
5 years ago

Just stop with the paired spokes already Rolf. You’re like telemarketers trying to trick people into buying garbage.

Rick Denney
Rick Denney
3 years ago
Reply to  chadquest

So tell us how it should be done Chad. I’ve had Rolfs since 2012 and not once have I had to true them. Have you actually ridden them? Aware of how fast they roll? What is opinion based off of?

Maciej Pike-Biegunski
Maciej Pike-Biegunski
5 years ago

24 paired spokes?! It’s not unusual to get spoke breakage on an MTB wheel, and with good, modern rims (aluminum or carbon) and conventional lacing (28, or better yet 32 spokes) one broken spoke won’t even knock a wheel out of true more than 1-3 mm. If you’re a few hours from the trailhead, you’ll still be riding after the breakage.

Low spoke counts plus a paired design means that the spoke tension is higher and localized at the spoke holes. Break a spoke on one of these puppies and you’ll likely be rubbing tire to frame. That means you’re walking…..all the way back to the trailhead! To make matters worse, those big gaps between spoke pairs mean that there are much bigger pockets to catch a spoke-snapping branch-increasing the odds of this happening.

I get that from an engineering perspective pairing spokes is kind of cool. However, the practical concerns regarding spoke breakage make Rolfs a non-starter for me.

jon
jon
5 years ago

So sad, I wish I could root for them because they are in Eugene, but it’s a horrible design, and they obviously get them manufactured in Asia because it’s like small person operation. I wanted an Engineering job there, but obviously they don’t do any actual development. Just monkeys slappin’ stickers on.

Michael
Michael
5 years ago
Reply to  jon

Actually they have the rims made in the US. Same with the alloy ones and their hubs.

Homme
Homme
5 years ago
Reply to  jon

They now manufacture and build most of their wheels in Eugene.

MIke
MIke
5 years ago
Reply to  jon

Funny, I remember working @ Rolf in Eugene and building wheels all day long. If the wheels aren’t for you that’s cool but simply making up “facts” is lazy and ignorant.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  MIke

Agreed. The first thing that came to mind when I read that was, “…but wait… those wheels are US-made”. Gotta know the facts.

nony
nony
5 years ago

Yet Rolf offers a “tandem” wheel set. One of the most demanding from an engineering wheel design point of view. Mavic tandem? nope. Easton tandem? nope.

It’s still one of the most coveted wheel sets in the tandem community. As a reminder: this is a pair spoked design that you guys are slamming.

I own one of those sets from 2007. Thousands of miles, 350# team, speeds beyond 40mph, and still straight as an arrow and zero broken spokes. Perhaps do your homework before posting inaccurate opinions? eh?

Also consider many modern bridges use paired cable (spoked) designs and are considered stronger more beautiful than single cable designs. Sucks to be uneducated.

Enter-net
Enter-net
5 years ago
Reply to  nony

‘is that a new set of wheels you’re running… Nah, it’s a bridge…’

I like bridges, like me some bicycle wheels too. Also like spokes and an overall set up that’s easy to repair without an act of Congress.

nony
nony
5 years ago
Reply to  Enter-net

That’s my point, you are not smart enough to connect that engineering a bridge and wheels uses many of the same structural equations.

And Rolf wheels are handbuilt in Eugene, Oregon. So I’m not surprised you couldn’t make the connection that if a human can build these wheels in the factory, you can repair it in the shop as well.

(deleted).

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  nony

I’m glad you have had a great experience with your Rolf wheels. But one experience alone, even a ten-year long one, does not make a good track record. Mind you, I’m not saying Rolf’s track record is bad; I just don’t have enough information. One thing I can be pretty sure of is that if you break one of Rolf’s paired spokes, you are going to have a more serious issue than if you broke a non-paired one.

Larry L
Larry L
5 years ago
Reply to  Tim

What is your track record? zero? Never owned a Rolf wheel yet you have an opinion about them? huh.

Go to any tandem event and you will see most high end tandems ride on Rolf wheels, and thats been the case for more than 10 years. Prob been that way since the introduction of Rolf tandem wheels. Still not enough of a track record for you? Then you are just not looking hard enough and comfortable with your own opinions without any effort?

Broken spokes are an issue with most pre-built wheels. Not just Rolf. All manufactures have been reducing spoke count at one time or another. Sometimes they add more spokes, but the general trend since the 70’s has been a reduction in spoke count.

Nony’s point is if paired spoke breakage is such a catastrophic issue, then wouldn’t Rolf shy away from tandem wheels? 15+ years on the market and these wheels are still selling well and commanding a 1k-2k price tag.

Wouldn’t you think that track record would be long enough to figure out if paired spoked designs work well? and if paired can support tandems with low weight, couldn’t it be engineered to make great mtn and road wheels?…..that’s why its important that you actually experience these wheels. later,

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  Larry L

No need for the sarcasm, my friend. I said I didn’t have enough information, and you gave me some information I didn’t know about. You have improved my opinion of Rolf wheels.
A track record of one wheelset is exactly one wheelset better than zero. One wheelset is a start, zero wheelsets is nothing. Which is why I said “I just don’t have enough information”. Still, there are some things that I don’t need to own to know they have a bad track record. Pressfit bottom brackets are an example. They get tons of bad press and shop guys I know complain about them all the time. I don’t need to pay a thousand bucks for a frame to experience and know I don’t want them. Same for internal cable routing. Rolf wheels don’t belong in this category of things I have heard tons of bad things about and want to avoid, Rolf wheels belong in the category of things I am suspicious of because of the problem I mentioned- breaking or damaging a spoke in a paired spoke wheelset has bigger consequences than doing the same thing in a conventional wheelset.
Spoke counts have been decreasing since the 70’s- this I know. Improved materials and construction have made it possible to get away with fewer spokes.
It COULD also be that Rolf wheels remain on the market and keep selling well in spite of a design flaw (paired spokes, flawed because of the imbalance issue after breakage that I another poster mentioned before) that is actually not serious enough to lead to a failure. Someone else mentioned that Rolf rims are heavier to comparably priced rims.

Larry L
Larry L
5 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Are you sure you want to quote rim weight from someone who hate and without a source? Perhaps verify your quote?

Overall weight of all Rolf wheels seems to be in-line with other pre-manufactured wheels. So if rim weight is more then wouldn’t it show up in overall weight?

Correction: spoke failure is a bigger issue with ALL “low spoke wheels” not just paired spoke. Make sure you criticize fairly.

Not sure about “bad track record” either. Again, Rolf wouldn’t still be in business if that was the case. It’s ok if Rolfs are not for you, just keep in mind your opinions may not be true reality. Best of luck out there.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  Larry L

Spoke failure is a potential issue in ALL low spoke count wheels, but IF it happens on a Rolf wheel out in the woods, it is likely to be a more serious issue than if it happens with another wheel.
Actually, there is enough hate out there for Rolf wheels that I think it would be good to see an interview here on BR or elsewhere where they tell their side of the story and why they use this design.

Larry L
Larry L
5 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Fair enough, if spoke failure is an issue with you, then its your decision. But to conclude paired wheels is a design flaw is a bit of a stretch and bias.Your conclusions are a reflection of your own level of technical proficiency (or lack of) and not about Rolfs designs and reputation.

Rolf has done their engineering homework. You quoted other people about rim weight, etc and didn’t do your homework.

Also, breaking a spoke with carbon rims are usually a non-issue, carbon rims tend to still be straight even with spoke breakage. Hence, why I recommend you actually USE products before forming an opinion then posting them on the internet, is best practice.

As other poster has mentioned: “If the wheels aren’t for you that’s cool but simply making up “facts” is lazy and ignorant.”. Don’t be lazy.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  Larry L

You’ve definitely softened my opinion on Rolf wheels. You’re (mainly) right, I was (mainly) wrong. “Design flaw” is going a bit far, but the issue of spokes breaking is real. It’s not possible to ride everything and form an opinion about it, and if it were, it would mean dividing time up between a huge number of parts, negating the value of any testing. I can’t find Rolf’s rim weights anywhere, FWIW. I think we’ve covered everything, no? You see- there are reasonable people in the internet))

Larry L
Larry L
5 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Thanks Tim, you won me over as well. Best,

Homme
Homme
5 years ago
Reply to  Tim

I also have experience with Rolf’s. I’ve never had a problem. Great wheels.

Homme
Homme
5 years ago
Reply to  nony

+1

Mike
Mike
5 years ago

I used to have Rolf paired spoke mtb wheels (v brake no less). They worked great. I don’t get the hate. I mean, they look a little goofy, but *shrug* whatever, I wear spandex.

Mike
Mike
5 years ago

Oh, and I’m no mathematician, but 740 + 725 =/= 1565.

Kernel Flickitov
Kernel Flickitov
5 years ago
Reply to  Mike

Rolf was a stupid design in ’97 and still 20 years later. They require heavier rims to compensate for the load between the spokes, exactly where you don’t want more weight on a wheel. It’s a counterintuitive design and no wonder why Trek let the contract expire eons ago.

Joey
Joey
5 years ago

Trek let it expire beacuse they stole the design and started to make their own paired wheels under the Bontrager label.

http://www.leagle.com/decision/20031419297FSupp2d1122_11306/DIETRICH%20v.%20TREK%20BICYCLE%20CORP.

Kernel Flickitov
Kernel Flickitov
5 years ago
Reply to  Joey

Did you happen to read the case at all?.. Dietrich LOST! His claims didn’t hold up in court, and the patents eventually expired. The only thing Rolf has any legal right to is the trademark on his name…. Oops! Oh well.

Johnny
5 years ago

~25% less expensive and the same weight:
Nox Furlow (29mm internal width, asymmetrical drill)
DT Swiss 240 classics
DT Swiss Comp Race spokes
DT Swiss alloy nipples
Front 28 hole (2x non-rotor, 3x rotor)
Rear 32 hole (3x)
Oh, and practically bomb proof…

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
5 years ago
Reply to  Johnny

Pretty narrow, sucky rims. And while I love their hub engagement, the spoke bracing angle leaves much to be desired…

Johnny
5 years ago
Reply to  Veganpotter

29mm vs 30mm internal width – kind of splitting hairs over 1mm aren’t we? Nox also makes a 35mm internal width rim, but I was looking to get it as close as possible to the Rolf offering (at 30mm internal). The “spoke bracing angle” is dictated by the hub flange (no real huge deviation from the industry norm in terms of design) and hub width (which is an industry standard-ish). Appreciate the comment, but thinking you’re simply trolling…

BiggDaddy
BiggDaddy
5 years ago

I’ve never been a fan of paired spoke wheels but have zero actual or factual reason as to why. Just not my thing. I am a much heavier rider and actually looked at their tandem wheels (yes I’m that big) and had a very long discussion with them. What I learned is that with this design one broken spoke would indeed have a bigger impact on the wheel but the chance for breakage is no more than any other wheel.

After destroying wheels on a regular basis I gave up trying to fit off the shelf wheels into my needs. I found some great wheel builders, became educated on what make a great wheel, read a ton, practiced a ton, bought the right tools, and started building my own 17 years ago. I had some awful results the first couple years and that was using the supposed “best parts”. For 15 years and counting I have had great results regardless of the parts. I build regularly for myself and others. About 30+ sets a year. The #1 part of a good wheel is the quality of build not the parts. I’m built like an NFL lineman and rode a set of Stans Crest Rims (the original) laced 32h 3X to hope hubs with 2.0/1.7/2.0 wheelsmith spokes for 5 years and sold them with the confidence they were still good to go. They are still rolling today. I raced them all 5 years, trail rode them, and quite honestly abused them regularly and my friend is still riding them regularly. I was surprised by that particular wheelset’s performance and longevity but the point was clear; At more than 100lbs above the rider weight limit, a seemingly inadequate collection of parts will do just fine when executed properly.

I have built wheels with $1000 carbon rims and $23 aluminum “junk”, 18 hole, 40 hole, stupid light, and bomber tough and to date have had no more “garbage” parts come back through my stand for a repair than anything else. I would imagine I’m middle of the pack in terms of knowledge, expertise, and experience. Basically I doubt I am qualified to make an assertion on much, if anything, but to slam a manufacturer based on a design is pretty ignorant unless you have extensive experience with, understanding of, and proper knowledge of the product and more specifically the design.

Larry L
Larry L
5 years ago
Reply to  BiggDaddy

“I’ve never been a fan of paired spoke wheels but have zero actual or factual reason as to why. ”

Bingo. You just discredited yourself, bro. Just imagine if Zach said that in his review of any bike product. You prob wouldn’t bother reading stuff on this site?

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  Larry L

Agreed, the quote in question is bad, but one bad idea doesn’t automatically mean everything else a person says is bad or wrong. He also did in fact mention shortly afterwards one reason he thought paired spokes weren’t as good, one which Rolf’s engineers agreed with: that a damaged spoke has a bigger impact on wheel straightness. That means he does in fact have some evidence or ideas behind his claims.
He also said at the end “…to slam a manufacturer based on a design is pretty ignorant unless you have extensive experience with, understanding of, and proper knowledge of the product and more specifically the design”, which I read as a defense of Rolf.

Homme
Homme
5 years ago

Rolf conducts extensive testing on their wheels. Have any of the naysayers ever bothered to call Rolf and ask to speak to their Engineering dept? https://rolfprima.com/pages/testing

Dude
Dude
5 years ago

I’ve owned two sets of Rolfs and borrowed another two. First set I owned was on a tandem, sure enough. We beat them up and they rolled true to the day I sold the bike. Second set is on a CX/gravel/winter training bike. 2 years, no trouble, strong and true and they feel fast and frankly look pretty cool. My experience is pretty much in line with the track record I’ve heard reported by other owners – solid. So, however you feel about paired spokes, the wheels are good. It’s really a price/weight/aesthetics judgement whether you buy them or not. One can def. build something lighter and cheaper from parts online if so desired.

Dylan
Dylan
5 years ago

For all those posting about how durable their road and tandem Rolf wheels have been, and extrapolating from that experience that spoke breakage is a non-issue, you do realize these are MTB wheels? If all you ride is groomed flow trails then the experience may translate fine for you, but that’s a small subset of MTB.
In the world I live in, sticks and loose rocks exist and cause spoke breakage even on the best of wheels. On a paired spoke design, a wheel with a broken spoke is less likely to be rideable. Furthermore, while it’s asserted that the chance of breakage is the same as a non-paired design (presumably of equal spoke count), I don’t believe that’s true when you account for foreign objects. For a given speed of wheel rotation, the larger the gap between the spokes the more likely a stick will poke far enough through to get caught and impact the stays/fork legs rather than simply bounce off (sure, depends on length and velocity of the stick as well, really fast moving short sticks might fly right through the gap in a Rolf wheel and never touch the spokes).

Joel Wilson
Joel Wilson
5 years ago

Some facts:
All of the components in this wheel are custom designed and manufactured specifically for this build (not quite true; nipples, rim tape and valve are off the shelf).
This wheel model has been thoroughly tested in our test lab in Eugene, Oregon proving that it not only far exceeds the requirements of ISO 4210 but also exceeds our own internal benchmarks.
Tests included:
Accelerated fatigue testing; 30 hours at 47 mph with 150 lbf load running over a 3/8 bump 18 times a second.
Spoke bed pull through testing exceeding 700 lbf with no damage to the rim or spokes (this particular wheel is still in service).
Impact durability testing surviving 240% of the frontal impact energy requirement used to test bicycle frames. No damage.
The effect of breaking a spoke in a paired spoke wheel is no different than a traditional wheel. The degree to which it goes out of true is a function of spoke count, not spoke pattern. Break a spoke on this wheel and you can ride it home. The spokes are standard J-bend type and can be replaced at your LBS.
I know this because I am the design and test engineer at Rolf Prima. We put a lot of work into every wheel model we produce before we can put our name on it.

Tim
Tim
5 years ago
Reply to  Joel Wilson

Good to know. Every time there is a post here about Rolf wheels, there are people who show up and say bad stuff about the wheels. Until now, I have not been an exception. With that in mind, maybe it would be a good idea to be active in these threads earlier to dispel misconceptions about your design.

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