Sea Otter: A look at Rolf’s Ralos and Ares wheels

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Rolf Prima bringing paired spokes back to the dirt…

Dirty carbon fibre
Dirty carbon fibre

At Sea Otter, we had the chance to catch up with the good folks from Rolf Prima.  Best known to roadies, where much of their effort to date had been focused, Lead Engineer Brian Roddy and company now have a range of solid looking and competitively-priced upgrade wheels for mountain, gravel, and cyclocross.

The company’s mountain flagship is the Ralos CXC.  A 29er-only carbon fibre wheelset, the CXC is sturdy enough for trail use but, at 1,495g, light enough for cross-country racing.  Rolf’s trademark paired-spoke design allows for quite high spoke tensions without creating the lateral wobble that tight spokes can cause with traditional rim drillings.  Despite using US-sourced hubs and being hand-laced at Rolf Prima’s US factory, the CXCs are competitively priced at $1,800/£1,550. Rims come taped for tubeless tyres and XD drivers are available.

XD driver for 1x11 bliss
XD driver for 1×11 bliss

Alloy Ralos wheels add approximately 130g per pair (29er), are also available in 27.5 and 26in flavours, and cut the bottom line by roughly half- to $900/£800.  This is despite building from the same US-made hubs (with stainless steel rather than titanium freehub bodies).  An entry level Ralos XR sells for $650/£620 and a trail-oriented Rage series is also available.

US-sourced hubs
US-sourced hubs

For ‘cross and grvel, the Ares 4 Disc uses Rolf Prima’s proprietary Delta aerodynamic profile.  Blunter than older aero designs, the Delta rim is engineered to perform better in a wider variety of wind conditions and generally out-performs deeper designs from just a few years back.  Nipples are tucked away from the wind and mud and rims measure 26mm wide for a healthy tyre shape.  The Ares 4 Disc shares the Ralos’ XST+ disc hubset but the extra depth and width add about 50g per wheel (1,590g/set).  Pricing is set at $2,400/£2,100.

Road fast, ‘cross friendly

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