Sometime ago I was sent a pair of Rolf Vigor Alpha wheels to review. In this first ride review, I’ve already found them to be fast, comfortable, roll well and are generally vertically stiff. On the downside, the ride initially felt a touch lifeless and there seems to be some lateral give in higher speed cornering. On balance, much more positive than negative though.
If you’re not familiar with Rolf wheels, the first you notice is the unusual spoking pattern with pairs of braced spokes – 7 pairs on the front wheel and 8 pairs on the rear. This means Rolf wheels have very low spoke counts – 14 and 16. For those of us used to more conventional spoke patterns, these are a striking set of wheels in that you can’t help but notice them and they’ve got plenty of comment when I’ve been out on them – some positive, some negative.
Rolf are quite unashamedly confident about the Vigor Alpha’s performance:
“The Vigor α is the fastest alloy wheel on the market without qualification – no matter which direction the wind is blowing.
With its top-shelf aerodynamics and its scant 1450g weight, you will see why the Vigor α has become our most popular model. Years of evolution and revolution have made the Vigor α the go-to wheel for those looking for a race day wheel that can handle the demands of everyday riding. The Vigor α is also available in a disc brake compatible version.”
That’s very bold stuff but temper that confidence with the fact that all of the fastest wheels now are deep section carbon wheels, so perhaps it’s a claim that’s harder to challenge.
To help deliver this speed, the Vigor Alpha’s feature 33mm deep alloy rims in the clincher version I’m testing, the handful of spokes are all the venerable Sapim CX-Rays and the hubs feature Enduro ceramic bearings and a titanium freehub. The rims are 22mm wide with a 17mm brake track, so these aren’t a wide rim but the shape of them is described as a delta profile. The Vigor Alphas ship with quick release skewers and a reinforced rim tape.
Rolf’s paired spoke design aims to neutralize the left and right outward pulling forces, which should help the wheels stay in true and means less spokes are needed, which also reduces overall weight. The rear hub features an oversized non-drive-side flange and this is intended to help transfer drive side torque to the non-drive side spokes, increasing torque absorption across more spokes.
My first long ride on the Vigor Alphas was with a friend at sportive with a rolling parcours (don’t they all!). I’m riding them on my NeilPryde aero bike as it seemed the best candidate in my stable to test wheels that are meant to be FAST. The good news was they did feel fast, we both managed gold times. The Rolfs seemed to accelerate wheel as well as hold speed well. The hubs also performed well as I found the bike to roll very well with the Rolfs.
Comfort was also commendable and the Rolf’s seemed to soak up the bumps well, although I did wonder if this is enhanced by the spoking pattern. The rims, whilst fast and comfortable felt a touch lifeless to me on this first long ride but first impressions are just that. I’ll put some more miles in and consider this aspect in more detail.
Another aspect I’d like to investigate further is a feeling of lateral sway I was sure I felt in some faster sweeping corners. It was a gentle feeling of a little give laterally rather than anything more noticeable but as I’m a light rider, I’d like to try and see if I get the feeling again. Even if it’s simply a characteristic of the low spoke count and lacing pattern, it wasn’t something I was particularly concerned about.
Braking was very good as you’d expect with any well made aluminium clincher wheels. I’m running Kool Stop pads, which are my clear favourite on aluminium rims. The combination was faultless on the road.
The Rolf Vigor Prima Alpha’s are not a cheap wheelset with a retail price of £999 a pair. For this money you’d expect very high end performance. Early impressions are definitely positive – as long as you can cope with the unusual looks. I’ll keep riding them and report back.
In the meantime, you can find out more here: http://www.rolfprima.com/vigor-alpha/
If you’re already convinced and want to order some, you can do that here and support this site at the same time: http://tidd.ly/30b2b845
If you need new brake pads, you can order the Kool Stops I’m running here: http://tidd.ly/9ff49a31
Thanks for reading.