Just thought I would share my thoughts on this new wheelset I’ve had for a few weeks.
Aero: If you’re considering a high end wheelset these days, it makes sense to have a good aero shape. Whether you are looking to even the playing field or have a 1 wheelset that does everything, aero is key. The new wide rim profiles (26+mm in width) show remarkable improvements in drag. The depth of the wheels seem to be less sensitive over 40mm, that is, if you look at say the zipp 303 vs the 404, the Mavic CXP 80 vs. the 60, Flo 60 vs. the 90, or the Rolf Tdf4 vs. the 6, the jump up in depth only provides a small fraction of “weighted” drag reduction vs. yaw angle. For example, in a 40k TT the Zipp 303 vs. the Zipp 404 only saves 2 seconds or with Rolf TdF 4 vs. the 6, only saves 1 second (ref http://www.zipp.com/_media/pdfs/catalog ... atalog.pdf
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; and http://www.rolfprima.com/techinfo_aero_results.php
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;). The 2014 Ares 4 seems to have the required shape, and in an email with the Rolf guys, they claimed that the Ares 4 in their testing was head-to-head with the Zipp 303. In the few weeks that I’ve ridden this wheelset, I would say that the aero performance isn’t really notable to me until I exceed 23mph… especially when I tuck my body up, that it’s noticeably less difficult to hold the wattage necessary for that speed. I’m a small guy in height (5’4”), so the proportional gains for me is likely more than a tall fella. Interestingly that I’ve noted a 10+ watt drop in average power for 2 identical 2hr rides. Unintentionally I rode the same route twice, the first with a set of DT (RR1.2 rims on DA hubs) and on the 2nd time around with the Ares 4s, but I had to letup because of overtraining. The ride time was exactly the same, the wattage was 12watts lower with the Rolf wheels. I was also slightly less fatigued on other rides that I have done at similar speeds. Okay.. I’m starting to believe the hype.
Weight: The claimed weight on the Ares 4 is 1375g. I measured mine (without rims strips) at 1392g. I left the stickers on, which I actually like which will likely bring the weight very close to the claimed weight. The rim strips are very stout at ~25g each! So I got some veloplug (red) and dropped those rim strips. The Veloplugs did require some trimming, as the spoke holes are adjacent to each other. I trimmed also the insert part of the plugs as well with an exacto blade, so they would fit a little easier.
More on weight: What really stands out with the Rolf Ares 4 wheelset is it’s weight relative to other similarly depth and width wheels on the market. Especially when you consider the hub durability. Looking at Bontrager D3 3, Zipp 303, Enve 3.4 DT, etc… they are all considerably heavier. The only other “stock” wheel on the market that is lighter is the Tune Airways 41 (http://www.starbike.com/en/tune-airways-41/
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;). Frankly, maybe if I lived in Germany, but I was too concerned about this being a robust wheelset. The next closest, and a good but more expensive option, is the Enve 3.4 rims custom built with Alchemy hubs, which on paper is about the same weight at the Ares 4s.
Hubs: The hubs are White Industries made, and come with stock ceramic bearings. I don’t believe there is any real performance boost with ceramic bearings, but I’m not an expert. But I do appreciate that they are built into the price. A ceramic upgrade with set up back hundreds in other high end wheelsets. After several weeks, the hubs are still smooth with no need for adjustment. When the from wheel is clamped in fork, the valve stem rocks back to the bottom, a good sign of a low drag bearing/setup. The rear hub continues to come with a (11spd) Ti freehub body, like DureAce hubs, which I’ve always appreciated since I don’t like to spend time fussing with dirty stuck cogs.
Rims: As discussed they are aero. The brake track with the recommended Yellow King pads are okay, there is a little break in period, they’re about the same as most carbon modern carbon rims I’ve ridden. I’ve avoided running these wheels in the rain, so I cannot comment on wet performance or pad lifetime. These wheels are currently setup on a Ritchey cyclocross fork with TRP carbon cantilevers. Surprisingly there is no shudder during hard braking, which is strange since my alloy front wheel was always doing. Could be the new pads I guess. Anyways, the braking so far has been just fine. I’d like to try out the Black Prince pads, but Rolf says the Yellows are best (I don’t know if they tested them or not). Whatever, the Yellows are okay, just wish they were a little more linear with speed (like the Prince). I’ve beat these wheels over some nasty roads and despite my sore hands/arms/butt and long strings of curses, the rims have remained true and round.
Comfort: If these wheels are more comfortable than a 32spokeed alloy wheelset than my body is not sensitive enough to detect it. A 15psi change in the tires seems to be more noticeable. Nothing like the PBO spoked Spinergies, which are notably softer. I think the whole stiffness thing is in cycling is a little nutty, maybe if you are 100kgs, but my 68kgs can’t seem to make these Ares 4s deflect enough for me to notice in any meaningful way. This included some purposefully standing starts on hills, which is a pointless circumstance anyway. I was a little concerned about the low spoke counts, but alas this is a non-issue. I bet Rolf could have dropped the front wheel down to 14 spokes.
Other notes: Before I bought these wheels I was a little curious about the paired spoke idea. Lots of opinions on the forums from people who don’t know what they are talking about! I think the only major issue is one of breaking spokes with low spoke count wheels… if you are breaking spokes, you got other problems!!! Paired spokes have been used by soo many companies without issue. If you have a problem with paired spokes, you should also have problems with designs from the like of Shimano, Campagnolo, Bontrager, FFRD, Corima, Madfiber, Spinergy, to name a few! The tech works. It keeps your rims straight.
Let me know if anyone is interested in any more feedback.