Product Review: Rolf Prima’s Echelon wheel set

Dec 8, 2010 by

Echelon Wheels by Rolf Prima

The Echelon Wheel Set

By Emiliano Jordan
Eugene wheel designer and builder Rolf Prima is targeting the entry-level racer and training-specific wheel market with its Echelon wheel set, which retails at $500. The Echelon sports a 31mm-deep, 19mm-wide alloy clincher rim drilled with Rolf Prima’s trade mark paired-spoke pattern. The hubs are an aluminum alloy, use three sets each of 6900 and 6000 bearings, and are drilled 16F/20R. Built with j-bend bladed spokes, the entire package comes to a respectable 1,683 grams on my scale.

With some of the tedious technical details out of the way, it’s time to look a little bit deeper into the Echelon. For perspective on a training/entry-level race wheel, I look at durability, ease of maintenance and value. Out of the box, Rolf Prima’s proprietary ST1.2 hub set is very smooth with no play in the bearings. Both hubs have end caps that thread onto the axle and tighten down on the cartridge bearings. On the rear hub the cassette body engages the hub via a standard three-pawl system. [Exploded Hub Diagram] So even on a hub with proprietary design elements to increase wheel durability, every serviceable aspect of it will be familiar to a good mechanic, and parts will always be available.

The 31mm deep rims provide a decent aerodynamic profile for the entry-level racers. For a training rim, the deeper profile will provide a stiff platform and will help durability even with the low spoke count. As for maintenance, the nipples are internal for aerodynamics but will require a special tool for truing. All shops will have the tool, so it’s more the at-home mechanic who will be put out by this. But with the paired-spoke lacing of the wheels, it’s probably better to have a shop do any truing anyway.

Overall, the ride on the wheels is very predictable given the build. The wheels ride smooth, accelerate well and hold their speed even better. Cornering is predictable, and as with most paired-spoke designs, stiffer than I initially imagined being possible. The CNC’s braking surface on the rims themselves is smooth and reliable. The overall package is well put together, and for the price, I’d recommend them to anyone looking to get a set of training wheels or a low-cost wheel set for a bike build. Best of all, they’re laced up here in Oregon!

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