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An in-depth review of the Rolf Dolomite wheels

I recently bought a set of Rolf Dolomite wheels to finally wrap up the Cannondale Super V restoration.

The drivetrain of this bike was constantly having slipping issues. But it was only after I installed a new chain, new cassette, new chainrings, and a new bottom bracket that I discovered the actual problem was with the freehub body.

So as a last ditch resort I researched vintage mountain bike wheels and decided to buy this absolutely gorgeous pair of blue-anodized Rolf Dolomite wheels to match the blue of the custom paint job.

Thank god it resolved the issue I was experiencing for so long and I could finally enjoy all the work that had gone into this bicycle restoration.


The birth of paired spoke design

In the late nineties an engineer named Rolf Dietrich pitched the idea of a wheel design using less spokes to Trek. Trek decided to license the brand name and from 1997 started to mount their premium models with wheels with the Rolf brand on them.

1999 Trek VRX 500
1999 Trek VRX 500

1999 was the year the top-end Trek VRX 500 featured these Rolf Dolomite wheels.

I’m no engineer and I don’t understand how he did it, but somehow by pairing spokes he got away with using less of them in a wheel.

rolf dolomite wheel spokes

Where a normal wheel would traditionally feature 36 spokes, my Rolf Dolomite wheels would feature 24 spokes front and back.

asymmetric rear rolf dolomite rim

Another thing I noticed was that the rear rim is actually asymmetric, with the center-line slightly off to the left of the rim. Again, no idea why that is, but it’s another odd engineering touch for this wheelset.

You can imagine that having this amount of spokes on a mountain bike was pretty revolutionary for the time and I thought they always looked absolutely awesome. Even the skewers look good.

In 2001 the license stopped and Rolf went on to create his own company, which still exists under the Rolf Prima brand name.

rolf dolomite wheel hub

The original wheels produced for Trek will have a “Rolf” decal on the hub. If you find those wheels you know they’re at least 20 years old.

As far as the durability of the wheels I can’t really say I know how well they will hold up over time. And I’m not particularly inclined to find out.

Because of the rarity and the extremely good state of the wheels, they cost me a considerable amount of money. And it’s not like you can find spare parts for these wheels anymore. At least not very easy.

Concluding remarks for the Rolf Dolomite wheels

Restoring and riding older bikes for me is in part getting a taste of something that a lot of people spend a huge amount of time and energy on, bringing it to the world. And the combination of this first generation Super V with the Rolf Dolomite wheels is just that.

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