Rolf Prima Hyalite Wheels: Checkpoint

Rolf Prima Hyalite Wheels: Checkpoint- by Grannygear
With the Rolf Primas mounted to the Lynsey GR250, and shod with the WTB Resolute 42s, I wheeled the bike out of the garage and rolled down my driveway into the street. (Note, for my previous post with specs and all, Click Here)  I was immediately struck by how freely the wheels rolled.  I was very surprised that I noticed it, but it was apparent that these are some fine rolling hubs.  The first hard pedal strokes were just as much a surprise.  The wheels just stepped out like Fred Astaire on the town, dancing lightly forward with each pedal stroke.  Wow!  ‘Snappy’ is a word I might use here. There might be something to this paired spoke deal after all.
Grannygear’s vacation with the Rolf Hyalite wheels took him to some beautiful places.

The weight of my old wheels was higher than these…I do not recall exactly, but I want to say about 100g for the set, so not a lot really.  I doubt if that is all that I am feeling here. I have found that over the years my first impressions of a product are often the keenest as I am comparing it directly to what came before.  After a while, a slight or even moderate change feels ‘normal’ when you are on the bike, but it took quite a few rides before I took the quick response of the Rolf Prima Hyalites for granted.

I have not had them for as long as would be required to test durability in all conditions, but after many hours of riding, the Hyalites are still very true even after some decent impacts that took the tire to the rim with a bit of a ‘twaaa-PING’.  At 1550g or so rolling down the road, they hit a nice weight for aluminum and certainly seem stiff enough for my 190lbs.  However, when faced with a significant enough impact, aluminum dents, and it will, if taken beyond it’s limit, twist-up and want to stay that way.  Carbon does not act like that.  It might crack and fail, but it won’t bend and stay bent.  It has a ‘digital’ failure mode….it is pretty much all zeros until the clock strikes One, and a cracked carbon rim is headed to the bin. But you can ride a dented, aluminum disc brake rim for a long time and unless it prevents the tire from seating/sealing correctly, you likely will hardly hardly notice it.  And there is always the hammer, drift, and block of wood treatment to ‘help’ the rim bead back into shape.  

I used the Rolf Hyalites on vacation where I mixed some gravel and road together and it seemed to me that these would be a very nice choice for all-road or adventure based bikes.  Actually I bet they would be pretty good for pure road use with something like a 30mm tire on there, as long as you were not trying to be all aero.  They would also look very nice on a custom steel or Ti frame, something a deeper carbon wheel often fails to do.
I have to admit that I am continually impressed by the way they drive forward under power.  They do not feel harsh although I would not expect that from a relatively shallow aluminum wheel. But I have ridden few wheels that have this kind of response when you accelerate.  There must be something going on here…that high spoke tension, maybe, or what…I dunno.  But it works. The rolling performance is glassy with that high end White Industries based XST hub and that Ti freehub body will never gouge if you cheap out on your cassettes.  It is also a very quiet hub under coasting. I like that on a road wheel, although I have gotten used to having my typical freehub noise be a ‘trail bell’ on bike paths. 
The Rolf Prima Hyalite wheels on Grannygear’s Lynskey GR250 titanium bike.
If I ever bend a Rolf wheel, I don’t have to worry about trying to contact some overseas company with only an email for customer service.  It would be, “Hello, Local Bike Shop?” where you ordered them through or for that matter, Rolf Prima in Oregon is just a direct call away. So far so good.  Next I will wrap up my thoughts including the value as compared to carbon at or near the same price in my “At The Finish” post.
NOTE: The Rolf Prima Hyalite wheels were sent over to Riding Gravel for test and review at no cost. We were not bribed, nor paid for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

 ResoluteAbout The Author: Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for in his spare time.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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2 thoughts on “Rolf Prima Hyalite Wheels: Checkpoint

  1. Very curious if you’ll be testing the Astral Wanderlust wheels as well. Would like to see a direct comparison between those and the Hyalites to get a sense of paired vs. traditional spokes.

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