After riding 7 miles on Rolf Aspin SL wheels, my first thoughts were, ‘Wow, I get it!’
Until that moment, I never knew what cyclists actually meant when they said, “lighter wheels are faster.” Intellectually, I sort of understood how rotating mass is more significant than static mass, and that the best way to reduce the weight of your bicycle is by getting lighter wheels (they say losing a pound on the wheels is like losing two pounds on the frame.) But, how significant is two pounds and what if I just lose two pounds of body fat?
It’s been over two years since I got my Rodriguez bicycle, and well over a year to retrain my body on how to ride it properly. I’ve finally stopped the burn in my quadriceps by learning how to spin the crank. This also comes from having a 74º seat tube angle which places the saddle slightly behind the crank instead of directly over it.
Many petite cyclists ride oversized bicycles which require extreme concentration just to manage the basic details of cycling: staying balanced, dealing with toe overlap, stretching out to grasp the handlebars, keeping up, knee and back pain, and not feeling absolutely beat-up by the time their ride is done. Trust me, with all of that going on, it would be hard to notice the seemingly obvious difference a lighter set of wheels would make on a ride.
But, unlike many petite cyclists, I now have a bike that fits. I’m comfortable riding which makes me a more confident rider. I can now accomplish certain things I was not able to before, like taking my hands off the handlebars or descending quickly (and safely). Now I can even keep up with my family.
So how are lighter wheels different? First of all, it feels like there’s about 40% less effort required to get the bike rolling from a total stop. Once in motion, these wheels just want to keep on rolling.
Yes, the Aspin SL Wheels are fast. Decreased effort means you can drop down a gear (or two) to match the resistance you’ve been used to on heavier wheels. The difference in gears will give you a noticeable improvement in speed.
I immediately noticed an increase in climbing speed from 6 to 8 mph. It’s easier to get out of the saddle, since there’s less weight to pull uphill.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend buying a set of fast wheels like the Aspin SL’s on a new bicycle unless you’ve only purchased a frame and fork set and are building your bike up from scratch.
Give yourself time to get used to the fit of your new bicycle (assuming you’re getting one with 650c wheels). before you spend $699.00 for a set of Aspin SL’s. Instead, I would recommend investing in the best frame you can afford. When you’re good and comfortable on your bike, and can afford to upgrade your wheel set, the Aspin SL wheels are worth every penny.
All Rolf wheels are handbuilt in Eugene, Oregon. They offer upgrades to ceramic bearings (the wheels reviewed here have metal bearings). For an extra $175., (for alloy wheels), you can purchase Rolf’s Hero damage protection plan which covers one incident on each wheel. See details on their website at :http://www.rolfprima.com/hero-program.php. Bags are available to purchase for $70.00, otherwise I’d give this product the Road Snob Icon.
Aspin SL Specs:
Wheel size: 650c
Weight: 650c: 1330gm set [535gm/795gm]
Spoke count: butted 20F/24R
Rim: 22mm, alloy clincher
Freehub: forged aluminum – Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolo
Category: Road Race, Climbing, Fitness, Training
Featured technology: Paired spokes, Differential Flange Diameter, Dish Reducing design™, Self Aligning Nipple™
Upgrades available: Prima Plus and Hero