Rolf Prima's unusual paired spoke lacing pattern has sometimes been derided as a solution without a problem, but it does legitimately allow for higher spoke tensions without the 'snaking' that would normally happen on a conventional laced wheel. Coupled with the differential flange diameters that help even out the tension (and torque) from left to right, it all adds up to quite the compelling argument on paper. People don't ride on paper, though, and on the road we found the VCX Disc to be competent but uninspiring.
Despite the minimal 20-hole spoke counts front and rear, two separate BikeRadartesters confirmed that the VCX Disc wheels are surprisingly stout with a distinctly solid and sturdy feel as you roll across the pavement – or dirt, as we tested these in cyclocross applications, too.
It's impossible to miss Rolf Prima's trademark paired spoking pattern
Build quality is quite good – neither tester was able to knock these out of true over a full year of on- and off-road testing, and fans of wider rims will be happy to learn that Rolf Prima has put 18.3mm of space between the bead hooks. This isn't monumentally wide, mind you, but it's still a significant 3mm more than traditional road rims and a better fit for the higher-volume rubber riders now prefer.
Rather than adopt one of many build-to-suit Asian sources as is so often done, Rolf Prima has instead tapped boutique American component builder White Industries for the VCX Discs' gorgeous hubs. In addition to being well made, the freehub body is machined from more expensive and durable titanium, which is far less prone to cassette scarring than the more typically-used aluminum. The bearing preload adjustment procedure is admittedly rather crude with its trio of set screws but in fairness, it does work and our set rolls as smoothly today as it did a year ago.
The bearing adjustment system is crude but it does work
Unfortunately, none of these positive attributes could overcome how the VCX Discs performed where it matters most – in the saddle. While sturdy, the VCX Discs are also rough riding and noticeably heavy with an actual weight of 1,815g (855g front, 960g rear) – 120g more than claimed.
And while that high spoke tension is supposedly the key to the hoops' unusually low spoke count, that doesn't translate into a snappier feel when you apply the power. In fact, both testers reported that the VCX Discs felt a bit lifeless in general.
A huge non-driveside spoke flange couldn't offset the wheel's muted feel under power
Tubeless fans will also have to look elsewhere, given the rims' traditional tube-type profile, and disc brake users who prefer the look of an all-black rim will be put off by the VCX Disc's machined sidewalls (although Rolf Prima marketing manager Brooke Stehley said this will change for the 2015 model year).
Ultimately, these were wheels that we really wanted to like but in the end, we found that they could do with a little more spark.
For more information, visit to www.rolfprima.com.