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January 31, 2023
Despite Ksyrium's huge commercial success, the design that arguably pushed the hardest and earliest at low spoke numbers was Rolf. Rolf Dietrich was early to discover, and then harness, an aero rim's unusual strengths.
Early aero rims could be 18mm wide by 30mm deep. They were new to cycling as hooping the shape was previously unfeasible—too much deformation to control.
They are massively more stiff in the vertical (y) axis than side to side (x). Wheel designers gradually picked up the opportunity of such shapes.
Rims are always vulnerable to lateral wobbles with low spoke numbers—these aero shapes were no different. However, deep section means they can support vertical loads over huge arcs. Rolf’s experiments showed that paired spoking leveraged this characteristic. At first glance, the Rolf wheel idea seemed counter intuitive because we were collectively unfamiliar with deep rims.
This paired wheel hugely loads the rim radially where two spokes attach. Meanwhile, between pairs the rim is without bracing. But supporting such loads is the aero shape’s forte. Whether you use or admire such spoking, the lessons apply to all. Thanks, Rolf!
Don’t be intimidated by low spoke wheels, just make sure there’s a robust rim.
Tailor made, matching components are not required.
Many such wheels are largely visual gimmicks—harmless, distinctive looks and tiny aero benefits.
Always be careful and don’t take any wheel for granted.
Test ideas thoroughly—don’t experiment on customers!
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