Our best-selling Race SL is a favorite with racers looking for precise handling, ride quality and speed. It's perfect for road racing, criteriums and triathlon. It's already one of the best-reviewed wheels on the market and for 2013 we made it even better.
We've improved the Race SL with a new rim profile that is wider and stiffer. At 23mm wide, our new rim design improves tire performance by shortening the tire sidewalls and producing a wider contact patch. It adds up to more confidence in the turns, along with more comfort and improved aerodynamics. The 28mm tall profile provides the stiffness aggressive riders appreciate, as well as an aerodynamic advantage.
Strengths: The great price and quality of the Race SL wheel set.
Weaknesses: None so far.
This is my 3rd ROL Wheel set (2 others are Volants) and they have not disappointed. The quality of the hubs and spokes is evident as soon as they were ridden. They respond quickly and have remained true after much abuse. Another great strength is the support of Sean at ROL Wheels. He is willing to answer questions and provide service second to none.
After 3 years, the ROL Race SL's have certainly lived up to their reputation! My old TREK 5200 with the 8-year old Rolf Vector Wheels got wrecked, and so I replaced it with a Trek Madone 5.2. However, the Madone came with some VERY mediocre Bontrager wheels. After researching, and talking with Sean (at ROL) I went with the ROL SL's. Compared to any other wheels I've had, the ROLs corner, handle, accelerate and stop BETTER. They're also much less expensive than the big "name brand" wheelsets. In the 3+ years I've owned these, I ridden roads, tracks, & hardpack trails. I can't say enough good things about them! I'm VERY PLEASED with my ROL wheels! I would buy them again in a second!
Strengths: Silky Smooth, Stiff, Great acceleration, Durable
Weaknesses: None so far!
I want to first say that my experience in the huge pool of wheels of this type/class, I am not experienced. I am a mountain biker that cross-trains and mainly does group rides on the road to include a few annual charity rides. So this will not be a comparison of Rol SL's vs "Wheel X" that I previously rode, but I do have a small comparison but should probably not be used for purchasing decisions. I want to instead review the ROL Race SLs on their own merit, along with the experience with ROL because I believe customer service and customer support is almost as important as the product itself!
Like I stated, I am primarily a MTBer. I can pick out shortcomings when dealing with lateral forces pretty quickly. Shortly after I got my Cervelo S2, I felt the need to replace the stock Fulcrum Racing 7's. They were actually pretty smooth wheels with a great engagement, but the hub developed some play in it, and I couldn't get it worked out. A friend let me borrow a spare set of Ksyrium SL's which were actually a big improvement, but what do you expect when you have a ~$1,000 wheelset vs a $200 wheelset. After doing tons of research, and reading reviews, I came across ROL, so started doing more research. I finally gave them a call and the owner Sean answered the phone. We talked about my bike, the type of riding I would be doing, weight, and other variables. Living in S. Florida with the invisible hills (wind) that the Race SLs would be the best wheel for my needs and budget. The wheelset promptly came well boxed, perfectly true, absolutely pristine condition.
Swapping out from the Ksyrium SLs they seemed just as stiff, faster engagement, and seemed to hold their speed better while I was at or above 20mph. On a normal 1hr loop, after 4-5 rides, I was able to average .9mph faster speed than on the Mavics. The Mavics were a 1.1mph average better than the Fulcrums. I was quite happy with those improvements!
The real test was to come. I was training all summer long on the road biking because the coming fall I was doing a 322mi. ride from Pittsburg to Wash. DC for Operation Second Chance across the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage). It is a route of mainly crushed limestone, potholes, mud, and very few asphalt miles. My initial intent was to take my Lynskey Pro29 with touring tires and gears (normally SS) because long distance riding on Ti. is amazing, but the tires just didn't respond well and I was running short on time. In the end, I said screw it, and took my Cervelo. I wanted to be fast and efficient. I was one of 3 people on road bikes, and the rest were on MTB, touring, or CX. Those wheels came out of that 322mi after hitting plenty of potholes, oversize gravel rocks, and other debris. I got one flat that was a slow leak and went flat over the night in the hotel. The wheels came out of that ride perfectly true, unphased with how much dirt, mud, and gravel they've been exposed to. 3 years later, and 9,000 mi. they're still perfectly true, and role just as fast and smooth as the first day!
Fast forward, I am finally gearing up to repeat the OSC GAP ride again, but this go around I will have a legit CX bike that I am building for this and also other purpose riding/racing. After looking at various wheelsets, I gravitated back to ROL. After talking again to Sean (the one who answers the phone mostly I imagine), going over the details for the build, my concerns with lacing and CX with bigger rubber, he quickly agreed that my concerns are valid and started exploring which wheelset would best fit my application based on the different variables. So in the end, I now have a set of D'Huez 2X/2X 24/28 wheels on the way that were modified from the normal radial lacing that should be sent out early next week. All of Rol Wheels are handbuilt to order as far as I know. They may have some sets ready to go that are the most common, but Sean has hinted that modifications are in no way hindering or the desire to be avoided. Back when I bought my first pair, he was excited about my bike, my story, and everything that led to me buying his wheels, and three years later it's the same story.
As peace of mind, if ROL wheels are on your list, weigh your options, give them a call, feel em out, and go from there. I am sure there are others that make great wheels as well, but for me, and my experience. I have absolutely zero reservations about purchasing a product from ROL. The experience with the product and customer relations has been exemplary, and based on quite a lot of other user's input, I am just echoing that experience.
Similar Products Used: I don't have a comparison product that is within the same pricepoint.
My only other road wheels that I have used:
Mavic Ksyrium SL (used for 3 weeks) Cannot comment on anything but initial ride impression
Fulcrum Racing 7 (used for 5 mo.) OEM wheels on the Cervelo S2
Bike Setup: 2010 Cervelo S2 Ultegra
3T Ergonova carbon bars
Zipp Service Corse CX tape
2011 ROL Race SL
Fizik Aliante Gamma Twinflex K:ium saddle
Ultegra SPD-SL pedals
Strengths: Great build with quality components. Extremely comfortable ride.
Weaknesses: A bit heavy...rear hubs pretty loud.
This review is for the 2013 model.
So far, I love these wheels. They are built extremely well and the fit and finish is superb. For the price, I don't feel there is much better on the market. As stated above, the wheel is not super lightweight (1555g) but it does offer a deeper rim (29mm deep, 23mm wide) vs the lighter D'Huez (24mm deep, 22.5mm wide). I must say though that despite the weight, they offer a superb ride quality and a nimble ride. After 1200 miles on them, they are still true as the day I bought them. They show minimal wear and still ride wonderfully. On a side note, I have been running 23mm wide tires which seat well with these wheels.
My only real complaints (although minor) are the noisy rear hub, which is very loud (perhaps a good grease will fit this) and the fact that after 1200 miles, my Shimano Ultegra cassette has bit into the rear hub pretty well. I'm willing to say that by 5000 or so miles, it will have to be replaced. This is a minor complaint though...
Date Reviewed: June 28, 2013
Strengths: Stable, Light Weight, Great long rolling hubs.
Made in the USA.
Weaknesses: none so far but I only have about 500 miles on them.
These ROL's replaced the Bontrager Wheels that came with my Damone 2.3. I found an immediate improvement in both my avg speed and climb. These are super stable wheels and are superb for this area (Ozark Plateau in North West Arkansas) with lots of elevation change. The folks at ROL are a pleasure to deal with, the new wheels arrived a week from the order. At $625 these wheels are an excellent value
Got a set of these pedals off of a chainlove clearance and wondering if I maybe purchased a nice shiny pair of dinosaurs.
It would seem that Mavic tried their hand at entering the pedal market with these (IMO) pretty nice set of "Look Like" pedal system a couple of years back. It also would appear ... Read More »
What can anyone tell me about these pedals who have used them?
[url=http://www.competitivecyclist.com/product-components/2011-mavic-race-sl-ti-pedals-15991.2178.0.html]2011 Mavic Race SL Ti Pedals - Competitive C ... Read More »
Good morning folks,
I got my first nice bike last July. It came with a set of Mavic Aksium Race wheels that I love because they are bomb-proof and stay true all the time, but I am thinking about a lighter set. If I went from these wheels to say something like the Mavic Ksyrium SL or SLS (aroun ... Read More »
Can anyone with direct experience with any of these wheelsets make any recommendations? I know handbuilt is an option but for this thread I was hoping for feedback from riders with firsthand knowledge of these specific wheels. (All comments are welcome, however.) I've seen the reviews for the ROLs a ... Read More »