Rolf Prima Sojourn Wheels: Getting Rolling

Rolf Prima Sojourn Wheels: Getting Rolling – by Grannygear

In terms of wheels, is 25 the new 21? I have heard that “60 is the new 50” as adults are living longer and staying more active into retirement years.  Good news!  And while that has absolutely nothing to do with wider rims for gravel riding, it does show that what we once thought to be ‘true’ is often not so.  In this case, your age is often what you make of it.

Rolf Prima Sojorn wheel set
Rolf Prima Sojourn wheels

I remember having a conversation many years ago with the wheel guy at Specialized and he asked if 26mms (outer width) was a wide enough rim for 29″ers.  I said that it was.  Fast forward to now and that 26mm width could well be a road bike rim.  The trend to fatter tires run at lower pressures, tubeless, is not going away and wider rims are an integral part of that mix.  They allow for more support of the tire sidewall which allows for lower pressures which retains stability under cornering loads and allows for more comfort.

Detail of Sojourn branding

MTB wheels seemed to have settled into reasonable widths after going wide and heavy, then dialing back a bit and finding that right balance of width vs. strength vs. weight.  Road wheels are still an angst ridden teenager wondering how wide is wide enough?  The focus with road in the future is likely to be wider external rims with a prudent internal width.  We are seeing some of this now in carbon.

So of course gravel wheels are searching for the sweet spot too.  It seems that there is a loud calling for wider and wider tires for gravel, which I sort of get. Tire sizes are creeping into the range of old XC 29″er tires, like 2.0/2.1. Where that stops nobody knows but not everyone wants or needs all that beef in a wheel and tire.  I suspect this will settle into two camps:  Full on adventure/backcountry gravel travel with 42mm to 50mm sized 700c tires at the high end and 40mm sizes and below for the rest. And rims could be, and likely should be, split as well into 25mm+ and 20-22mm internal widths to match. Others might disagree. We shall see. 

Rolf Prima just introduced the Sojourn wheel set for Adventure/Gravel.  It fits right into our needs with an internal width of 25mm and an outer of 28.5mm.  It is cost effective as well, priced at $699.00, not cheap, but you are still under a grand. Weight is quite good at a claimed 1695g and I weighed them ready to go, stems, tape, etc, at 1741g.  

This is what the Rolf Prima website has to say about the Sojourn:  https://rolfprima.com/products/sojourn

Adventure Destinations Await

Get into the backcountry and stay awhile, with the Sojourn. A 25mm internal adventure and gravel wheelset built to last, and priced for the masses. Because the road less traveled doesn’t charge a toll.

In no other riding discipline do wheels and tires matter as much as gravel and adventure. If you want to ride efficiently and comfortably over mixed-terrain, you’ll need wide tubeless tires supported by a purpose-built gravel rim and strong, fast-spinning hubs. The Sojourn is just that. The wide rim, optimized for 40-50mm tires is paired to our robust XR2.4 hubset, offering a strong steel free-hub body and sealed cartridge bearings for care-free riding and easy maintenance. Paired-spoke technology creates a balanced, fast wheel that spins up quickly and stays at speed.

Fast enough for gravel racing, strong enough for bikepacking, and fun enough to induce grins all day long. Like all Rolf Prima wheels, they’re handbuilt in Eugene, OR and backed by our Certainty Guarantee.

Detail of Rolf Prima Sojourn rear hub
The rear hub has an unusual flange on the drive side.

We reviewed the Rolf Prima Hyalites a while back and came away very impressed.  That wheel is lighter and narrower then the Sojourn and has a fancier hub, but costs $1200.00.  After that review, Rolf Prima introduced the Hyalite 25, a wider version of the Hyalite at the same $1200.00 cost and with a claimed 1570g weight.

For a gain of 170g and a bit less chi-chi hubset, you have the Sojourn wheel set. Your wallet will be wider as well, saving $500.00.

Rolf Prima suggests that the tire be a minimum of 40mms wide for this wheel set which is a bit over what most other manufacturers have been saying for this wide of a rim.  38mms would be more typical as a minimum suggested tire size for a 25mm rim.  That said, I did mount and run some 38’s on these wheels and found it fine, gaining about 1mm in tire width as compared to a 21mm internal rim.  However, I did not use the wheels that way for very long, respecting that Rolf Prima knows what their rims are designed for.

Grannygear's Lynskey GR250 with the Rolf Prima Sojourn wheels mounted
The Sojourn’s home for the test: The Lynskey GR 250

I will be running the tried, true, and much loved 42mm WTB Resolutes, a poofy 43mm tire even on a 21mm rim, and on the Sojourns they are 44mms wide!  I test fit this combo just for fun to the Topstone Project and it fit with room to spare, but a tire and wheel like this are made for the Ti Lynskey GR250 and that is likely where they will be living throughout the test.

More to come in the “Checkpoint” post.

Note: Rolf Prima sent over the Sojourn wheel set to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. We are not being paid, nor bribed, for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.

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4 Responses to Rolf Prima Sojourn Wheels: Getting Rolling

  1. Jason September 18, 2019 at 12:56 am #

    At the moment there is a strange trend to “wide” gravel rims. Wonder why? If you like to use wider tires (with lower pressure) there are plenty mountain rims, otherwise, for tires up to 40mm (and higher pressure) there are fine oad rims aswell.
    Seems that many manufacturers just follow a trend – like DT Swiss with their new GR531db rims.
    What I wonder most – inner width of the rims are getting wider, on the other hand, number of spokes get less. The Sojourn wheels do have just 24! And that for Gravel/Bikepacking….!?
    Jason/ Germany

  2. Guitar Ted September 18, 2019 at 7:34 am #

    @Jason- Rims have changed across the board. Old MTB rims are awesome for gravel, but buying NOS (New Old Stock) MTB rims in a pre-built format? Not very common to find that. New MTB rims, (mostly) are too wide for gravel travel, so…..in pre-built wheels, these are a “trend”, if you will. Also add in that axle standards have conspired to make this a trend as well. Older pre-built MTB wheels likely have different hub standards. (Read on for a story on this) Could you find old MTB rims and have new “gravel wheels” built? Of course you could. But that isn’t what this article is about.

    FYI- We have an article up, by Grannygear, that speaks a little bit to what you are commenting about here. The re-purposing of older 29″er wheels as gravel wheels. You can read that here; http://ridinggravel.com/components/resurrecting-the-dead-bringing-new-life-to-old-29er-wheels/

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. grannygear September 18, 2019 at 9:43 am #

    @Jason…Well, Rolf Prima wheels are a bird of a different feather, so spoke counts are not as high and not needed, so they would say. I have other wheels for gravel in 24 count and they have been solid too. If you do some inner-web poking around, you do hear of many riders with long term Rolf Prima wheels that just run true for ages, it seems. That said, no doubt a bent rim would be more challenging to true.

    If I were dropping into the backroads of Patagonia, I would most likely run a 28-32 spoke wheel in a traditional build. Just sayin’. But i do not do that kind of riding.

    gg

  4. Bike Nerd September 18, 2019 at 11:57 am #

    My current Gravelbike is a 2009 full-sus Specialized Epic shod with Gravel tires. (I prefer flat bars and suspension and I already own the bike.) Back in 2009, thin was in! The Epic came with inner width i18mm aluminum rims and 29×1.9(700×48) tires. Now does that sound like a Gravel wheel? I’ve ridden every thing from 25mm Road slicks to 2.4 Mountain tires along with some 45-50mm Gravel tires and all those different tire widths performed well on that i18 rim. I’m just not sure if the possible performance gains of wider rims are worth the added weight. There’s just something special about the responsiveness light-weight tires on light-weight rims..

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by Riding Gravel 2014