Young British hopeful Fred Wright pushes the Prime RP-50 Tubular wheelset to its limits in the rough and tumble of junior racing – and they perform exceptionally well
I was excited to be riding these wheels in some early-season junior races in Belgium and France, including the daunting Paris-Roubaix. I’d never raced on tubs and hoped they’d give me an edge on the rough roads. They’re not advertised as ‘Roubaix-ready’, but the wide rim and sizeable depth suggests the Prime RP-50 tubular wheels were perfect for my Vittoria Pavé tubular tyres, which fitted on very nicely.
When I rode them for the first time they felt just as stiff as the Fast Forward carbon clinchers they replaced. And at a fair way under £1,000, it seemed I was getting more than the price tag suggested.
My first race was the Guido Reybrouck , a UCI 1.1 and the windiest of the lot. Recceing the course I was a little worried I’d be blown about too much and nearly didn’t ride the wheels; they’re 50mm and pretty light. I went for it in the end and they actually handled fine and also came through the race’s cobbled sections without problems. Just a shame the legs weren’t there to complement them!
In their next outing, the Ghent-Wevelgem Nations Cup, the wheels survived a small get-down on the top of the Kemmelberg. Survived and then continued to feel good when I put the power down on the fast finish, allowing me to chase back to the lead group for a decent result. But I always knew the real test would be Junior Paris-Roubaix.
I was confident the specifically designed Pavé tubs would hold up well on the harshest of cobbles, but what about these fairly unknown Prime RP-50 tubular wheels? That 50mm is a bit deeper than what the pros ride. I have to say, overall I was surprised; granted carbon wheels aren’t going to be the smoothest on the cobbles but I thought they would come out of this gruelling race in a much worse state.
On the last pavé sectors they did rattle quite a lot and after finishing I realised the front skewer had come slightly loose. Luckily it didn’t cause any problems but clearly Prime’s own skewers weren’t up to the task. I’d recommend bulkier ones. That aside, they completed Roubaix without even a scratch. And we had a great team result; Tom Pidcock won it and I came in 14th.
A three-day stage race in Belgium followed Roubaix, the Ster Van Limburg. Here I had a highly successful second day; my first win on the Prime RP-50 tubular wheels! They were well suited to the day’s flat profile and fairly technical finishing circuit and played their part in me getting away from a small break to claim the leader’s jersey. On the final day we had to defend that jersey, which we managed with a superb team effort on a hard, hilly course.
Well, we managed it to the last 3k where another rider took me out! Once again the wheels came away unscathed from a crash. I wish I could say the same for my collarbone; it was broken. Being in the last 3k though I was given the same time as the stage winners and, put back on my bike (with the unscathed Primes ), Tom was able to push me to the finish and the overall win.
So after a few big races on the Prime RP50s I’m very impressed with their performance. I expected the speed and stiffness but was pleasantly surprised by their durability in the face of everything that some tough junior road races threw at them. They are definitely worth the price, which is quite a bit lower than some better-known wheels. And they are certainly more crash resistant than my collarbone!