Rolf Prima Ares4 ES wheels review

The Rolf Prima Ares4 ES wheels have an eye-catching design and spoke pattern, but does the performance match the looks?

Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Rolf Prima Ares4 ES wheels are a good pair of fairly lightweight, medium depth carbon all-rounders. They perform well on the flat but take them to the hills and they're a little out of their comfort zone.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Light weight considering the rim depth

  • +

    Fast on the flat

  • +

    Solid braking performance

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Handful in the hills

  • -

    Concerns about durability on rough roads

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At 1,450g a pair on the Cycling Weekly scales without skewers, the Rolf Prima Ares4 ES wheels can't exactly be described as featherweights. However, given the 42mm rim depth can offer up some aero benefits, the sub-1,500g weight begins to sound a little more respectable.

>>> Buyer's guide: road bike wheels

Like all Rolf Prima wheels, the Ares4 ESs feature the Oregon company’s paired spokes technology. The thinking behind this is that by bringing the spokes to the rim in pairs, Rolf is able to neutralise the left and right pulling forces exerted on the rim, making for truer wheels despite the lower spoke count. This should also improve aerodynamics.

In practice though, this was less convincing. On the flat, acceleration was fairly sharp and thanks to the super-wide 27mm rim I was able to go into corners with a little more confidence, meaning less acceleration was needed heading out the other side.

The wheels remained true for the duration of our test; their durability on rough roads, given the spoke spacing, could be of concern.

>>> The best road bike upgrades

On the hills, the added weight of the Rolf Primas Ares4 ES wheels became more of an issue. The wheels were pretty good on draggy climbs with moderate gradients, but once the road really ramped up they struggled slightly, and wrestling the bike from side to side generated a fair amount of brake rub. While the carbon braking surface combined with SwissStop pads meant braking was reasonably good in wet and dry conditions, it was nothing to write home about.

For more details visit the Rolf Prima website.

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.