I blushed nervously as the bike-shop mechanics left their work stands to stroll over and gaze. They proceeded to caress the bladed spokes and CNC machined hubs of my new wheelset, and their oohs and ahhs began to attract the attention of nearby shoppers. My Rolf Prima P-Town singlespeed wheelset — complete with low-count, paired spokes and deep-dish rims — oozed a racy, expensive air.
At $700 for the set, the P-Towns are exotic creatures that embody high-end race wheels but with a shot of bling. They are made for singlespeed bikes, fixies, and embellished everyday riding setups. The hubs come flip-flop-style for fixed and freewheel options.
Out on the streets, the P-Towns (which are named after bike-crazed Portland, Ore.) almost magically turned my bike into an envy-inducing, hipster tamer. With polished aluminum and feathery weight (1,595 grams for the set), the P-Towns accelerate like race wheels but have the durability to hold up to the winter-worn, pothole-riddled streets I roll this time of year.
What really excites true bike nerds (like me) are the 700c wheels’ White Industries CNC’ed aluminum hubs and the 34mm deep section rims, which require only 30 spokes between the two wheels. These are race-spec items but now made for street use.
A deeper look reveals quality in the details. There are reinforced rim strips, CNC machined frame bolts, 14mm custom straight bladed spokes, and a White Industries proprietary spline drive fixed-cog (as opposed to the standard thread-on fixed cog). I’d love to see this last feature become the norm for fixed gear equipment.
In the name of versatility, P-Towns are offered in 120mm or 130mm rear spacing for horizontal track-style frames or with 130mm Eccentric ENO hubs for use with any road frame. (The latter configuration raises the price to $750.) No need for an unsightly chain-tensioner if you want to use them with vertical or semi-vertical dropout frames. But sorry disc-brake fans, P-Towns are rim brake only.
This beautiful whisp of a wheelset is bound to speed up and class up any town ride. But since it isn’t priced for the everyman, it is likely to remain an envy-inducing item for those who can afford such delightful splurges.