Made in Oregon: Brian Roddy of Rolf Prima / Astral
Jun 10, 2019
Astral is one of four awesome Oregon brands we're highlighting for our Ride Oregon Made Celebration. Save 15% on your dream wheels June 18-30, 2019. See details here.
We are thrilled that expert wheel wheel manufacturer Rolf Prima is bringing their handbuilt rim designs to the masses with the Astral brand. Owner and mechanical engineer Brian Roddy to joined us at our 2018 No Dirty Hands free clinic series, for which we conducted this interview.
Brian puts a lot of thought into his designs and we’re excited for fellow wheel geeks to have the opportunity to learn from him. Rolf Prima’s designs have always been about aerodynamics and in the clinic Brian will share a little bit about what makes these rims so special.
NO STRANGER TO WHEELSBrian is no stranger to wheels. He got his start in the industry as an engineer at Trek working on Bontragger components and their wheel project. At the time, Rolf, the actual person Rolf, had licensed patents to Trek.
Brian later moved out to Oregon to work at Burley Designs in Eugene back when it was a co-op. From there he eventually talked Rolf into moving to Eugene to start Rolf Prima wheels.
Rolf retired in 2009 and Brian bought the company. Though he is the owner, he describes his role as often being the Glue Applicator, Toilet Paper Procurement Officer and a person who wears many hats (helmets?).
A FOCUS ON THOUGHTFUL QUALITYRolf is focused on expert quality and for Brian that means managing as much of the wheel building process in house as possible.
“It’s nice to be a company that actually makes its parts, as opposed to a company that simply markets products,” Brian says.
To make this dedication to quality possible, Rolf Prima bought a building and configured it in exactly the right layout for their process. They build the machines to make the rims and they inspect every rim by hand. The Rolf Prima team is comprised of a hard working staff who all ride bikes. That final touch is important, Brian says, because cyclists understand how much you can feel the difference of a well built wheel.
“When we came out with paired spokes, we were on the sharp end at the beginning. From the start we’ve been different. Visibly we are different, also in our engineering we are very different. Our technology sets us apart. And the fact that we actually make what we use.”
The difference also shines through in many other ways. Make a call about your wheels, and you’ll reach a real person. Rolf Prima/Astral is dedicated to excellent customer service and hiring people who actually care about what they’re making.
EXPANDING THEIR OPTIONSThe launch of Astral allows Rolf Prima to do more with their rims, and with their knowledge. They specialize in custom builds and they can easily change a rim to be what a customer wants. A lot of their rims are built to order with detailed specifications
With rim color names like Crater Lake Blue and Rogue River Red, it’s evident a love of this region factors heavily into everything Rolf Prima/Astral does. They source locally as much as possible, including anodizing, drilling and powder coating. And Brian says the riding around Eugene is their secret sauce. “We have world-class riding with barely anyone else on the road, and great mt. biking nearby.”
So much of what Rolf Prima/Astra believes in correlates with our values at Sugar Wheel Works. That’s why we’re proud of our partnership with the brand. And, it turns out, the feeling is mutual.
“I like that Sugar Wheel Works actually builds its own wheels. There’s something to be said for that,” Brian says. “There is a big difference in a wheel when someone is paying attention.”
We couldn’t agree more.