Rim Depth: 32mm
Internal rim width: 21.7mm
Spoke count: 16 front; 24 rear
Deflection: 5.2mm front/6.57mm rear
Specialized is making a big push into the aftermarket wheel game with Roval, and in its lightest offering, the CLX 32, that effort has paid off in a great climber’s wheel.
At 1,280 grams, the clincher/rim brake CLX 32 hits an impressive mark — lighter than Zipp’s venerable 202 and Mavic’s Ksyrium Carbon SL C. Roval also offers clincher disc and tubular rim brake options. Specialized engineers said they went through 40 different layup options before they settled on the final 32mm deep rim, which we tested on this wheelset. The sub-1,300g weight is also notable because Roval didn’t get too exotic with the spokes or hubs, which are both supplied by DT Swiss. The former are Aerolite T-heads, with external nipples (mechanics everywhere rejoice!). Hubs have the 18-point star ratchet engagement mechanism with CeramicSpeed bearings, and the shells were shaped to Roval’s specifications, based on aero testing.
In our lab testing, the CLX 32s were stiff, but they didn’t defeat all comers. Front wheel deflection was 5.2mm and the rear deflected 6.57mm, which is slightly more flex than the Ksyrium Carbon SL C wheels.
Was that noticeable on the road? We couldn’t tell. The CLX 32 wheels felt confident driving through switchback turns or high-speed sweepers. These low-profile rims aren’t intended for pure displays of power, but anytime we sprinted, Roval’s wheels were solid, without notable flex. Their surefooted feel might be attributed in part to the 20.7mm internal rim width, which helps the tire achieve a slightly wider profile.
On steep climbs, in their natural habitat, the light weight made the CLX 32s feel like a notable upgrade to our daily driver. Roval’s wheels encourage acceleration, whether you’re gassed or fresh.
Heading downhill, the brake track, combined with SwissStop Black Prince pads — preferred by Roval — delivered strong stopping power that modulated well. In our review of the older CLX 40 wheels, we dinged Roval for inconsistent brake feel. Things are much improved with the glass scrim coating used on this pair, as well as the CLX 50 and 64 wheels.
A $2,400 upgrade is not cheap by any measure, but Roval is on par with competitors’ wheel pricing. In terms of performance, the CLX 32 wheels certainly improved the way our test bike rode.