- MSRP $2,200.00
Rim depth: 40mm
Internal rim width: 16.2mm
Spoke count: 18 front; 24 rear
Deflection: 6.53mm front; 7.36mm rear
We are in the midst of a golden era for carbon clincher wheels — there are tons of good options, and best of all, they usually brake quite well. So, it’s a little disappointing that Specialized’s all-around option, the Roval CLX 40 misses the mark when you grab the stoppers.
Our testers found the braking power to be a bit vague at first, when feathering the levers. Then, the pads tended to grab a bit unexpectedly. This underwhelming modulation was experienced with three different kinds of carbon-specific pads: DT Swiss (recommended by Specialized), Enve, and SwissStop.
Also, the 16.2mm internal width seems a bit old-fashioned in an era when even Mavic is increasing rim girth to give tires a wider stance.
Now the good news: The Rovals are quite competitive on price and weight. They’re $48 cheaper than Mavic’s Cosmic Carbone 40C wheels and 197 grams lighter. Compared to Campagnolo’s Bora Ultra 35 wheels, which won the carbon clincher wheel test in the March issue of VeloNews, the CLX 40s are a staggering $1,310 less expensive and 12 grams lighter. However, they don’t brake nearly as well as Campy’s rims.
The Roval hubs are filled with DT Swiss internals and CeramicSpeed bearings, which have both served us well over the years. The wheels are also hand-built, using DT Swiss Revolution spokes — another good choice.
Really, it’s the rims that seem to hold back the CLX 40. We can give the 40mm-deep hoops credit for behaving well in crosswinds and acting sprightly when pressed into action, sprinting out of corners in a criterium or up short rises on a hilly loop. They were similarly sure-footed when cornering hard.
But it all comes back braking power, and with an array of good options on the market, it’s hard to put the Rovals at the top of our list.