Road Gear

Roval Rapide CLX for all-around aero, Alpinist CLX for the climbers

Roval has been real-world product testing with Deceuninck-Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe, resulting in two new wheelsets that are notably not tubeless.

While #aeroiseverything stresses the relative significance of decreasing aerodynamic drag, Roval has not completely given upon on engineering light wheels that handle well and feel fun to ride.

Roval has been real-world product testing under the likes of Deceuninck-Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe. Rider-feedback has informed engineers in a different way from the data collected at Specialized’s on-campus Win Tunnel facility. Armed with this info, Roval engineers came up with an all-around wheel and a climbing wheel, both of which are aero, light, and notably, not tubeless.

Rapide CLX

The Roval Rapide CLX wheelset borrows cues from the time trials world championship-winning CLX64 clincher wheelset. Roval looked at testing data and rider feedback with the goal of a wheel that performs well even in gusty conditions. Specialized claims handling improvements of greater than 25 percent over the CLX50, even with a cross-section depth of 65mm. For optimal handling, Roval has designed the front wheel slightly shallower and wider than the rear wheel; a taller rim profile for the rear wheel adds stiffness and maintains aerodynamic performance.

Rapide CLX specifications

Front wheel: 21mm internal width, 35mm external width, 51mm depth, 18 DT Swiss Aerolite T-head spokes; Roval AeroFlange centerlock disc-brake hub; 649g

Rear wheel: 21mm internal width, 30.7mm external width, 60mm depth, 24 DT Swiss Aerolite T-head spokes; Roval AeroFlange centerlock disc-brake hub; 751g

Roval Rapide CLX

Roval Rapide CLX. Photo: Specialized

Alpinist CLX

Roval claims the Alpinist CLX is the lightest wheelset to come from Specialized, bettering the mark set by the Tour de France KOM-winning CLX32. By decreasing mass, Roval says less energy is required to get the wheel spinning up to — and maintaining — speed.

Roval Alpinist CLX

The Alpinist CLX are the lightest wheels to come out of Specialized house-brand Roval. Photo: Specialized

Alpinist CLX specifications

Front wheel: 21mm internal width 33mm external width, 51mm depth, 21 DT Swiss Aerolite T-head spokes; Roval AeroFlange centerlock disc-brake hub; 562g

Rear wheel: 21mm internal width, 33mm external width, 60mm depth, 24 DT Swiss Aerolite T-head spokes; Roval AeroFlange centerlock disc-brake hub; 686g

Roval AeroFlange hub

Roval AeroFlange hub Photo: Specialized

The AeroFlange hubs on both Rapide and Alpinist wheels form the basis of strong, light, slippery-fast wheels. Aerodynamically optimized, with wide-bracing angles for increased strength and reduced spoke weight, they also feature ultra-smooth sealed cartridge bearings and the refined precision of DT Swiss’ new EXP freehub internals.

Roval has not forgotten about those of us who still cling to our inner tubes: Both the Rapide CLX and Alpinist CLX rely on decades of race-proven technologies, and as such, are to be used with standard clinchers tires with inner tubes. Roval acknowledges the benefits of tubeless technology, but felt that, “To render these wheels tubeless would have required extra materials, and that extra mass would have outweighed the benefits of tubeless tires.” That’s an interesting take given that Specialized-equipped pro teams were among the first to run tubeless tires in the WorldTour.

Each wheelset can be purchased for $2,500.