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Roval's Alpinist CLX wheels are light, stiff and perfect for the climbers. The low rim height still offers good rolling speed on the flat and the profile of the rim mates well to 26mm tyres. The lack of tubeless compatibility will be a massive issue for some.
The big feature here is something that is missing, so let's get that out of the way first. The Alpinist CLX is clincher-only, with no tubeless bead hook on the rim thanks to a focus on weight that saw inner tubes fall back into favour with Roval. For many of you, this will be an instant barrier to giving Roval your money.
For me, I can take or leave tubeless. When it works, it's great, but testing so many wheels and tubeless-ready tyres does show up how many combinations simply don't work. Setting these up with tubes and Maxxis' High Road SL clincher-only tyres was a breeze, and I'm certainly a fan of simplicity.
If you're still with me then you haven't given up on clinchers and we can get down to how these wheels ride. As you might suspect, this 33mm-deep carbon wheelset is light, tipping our scales at a scant 1,250g with the rim tape installed. I used the Alpinist CLX on my S-Works Venge and the Merida Reacto that I've been testing. Both times, the bikes were noticeably faster to accelerate, and the Merida in particular became a great climber.
Climbing is where the wheels really excel and I have been loving (possibly not the best word) smashing some of my local climbs. The wheels are stiff enough to transfer the power when you really want to kick on the steeper pitches, and I found them perfect for these high-powered efforts, with no discernible flex.
They don't do too badly on the flats either, though they're no match for deeper wheels when the speeds head north of 40kph. But riding those flat roads before you hit the hills isn't a slow experience. I was happy to sit at the 30kph mark and follow the wheels of mates when the pace lifted a little. The low depth also means hassle-free handling, and I never felt the wind pushing me around.
The rim's width is one of the features that I really like. At 21mm internally, it is perfect for supporting road tyres and I really liked using the wheels with 26mm tyres from both Maxxis and Veloflex. Both times, these 26mm tyres widened a little out to 27mm, so this is something to consider if your frame has tighter tolerances.
Moving into the centre of the wheel, we have Roval's new hubs which it says feature aero flanges. There's no way I can test that, but the hubs do have DT Swiss internals with the new Ratchet EXP system that is claimed to add stiffness to the axle. What I can say about the hubs is that the bearings are beautifully smooth and the wheels roll very well. The Centerlock rotor mount gave easy disc installation and the Shimano freehub body that came on these test wheels is coping easily with drivetrain forces.
I like the spoke pattern used on the Alpinist CLX. The radial/two-cross on the front wheel deals with braking forces while the one-cross/two-cross on the rear wheel is great for both braking and drivetrain forces.
Those spokes are DT Swiss Aerolite T-head, secured in place with DT Swiss Pro Lock nipples. I've had no issues with the wheels going out of true, despite ramming the front wheel into the side of a Peugeot 106 that turned across my path. I'm fine, thanks for asking.
Value is a tricky one, and the Alpinist CLX is certainly a premium option. These miss out on tubeless technology, which seems to be where the industry is heading, but the weight will certainly appeal to those of us who like to head uphill. If you like the look of the Alpinist CLX, but don't have the cash, then the Alpinist CL wheelset is cheaper at £1,300. You have to step down a level in the spokes and the hubs, but these are still DT Swiss products and the rim is identical.
Otherwise, there is Campagnolo's Bora WTO 33 Disc wheelset at £1,917.99. These give you tubeless fans the ability to ditch the inner tubes, but they do come with a weight penalty at 1,485g.
Overall, the Roval Alpinist CLX wheelset is a fabulous option for the climbers and those looking for a low-profile design. They aren't tubeless compatible, which will no doubt annoy some, but the rim profile is great and the wheels perform excellently.
Brilliant on the climbs with excellent handling and a very low weight, but no tubeless compatibility
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Roval Alpinist CLX
Size tested: 700C
Tell us what the wheel is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Roval says, 'A pure climber's dream, the new Alpinist CLX is the lightest road clincher wheelset we have ever made. When climbing, mass is the enemy of performance, so we pared the Alpinist CLX down to the absolute minimum to capitalize on every precious watt of energy without sacrificing any of the strength, ride quality and durability that are crucial to long term performance and satisfaction.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Carbon, clincher (tube-type)
FRONT SPOKE PATTERN
REAR SPOKE PATTERN
DT Swiss Aerolite T-head
DT Swiss Pro Lock hexagonal
Roval AeroFlange Disc, Center Lock, Sealed Cartridge bearings
Roval AeroFlange Disc, Centerlock, Sealed Cartridge bearings, DT Swiss EXP internals, HG Freehub, 142x12mm thru-axle compatible
Roval padded wheelbag. No- Fault crash replacement policy. Lifetime warranty.
1248 grams (wheelset)
562 grams (F) / 686 grams (R)
SYSTEM WEIGHT LIMIT
275lbs / 125kg
No tubeless compatibility will annoy some, but the quality of construction is excellent.
Around the same price as Campagnolo's equivalent offering, but lighter. But the Bora WTO 33 Discs are tubeless compatible.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Yep. Even after I hit a car.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Clincher-only rim with clincher-only tyre. Pure bliss.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
Rim tape is fine.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Point them uphill and these are brilliant, feeling very light and reacting well to big efforts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
The weight is certainly impressive for the build, and it really shows in the performance with the wheels excelling on the climbs.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
I probably have to say the lack of tubeless here. It's going to be the biggest gripe for most potential buyers.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? My pockets would only stretch to the CL version.
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
How much do you care about tubeless? This will be the deciding factor for many. Beyond that, these are crazy light for a disc-brake wheel at this depth and they ride brilliantly too.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.