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review

Roval Alpinist SLX Disc wheelset

8
£760.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Very good alloy wheelset that proves you don't need carbon for high performance
Light
Durable
Stiff
More expensive than the majority of alloy wheels
Weight: 
1,550g

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The Roval Alpinist SLX Disc wheelset is claimed to be the 'pinnacle of alloy' and it certainly leaves little to be desired in terms of performance. It's competitively light, stiff and durable, but even though it's not bad value compared with some high-end rivals, it is still expensive for an alloy wheelset.

For more options, check out our guide to the best road bike wheels.

> Buy now: Roval Alpinist SLX Disc for £760 from Specialized

Roval Alpinist wheels are what the world's best use when the road points up; not these ones exactly, but Alpinists nonetheless. This SLX wheelset is the first alloy product to earn the Alpinist name, with Roval stating that it wants "every rider to experience the magical ride quality of Alpinist. This road wheel brings the hallmarks of the Alpinist family to more riders".

2023 Roval Alpinist SLX Disc wheelset - rim detail 2.jpg

They certainly are cheaper than the top-tier Alpinist CLXs – those would set you back £2,500, whereas these are an easier to stomach £760. You'd hope so, too, as with a 24mm-deep 6069 aluminium alloy rim there's no carbon in sight, and while a claimed weight of 1,485g is far from heavy, it is significantly more than the 1,260g figure of the WorldTour favourites.

On the road.cc Scales of Truth, we weighed the new alloy wheels at 1,550g; that's with tubeless valves and rim tape fitted, so not far off the claimed figure. That's very competitive in the alloy wheel sector. The Mavic Ksyrium 30 Disc wheels that Steve tested in 2022, for example, weighed in at 1,790g (though they're almost half the price at £390) and the Ryan Builds Wheels Club Road Wheels at 1,680g (again, a lot cheaper at £455). There are, however, lighter alloy wheels on the market too – for example, the Scribe Race-D Wide+ came in at 1,448g on our scales – and they're currently just £370.

As well as those 24mm-deep 6069 alloy rims, the Roval build includes 21 Sapim D-Light Straightpull spokes at the front and 24 at the rear. These are paired with Sapim spoke nipples and the ever-trusty DT Swiss 350 hubs. This gives the wheels a max system weight of 125kg, and despite gravel, potholes and months of winter abuse they're running just as true as the day they arrived.

2023 Roval Alpinist SLX Disc wheelset - rear hub 2.jpg

Roval also says that the rims have been newly engineered with a shot peen treatment to increase fatigue life. After only several months of testing, I'm unable to ratify those claims though.

2023 Roval Alpinist SLX Disc wheelset - valve.jpg

Sticking with the rims and Roval has opted for a 20mm internal width and 23.5mm external. This is bang average when it comes to alloy wheels in 2023/2024 but I can't help but wish that Roval had found a way to stretch this a little further for a smoother transition with 28mm tyres; those Scribe Race-Ds have a 21mm internal width, and around these parts, every mm does make a difference.

2023 Roval Alpinist SLX Disc wheelset - rim bed.jpg

The DT Swiss 350 hubs are exactly what you would expect and hope to find on a set of solid road wheels, and like many rear hubs this one now uses a star ratchet system rather than traditional pawls. That means two rings with angled teeth glide over one another when you're coasting, and engage – pushed together by springs – when you pedal.

2023 Roval Alpinist SLX Disc wheelset - rear hub 1.jpg

Whereas the previous DT Swiss 350 hub used 18 teeth, the new one features 36. This means the freehub engages twice as quickly when you start to pedal – now just 10 degrees. In my opinion, this is the sweet spot of durability to performance.

Ride performance

I've spent some time analysing the performance of the SLXs in the feature Are expensive carbon wheels worth it? Testing deep carbon rims vs classic aluminium. Spoiler alert, they put in an impressive show.

On the whole, they were around 2% slower on the descents and flats than a set of WorldTour-level deeps; that's as close as you could ever dream of from a set of relatively shallow alloy wheels. Compared with other alloy wheels these feel tight, well mannered and, indeed, fast.

2023 Roval Alpinist SLX Disc wheelset - spoke detail.jpg

They're stiff on the climbs, not unnecessarily harsh when plodding through the miles, and the shallow profile means they're certainly stable enough to use year-round. The truth is that with a high-quality set of alloy wheels like these, you're losing out on very little speed compared to even the fastest wheels in the business (though deep wheels do look very good!).

Value

While £760 might seem cheap compared with Roval's carbon wheels, for an alloy wheelset it's right up there. In fact, you can get carbon alternatives for less – the Just Riding Along Mahi Mahi Core wheels are £700, for example, and though they're slightly heavier at 1,620g, you do benefit from the aerodynamics of a 40mm-deep rim.

The Roval Alpinists are by no means the only alloy wheels with a price tag this high, though. For example, the latest Mavic Ksyrium SL Disc wheelset has an rrp of £790 and also weighs more at 1,575g, and the range-topping Fulcrum Racing Zero DB wheelset will set you back €1,111 (£950) and is again narrower and heavier (1,590g).

But there are some outliers seriously threatening the Alpinist's 'pinnacle of alloy' claim; it's hard to look past the Scribe Race D Wide+ wheelset, especially as they're currently just £370. Lighter, wider and much cheaper.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a really good wheelset that, though challenged by the Scribe pair, stacks up well against the majority of the competition.

I'm very glad that brands such as Roval haven't given up producing high-quality alloy wheels, and the Alpinists will still make an excellent upgrade over the stock set on most bikes. They show that you don't need to buy carbon or spend over a grand to have a lightweight, durable and high-performance wheelset, and I've been very happy ditching the carbon and using the SLXs on my day-to-day rides, sportives, long climbs and even races.

Verdict

Very good alloy wheelset that proves you don't need carbon for high performance

road.cc test report

Make and model: Roval Alpinist SLX Disc

Size tested: 700C, 24mm depth

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: "Take to the open road with the lightest, most durable, best-handling alloy wheel Roval has ever made - the Alpinist SLX. This is the pinnacle of alloy - a wheel so good it earned the Alpinist name." They're certainly light and perform very well which makes them a great choice for riders looking to upgrade a stock wheelset.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?

Roval lists:

Rim: Alpinist Alloy, 6061 Alloy Shot-Pened, 700c, Disc Brake, Tubeless Compatible

Rim Details: 24mm Depth, 23.5mm External Width, 20mm Internal Width

Hub: DT Swiss 350 Straighpull Center Lock, Star Ratchet 36t internals (10 degs), 100x12mm & 142x12mm, Shim. RD. 11SP HG freehub (Convertible freehub)

Bearing Type: DT Swiss Sealed Steel Cartridge Bearings

Spokes: Sapim D-Light Straightpull, Front: Radial/Two-cross (2:1) 21 count, DS: 296mm, NDS: 292mm, Rear: Two-cross (1:1) 24 count, DS: 291mm NDS: 295mm

Nipple: Sapim Secure Lock Double Square Alloy Blk, 2.0 x 18mm, 16cNm

Max Pressure: 130psi

Weight: Wheelset 1,485g, Front 694g, Rear 791g (excluding 15g, tubeless rim tape and tubeless valve)

Assembly Method: Hand-built

Extras: Roval Tubeless Rim Tape and Tubeless Valve, Spare Spoke & Nipple Kit, Lifetime Warranty, System Weight Limit: 275lbs / 125kg

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the wheel for performance:
 
9/10

As mentioned in the review, they're impressively stiff and the low weight helps them to accelerate quickly.

Rate the wheel for durability:
 
8/10

No issues at all despite several months of abuse; brass spoke nipples would add to the durability but aren't to be expected on most lightweight wheelsets.

Rate the wheel for weight
 
8/10

They are very light for an aluminium wheelset – 30g lighter than the previous SLX model. The weight of this wheelset places it among carbon alternatives.

Rate the wheel for value:
 
5/10

There are plenty of cheaper aluminium wheels available, but they tend to be much heavier. Compared with similar rivals from Fulcrum and Mavic, they're not bad value at all.

Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?

Yes, stayed true, no issues with spoke tension.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

No issues.

How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?

No issues at all, rim tape was fitted well.

Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well, they proved durable, capable and are a great upgrade over most stock wheels.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

They're a reminder that you don't need carbon to be fast. They're light, stiff and great to ride.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

Nothing to dislike.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

As mentioned in the review, you can get much cheaper alloy wheelsets, but the Rovals are £30 less than the latest Mavic Ksyrium SL Disc wheelset, and nearly a £200 saving over the range-topping Fulcrum Zero DB wheelset. However, the Scribe Race-D Wide+ wheelset is a clear competitor when gunning for the "pinnacle of alloy" and those are significantly cheaper.

Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes

Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes

Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

They're a very good: light, stiff, durable and fast. The Sapim spokes and DT Swiss hubs are sound choices, they have everything you'd expect from a modern wheelset such as the ratchet freehub, and they performed very well out on the road. That said, there is still room for improvement: there are lighter alloy wheelsets out there, for example, and I'd love them to be a mm or two wider.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 23  Height: 6ft  Weight: 74kg

I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,

Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...

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3 comments

Avatar
check12 | 5 months ago
0 likes

This SLX wheelset is the first alloy product to earn the Alpinist name, with Roval stating that it wants "every rider to experience the magical ride quality of Alpinist. This road wheel brings the hallmarks of the Alpinist family to more riders". - and for roval to bank some profit, £760 for a bang average alu wheelset, step 3: profit 

Avatar
bigblue | 5 months ago
1 like

Mavic SL's wont need rim-tape, so must be within spitting distance on weight. Would be interesting to compare.

Avatar
Jamie Williams replied to bigblue | 5 months ago
0 likes

We'll try and get a set in to review  1

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