One of the interesting trends in the road cycling market at the moment is the resurrection of the old 650b wheel size, and freshly arrived for testing are these brand new Roval CLX 32 650b wheels.
Roval has used the 700c version of the CLX 32 wheels that launched at the Tour de France last year, a lightweight climbing wheelset that can weigh as little as 1,200g, as the starting point for these new 650b hoops. They're not cheap mind, costing £1,700, but then they only weigh 1,300g on the road.cc scales.
The wheels feature 32mm deep rims with a 20.7mm internal width, designed to accommodate wide tyres like the 42mm wide Sawtooth tyres we've also got in for testing. More on those in a moment. Not only is the all-carbon rim wide and light, it is tubeless-ready, or 2Bliss in Specialized speak.
The hubs use high-quality DT Swiss 240 internals and CeramicSpeed bearings and Centre Lock interface for attaching the disc rotors. They come out of the box set up for quick release axles but end caps are supplied for converting to 12mm thru-axles. They simply push into the hubs, no tools needed. Roval hand builds the wheels using 24 DT Swiss Aerocomp/Aerolite spokes per wheel with DT Swiss Pro Lock nipples, in a 2:1 lacing pattern.
Included with the wheels are nice padded Roval wheelbags, tubeless plugs and valves, but you have to supply your own sealant. You'll have to supply your own tyres too, but we've got the new Specialized Sawtooth 42mm tyres in for testing as well so we'll slap those on and see how they perform. The Sawtooth costs £40 and uses a reinforced Endurant casing with a Gripton compound and it's tubeless, naturally.
Roval claims 1,290g for the wheelset and on the road.cc scales they are 1,300g. That’s an impressive weight for this sort of wheelset but then so is the price, a cool £1,700. Are they worth it? We’ll soon find out, stay tuned for a review.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.