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TECH NEWS

Specialized launch Roval Rapide CLX with "fastest all-around road wheels in the world” claim

The disc brake-only wheels from Specialized's sub-brand forgo a tubeless rim to save weight

Specialized's Roval brand is introducing two new wheelsets – the Rapide CLX and Alpinist CLX – that it says are wider, lighter and more aerodynamically efficient than existing models. The new ​disc-brake only wheels are said to be more stable too, but tubeless compatibility has been left out .

Roval’s CLX range has grown in recent years to include rim and disc-brake models in 24, 32, 50 and 64mm depths. The new Rapide and Alpinist models could be about to replace these options, simplifying the range. 

Rapide CLX - “the fastest all-around road wheels in the world”

Roval Rapide CLX 1-2

With the updated Rapide CLX, Roval believes they’ve made the fastest all-around road wheels in the world. It’s a big claim that could do with some test data to support it. We’ve asked Roval if they are willing to share this, so we’ll let you know if they do. 

Roval Rapide CLX tech-2

The Rapide CLX wheels feature differing rim depths: 51mm up front and 60mm at the rear. The front rim is also wider, at a whopping 35mm externally, compared with a still sizeable 30.7mm external width for the rear rim.

One challenge when riding deep-section wheels in windy conditions can be their tendency to get pushed about. Roval claims that the Rapide CLX's rim profiles make the wheelset 25% more stable than the existing CLX50s. You've got to love a good stat.

Check out the £350 3D printed saddle from Specialized

Roval says that making the front rim wider actively boosts stability “while boasting impressively low drag.”

They also say that as the rear wheel has less impact on stability, it can be made deeper and narrower, meaning that it is “optimised more singularly on minimising drag.”

Roval Rapide CLX 3-2

Together, Roval claims that the Rapide CLX wheels yield less drag than most 65mm deep wheelsets although, again, we've not yet seen data to support this.

With the new Rapide CLX wheels supposedly being lighter, faster, and more stable than the old CLX 50 and 64 wheels, we wonder whether Roval will phase out these options.

Roval Rapide CLX 2-2

Claimed weights 649g (front), 751g (rear)

Price £750 (front), £1,100 (rear)

Alpinist CLX - “the lightest road clincher wheels Roval has ever made”

Roval Alpinist CLX 1-2

The Alpinist CLX is a lightweight wheelset, weighing jusrt 1,284g, although Roval says that it has managed to maintain strength, ride quality and durability.

Roval says that creating this wheelset meant that they needed to “visualise each wheel as a complete system.”

Roval Alpinist CLX 2-2

“By making wheel systems, not just rims, our engineers can control every aspect of the wheel: rim design, hub design, spoke spec and lacing pattern." 

Roval says that doing so “eliminates the variables associated with off-the-shelf components.”

All this, Roval claims, means that the "CLX has precisely the amount and type of material needed, in precisely the correct place, doing precisely what it was designed to do.”

With an internal rim width of 21mm and a clincher-only 33mm-deep design, the new Alpinist CLX looks likely to replace the Rapide CLX 32 and 24 options.

Claimed weights 562g (front), 686g (rear)

Price £750 (front), £1,100 (rear)

Tubeless has a weight penalty

Although most of the road bike world is seemingly moving in the direction of tubeless tyres, the Alpinist CLX and Rapide CLX aren't tubeless compatible. Why? Making a rim tubeless-ready adds weight and this isn’t something that Roval was prepared to do.

“Our goals for these wheels were clear. The Alpinist CLX is the lightest road clincher we have ever made, and the Rapide CLX delivers an unmatched combination of aerodynamics, lightweight, and stability.”

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“To render these wheels tubeless would have required extra materials, and that extra mass would have outweighed the benefits of tubeless tyres.

“By making them tube-type specific we were able to create lighter and better complete wheels systems for performance road riders.”

So you best dig those inner tubes out again. If you’re looking for a wattage saving, this AeroCoach test found latex tubes to be 7 watts faster than a regular butyl inner tube.

How aero are your flanges?

Roval CLX Hub-2

Will the aero brush not leave anything alone these days? Roval has apparently taken a look at its hub flanges and made them more aerodynamic. They've as yet provided no data  to support this, but it’ll be a fun brag for the group ride.

The hubs feature the new DT Swiss EXP freehub internals which we took a look at here. Roval uses straight-pull DT Swiss Aerolite T-head spokes with DT Swiss Pro Lock nipples. Centre-lock disc rotor mounts and 12mm axles keep things simple, and the wheels come with a Shimano HG freehub body.

Both wheelsets are available now and we'll have reviews up soon.

specialized.com

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12 comments

Avatar
peted76 | 3 years ago
0 likes

Is this 'road cycling's' version of a Mullet? Fat at the front.. thin at the back?

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abrooks | 3 years ago
0 likes

Wow. Any new wheels I buy will be disc brake and tubeless. Looks like Zipp nailed it with their new 303s.  

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velochris | 3 years ago
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Just more bull. Any gains are all that the margin and worth a few seconds, over an hour, at an average speed most riders cannot maintain.

Other companies are saying tubeless rims are lighter, if hookless.

We always need progress, otherwise we would all still be in single speed. But focus on enjoying the ride.

Avatar
Joe Totale replied to velochris | 3 years ago
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velochris wrote:

Just more bull. Any gains are all that the margin and worth a few seconds, over an hour, at an average speed most riders cannot maintain. Other companies are saying tubeless rims are lighter, if hookless. We always need progress, otherwise we would all still be in single speed. But focus on enjoying the ride.

The rumours are that Specialized's Rapidair tyres have been proving very problematic for users. 
As a result Specialized would rather remove tubeless capability from their wheels than advise users to use another brand's tyres. 

Avatar
Joe Totale | 3 years ago
0 likes

So for years bike companies have been telling us that weight isn't actually that important and then suddenly Specialized claim it's so important to save a few grams that they remove tubeless capability from their new wheels.

If weight is so important then why no tubular version? I imagine the pro's riding Specialized wheels would rather ride tubulars than clinchers.

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jayinjapants | 3 years ago
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Does anyone know what the blue bike in the 3rd pic down is? Also, does it have a color matched frame pump or are my old eyes deceiving me? That Sage Skyline at the top is new to me and rather lovely. It has sent me down a rabbit hole of titanium bike searches and daydreaming instead of doing work, top result all round really.

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sparrowlegs | 3 years ago
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Wow. Saved a few grams but you have to carry an inner tube. Which, after specialized released the latest Rapid Air S-Works tubeless tyres to much fanfare and pronouncing the tubular tyre as being "dead" seems a bit hypocritical if you ask me. Then they've used proprietary parts which again goes against what they bleeted on about with the CLX line.

I have a set of the CLX50 rim brake wheels and both tubeless compatibility and off-the-shelf availability for parts were major factors when I chose them. Superb wheels. Light, stiff and aero. 

If specialized are phasing out the CLX50 and 64 then imo those wheel sets will be going up in value!

Avatar
jimt | 3 years ago
2 likes

I am inclined to call bulshit on the lack of tubeless. (at least for the reason they state) Apparently aero is everything apart from 20-40g per rim? Yet worth making hubs aero? Little smelly to me. Perhaps new manufacturing process that they can't make work as they would like? 

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WDG replied to jimt | 3 years ago
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jimt wrote:

I am inclined to call bulshit on the lack of tubeless. (at least for the reason they state) Apparently aero is everything apart from 20-40g per rim? Yet worth making hubs aero? Little smelly to me. Perhaps new manufacturing process that they can't make work as they would like? 

Agreed.  I was genuinely interested in them reading the article (I have a pair of CLX50s) and thought I must have misread the tubeless bit at the top, but reading on I think this was the best that Marketing could come up with as to why they can't do it.  For this reason I think they'll have to carry on with the CLX50/64 as I think the market for high end non-tubeless wheelsets won't be as big as if it were, and why throw away sales?

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heliuscc replied to WDG | 3 years ago
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This is all very odd, as it's on trend with everything; width, profile etc but not tubeless. I hope they keep making the CLX50 disc, but they've been out of stock now for ages everywhere. I'd probably buy a set of 50s now if I could.

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jimt replied to jimt | 3 years ago
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I want to add they do look on paper look like a nice set of wheels other than the tubeless thing (I happen to love tubeless). Always nice to see things moving forward at a pace. Hunt carbon spokes, these and the new zips breathing some fresh life into the wheel game. 

Avatar
WDG replied to jimt | 3 years ago
0 likes

Looking at the profile of the rims I think the front is the problem. The gap between the inner and and outer profiles would have to be beefier for tubeless.  Hunt came up with their lightweight material idea in the Limitless but I reckon it would have to be solid for tubeless, which in this design would mean a load of extra weight.  Rear looks conventional enough though.  

Just for info I'm not a material scientist or anything, just interested in this sort of stuff.

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