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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.

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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.

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