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TECH NEWS

Roval says new Rapide CLX II Team is “the fastest race wheelset in the world”

Wheels used by Evenepoel and Vollering are finally released; Specialized-owned brand has shaved 130g off its existing Rapide CLX II wheels, retaining hooked rims because “hookless wheels can’t perform under our demanding high-pressure testing”

The Specialized-owned Roval brand has introduced Rapide CLX II Team wheels which, it says, are the fastest of their kind in the world, 130g lighter than its existing Rapide CLX II wheels while retaining the aero performance. Roval says that the rims are hooked because “we know that hookless wheels can’t perform under our demanding high-pressure testing standards, and any carbon wheel can crack under intense impact, but that’s no excuse for a tyre to blow off”.

2024 Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheels - 1.jpeg

Ouch! That’s an apparent reference to tyre incidents in the pro peloton earlier in the year. We’ll come back to that in a mo. First, what’s going on with the new Rapide CLX II Team wheels? These are the ones we saw on Remco Evenepoel’s custom S Works Tarmac SL8 at the Dauphiné, and which have been used by various other sponsored riders over recent weeks.

> SPOTTED: Remco Evenepoel's custom S Works Tarmac SL8 rolling on unreleased Roval wheels

Roval says, “The Rapide CLX II Team wheels are 130g lighter [than the existing Rapide CLX II wheels], more aerodynamic, and exceed industry tubeless impact standards, meeting our internal benchmark tyre retention testing standards – making them the fastest race wheels, period.”

2024 Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheels Evenepoel Dauphine  - 1 (3)

Roval says the RapideCLX II Team wheels are 0.5 watts faster than the Rapide CLX IIs. How much time will that save you? A second over 40km (25 miles), according to Roval. Marginal, marginal gains, then.

2024 Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheels Evenepoel Dauphine  - 1 (1)

“Our goal was to shave at least 100g while maintaining our industry-leading aerodynamic rim shape and durability, which led us to look into two areas for weight savings: the hub and carbon rim layups,” says Roval.

“We called upon the members of the Specialized Science Club – our cadre of elite engineers – to decrease the weight of the wheels, starting with rethinking the rims’ carbon layups.

> Are expensive carbon wheels worth it? Testing deep carbon rims vs classic aluminium 

“This approach enabled the team to be as thorough as possible and develop a process that, while complex and time-consuming to execute, resulted in saving 40g per rim.

2024 Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheels Evenepoel Dauphine  - 3

“The team hit industry durability targets after only 10 layup iterations… After an additional 47 iterations with varying resin systems and carbon grades and hundreds of rims tested, the team reached our internal, industry-doubling durability standards, resulting in a wheel that will help retain the tyre under extreme impact so you can stop safely.”

The new low-flange hub is designed around DT Swiss EXP internals although Roval has built the shell itself “to accentuate the aspects our World Tour riders find the most important: aerodynamic spokes, lacing, and wind-up stiffness”.

2024 Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheels Evenepoel Dauphine  - 7

Roval says it has managed to save 50g across the two hubs. Add that to the 40g reduction per rim (mentioned above) and you get the 130g overall saving that Roval claims for the wheelset. Opting for hubs that are silver rather than black makes up a whopping 2g of that.

“Painstaking attention to detail – limiting paint, reducing logos, and using a lighter finish - resulted in the Rapide CLX II Team wheels weighing 1,360g without tape and valves,” says Roval.

Although the carbon layup is different, the rim shape is the same as that of the Rapide CLX II. Roval says that it spent a lot of time testing spokes in its on-site wind tunnel and found that although carbon options help save weight, DT Swiss Aerolite II steel spokes provide the aero performance it wants. 

2024 Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheels Evenepoel Dauphine  - 4

Roval says its the use of these spokes with the new hub that results in the 0.5 watt drag saving compared to the Rapide CLX II wheels. It also says that you get these aero gains whether you fit 26mm tyres for smooth tarmac or 30mm tyres for cobbles (Roval recommends using 28mm or 30mm tyres with these wheels).

2024 Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheels - 2.jpeg

As mentioned up top, Roval is also keen to bang the drum for hooked rims – the type used for the Roval Rapide CLX II Team, naturally. You’ll have heard the kerfuffle about hookless rims over the past few months, starting with a blowout that resulted in a front tyre almost completely detaching from the wheel at the UAE Tour back in February. This led to the Professional Cyclists Association and the UCI having their say, and Zipp reaffirming the safety of its hookless rims

> What’s the difference between hooked and hookless bike wheels, and which is better for you? 

Roval believes that “hooked wheels are the way of the future” and says, “We weren’t satisfied with the industry thresholds for tubeless impact and tyre retention testing, so we took it to the next level and made the choice that we don’t want riders on our wheels unless they meet our own elevated standards for testing that are double that of the industry.”

2024 Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheels - 4.jpeg

Roval also says that its Rapide CLX II Team wheels offer “the best handling in the peloton and unmatched stability in crosswinds – enabling riders to stay in the aero position longer, hold their line more easily, or hold onto another rider’s wheel with confidence”. 

Only 1,500 sets are available. They come boxed with the following:

• Alloy centerlock ring
• SRAM XDR freehub body (stock with HG)
• SINC bearings
• Roval-branded Dynaplug Racer Pro + extra set of plugs
•Spoke/nipple kit
•Double wheel bag
•S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2Bliss Ready T2/T5 x2
•2 custom Roval water bottles

2024 Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheels - 5.jpeg

The price? Well, you weren’t expecting the Rapide CLX II Team wheels to be a bargain basement option, were you? You’re looking at £3,000 for the pair. This compares with £2,500 for the non-Team version of the Rapide CLX II.

www.specialized.com

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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mctrials23 | 1 week ago
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