Roval CLX 40 Disc wheels $2699

Specialized’s next-gen carbon disc wheels

BikeRadar score 5/5

Up until now the choice for quality disc brake-compatible wheels was limited to Zipp’s 303s or tubular-only sets. Specialized’s Roval brand hopes to change that.

  • Highs: Light, stiff and well put together
  • Lows: Can be affected by high crosswinds

Its new CLX 40 wheels are significantly cheaper than the Zipps and – at 1492g – 186g lighter too. The Roval’s external width is 23mm, the internal width 16.2mm – compared with the standard 13.5mm – so they’re suited to 23-25mm rubber. The wider-than-usual rim means the tyre profile is smoother, enhancing grip and comfort. The wheels use Shimano’s Center Lock system, so if your bike has six-bolt rotors you’ll need new ones.

Roval hasn’t cut corners to hit that price. DT Revolution butted spokes are mated to a front hub with alloy flanges and a carbon body, and the all-alloy rear features internals from DT Swiss’s highly regarded 240 hub. Both run on top quality Ceramic Speed bearings. Build quality is good, too, the hubs staying smooth during testing, while rider weight limit is a generous 108kg (17st).

The ride is impressive. The 40mm carbon aero rims feel sturdy and free of flex, helped by sensible spoke counts – 24 front, 28 rear, both 2-cross. Disc braking can mean a higher potential for spokes to wind up (the rim rotates more under braking than the hub, as the braking is further from the wheel’s axis) so a strong spoking pattern makes sense. You do get feedback and a little interference through the steering when the rims are buffeted. This is better than most we’ve tested, though still can’t quite match the 303s.

Roval has created an excellent set of handbuilt wheels here. They’re designed to achieve an aero advantage, the construction quality is excellent and they’re sensibly engineered.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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