Specialized says its new Roval CLX 32 wheelsets are a game changing new standard, rating them ‘best in class’ for lightness, aerodynamic capabilities, and performance.
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Available as both disc and rim brake versions, the carbon Roval CLC 32 is the newest wheel offering from Specialized and is designed to be a versatile wheel, with the aim being that it will be equally at home on everything from a cyclocross race to a grand tour.
The CLX 32 is composed of DT Swiss hubs with CeramicSpeed bearings as standard, DT Swiss bladed spokes, rime depth of 32mm and wide rims — 20.7mm for the internal rim width. This in turn affects how tyres seat on the bike, with an average of 2mm wider difference to tyre width when fitted on the wheels, which gives a bigger contact patch between the tyre and ground for better grip and lower rolling resistance. The wheels are designed around 26mm tyres so will ride and feel like 28mm tyres.
Specialized also claims these are the lightest wheels on the market within their class, with a claimed weight of 1,280g for the rim brake version and 1,340g for the disc brake. If this bears out in practice, this is a not an insignificant saving over the older CLX 40 wheels which had a claimed weight of 1,375g. The weight has been shaved from two main areas. Firstly, a decrease in spoke weight achieved by wide bracing angles and a 2:1 lacing pattern. Secondly, in the rim construction, which Specialized also claim gives the bike a 10 percent reduction in inertia over the CLX40 wheels.
The CLX 32 wheels are available in both clincher and tubular forms, and for the disc brake version are available (and fully convertible between) quick release and thru-axle by swapping over the end caps that the wheels are sold with. The thru-axle set up is 12x100mm front, and 12x142mm rear.
Specialized is keen to emphasise the amount of wind-tunnel testing these wheels have received. The company got its own wind tunnel in 2013 and have since increased the amount of time available for parts testing dramatically. The company states that previously around 40 hours per year was dedicated to wheel testing, now that figure stands in the region of 50 days per year.
This testing has allowed Specialized to analyse various elements to optimise them for aerodynamic properties, including the use of external nipples — equally aerodynamic, but much easier to adjust too — and an aero hub profile. Add to this bladed spokes and you have a recipe for what Specialized claims is equivalent of an 8 second advantage over 40km riding the Roval CLX40 wheelset, as tested with 24mm tyres on a turbo trainer.
Testing indicates that the CLX 32 wheels are more aerodynamic than the previously popular CLX 40 wheelset, plus a near identical performance to the CLX 60 wheels when riding in a slight cross-wind.
The wheels are available as either thru-axle or quick release, with the thru-axle featuring a 12mm thru-axle (12x100mm front and 12x142mm rear), 135mm quick release disc brake, or 130mm quick release rim brake. Specialized claims that this offering, combined with the other elements makes a ‘future-proof’ system, as much as is possible.
After debuting at the Tour de France, used by Tony Martin on Stage 18’s time trial, the wheels are now available to buy globally and are priced at £700 for the front and £1,000 for the rear. US and Australian prices to be confirmed.
The Roval CLX32s ship with Swiss Stop brake pads, tubeless plugs and valves, and a padded wheel bag.