The original Roval Rapide CLX wheelset was impressively light and kept its composure when battling crosswinds.
However, a disappointing lack of compatibility with tubeless tyres held it back from the front of the pack.
But the new Rapide CLX II wheelset has proven itself to be a great performance all-rounder, perfect for personal record hunting, long training miles and racing – solving the tubeless-compatibility issue along the way.
Roval Rapide CLX II details and specifications
As we noted in our First Look article, the Rapide CLX II cuts the same silhouette through the wind as the original. The girthy 35mm-wide, 51mm-deep front rim is designed to damp steering input and keep the rider from over-correcting in crosswinds.
The rear rim has a more traditional, 30mm-wide, 60mm-deep aero profile. Both wheels feature 21mm internal widths optimised for 26mm-wide tyres.
Another important carry-over from the original Rapide CLX is the use of hooked beads. Although companies such as ENVE, Hunt and Zipp have fully embraced hookless technologies, Roval has stayed the course.
According to Roval’s product manager Chris Wehan, a hooked bead provides an additional layer of security and offers the broadest range of compatibility with tubed and tubeless tyres – while avoiding sacrificing strength or cut fibres.
If you find yourself confused by the marketing behind the pros and cons of hookless and hooked rims, take a few minutes to read our hookless rims primer.
What sets this second-generation aero wheelset apart from its predecessor is tubeless compatibility and a revised carbon layup. The new layup is intended to increase the impact strength of the rims by redistributing force away from the exterior of the rim, significantly reducing the likelihood of tubeless blowouts in a worst-case scenario.
These layup changes result in weight gain of approximately 100g over the previous version.
Roval’s engineers sought to minimise this by shaving excess material from the hub shells and adding SINC ceramic bearings – a popular upgrade among Roval’s sponsored teams – as a standard feature.
In terms of weight, my test wheelset is still very competitive, coming in at 1,520g on my scales, including tubeless tape and valves.
Roval Rapide CLX II highlights
- Versatile aero wheelset
- Front- and rear-specific rim profiles
- Front rim: 51mm deep, 35mm wide
- Rear rim: 60mm deep, 30mm wide
- 21mm internal width
- Optimised for 26mm-wide tyres
- DT Swiss Aerolite spokes, 18 front / 24 rear
- AeroFlange hubs with EXP internals and SINC ceramic bearings
- 275lb / 125kg weight limit
- Actual weight: 1,520g (including tape and tubeless valves)
- RRP: $2,800 / £2,500 / €2,500
Roval Rapide CLX II performance
I spent three months riding the Rapide CLX II on my favourite Colorado road loops. The test routes included a mix of high alpine riding with the requisite tight mountain switchbacks and gusty days on the open plains.
There were no surprises in testing the second generation of the Rapide. The rim profiles are the same as their predecessors, and the real-world performance of these wheels follows suit.
The revised carbon layup and accompanying claim of improved durability in worst-case conditions was not something I encountered during my testing, thankfully.
Tubeless-compatibility, on the other hand, was immediately put to the test.
My rolling stock of choice was Specialized’s S-Works Turbo RapidAir tyres. These tubeless tyres snapped into place with a reassuring ‘pop’ just before I reached my preferred riding pressures of 78psi at the front and 80psi in the rear.
When inflated, the actual width of both tires was 27.5mm on the 21mm-wide rims.
The 35mm-wide front rim dwarfs the tyre. But this aesthetic annoyance aside, I came to appreciate how stable this oversized wheel is in crosswinds.
Colorado is prone to unpredictable, blustery weather, and despite their 51mm depth, the Rapide CLX IIs do a great job of tracking straight and true in moderate crosswinds.
When the front end did get blown off my preferred line by 20 to 30mph gusts, the wheels felt more forgiving and easier to correct than similar mid-depth wheels I’ve ridden from ENVE and Zipp.
Overall, road handling was equally impressive. The Rapide CLX II wheelset spun up to speed with ease and responded with haste when switching course through tight S-turns and while leaning hard into hairpin switchback descents.
A set of high-end carbon wheels such as these is a significant purchase for most of us. Investing in a single aero wheelset that can be ridden across the widest range of road and weather conditions is a substantial aspect of the value proposition, and an area where the Rapide CLX II beats its competitors.
Despite the impressive road manners of the Rapide CLX II, Roval isn’t leading the pack in terms of warranty support.
It offers a two-year crash-replacement policy, a discounted crash replacement thereafter, and a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects. You can read the full details of Roval’s warranty here.
Compare this to ENVE’s three-year, no-charge crash replacement policy, and Zipp’s and Reserve’s equivalents, which both offer lifetime crash replacement programmes.
All things considered, during my time testing the Rapide CLX II wheelset, I had a hard time finding fault with its performance.
It’s not often that the difference in handling performance between aero road bike wheelsets is so stark, but the Rapide CLX II is markedly better than the competition when riding in gusty conditions. The damped steering feel inspires confidence once you get past the oversized front-rim profile.
While we’re on the subject of the rims, the hooked sidewalls allow for a broader range of tubed and tubeless compatibility than the competition.
This wide range of possible tyre combinations is a benefit to cyclists on the fence about making the leap to tubeless – and those who might still think, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that higher tyre pressures are faster.
Roval Rapide CLX II bottom line
Now this wheelset is up to speed with tubeless compatibility, arguably the only area where Roval lags behind is in its warranty support.
Overall, however, the Roval Rapide CLX II is a jack-of-all-trades aero wheelset and an excellent upgrade for riders looking to shave seconds from PRs or plotting their next breakaway.
It’s a great wheelset for logging long training rides, racing a weekend criterium or hunting KOMs.
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, EUR €2500.00GBP £2500.00USD $2800.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 1,520g (700c) – including tape and tubeless valves, Array, g|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Roval|
|Brake type||br_brakeTypeSimple, 11, 0, Brake type, Disc|
|Hubs||br_hubs, 11, 0, Hubs, Aero Flange Hubs with EXP Internals and Sinc Ceramic Bearings|
|Rim depth||br_rimDepth, 11, 0, Rim depth, 51mm (f) / 60mm (r)|
|Rim internal width||br_rimInternalWidth, 11, 0, Rim internal width, 21mm|
|Rim material||br_rimMaterial, 11, 0, Rim material, Carbon|
|Spoke count||br_spokeCountFront, 11, 0, Spoke count, 18 front, 24 rear|
|Spokes||br_spokes, 11, 0, Spokes, DT Swiss Aerolite spokes|
|Tubeless compatibility||br_tubelessCompatibility, 11, 0, Tubeless compatibility, Tubeless compatible|
|Wheel size||br_wheelSize, 11, 0, Wheel size, 29in/700c|