The Roval Terra CLX is a premium, low-profile carbon wheelset aimed at gravel and all-road riding.
Thanks to lightweight, wide carbon rims, they’re brilliant for everything from endurance road riding to adventurous gravel, but their price tag makes them somewhat hard to justify over more affordable models in Roval’s own range, as well as some of the competition.
Roval Terra CLX rim specs and tyre compatibility
Billed as “one wheel to rule all roads”, the 700c Terra CLX is a true gravel wheelset with tubeless-ready rims wide enough to suit any gravel bike tyre pretty well, but is still approved for use with road bike tyres as narrow as 28mm.
Its carbon rims are 32mm deep and while Roval makes no particular aero claims about them, they have a blunt rim cross-section that’s typical for modern wheels.
The rims measure 25mm across internally, a figure that’s still very wide by road standards, but typical of the more progressive end of the gravel wheel spectrum.
Roval says they’re compatible with tyres from 28mm to 42mm, although my experience suggests that going a little larger should pose no problems.
However, Roval would prefer you step up to the Terra CLX EVO if you want to use wider tyres. They measure 30mm internally and hence are a better match for the largest tyres.
Notably, where some competitors including Zipp and Enve have opted for hookless rims, the Rovals are hooked.
Hookless rims have some claimed benefits and have the potential to make wheels cheaper for riders because they are easier to manufacture (the latest Zipp 303 Firecrest is vastly more affordable than its predecessor, for example), but it does mean you have to be a little more cautious about your choice of tyres.
Tubeless standards are still in flux and some tyres – such as the outstanding Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL – are not approved for use on hookless rims.
A hooked design also allows the use of standard non-tubeless-ready clincher tyres, although this is likely not to be a deciding factor for many because the all-road riders a wheelset like the Terra CLX is aimed at are likely to be running tubeless tyres anyway.
Roval Terra CLX build and weight
The Terra CLXs are built on Roval’s own hubs, with the rear featuring DT Swiss’s latest top-spec Ratchet EXP hub. Roval lists Shimano and SRAM XDR freehub options, but as the hubs are based on standard DT Swiss parts, it should be possible to convert to Campagnolo’s N3W freehub too.
The hubs pull apart easily without tools for basic maintenance (i.e. cleaning), while bearing replacement is more involved and requires specialist tools. These are proprietary, but they’re widely sold and not outrageously expensive.
The Terra CLXs are laced – nice and evenly on my test set – with DT Swiss Aerolite spokes in a 21 front / 24 rear arrangement, with T-heads that prevent twisting during truing at the hub end.
Both front and rear are laced in a 2:1 configuration, with twice as many spokes on one side as the other. This is a common approach to produce more even left–right tensions (and hence a more durable wheel because the likelihood of spoke breakage is reduced) in wheels that are dished.
In the interests of weight savings, Roval opts for aluminium nipples. Traditionally, brass would be the preferred option for a durable wheelset to be used in all conditions – aluminium alloys are usually more susceptible to corrosion – but wheel manufacturers will tell you the latest alloy nipples are more resilient than those of old.
I haven’t had the chance to subject the Terras to enough road salt to give you a definitive verdict here. Personally, I’d prefer to take the slight weight penalty of brass, but weight weenies will disagree.
The Terra CLXs are claimed to weigh 1,296g for the set and this set comes in at 1,306g including valves, close enough to be within the margin of error for my scales.
Riding the Roval Terra CLXs
The Terra CLXs ride exactly as you’d hope a premium low-profile carbon wheelset should.
They feel light and lively, stiff under pedalling, accurate, and a great match for gravel and chunkier road tyres.
The generous internal rim width helps achieve a stable tyre profile without the side-to-side flop you’ll experience if you run gravel rubber on standard road rims at low pressures.
The shallow depth and blunt profile, meanwhile, mean they’re largely untroubled by crosswinds, unlike old-school slab-sided rims.
The Terras’ rear hub has the characteristic star ratchet on-off soundtrack. It’s not offensively loud but it’s quite distinctive and may not suit all tastes.
Although I rode significant amounts of gravel during testing, I fitted the Terras with slightly more tarmac-oriented 32mm Continental Grand Prix 5000 TLs. These had no issues seating and sealing, and measured just under 33mm across when inflated.
It’s hard to get a real measure for durability, but the Terras suffered no discernable damage in a variety of gravel riding, running suitably low pressures and making no particular effort to cosset the rims.
On one ride my test bike was set up with a Terra CLX on the front only, and a different wheel on the rear (to take advantage of the different tyres they had fitted – I’m not mad).
With the Conti set up well under 30psi, I repeatedly bottomed out the Roval rim on a particularly rocky descent, without causing any detectable damage.
In this scenario there’s a good chance I’d have dinged an aluminium rim – an argument for tough carbon, or should I just give in and run slightly higher pressures?
Roval Terra CLX overall
If this wheelset were £1,000 cheaper, it would likely score five stars.
The Terra CLXs are lovely, light, lively and well put-together wheels that are perfect for gravel riding, with the added bonus that they’ll also work well on road bikes as long as you don’t need a tyre narrower than 28mm (and for most riding – why would you, really?).
There’s no looking past the price though – you have to really want those top-spec hub internals and the small weight savings over more affordable options.
Roval’s own Terra CLs use the same rims but have DT Swiss 350 hubs and weigh only around 100g more, but save you a huge £800 / $1,100.
The Terra C is even cheaper (and a little heavier again), but still has carbon rims with a useful 25mm internal width.
Looking to the competition, the latest Zipp 303 Firecrest offers the same internal width as the Rovals and is slightly heavier (1,352g claimed, 1,409g on our scales including tubeless tape, valves and lock rings), but it’s also almost certainly a good deal more aerodynamic and costs £1,600 / $1,900.
The Terra CLX is priced slightly below Enve’s SES 3.4 AR, though. These offer similar width, a bit more depth (39mm front / 43mm rear) and a little more weight for £2,800 / $2,550.
Enve also offers the considerably more affordable low-profile Foundation AG25. These have a 25mm internal width again, weigh a claimed 1,480g and cost £1,850 / $1,600.
Alongside numerous other options, riders might also consider Hunt’s much less expensive offerings, including the 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide Hookless, a 25mm-wide option that’s claimed to weigh 1,465g and costs £829 (approximately $1,135).
The Roval Terra CLX is a fantastic wheelset that I’d recommend thoroughly, but it’s definitely not a value-conscious choice.
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, AUD $3850.00EUR €2600.00GBP £2200.00USD $2500.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 1,306g – Including tubeless valves, Array, g|
|Year||br_year, 5, 9, Year, 2021|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Roval|
|Features||br_Features, 11, 0, Features, Roval padded wheel bag, Roval tubeless rim tape and valves (pre-installed)|
|Brake type||br_brakeTypeSimple, 11, 0, Brake type, Disc|
|Freehub||br_freehub, 11, 0, Freehub, Shimano, SRAM XDR|
|Hubs||br_hubs, 11, 0, Hubs, Roval AFD1 front / Roval AFD2 with DT Swiss Ratchet EXP internals rear|
|Rim depth||br_rimDepth, 11, 0, Rim depth, 32mm|
|Rim internal width||br_rimInternalWidth, 11, 0, Rim internal width, 25mm|
|Rim material||br_rimMaterial, 11, 0, Rim material, Carbon|
|Spoke count||br_spokeCountFront, 11, 0, Spoke count, 21 front, 24 rear|
|Spokes||br_spokes, 11, 0, Spokes, DT Swiss Aerolite T-head|
|Tubeless compatibility||br_tubelessCompatibility, 11, 0, Tubeless compatibility, Tubeless ready|
|Tyre type||br_tyreType, 11, 0, Tyre type, Clincher and tubeless|
|Wheel size||br_wheelSize, 11, 0, Wheel size, 29in/700c|