Roval CLX 50 wheel review

Aero clinchers from Specialized’s sibling brand

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

Roval's new CLX 50 is a direct competitor to two of the most popular high-end aftermarket wheelsets: ENVE's SES45 (£3,500) and Zipp's Firecrest 303 (£1,864).

  • Highs: Lightweight, fast and confident handling, tubeless compatible
  • Lows: Wet weather braking is competent rather than outstanding
  • Buy if: You want to reduce weight and want to go tubeless

On paper the 50s look well placed, our test set weigh 641.7g for the front and 787.3g for the rear including rim tape (39.6g for both wheels). So that's 1,429g taped or 1,389.4g bare, compared to a bare ENVE at 1,526g (not including tape) and 1,425g (not including tape) for the 303s. The skewers add a further 127.5g.

The CLX 50's shape follows the conventions of modern aero rim design, a blunt leading edge mirrors the tyre's shape to provide a more balanced feel when dealing with crosswinds. When I mounted a 25mm Vittoria Corsa clincher these measured up at 27.5mm once inflated and provided a smooth, rounded shape, which ran beautifully on the road.

The rest of the wheel is built with DT Aerolite spokes, with a minimal 16 up front and rarely seen 21 at the rear. The aero-shaped CLX hub shell contains the internals from DT Swiss's 240 Star ratchet hub design. Like all CLX-grade wheels these come with CeramicSpeed bearings as standard.

Despite my concerns, the minimal spoking, especially at the rear, didn't manifest in any undue flex or brake rub when sprinting.

The wheels perform very well in crosswinds, with just the occasional pressure-push on the front when you ride past a gate opening and the wind pressure jumps. Their light weight makes these a good climbing companion, and you could drop further weight by running them tubeless.

Braking, so often the thorn in the side of carbon rims, is decent, with the slightly textured brake track offering decent bite, and enough feel in the dry. I only experienced tell-tale noise at the end of a long, twisty technical descent, which meant a build up of heat, but that was when riding in hot Californian sunshine. In the wet they can't quite match Zipp's latest brake surface or ENVE's crosshatch textured track.

Would I shell out for the CLXs over their rivals? They are significantly cheaper, and lighter, than the ENVEs, and a little lighter than the almost identically priced 303s, but don't quite match the braking performance in the wet.

If your main concern is weight, and you want to go tubeless, the CLX is the one. If you're happy with standard clinchers and want superior all-weather braking, Zipp's 303 remains the benchmark. 

Roval CLX 50 pricing

  • Front: £770 / $1,025 / AU$1,575
  • Rear: £1,100 / $1,375 / AU$2,025

Full Specifications

Name: CLX 50
Built by: Roval
Price: £1,870.00 / US$2,400.00 / AU$3,600.00
Front Spoke Count: 16
Rear Spoke Count: 21 

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