This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
Roval is making a concerted effort to become more than Specialized's house line of wheels. The goal is to build Roval into a standalone brand that's considered a worthy upgrade to any high-end bicycle.
This was made clear during a recent Roval media launch. The company now has its own website and furthermore, instead of using Specialized's own bikes to display Roval's latest hoops, custom bikes from several boutique frame builders were used to showcase these new carbon wheels.
The message and positioning were clear: Roval's wheels are intended to compete with the best offerings from companies such as Enve and Zipp. The goal is to use Specialized's economy of scale and in-house wind tunnel to outperform the competition in terms of price, weight and aerodynamics.
If the CLX 50 is any indication, Roval is off to a promising start.
On paper, this new mid-depth wheelset is best comparable with options from Zipp and Enve in terms of price as well as weight. The claimed weight for the CLX 50 Disc wheelset tested here is 1,415g.
This makes the CLX 50 Disc 230g lighter than the Zipp 303 Firecrest Disc and 173g lighter than Enve's SES 5.6 Disc wheelset when built with DT Swiss 240 hubs. In addition to potential weight savings, there are financial savings as well. The asking price of £1,870 / $2,400 makes the CLX 50 Disc more affordable than either of these competing options.
Roval also claims the CLX 50 Disc has significant aero gains over most of its peers from 0-15 degrees of yaw. This wheelset also outperforms the company's own CLX 40 wheelset, which the CLX 50 replaces.
Roval CLX 50 Disc highlights
The CLX 50 is intended to be the Goldilocks option in Roval's road line. The CLX 32 Disc is lighter and the deeper CLX 64 Disc has better aerodynamic performance. The company acknowledges that most riders don't have a quiver of high-end wheelsets to choose from, so the CLX 50 Disc is intended to be the option that balances weight and aero into one tidy package.
As you may have gathered from the name, the CLX 50 rims are 50mm deep. These rims have a generous internal width of 20.7mm and measure 29.4mm externally.
The carbon rims are tubeless-compatible and are laced to the front and rear hubs with 21 and 24 DT Swiss Aerolite spokes respectively.
Roval's hubs rely on a combination of DT Swiss internals with hub bodies designed in-house to minimize weight and improve aerodynamics. Friction-fighting CeramicSpeed bearings come stock on the CLX 50 wheelset — a feature that gives it yet another edge over the competition.
The CLX 50 Disc is compatible with quick-release axles as well as 12x100mm front and 142x12 rear thru-axle standards. One notable omission from the list of supported axle standards is the SCS 135x12mm rear thru-axle standard, which Specialized introduced in 2015.
Roval CLX 50 first impressions
The proving grounds for the CLX 50 Disc was a 52-mile loop in the mountains overlooking Santa Cruz, California.
While Roval showed-off its new wheelsets on bespoke bicycles, a Specialized Roubaix Comp was the test mule for this ride.
A wet winter created many washed out roads with plenty of potholes, so this was far from a smooth cruise. The Roubiax's frameset already does a great job of absorbing road chatter, so the CLX 50s were swapped mid-ride for a CLX 32 wheelset to have a direct comparison.
Any difference in terms of ride comfort was negligible and despite their added depth, the CLX 50 was just as manageable in crosswinds and a bit more stable when pedaling into headwinds.
The approximate disparity in weight between these two wheelsets is a mere 100g, so there was no discernible difference in acceleration on climbs or when sprinting out of turns.
Given the possibility of aero gains and a minimal weight penalty, this seems like a no-brainer for riders in search of an aero-minded upgrade. Best of all, the relative affordability of the CLX 50 Disc in terms of the competition makes this a very enticing option.
Roval CLX 50 early verdict
An excellent all-around wheelset.