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Roval Rapide CLX II and Alpinist CLX II wheels are now tubeless compatible

Roval Rapide CLX II
(Image credit: Josh Ross)

Roval has announced the release of the new Rapide CLX II and Alpinist CLX II wheels, which it not only claims to be the fastest wheels it's ever made, but also now come as tubeless.

According to Roval, and with the backing of stats from procyclingstats.com, the previous generation of Rapide and Alpinist wheels have won more races on the WorldTour than any other wheels. Now, Roval says it's made them faster and, perhaps more importantly, better real-world wheels. Not everyone is a WorldTour pro, so while ultimate performance is important, this update claims to bring features for the everyday rider. Only time (and testing) will tell if they deserve a spot on our list of the best road bike wheels.

The story of this new generation actually begins during the final testing of the previous iteration. Like many wheel brands, Roval passes development wheels to its professional riders for final testing. What is unusual in the case of Roval is that one of its riders at the time, was Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). 

Sagan has a reputation for putting equipment through unique, and unplanned, testing. In this case that meant bunny hopping a roundabout at speed and missing the landing, leading to a curb impact. As the Roval team analysed the Alpinist CLX, it wasn't the cracked carbon that concerned them. Instead, it was the fact that the tyre had come off. All wheels will break given the right set of circumstances, but the hope is that if a rider is able to stay upright, the wheel should support a safe stop. This wheel had passed, or exceeded all certifying bodies’ standards, including the UCI’s 40 Joule drop test without a tire, yet it still failed.

Roval Rapide CLX II detail of graphics on rear wheel

The second generation of Alpinist and Rapide CLX wheels brings full tubeless compatibility (Image credit: Josh Ross)

The situation left Roval with a decision to make. Late in the development cycle with a racing season and consumer release looming, what was the right way to handle the failure? According to the brand, Bora-Hansgrohe wanted to race the new wheels but how could they be sure they were safe? The answer turns out to be tubes. A tube inside a tyre controls the release of pressure just enough. The team was able to feel confident in the product by requiring the use of tubes in what had been a tubeless system. It left Roval in an awkward spot given the state of the technology but, safety first. 

After two years of development, the team at Roval has solved the challenge. Not only that, it believes it's made a safer wheel system and, as mentioned, the new wheels are claimed to be faster. Rapide CLX II and Alpinist CLX II are the culmination of years of specific study about the ways in which tubeless systems can fail. They represent not only a redesign but also what the team believes is a greater understanding of the challenges: an understanding that has led Roval to suggest new standards and new testing for the entire industry. 

What it means for the consumer is that Rapide CLX II and Alpinist CLX II wheels are now completely (and safely) tubeless compatible. They bring to market two different wheel options that retain hooked beads, so they're compatible with many of the best tubeless road tyres, and the team is confident in the strength of the product. So confident it says they "have your back with a lifetime warranty and an amazing no-fault crash replacement policy." The warranty was there in the previous generation, but it continues to be there to reduce barriers in situations where riders are unsure. Roval wants people riding safe wheels, not worrying about replacement costs.

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Detail of the hooked bead on the Roval Rapide CLX II

Both wheelsets use a hooked bead. Roval believes this is a better solution than moving to a hookless design (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Roval Alpinist CLX II hub

DT Swiss internals combine with a lightweight Roval specific hub body (Image credit: Roval)

Roval Alpinist CLX II

These are the Roval answer to the need for a lightweight climbing-specific wheel. As a bare wheelset, no tape or valves, the Alpinist CLX II has a quoted system weight of 1,250g and that's a weight that comes without a compromise on the design side, pitting them against some of the best lightweight wheels on the market. The rim dimensions remain an aerodynamically advantageous 33mm deep with a 21mm internal diameter. There is a hooked bead, offering a wide range of tyre options and a 110psi max pressure, and weight limit is 125kg / 275lb. Roval has also shifted the rim’s outer diameter dimensions in the bead channel, to create an extra 1.4mm of bead slack for easier installation. 

The hubs have seen some changes as well. Even though the outgoing wheels had an official weight of 1,248 grams, the new hubs have shaved 50 grams through new low-profile hub bodies and machined rotor mounts. The internals continue to be DT Swiss EXP and bearings are ceramic from SINC.

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Roval Rapide CLX II detail of lip on front wheel

One of the important metrics of the new wheels was stability. This lip on the front of the Rapide wheelset keeps air attached for longer with a 26mm tyre. In turn, that means better stability (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Roval Rapide CLX II detail of smooth transition from wheel to tyre

The rear wheel uses a more traditional profile that treats the tyre as part of the aerodynamic structure (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Roval Rapide CLX II detail of front hub

Although the internals are the same on both the Alpinist CLX II and the Rapide CLX II, the hub bodies use different shapes (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Roval Rapide CLX II detail of rear hub

For the Rapide, the hub bodies use aerodynamic shaping (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Roval Rapide CLX II

The Rapide CLX II is the flip side of the Alpinist: the all-round aero option. Like the Alpinist, much of what the Rapid CLX II brings to market is similar to the previous generation. That means the familiar specs like a split 51mm deep/35mm wide/21mm internal front wheel and 60mm deep/30mm wide/21mm internal rear wheel. The hub continues to be aero optimised with DT Swiss internals and Sinc Ceramic bearings and weight limits haven't changed either, staying at 125kg / 275lb. What has changed is the tubeless ready designation and an increase of weight to a still impressive 1,505g for the wheelset.  

Specs and Pricing

Alpinist CLX II

  • Rim Dimensions: 33mm deep/21mm Internal
  • Weight: 1,250g, 1,265g w/ tape and valves
  • Hubs: LFD Hubs with EXP Internals and Sinc Ceramic Bearings
  • Spokes: DT Swiss Aerolite Spokes 21F/24R
  • Format: Tubeless 
  • Pressure: 110PSI Max Tubeless with 26mm Tires
  • Weight Limit: 275lb/125kg 
  • MSRP: €2,500 / $2,650

Rapide CLX II

  • Rim Dimensions: 51mm deep/35mm Wide F: 60mm deep/30mm Wide R: 21mm Int F/R 
  • Weight: 1,505g, 1,520g w/ tape and valves
  • Hubs: Aero Flange Hubs with EXP Internals and Sinc Ceramic Bearings
  • Spokes: DT Swiss Aerolite Spokes 18F/24R
  • Format: Tubeless
  • Pressure: 110PSI Max Tubeless with 26mm Tires
  • Weight Limit: 275lb/125kg 
  • MSRP: €2,500 / $2,800

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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutia of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 137 lb.
Rides: Orbea Orca Aero, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Trek Checkpoint, Priority Continuum Onyx