Roval Rapide CLX 60 review
Written by: Greg Kopecky
Added: Sat Nov 02 2013
-MSRP $2,200 USD
-1,555 grams per pair
-60mm rim depth
-24.4mm width (center of brake track)
-24.6mm maximum measured rim width
-17.3mm internal width
-130psi max pressure
-16 front, 21 rear DT Swiss Revolution spokes with aluminum nipples
-700c only, rim brake only
-240lb rider weight limit (108kg)
-Includes quick release skewers, rim tape, valve silencers, Swiss Stop Black Prince brake pads, spoke tool, and 1.8mm spacer for <11-speed cassettes
-Available at Specialized dealers worldwide
Here’s a look at the accessory kit. Note that my wheels did not include valve extenders.
As with many wheels today, there are warning stickers galore:
The rear wheel uses a 2:1 lacing pattern that we’re seeing on more and more wheels these days (two drive-side spokes for every one non-drive spoke). This evens out spoke tension very nicely on modern high-dish wheels.
Those spokes end up in nicely finished spoke holes and internal DT nipples:
My setup of the Roval Rapide CLX 60 was smooth and uneventful – not always common, even with expensive wheels. The tires fit nicely (read: not too tight, not too loose). Specialized recommends their top-end S-Works Turbo 24 tire for the best balance of aerodynamic and rolling performance. We just reviewed these tires (linked at the bottom of this page), but chose to use the big-boy Roubaix Pro 25/28mm tire for training. On a practical note, I had already mailed my 24mm S-Works tires to Tom Anhalt for rolling resistance testing, so I needed something to ride.
When brand new, the tires measured 28.4mm wide. After a couple weeks, that grew to 29.0mm. Luckily, my frame has plenty of clearance – but the front derailleur was only about 2mm away from the tire:
When Tom Anhalt did roller testing of the faster S-Works Turbo 24, he found that it was almost dead-even with the 23mm Continental GP4000 S. The only thing about the S-Works that seemed a little bit strange was that they measured 25.5mm wide on a narrow Mavic rim. While that’s certainly more aerodynamic than my 28mm tires, it is likely still wider than optimal for a rim that is 24.6mm at its widest point. I’m personally not losing any sleep over it, but we thought it was worth mentioning for the nit-picky among you. Yes, that means you.
With carbon braking surfaces, that’s the rub (ha!). The braking can be very good, but I find that the performance can really change based on the rim, pad, caliper, and lever that you use. Oh yeah – weather conditions, too. We all read about the potential dangers of using a carbon clincher with the wrong pad, so most wheel manufacturers mandate that you use only their pad. The devil’s advocate in me asks: What if that pad doesn’t work well for my bike’s proprietary brake caliper, or the lever that fits my hand perfectly? What if that pad works well in warm weather, but poorly in cold weather? I’m not singling out Specialized in any way – it is a real consideration for the entire industry.
After a couple rides with a jersey pocket full of pads, I settled on the harder black compound as my favorite. It felt the most like a good ol’ aluminum rim and standard pad.
While Kool Stop seems to have a very good reputation for being rim-friendly, I do not have the test equipment required to actually know rim temperatures. Having recently moved from Colorado to Michigan, my riding is now much flatter than before, so I’m not concerned about heat build-up. If mountain descents were still part of my local scene, I would definitely be a little more hesitant to swap pads at will.
For now, we can only conclude that there is more research to be done before making a final conclusion. We have some better-controlled brake pad testing planned for the coming months, and hope to learn something worth sharing.
Accessories and Aero
If you want to protect your wheel investment for storage, Specialized has their Roval double wheel bag available for $60.
This is an area where I definitely I respect and appreciate the position that Specialized has taken. They didn’t try to feed me a line of exaggerated claims or rigged numbers. They didn’t seem desperate for a sales story. They simply said that the wide rim shape was intended to perform best at the real-world wind angles of 10-15 degrees.
My take is that Specialized is not trying to displace products from the market like an Enve SES, Hed Stinger, or Zipp Firecrest. The Roval CLX series is intended as a very nice stock set of wheels for Specialized bikes. They’re for the person who bought a new Tarmac last year, and wants to buy an upgrade this year. This doesn’t mean that Specialized can’t expand and improve in the future – it just means that they’re not trying to conquer the wheel market in 2013. For now, they have a solid product that fits the bill nicely.
All images © Greg Kopecky / slowtwitch.com
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