Specialized are calling to attention speed demons and ascending angels – road bike enthusiasts across the world – to delight in their brand new Roval Alpinist and Rapide road wheel range. Following the release of their Roval Control MTB Wheels a few days earlier, Specialized seem to be on a roll (pardon the pun), to raise the bar for bicycle wheel technology even higher. First on the MTB side and now on the road.
We are excited to introduce the all-new Roval Alpinist CLX and Rapide CLX with you, the new benchmark for performance road wheels. Alpinist CLX is the lightest road clincher wheelset we have ever made and the Rapide CLX is the fastest wheelset in the real world, boasting an unmatched combination of aerodynamics, light-weight, and stability.Specialized Bicycles
There are riders who live for the climbs, and who savor the purity of riding the lightest bike possible. And there are riders who want nothing more than to own every city limit sprint, every time trial, riders who ache to stretch the peloton out from the front and who want the fastest, most slippery wheel possible in every situation. Whether you’re a classic mountain climbing grimpeur, or a high wattage rouleur, Specialized have a new wheel for you, specifically designed to amplify on your strengths.
For classic all-round racing, for bagging KOMS and burning the legs off your friends and enemies alike, for all the terrain from flats to rollers to crosswinds, Specialized present the Rapide CLX. Their goal in developing it was to make the fastest all-round wheels in the world. The Rapide CLX is a true do-it-all and do-it-fastest wheelset; successfully merging the light weight of climbing wheels with the lower aerodynamic drag of a dedicated aero setup, yet retaining the steady handling of shallow-rim wheels.
For the climbers and the uncompromising lightweight purists, Specialized offer the Alpinist CLX. The lightest clincher road wheels they have ever made, Alpinist CLX delivers the holy grail of minimalist performance; potent acceleration, incredible climbing speed, and the feathery absence of mass that lets your bike disappear beneath you.
RAPIDE CLX ‘COMPLETE SPEED’
Specialized believe they’ve made the fastest all-around road wheels in the world. The Rapide CLX wheelset essentially combines the aerodynamic excellence of their UCI TT World Championship dominating CLX64 with the light weight and gentlemanly handling of their Polkadot-Jersey winning CLX32. The result is a wheelset that delivers maximum speed in conditions found in real-world riding; climbing performance, slippery efficiency of a dedicated aero setup, and stable, confident handling, regardless of wind conditions.
ALPINIST CLX ‘LIGHT MAKES RIGHT’
Conquer mountains, flatten hills, and feel your bike come alive with the lightest road clincher wheels Specialized have ever made. Mass is the enemy of performance, and there’s no room nor excuse for a single excess gram when chasing KOMs and mountaintop primes. Weight has been pared to the absolute minimum in order to capitalize on every watt of energy without sacrificing any of the strength, ride quality and durability that are crucial to long term performance and satisfaction.
STABILITY EQUALS SPEED
Since their goal with Rapide CLX was to make the fastest wheelset for real world conditions, the brand analyzed what it takes to go fast from every angle. Specialized discovered that instability at the hands of wind gusts significantly reduces speed. At worst, this instability causes crashes. At best, instability causes you to slow down. A new development goal was established; reduce instability from wind gusts in order to increase speed. Spoiler alert; Rapides are 25% more stable than CLX50s.
The quest to increase stability lead them to examine human reaction time and how it intersects with aerodynamics and handling. The average human reaction time is between one and one-and-a-half seconds. That’s why short, sharp gusts have the greatest destabilizing effect. We tend to correct for these at exactly the wrong moment, after the gust has stopped. We slow down because these experiences are unpredictable and unnerving.
Armed with this knowledge, Specialized’s aerodynamicists set out to reduce the impact of side gusts. Since the front wheel induces the vast majority of instability from gusts, they made the front rim shallower and wider than the rear. This shape boosts stability, while boasting impressively low drag. Since the rear wheel impacts stability much less, it is deeper and narrower, optimized more singularly on minimizing drag.
Together, the wheelset yields less drag than most 65mm deep wheels, but with 25% less steering torque from wind gusts than our CLX50. The bottom line; you’ll ride faster, farther, with more confidence, in a wider range of conditions than you previously imagined possible.
35mm external front rim width reduces drag and increases stability
51mm front rim depth and optimized shape increase stability in wind gusts by 25% over CLX50
30mm external rear rim width reduces drag
60mm rear rim depth and shape reduces drag
In order to create a 1,284 gram wheelset Specialized had to visualize each wheel as a complete system.
By making wheel systems, not just rims, their engineers can control every aspect of the wheel; rim design, hub design, spoke spec and lacing pattern. This eliminates the variables associated with off-the-shelf components. In turn, eliminating variables allows optimization, and optimization means that the Alpinist CLX has precisely the amount and type of material needed, in precisely the correct place, doing precisely what it was designed to do.
This design approach allows Specialized to minimize weight and simultaneously optimize strength and durability. For example, by designing the Aero Flange hub and specifying the spokes and nipples, as well as the lacing pattern, they know the exact angle that each spoke will interface with the rim. This enables them to drill the spoke holes in the right diameter for the nipples and at precisely the angle that they will interface with the rim. Stress-risers are minimized, every extra gram of excess material is eliminated, and long-term durability is enhanced.
AERO TO THE CORE
The Aero Flange hubs found on both Rapide and Alpinist wheels form the basis of strong, light, slippery fast wheels. Aerodynamically optimized, with wide-bracing angles for increased strength and reduced spoke weight, they also feature ultra-smooth sealed cartridge bearings and the refined precision of DT Swiss’ new EXP freehub internals.
TEST TO PERFECTION
Good design only gets you so far. Specialized are relentless in their testing. Days on end spent in their wind tunnel. Hour upon grueling hour in the test lab, using exaggerated forces to measure durability, strength and stiffness. Field testing, where they draw on a deep pool of talented riders to evaluate our wheels in the harshest of real-world conditions. World Champs and domestiques campaign on prototypes in World Tour competition. Once their wheels have proven themselves in these arenas, they are ready for you.
ALPINIST CLX – LIGHT MAKES RIGHT
RIM TYPE – Carbon, clincher (tube-type)
RIM WIDTH – 21mm internal
RIM DEPTH – 33mm
FRONT SPOKE PATTERN – Radial/Two-cross (2:1)
REAR SPOKE PATTERN – One-cross/Two-cross (2:1)
SPOKE COUNT – 21F/24R
SPOKE TYPE – DT Swiss Aerolite T-head
FRONT HUB – Roval AeroFlange Disc, Center Lock, Sealed Cartridge bearings
REAR HUB – Roval AeroFlange Disc, Centerlock, Sealed Cartridge bearings, DT Swiss EXP internals, HG Freehub, 142x12mm thru-axle compatible
DT Swiss Pro Lock hexagonal
Roval padded wheelbag. No-Fault crash replacement policy. Lifetime warranty.
1248 grams (wheelset)
562 grams (F) / 686 grams (R)
RAPIDE CLX – COMPLETE SPEED
Radial/Two-cross (2:1) F/One-cross/Two-cross (2:1) R
DT Swiss Aerolite T-head
DT Swiss Pro Lock hexagonal
Carbon, clincher (tube-type)
21mm internal, 35mm external F/21mm internal, 30.7mm external R
51mm F/60mm R
Roval AeroFlange Disc, Center Lock, Sealed Cartridge bearings
Roval AeroFlange Disc, Centerlock, Sealed Cartridge bearings, DT Swiss EXP internals, HG Freehub, 142x12mm thru-axle compatible
Roval padded wheelbag. No-Fault crash replacement policy. Lifetime warranty.
1400 grams (wheelset)
649 grams (F) / 751 grams (R)
We work obsessively to create wheels that are True to Your Ride, but we don’t stop there. As riders, we know that shit happens, so we have your back with a lifetime warranty and a free no-fault crash replacement policy. Lifetime WarrantyRoval wheels are warrantied against defects in material and workmanship for lifetime of the original owner.Specialized Bicycles
No Fault Assisted Replacement Policy: If you damage an eligible product while riding and it’s not covered under warranty, they’ll replace or repair it at a discounted price. For additional details, check out https://www.specialized.com/za/en/warranty
Why are the Alpinist CLX and Rapide CLX for use exclusively with tube type clinchers?
By making them tube-type specific Specialized were able to create lighter and better complete wheels systems for performance road riders. To render these wheels tubeless would have required extra materials, and that extra mass would have outweighed the benefits of tubeless tires. Their goals for these wheels were clear. The Alpinist CLX is the lightest road clincher they have ever made, and the Rapide CLX delivers an unmatched combination of aerodynamics, light-weight, and stability. For the time being, in order to achieve these uncompromising goals, as well as the real-world performance that helps them deliver on the promise of “True To Your Ride” they rely on tube-type tires. Specialized do see the promise of tubeless tires, and when it’s possible to create tubeless wheel/tire systems that outperform tube-type clincher systems, that’s what they’ll recommend to riders.
Is there a rider weight limit on these superlight wheels?
Yes, a big rider! Like all Roval carbon wheels, the Specialized Rapide CLX and Alpinist CLX are designed for a maximum rider weight of 240 lbs, or 109 Kg.
Will Specialized be making Alpinist CLX and Rapide CLX in rim-brake models?
No. These wheels will be available in disc brake models only.
Will the Roval Alpinist CLX and Rapide CLX be available for tubulars?
No, these are clincher only wheels.
Source: Specialized Bicycles
Thanks for the awesome indepth review on Rovals new wheelsets.
Our pleasure! Thanks for reading!