The stock Roval Rapide CLX wheelset was incredibly light and kept its cool in crosswinds.
However, a disappointing lack of tubeless tire compatibility held him back from the front of the pack.
But the new Rapide CLX II wheelset has proven to be a great all-around performer, perfect for PB chasing, long training miles and racing – solving the tubeless compatibility issue along the way.
Roval Rapide CLX II Details and Specs
As we noted in our First Look article, the Rapide CLX II cuts the same silhouette through the wind as the original. The 35mm wide, 51mm deep front rim is designed to dampen steering input and prevent the rider from over-correcting in crosswinds.
The rear rim has a more traditional aero profile of 30mm wide and 60mm deep. Both wheels feature 21mm internal widths optimized for 26mm wide tyres.
Another important carryover from the original Rapide CLX is the use of hook beads. Although companies such as ENVE, Hunt and Zipp have fully embraced hookless technologies, Roval has stayed the course.
According to Roval Product Manager Chris Wehan, a hook bead provides an added layer of security and offers the widest range of compatibility with tubed and tubeless tires – while not sacrificing strength or to cut the fibers.
If you’re confused by the marketing behind the pros and cons of hookless and hookless rims, take a few minutes to read our introduction to hookless rims.
What sets this second-generation aero wheelset apart from its predecessor is tubeless compatibility and a revised carbon layup. The new layer is intended to increase the impact resistance of the rims by redistributing force away from the outside of the rim, greatly reducing the likelihood of tubeless blowouts in the worst case.
These layup changes result in a weight saving of approximately 100g compared to the previous version.
Roval engineers sought to minimize this by removing excess material from the hub shells and adding SINC ceramic bearings – a popular upgrade among Roval sponsored teams – as a standard feature.
In terms of weight, my test wheelset is still very competitive, coming in at 1520g on my scale, including tubeless tape and valves.
Highlights of the Roval Rapide CLX II
- Versatile aero wheelset
- Front and rear specific rim profiles
- Front rim: 51mm deep, 35mm wide
- Rear rim: 60mm deep, 30mm wide
- Internal width 21mm
- Tubeless ready
- Optimized for 26mm wide tires
- DT Swiss Aerolite spokes, 18 front / 24 rear
- AeroFlange hubs with EXP internals and SINC ceramic bearings
- Weight limit of 275 lbs / 125 kg
- Actual weight: 1520g (including ribbon and tubeless valves)
- RRP: $2,800 / £2,500 / €2,500
Performance of the Roval Rapide CLX II
I spent three months riding the Rapide CLX II on my favorite Colorado road loops. The test routes included a mix of high mountain driving with the required tight mountain switchbacks and gusty days on open plains.
There were no surprises testing the second-generation Rapide. The rim profiles are the same as their predecessors, and the actual performance of these wheels follows the same lead.
The revised carbon layup and accompanying claim of improved durability in the worst conditions was not something I encountered in my testing, thankfully.
Tubeless compatibility, on the other hand, was immediately put to the test.
My rolling stock of choice was Specialized’s S-Works Turbo RapidAir tires. Those tubeless tires settled into place with a reassuring “pop” just before I hit my favorite ride pressures of 78 psi front and 80 psi rear.
When inflated, the actual width of both tires was 27.5mm on the 21mm-wide rims.
The 35mm wide front rim dwarfs the tire. But this aesthetic discomfort aside, I ended up appreciating the stability of this oversized wheel in crosswinds.
The Colorado is prone to unpredictable and windy weather, and despite being 51mm deep, the Rapide CLX IIs do a great job of tracking straight and true in moderate crosswinds.
When the front end was thrown off my favorite line by gusts of 20-30 mph, the wheels felt more forgiving and easier to correct than similar mid-depth wheels I’ve ridden at ENVE and Zipp.
Overall, handling was equally impressive. The Rapide CLX II wheelset picked up speed with ease and responded eagerly when changing course through tight S-turns and while leaning hard on hairpin descents.
A set of high-end carbon wheels like these are a big purchase for most of us. Investing in a single aero wheelset that can be used in the widest range of road and weather conditions is a substantial aspect of the value proposition and an area where the Rapide CLX II beats its competition.
Despite the Rapide CLX II’s impressive road manners, Roval isn’t ahead of the pack in terms of warranty support.
It offers a two-year crash replacement policy, discounted crash replacement after that, and a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. You can read all the details of Roval’s warranty here.
Compare that to ENVE’s Three-Year No-Cost Accident Replacement Policyand Zipper‘the sand Reserve‘s equivalents, both of which offer lifetime crash replacement programs.
All things considered, in my testing of the Rapide CLX II wheelset, I had a hard time finding fault with its performance.
It’s not often that the difference in handling performance between aero road bike wheelsets is so stark, but the Rapide CLX II is noticeably better than the competition when riding in gusty conditions. The damped steering feel inspires confidence once you get past the oversized front rim profile.
While we’re talking about the rims, the hook sidewalls allow for a wider range of tubeless and tubeless compatibility than the competition.
This wide range of possible tire combinations is a boon for riders hesitant to make the jump to tubeless – and those who might still think, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that higher tire pressures are faster.
Result Roval Rapide CLX II
Now this wheelset is up to date with tubeless compatibility, arguably the only area where Roval lags is in their warranty support.
Overall, though, the Roval Rapide CLX II is a versatile aero wheelset and a great upgrade for riders looking to shave seconds off the PRs or plan their next breakaway.
It’s a great wheelset for logging long practice rides, racing a weekend criterium, or chasing KOMs.