New Roval Rapide CLX II Team are the 'fastest wheels in the world' – but steer clear of hookless rims and carbon spokes

Specialized reveals all the details on Remco's new team-edition wheels – which are 130g lighter and 0.5 watts faster than the originals

While Trek are playing a fun guessing game with the new Madone/Emonda and Ineos Grenadiers are jealously guarding all the details of the new Dogma F, Specialized have decided to do the full reveal on the unreleased Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheels that have been spotted on the bikes of Soudal Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

According to Specialized/Roval, the new wheels are simply “the fastest in the world” and have been developed according to the brand’s equation for speed: Lightweight + Aerodynamics + Handling + Durability = Speed. The new limited Team version is 130g lighter than the original, now weighing a claimed 1,360g, “all while maintaining our industry-doubling standards”.

Note that Roval’s equation has not expanded to include hookless rims or carbon spokes. In its press release Specialized’s wheel brand explains why, taking a barely disguised sideswipe at rival wheel brands: “We know that hookless wheels can’t perform under our demanding high-pressure testing standards, and any carbon wheel can crack under intense impact, but that’s no excuse for a tyre to blow off. That’s why our Rapide CLX II Team wheels are not just built to a higher durability standard – they are hooked, resulting in the fastest, most dependable, and versatile wheels in the world.” 

Close up of new Roval Rapide CLX II Team wheel

To decrease the weight without taking away the hook, Roval explains that the Specialized Science Club – its cadre of elite engineers – rethought the rims’ layups and developed a process that, through testing varying resin systems and carbon grades, resulted in saving 40 grams per rim. According to Roval: “The team hit industry durability targets after only 10 layup iterations, but that’s not good enough for the Science Club. After an additional 47 iterations we reached our internal, industry-doubling durability standards, resulting in a wheel that will help retain the tyre under extreme impact so you can stop safely.” The CLX II Team, like the standard version, has a front rim depth of 51mm and a rear of 60mm, while internal rim widths are 21mm for both. The front has a wider external rim width than the rear – 35mm compared to 30.7mm.

Roval Rapide CLX II wheels in the wind tunnel

As for the spokes, although an increasing number of wheels with carbon spokes are now in the WorldTour – notably the Cadex 40 Max and the Black Inc 48|58, both of which are lighter than the Roval Rapide CLX II Team – Roval uses stainless steel DT Aerolite spokes. According to Roval, it tested both carbon and metal spokes in Specialized's Win Tunnel and the Roval lab and found that “carbon spokes help save weight [but] the DT Aerolite spokes gave us the necessary aerodynamic gain to make the wheels not just lighter but faster. Speed is about balancing the right things, and the combination of DT Swiss Aerolite II spokes with the all-new Roval hub resulted in a 0.5-watt drag savings compared to our Rapide CLX II wheels, making the fastest in the peloton faster."

Roval Rapide CLX II Team hub

The new low-flange hub, with its polished silver shell, is built around DT Swiss EXP internals with SINC ceramic bearings in a shell built by Roval. The silver shell isn’t there just to look cool, says Roval, it saves 2g compared to the powder coating and painting of the standard black versions. But it does also look cool.

Only 1,500 wheelsets are being made available to buy, and are priced at £3,000 – standard Rapide CLX II wheelsets have a RRP of £2,500. They come in a premium presentation box with the legend 'welcome to the team' on the inside of the lid. As well as the wheels, customers get new S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2Bliss Ready tyres, branded Purist bottles, wheel bags, spare parts... "you name it, we put it in the box," says Roval.

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