We've tested Specialized's sexy deep section Roval Rapide CLX 50 wheelset
The Roval Rapide CLX 50 is Specialized’s mid depth high end carbon wheelset design. Following the current wheel trend of having wider rims, at 29.4 mm they are some of the widest on the market, combined with the 50 mm depth and you’ve got a fairly chunky looking wheelset. Svelte they may not appear to be, but at 1,464 grams (including tape) for the disc brake version tested here, they are among the lightest mid depth wheels out there and certainly at this price the cheapest of those select few.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Roval Rapide CLX 50 wheels would be flexible, but we found the opposite to be true. Even run with a standard quick release system and tubeless 25mm tyres the wheels still felt very stiff and the steering direct. There is some trade off in terms of comfort but you certainly don’t get that harsh, bounced about feeling that can occur with some highly tensioned wheels.
Accelerating with the Roval Rapide CLX 50 wheels was as fast as you can get for a mid-section rim; mating together the aforementioned stiffness with the wheels’ aero properties and you’re simply encouraged to ride on the rivet. Out of the saddle climbing with them was great too. In the saddle, where wattages are more even, it’s less exciting in a dependable sort of way. At lower speeds, it’s nice to feel that you are pushing against the gradient with the road feedback that the Roval Rapide CLX 50s provide.
It was only in really gusty winter conditions that I felt some buffeting, nothing too serious and in reality more to do with the overall combined area of the bike and rider. But what was obvious was how it was easily corrected, something that the wheels do play a big part in.
I was fortunate enough to ride the Roval Rapide CLX 50 wheels through the summer too. When it’s less of a drag to cut through the air, riding fast on a flat road is a joy. It’s a cliche to say, but the feeling of riding at PB speeds for less effort than normal will always put a smile on your face, and provides that addictive sense of being in form, even when the numbers tell you that you’re not.
With over 2,000 miles of riding, I can report that the ceramic bearings are still silky smooth and there’s certainly no hint of play either. Most of what you see is designed by Specialized. However the spokes, internals and bearings come from the well renowned brands DT Swiss and CeramicSpeed respectively, showing that quality is more than just skin deep. At this price point you could be forgiven for keeping them as your ‘best’ wheels, but that does the Roval Rapide CLX 50 wheels an injustice. In my opinion you could ride these all year long and not wreck them.
At the end of the day there are lighter wheelsets out there and more aero, but unless you’re only going up hill or riding where it’s pan flat these are bang on for real world riding where the benefits of a lack of weight mixed with aero qualities will pay off over the duration. When you look at the weight, price, durability, quality and manufacture of these wheels it all amounts to giving them top marks.