Roval Alpinist CLX II Review

We tested the second generation, La Doyenne-winning Alpinist CLX II wheels on hills, flats and even some off-road

Roval Alpenist CLX II black logo
(Image credit: Anne-Marije Rook // Future)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Alpinists impress with their lightweight versatility, made even better with the hooked, tubeless-compatibility

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Stiff

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    Lightweight

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    Versatile

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    Great handling

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    Tubeless-compatible

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    Easy tubeless setup

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    Hooked rims of tire compatibility

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    These high performing wheels don't come cheap

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Late to the game, but Roval’s ‘winningest wheels’ are now available with the lower rolling resistance, better grip, and flat protection benefits of a tubeless system. 

Back in 2020, Roval surprised the industry by launching its two new flagship wheelsets as tube-only, foregoing the tubeless trend in favor of minimal weight, aerodynamics and speed. 

At the time, the brand’s message stated that the tube system was simply fastest, and they performed well - winning 155 races over the 2020-2021 seasons. 

But there was more to the story than that (which you can read it at-length in the launch article). Roval engineers had been well on their way to producing tubeless-compatible WorldTour-level wheelsets when Peter Sagan destroyed a prototype wheel during winter training. Lab analysis found the wheels, and the safety standards they had met, to be inadequate. 

Featuring a new carbon layup, a new hub and hookless, tubeless compatible rims, the second generation Alpinist CLX wheels were unveiled to the public in May 2022, after already making a splash when Remco Evenepoel rode them to victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April. 

(Image credit: Anne-Marije Rook // Future)

Introducing: Roval Alpinist CLX II

With the original Alpinist, Roval set out to produce the ‘lightest, best-handling clincher wheels’ they’d ever made. With a "mass is the enemy of performance" mindset, they produced an impressively light 1248-gram wheelset with a 33mm rim depth.

While mass and weight were the focal point of the first generation Alpinist, the new tubeless Alpinist CLX II stays true to that aim while also adding in a softening ride quality and safety for real-world riding. 

“It’s the wheel most people should be riding,” one Roval engineer told me. “It’s got low mass, low inertia, and is super responsive yet has a dampening quality over rough roads.”

Being able to ride wider tires with lower pressures goes a long way of course, and to that end, Roval decided to opt for hooked rim instead of a hookless system to ensure secure bead retention and tire compatibility with most brands on the market. 

It also allows for inflation up to 110psi - though I’d highly recommend exploring the lower PSIs for a cushier, more grippy ride. And with an internal width of 21mm, the rims can fit tires between a narrow 24mm and ready-to-get-rowdy 38mm.

Late to the game but the second generation Roval Rapide and Roval Alpinist wheels are now tubeless-compatible

(Image credit: Anne-Marije Rook // Future)

Going tubeless was no easy task. Balancing the demands of staying true to the race-winning shape, weight and aerodynamic performance of the original Alpinists while also making the new wheels tubeless compatible and impact-safe to a whole new level, the engineers had to revisit the carbon layup. Spanning 21 months, we're told that these second generation Rapide CLX II and Alpinist CLX II wheels were the biggest testing and development project Roval has yet undertaken. The carbon layup alone saw some 150 different iterations.

As a result, the second generation Alpinist features the most precise carbon layup Roval has ever created to ensure that the now-tubeless Alpinist remains featherlight while also responsive and strong.

But hooked rims do require extra material, so to remain close to that 1250 gram mark set by the first generation Alpinists, Roval carved 50 grams from the hub. Generation 2 ditches Roval's AeroFlange hubs and instead come up with an all-new, low-profile LFD hub with machined brake rotor mounts. Inside the hub, DT Swiss EXP internals and SINC ceramic bearings are used to deliver smooth efficiency and durability. 

All said and done, the generation 2 Alpinist wheelset comes in at around 1265g with tubeless tape and valves — just a tad over the first generation, but with more grip, improved flat protection and a lower rolling resistance when set up tubeless. 

The wheels are hand built, disc brake only and come with either black or white decals for a retails price of  £2500 / $2800.