2013 Specialized Roval Rapide CLX40 Disc aerodynamic road wheels
2013 Specialized Roval Rapide CLX40 Disc aerodynamic road wheels

On the road, “Aero Is Everything.” That’s the premise that’s driving product development across all lines at Specialized now, and Mark Cote is leading their effort in working with McLaren to take advantage of that company’s aero expertise.

With that introduction and build up, we were really hoping they were going to say the new Roval Rapide aero wheels were another McLaren collabo, but they were developed in house with Cote and wheels/aero engineer Matt Urquhart. Presenting the 2013 Roval CLX60 and CLX40 carbon clinchers, and the 40 will come in both disc and rim brake versions.

The CLX40 has a 40mm deep rim shape and is designed to be extremely light for quick acceleration, have excellent straight line performance and solid braking. Claimed weight is 1396g for the set, and wheel inertia is said to be very low with an excellent stiffness to weight ratio.

Click on through for an interesting discussion on aerodynamics testing for road wheels, plus tires and one heck of a deal (and wild design!) on carbon 29er wheels…


To allay fears of carbon clincher rims, they worked up a specific carbon and high-temp resin compound and thermal dissipation coating (which is fused in and can’t wear off) and brake pad compound that claims to have a gradual pull with slight ramp in friction at the end. Heat management was a concern, but they wanted a rim that could brake hard and fast, letting the rider come in hot and know they could effectively brake at the end. They test it with a brake load equivalent to dragging your brakes down Mount Washington the entire way, about 17 minutes worth. Their wheels passed without deforming the brake track shape.

Jeremy Thompson, another wheels engineer, says “Everyone’s wheels are the best at one point in a crosswind, but we wanted to build a wheel that was really good at everything in real world conditions.”

They looked at steering torque and stability in a crosswind, something that’s getting a lot of press lately with new wheels from Mavic, Reynolds and others, but Thompson says its tough to compare them because there’s no standard test for it.

To make them stable, Urquhart says they went through about 38 different rim shapes. What they tested -using a bike in a wind tunnel that allowed the front wheel to steer and measure torque- was the amount of force a crosswind puts on the leading edge of the rim and tire and the trailing edge. They tweaked the shape to minimize the difference between the two, which creates a more stable wheel.

The CLX40 Disc version uses Centerlock-compatible hubs and 3x lacing on the brake side. Claimed weights are 1550g for disc and 1390g for non-disc. The CLX40 rim has a 16mm/22mm rim width at the top of the brake track. The CLX40 disc uses the same rim mold as the standard CLX40, but doesn’t get the brake surface treatment.

The CLX60 comes in at 1515g and is basically a taller (60mm) version. Rim width is slightly wider at 17mm inside/23mm outside.


2013 Specialized Roval Control 29 Carbon budget mountain bike wheels

The big news on the dirt is the introduction of the new Control Carbon 29. It brings the lightweight and stiffness of carbon rims down a price peg, to just $1,200. But price is just the beginning…they’re introducing an entirely new rim shape. Or, rather, a very old rim shape.

Back in the day, rims were originally rolled steel and didn’t have bead hooks. With the advent of extruded alloy rims, they could easily put the hook on the rim as insurance against the wild variations in tire manufacturing. With tire tolerances more exact nowadays, Specialized found that they didn’t actually need the hook.

Look Ma, no hooks!

Thompson says no one’s rolled a tire off yet, but they do have a 25psi recommended minimum for all of their carbon rims. The tire bead in compression (ie. when inflated) pops into place, and the Kevlar or carbon beads used in good quality modern tires won’t stretch at all, so it can’t expand to the point where it’ll slip off.

Removing the bead hook was instrumental in letting them bring the cost down. When they have to mold or machine a bead hook, it adds time and cost. Just to test the theory, they machined off the bead hook on the SL models, rode them and it worked. The new wheels still have a DT Swiss hub with star ratchet and alloy freehub body, DT spokes, so the cost savings (about $600 versus the SL) come almost entirely from the new rim. Yes, the design sounds a bit scary, but they say it’ll work with any modern UST, tubeless-ready or standard tire.

Claimed weight is 1580g, about 130g more than the Control SL 29 Carbon, and 100g lighter than the Control 29 alloy. Rim width is 27mm wide outside, 22mm inside. 32 spokes front and rear. End caps are included for any axle standard other than 150mm rear, including Specialized’s 28mm OS front.

That bears repeating: This is a 1580g carbon 29er mountain bike wheelset that’s just $1,200. Yeehaw.

For comparison, the Control Carbon 29 SL rim has a 21mm inner width, and it’ll retain the bead hook for the time being.

There’s more new stuff, but first, an overview: All Roval wheels are hand built and hand tensioned & trued, and each model is purpose built for the intended use. Their carbon rimmed Control SL wheels have won World Cups and the Cape Epic, so they’re both race-worthy and durable. Across the line, all models now get a new one-piece tubeless ready rim strip that snaps into place and can be removed and reused. There’s also a new tubeless valve with removable valve core that’ll come with all wheels.

Another big change is a redesigned rear hub and freehub body. A couple years ago, they redesigned their 142 hubs to make the spoke flanges wider and called it 142+. For 2013, they made the same widening changes to the shell of their 135mm hubs. The hubs are made for them by DT Swiss, and use their Star Ratchet freehub body. This means you can pop in the SRAM XX1 compatible Driver Body to upgrade your drivetrain at any time. Bonus!

2013 Specialized Roval Traverse Carbon all-mountain bike wheels
Alloy model shown, but Traverse gets a carbon rim option for 2013.

The Roval Traverse SL Carbon brings carbon fiber rims to their all-mountain wheel offering. It’s built with 27/32 lacing with 9/15/20 front axle options. Rim is 22mm wide inside. Claimed weight is 1500g for the set (26″ only), about 180g lighter than the alloy version.


2013 Specialiced Roubaix Turbo and Espoir road bike tires

Next up were tires. The new S-Works Turbo claims to be both super sticky for excellent cornering and have lower rolling resistance. In development, most of the teams are running 22c tubulars, so getting them to try wider tires at lower pressures was the first challenge. The S-Works Turbo is a 700×24, the widest they could go and maintain proper frame clearance.

Their teams are now actually asking for clinchers, and their testing shows that they’re actually faster because clinchers have less sidewall deflection and because less energy is consumed compressing the tire because the total sidewall height tends to be lower than a tubular. Additionally, the clincher’s rim shape tends to add air volume, which allows for a lower air pressure. The result is less power from the rider is used just to move the bike. With a latex tube, the new Turbo S-Works 700×24 claims to have just 21.8 watts (116psi/8bar with load at 40km/h) per wheel of rolling resistance, lower than tires they tested from Continental and Vittoria.

The S-Works Turbo has their new Gripton compound (developed in-house). Where most of Spec’s tires are 80% natural rubber and 20% synthetic, the Gripton formula flip flops that to get better traction and rolling resistance. It sacrifices some lifespan (about 30-35%), but it’s intended as a race only tire. It has a new tread pattern that falls farther down the sidewall, another feature the team requested.  With Blackbelt puncture protection, claimed weight is 185g.

Elsewhere on the road, the Espoir budget tubular gets a new 700×25 size in addition to the 23. There’s a new Roubaix Tubeless, their only road tubeless option. There’s also new 28 width Roubaix casing that uses a 25 width tread. The odd sizing match up keeps the nimbleness of a narrow tread but the improved comfort and rolling resistance of a larger casing. This is up from the current 25/23.

2013 Specialized Purgatory mountain bike tire

Specialized has been using FEA to develop their Adaptive Tread concept, and the tech now comes to the new Purgatory mountain bike tire. It’ll come on the front of all 2013 Stumpjumpers. The new Purgatory is 2.3 wide with a claimed 23% increase in efficiency (ie. reduction in rolling resistance).

The new Purgatory does look similar overall, but there are lots of subtle changes to the knob shapes and positions. It gets all-one-length side knobs with functional siping to provide more biting edges. Single center knob gets a radius at the top edge to improve durability and a harder back edge for better braking. Available in both 26″ and 29″.

Other MTB tires get largely just additional sizes. The Butcher Control adds a 29×2.3 a an all-mountain tire. Ground Control and Renegade also get a 29×2.3, and the Storm mid tire gets a 29×2.0 option in S-Works and Control trim.

Cross tires stay the same, but the did call out the Captain CX tubeless ready model because it doesn’t get enough attention. I didn’t snap a photo, but the tread pattern does look pretty good.


  1. Seems like some cool stuff and really good pricing for carbon.

    When are road rims going to go tubeless is my question.

    Also, BR needs to test the carbon roval road rims as past roval wheels have not been that great for road (love them for mountain biking). GET ON IT BR.

    Wait, wait. Did BR take away the CAPTCHA. That is their biggest innovatin yet. Good job BR.

  2. Instead of manually approving every comment, why don’t they just implement Askimet. Would solve the capture issue, and also any issues of spam comments. Anyways, lack of CAPTCHA is awesome.

  3. Wait, has Specialized been making tubeless ready ‘cross tires? I had never heard of a captain cx tubeless before. I’m going to need a couple of those…

  4. they have made and make a 2-bliss branded captain cx…..ran that plus their roval pave sl CX wheels….add some stans and boom off to the tubeless races you go…………

  5. Tubeless road wheels were tried about15 years ago and as I recall the idea was dropped because of the additional weight of the sealant required made it heavier than a clincher/ tube combination….. Stan’s pushed for it when they were getting their operation up and going in the mid-nineties….

  6. Tubeless road still exists. My dad bought a Record equiped bike last year with them. I don’t recall what the wheels or tires are, but its nice stuff. He hasn’t had any issues with them in the 1-1/2 since he got it.

  7. I’m not so sure $1,200 is an “affordable carbon wheelset”
    I know, I know, “but the ENVE set is $2,500” that’s half price…

    When the Chinese Carbon wheelset is $500 and Spec is getting their rims made there too, I think they’ve still got a BIG mark up on that wheel set.

    yes, it uses DT swiss stuff, (good, but pricey) and they are hand built, but to me no bead hook is the savings seems like a bit of a marketing ploy.

    How about using a Spec. branded lightweight hub like Stan’s does? That would make a lightweight wheel set at a much more accessible price point.

  8. I’d like to know what Tony Martin thinks of the new clincher tires since he used and flatted with them in both the prologue and TT (see bikeradar story). I’ve had lots of experience with “S” tires and they are, well let’s just say Continental road tires run circles around “S” tires.

  9. I am perfectly willing to trade off slightly more weight for tubeless non flatting wheels. I have not had a flat on my MTB for over 2 years since changing to tubeless where prior I was getting one every month.

    Also, the no bead hooks is really pretty scary.

  10. Tony Martin seems to really be enjoying the performance advantage of Specialized’s new tires in the Tour time trials this year.

  11. I’m with Dgaddis… 25psi minimum pressure automatically takes the Control wheels off any list there was. It’s a shame too because the price is very , lets say, reasonable. Not the lightest, but about the same weight as a Stan’s Crest wheelset and probably way stiffer. But Crest’s are $530 and I can run 20 psi… The addition of the properly sized (29×2.3) Ground Control and Renegades is awesome though. I’ll be having a pair of the Ground Control’s as soon as they’re available.

  12. If you are riding your tubeless mountain bike tires at more than 30psi, you should just stop riding tubeless.
    I have ridden behind you though, and seen you bouncing off everything in your path….boing, boing, slipping tire, slipping tire, boing, boing….like a cartoon really.

    I agree the 25psi is a major limitation though….

  13. I have the 29 Control SL’s and run 22 psi front and 24 psi rear and feel confident with the bead hook. So for me no bead hook means danger.

  14. @ Jake @ Dgaddis
    I bet those tyres you run at 20-22 psi have minimum 35psi rated pressures… You won’t use those now? 🙂

    If any rim goes at 20-35psi they will tell you “you had your psi too low” because the tyres are like 35-65psi (read the side wall) rated anyways so any illusion you were in that THIS would ruin a confidence/warrenty battle is now shattered. It’s going to be for their necks safety.

    And nobody ever did any scientific testeing about bead hooks, they were justs put on for old rim/ tyres sakes back in the day and the fashion stuck, just like 26″ wheels took off. Luck of the draw.

  15. They say cost was saved by not having a hook bead. This sounds like BS, because rims are extruded, not machined. There is more to this than they let on or know. I bet you can burp one of these much easier. Or not makes no sense. There is something more to it.

  16. Jose- they are not extruded, or machined. They are molded carbon fiber. By eliminating the hook, the rims are a more simple shape and can be manufactured much faster. I too am skeptical about removing the hook, but time will tell…

COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.