We’re sure many of you know the Roval Rapide CLX II wheels — super light, stable in the wind, and already have Tour stage wins and Grand Tour victory on their palmares. The premium performance comes at a premium price though, and for most, the slight weight savings isn’t enough to justify the $2800 price tag. That’s where the new Rapide CL II comes in. The new wheels bring along the same rim as the Rapide CLX and DT-Swiss hubs, for a lot less.
Rapide CL II — What’s new
The all-new Rapide CL II wheelset brings the same Rapide CLX II speed and handling but at nearly half the price. Built on the same rims as the Rapide CLX II, the performance is similar, and the build is robust.
We’ve seen this before from the team at Roval; take the top-end wheelset (in this case, the Rapide CLX II), use the same rim, and swap out the DT-Swiss 240 hubs to a DT-Swiss 350. Mating the lightweight, performance-driven rim with a more economical hub creates a fast wheel that can take a beating and is much more cost-efficient.
Rapide CL II — Rim shape
The Rapide CL II employs the same 51mm-deep front rim with a 35mm external width and 60mm-deep rear rim with a 30mm external width as the Rapide CLX II wheelset. The result of the 51/60mm combo is a tubeless wheelset that’s faster than most 65mm wheels and highly stable in the heavy wind (based on our time on the Rapide CLX II wheelset)
How does the 51/60mm rim pairing work?
The Roval team designed a rim shape to minimize drag at the trailing edge of the bike since the rear wheel is the last thing the wind sees. A 60mm deep rim with a 30mm external width reduces turbulence and yields the most significant aerodynamic benefit in testing. The rear wheel has less of an impact on steering than the front, and having a deeper section doesn’t adversely impact handling. Together, the 51/60mm combo makes for a slippery advantage without the drawbacks of the erratic behavior of deep rim in high winds; stable is fast.
Stability Equals Speed
Deep-section front rims are affected adversely by crosswinds. Sensations like wheel pulling, no matter how subtle, negatively impact handling. Using what is claimed to be the first modeling algorithm designed around riders’ real-world reaction times, Roval developed a front rim that reduces drag and increases stability by 25% in sudden wind gusts compared to the Roval CLX 50mm rims.
From extensive automotive and aeronautical reaction timing studies, Roval found that primary wind gusts between 0.5 and 2.0 seconds cause riders to struggle. A rider can react to gusts lasting between 0.5 and 2.0 seconds but will react after the wind gust is over. Essentially a rider can’t react to wind gusts shorter than 0.5 seconds; they are too short.
What happens is an overcorrection that needs to be corrected again, which is why blustery crosswinds feel so sketchy and can take down a peloton quickly. Roval instructed its algorithm to optimize stability in the 0.5 to 2.0 second window time. Faster than that, and you can’t react quickly enough to compensate. Slower than that, you can easily adjust to the side force of a crosswind. Making the ride more stable and taking the variables out that riders cannot deal with automatically.
Rock solid build
Like all Roval wheels, the Rapide CL II is hand built every step, from the initial lay-up to the final tensioning on the nipples. The CL version rolls on DT-Swiss 350 hubs with a 36-tooth Star Ratchet and Competition Race straight pull spokes. The result is a set of wheels designed as a complete system that weighs just 1590g per set.
Compared to the Rapide CLX (which costs $2800 and weigh 1520g), you can have a wheelset that weighs only 70g more and $1050 less with the new Roval Rapide CL II.
Roval Rapide CL II Tech Details
- Rim: Rapide CLX Carbon Clincher, 700c, Disc Brake, Tubeless
- Rim Details: Front – 51mm Depth, 35mm External Width, 21mm Internal Width; Rear – 60mm Depth, 30mm, External width 21mm
- Hubs: DT Swiss 350 Straighpull Center Lock, Star Ratchet 36t internals (10°), 100x12mm & 142x12mm, Shim. RD. 11SP HG freehub
- Spokes: DT Swiss Competition Race Straightpull, Radial/Two-cross
- Rear: Two-cross (1:1) 24 count,
- Tire Size: 24mm – 38mm; Max Pressure: 24mm-35mm: Tubeless (110psi) Tubed (130psi), 36mm – 38mm
- Tubeless (60psi) Tubed (60psi)
- Weight: Wheelset 1,590g, Front 725g, Rear 865g (including 15g, tubeless rim tape, and tubeless valve)
- System Weight Limit: 275lbs / 125kg
- Price: USA: $1750 (Wheelset), $1025 (Rear), $725 (Front)
Pricing and Availability
The new Roval Rapide CL II will be available next week from your local Roval dealer or online. For more information, check out: Rovalcomponents.com
- USA: $1750 (Wheelset), $1025 (Rear), $725 (Front)
- Europe: €1800 (Wheelset), €950 (Rear), €850 (Front)
- United Kingdom: £1500 (Wheelset), £850 (Rear), £650 (Front)