Review: Roval CLX50 wheelset

Ridden and reviewed by Bespoke Cycling, London. Barry's been putting some distance into the Roval CLX50 and he's been really impressed.

Review: Roval CLX50 wheelset

I have wanted to test these wheels for a while, but Specialized UK could not get me a set for a few months now as all the UK stock had been sold or pre-allocated. Which, although personally frustrating, did speak well for their allure.

The growth of own brand wheels

When we were last in Mallorca I was giving our resident Features Editor Dave Arthur a hard time. He was testing a Bianchi XR4 for Bespoke and it had the usual suspects on it - Di2 groupset, Enve wheels.

I commented to Dave that car magazine testers were testing complete 'packages'. An Audi A6 is full of proprietary technology - Audi engine, suspension, interior, exterior.
So an Audi vs a BMW is a proper test, with lots of variables.

With many bike tests, especially when you build up a frame set 'a la carte' 90% of the components can be the same - its only the frame that's different. Now clrearly frames are vitally important to the test, but if third party brands are supplying groupsets, bars, stem, post, saddle, wheels and tyres it's not really a Bianchi vs Parlee test…

The second point to note is that bike brands are like most businesses and they want as large a share of your purchases as possible. The French brands Look and Time were the earliest adopters of this; they did not just sell a frameset but instead a fuselage which was a frame, seatpost, stem, crankset.

The US brands have started to follow this trend. Specialized now can supply you a frame, bars, stem, post, saddle, wheels and tyres. And as brands start to produce more and more parts of the bikes, the brand DNA will come through more and more. And that is a good thing.

Which brings us to these wheels. Roval is Specialized's in-house component brand (like Bontrager is for Trek). I presume that they think they have more chance with people putting these wheels on another bike brand as an upgrade if they come with a neutral sounding name. But I think that's a shame. S-Works is Specialized's premium line and it has a world class reputation, I personally think the wheels would be better under that name

Anyway, what of the wheels?
I have ridden them for 1000km now and can safely say they live up to the hype.
At £1870 for the pair (£770 front and £1100 rear) they are a screaming deal.

At 1375gms they are very light; and being 21mm wide and tubeless ready they tick all the boxes. Their piece de resistance is fact they come with the excellent (and very expensive) Ceramic Speed bearings in DT Swiss hub internals.

The CLX 50 are marketed as Roval's do it all wheels and straddle the CLX 32 (lighter but less aero) and the CLX 64 which is more of an all out aero wheelset for Aero road bikes or a Tri bike.

50mm is a good depth as well; its deeper than Enve 3.4 and Zipp 303 but shallower than Enve 4.5 and Zipp 404.

I tested the wheels with Specialized's 26mm Turbo Cotton tyres (of which a review is coming). I did not test them tubeless yet, but would expect similarly stellar results.

Running 26mm tyres on wide rims at 90 psi gives a huge sense of compliance and security on sub optimal roads. You finish 4 hr rides very fresh indeed. The main take away from the wheels is outright performance though - they spin up so quickly and hold speed very well.
In a week in France I smashed PBs on local climbs AND on some flat sections on the TT bike. Testament to just how versatile these wheels really are.

Braking was excellent in the dry: incredibly progressive (no doubt helped by wide tire contact point with the road). In wet they were less so, not quite up to Enve or Zipp NSW standards.

I have been accused (with an element of affection I hope) of being like a magpie, and always attracted to the next shiny thing…
So in one sense its no surprise I loved these wheels. But there is more to it than that.
They are very special indeed. At £2500 they would be a strong buy. At £1870 they are an absolute no brainer…

They deserve to go on many bikes. It would be a crime if there was a snob value which meant you could only put a set of these on a Specialized bike. They deserve to be on C60s, Parlees, Bianchi's and the like.

Given these are tubeless ready and come in calliper and disc versions I think we are going to be seeing an awful lot more of these on Bespoke builds in the gallery in the upcoming months!

Feeling tempted? Buy online from Bespoke, with free UK delivery: Roval CLX 50 / Roval CLX 50 Disc