Fresh after the 2022 update of its range-topping CLX wheelsets, Roval has announced a new version of its less expensive Rapide CL wheelset.
The Rapide CL II hoops, like the quietly launched Alpinist CL II wheels, stand out because they incorporate exactly the same rims as the Rapide CLX II wheelset, laying claim to the same stable aero performance we experienced ourselves in our review of the top-tier wheelset.
However, in order to hit a cheaper price point of $ 1,750 / £ 1,500 / € 1,800 / AU $ 2,600 for a complete wheelset, the Rapide CL II uses DT Swiss’ 350 hubs with stainless steel bearings, along with the brand’s Competition Race straight-pull spokes.
Roval Rapide CL II highlights
- Aero wheelset optimized for 26mm tires
- Front- and rear-specific rim profiles
- Front rim: 51mm deep, 35mm wide (external)
- Rear rim: 60mm deep, 30mm wide (external)
- 21mm internal width
- DT Swiss Competition Race straight-pull spokes, 18 front / 24 rear
- DT Swiss 350 hubs with steel bearings
- 275lb / 125kg weight limit
- Claimed weight: 1,590g (including tape and tubeless valves)
- Price: $ 1,750 / £ 1,500 / € 1,800 / AU $ 2,600
Just as fast… for less?
Although the new Rapide CL II is priced significantly lower than its Rapide CLX II sibling wheels, Roval claims the cheaper wheelset will deliver “the same Rapide CLX II speed, that same efficiency, that same incredible handling and stability in any conditions to more riders. “
That’s a bold claim, but because the Rapide CL II uses precisely the same rim designs – even down to the CLX-grade carbon layup – it’s fundamentally believable.
Each rim receives its own design, optimized for its position on the bike, with Roval standing by its 25 per cent stability improvement claim over the previous-generation CLX 50s.
The front rim is 51mm deep with a 35mm external width (21mm internal width), while the rear rim features a deeper 60mm section with a narrower 30mm external width (also 21mm internally).
The designs are said to give optimum performance and, importantly, stability in real-world conditions. The US brand claims that, although ultimate aero optimization is important, smoothing out the losses from a twitchier wheelset will also see measurable improvements in efficiency.
Roval’s designers used reaction time studies and what it says is the first rider reaction time modeling algorithm to optimise the wheels for gusts of wind between 0.5 and 2 seconds in duration.
In the hands of a human, the Rapide CL II (and CLX II wheels, for that matter) are said to reduce the chances of an overreaction to a gusty crosswind, which in turn lowers the need for and severity of a second counter correction – both of which, Roval claims, ultimately cost speed.
Meanwhile, the hooked (as opposed to hookless) tubeless rim design stays, enabling riders to choose either clincher or tubeless tires, depending on their preference. Roval also claims the design makes fitting easier, more secure and capable of supporting tubeless pressures of up to 110psi (should you wish).
As with the Rapide CLX II, the Rapide CL II’s rims are aerodynamically optimized for use with 26mm wide tires, although it can accommodate tires up to 35mm wide at pressures up to 110psi (tubeless) or 130psi (with tubes).
Roval says 38mm tires are the maximum compatible width, but for any tires 36 to 38mm wide you’ll be limited to 60psi regardless of your mounting method.
What am I sacrificing compared to the Rapide CLX II?
In order to reach the lower price point, naturally the Rapide CL II wheelset has been subject to some concessions versus the CLX IIs.
Firstly, the hubs are DT Swiss 350s, as opposed to the Roval AeroFlange Disc hubs seen on the CLX IIs.
These use a tried and tested 36-tooth star ratchet design with 10-degree engagements, but don’t feature DT Swiss’ latest EXP layout seen in its more premium 180 and 240 hubs.
For comparison, the Rapide CLX IIs feature this EXP design inside the custom, aero-optimized body, while they also spin around SINC ceramic bearings. The Rapide CL II gets the standard DT Swiss alloy bodies, and stainless steel bearings.
The 350 hubs accept straight-pull spokes, with the Rapide CL IIs using the Swiss brand’s Competition Race spokes (which aren’t aero-profiled), rather than the Aerolite spokes you’ll find on the Rapide CLX IIs.
That said, they’re arranged in the same radial 18 front / two-cross 24 rear arrangements as the top-tier wheelset.
These component switches are likely to lead to some form of performance loss versus the Rapide CLX IIs, although Roval doesn’t define what that could be.
All in, the Roval Rapide CL II wheelset is claimed to weigh 1,590g (725g at the front and 865g at the rear, including rim tape and valves), which is just 70g more than our measured 1,520g weight for the Rapide CLX IIs.
As you may have worked out, all of that extra weight comes from the hubs and spokes, minimizing any gain around the rotating edge of the wheel.
Roval CL II wheelset pricing and availability
The Roval Rapide CL II wheelset is available in all territories now, priced as follows:
- USA: $ 1,750 (wheelset), $ 1,025 (rear), $ 725 (front)
- UK: £ 1,500 (wheelset), £ 850 (rear), £ 650 (front)
- Europe: € 1,800 (wheelset), € 950 (rear), € 850 (front)
- Australia: $ 2,600 (wheelset), $ 1,500 (rear), $ 1,100 (front)