here in cycling newsWe recently spent some time in a wind tunnel using 10 sets of wheels and found that between the best and the worst, the difference was less than 2W at 30km/h. With that in mind, our closing advice was to “get in the ballpark” with a budget set of pneumatic wheels and spend the teams elsewhere. For anyone heeding that advice, there’s a new option to consider, as today Roval revealed a new, cheaper version of the highway racing wheel.
The new set of wheels, known as the Rapide CL II, will use the same rims as its more expensive sibling, the Rapide CLX II, but are paired with a cheaper hub with cheaper spokes for a more affordable overall package. They are accompanied by three new tire offerings from the specialized parent company Roval.
Ruval Rapid CL II: Aero and the Affordable (more)
Using the same rims as the Rapide CLX II means that the Rapide CL II wheelset boast the same claims of tubeless compatibility as its stablemate. With a gooseneck bead, it is compatible with all tubeless off-the-shelf tires and can be safely inflated up to 110 psi, although maximum pressures vary by tire size. Commonly used pressures will likely drop below this number anyway.
Specialists claim the tires are ‘almost twice’ current industry impact standards, thanks to a long period of research and development that followed an issue found in late 2019. It came when Peter Sagan jumped over a rim while testing the original Rapide CLX wheels. He hit the pavement, broke the rim, and took off the tire in an instant. Specialized decided that despite passing shock-resistance tests, this wasn’t safe enough and proceeded to redesign them, but not before these wheels were released as “wanted inner tubes.”
The rims also have the same dimensions as their more expensive siblings, pairing a wider, shallower front wheel with a deeper, narrower rear. The front wheel has a depth of 51 mm and an outer width of 35 mm. The rear is 60mm deep, but slightly narrower at 30mm. Despite the differences, both feature an internal width of 21 mm. It is optimized for use with 26mm tires but can handle anything from 24mm to 38mm. Specialized says tires up to 35mm can be run at a maximum of 110 psi, but tires running 36mm or higher should not exceed 60 psi.
By focusing on stability rather than straight-line speed, in the real world, the Rapide CL II is faster than most 65mm wheels, and 25% more stable than the now two-generation-old CLX50 wheel set, Roval says.
While the rims remain the same, the rest of the wheel is where the Roval found the cost savings. This comes with a weight penalty, albeit a small one.
Both use competing DT Swiss wheel hubs, but while the top-tier wheels use the lighter-weight Ratchet EXP hubs, the Rapide CL II opts for the more affordable DT 350 hubs. DT Swiss also handles the rims of those hubs, with Competition Race Straightpull woofers—a downgrade from DT Swiss Aerolite—with 18 spokes up front and 24 in the rear.
The Specialized Weight for Rapide CL II wheels is 1,590 grams. Despite the differences in specifications, this is 70 grams heavier than the CLX II.
Compared to their stablemates, the Rapide CL II is priced right out of the pocket at just over £1,500.00 ($1,750.00 / €1,800.00 / AU$2,600). They could be a popular choice in the budget-friendly aero wheel segment, but they’ll face stiff competition from the likes of Zipp’s 303S, Enve Foundation 65 and Hunt 60 Limitless Aero Disc.
It’s turbo time
Joining the Rapide CL II wheels are three tires from Roval’s parent company, Specialized. Each will be called the Turbo, with the cheapest at £45 per tire, rising from £55 for a mid-tier option to £65 for a top-class Turbo SW RapidAir 2BR option.
2BR is a nickname for 2Bliss Ready, a word game that is phonetically similar to tubeless ready. It adorns two of the three new tires, while the third – the cheapest – is a tubular-only clincher.
Specialists cite the development of two new rubber compounds (Grypton T2 and T5) as a key difference, enabling improvements in durability, rolling resistance, and puncture and puncture protection across all three tires.
In the bigger picture, the said rolling resistance savings are small. Specialists claim only one watt for the Turbo SW RapidAir 2BR compared to its predecessor. However, that one watt offers a huge saving when looking at the previous RapidAir that was widely seen as fast. Compared to the similar small savings found in our wind tunnel test on wheel upgrades that cost thousands, the cost-effectiveness is also worth noting.
The S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR, priced at £65.00, is said to weigh 230g and is currently only available in 26c.
The S-Works Turbo 2BR is priced at £55.00, is available in 26C, 28C and 30C sizes, and weighs 260g, 280g and 300g respectively.
The cheapest of the three, the S-Works Turbo is a tube-type clincher and comes in at £45.00. They are available in 24°C, 26°C, 28°C, 30°C, with a weight of 200g, 220g, 240g and 260g respectively.
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