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Roval Alpinist CLX wheels review

20 Jul 2021

Lightweight and sturdy climbing wheels that are suitable for year round use. Photos supplied by Roval/Specialized

Cyclist Rating: 
Light • Decent, stiff wheels for riding year round
Not tubeless compatible

While the rest of the cycling wheel world goes tubeless, for some reason Specialized has gone big on clinchers. Perhaps with an eye on the certification criteria for tubeless during the making of the next generation of these Roval Alpinist CLX wheels that won’t be necessary.

Regardless, I ride regular clinchers almost all the time anyway, so these wheels not being tubeless-ready didn’t directly affect my riding but will be a negative for many riders, and certainly means they lack a point of advancement seen across many other brands.

Keep on climbing

Specialized, or in this case its components subsidiary Roval, claims the Alpinist CLX wheels are the lightest road clinchers it has ever produced. I have little reason to contest that as they feel featherlight when plucked from the box.

Roval says it has ‘pared the Alpinist CLX down to the absolute minimum to capitalise on every precious watt of energy without sacrificing any of the strength, ride quality or durability that are crucial to long term performance and satisfaction.

Essentially, it’s made the wheels as light as it could manage without turning them into overcooked spaghetti and in my experience this has been achieved.

Far from being a lightweight climber myself, when ascending out of the saddle and heaving on the handlebars, not once did I feel like any of the power I was managing to put through the bike was wasted on under-stiff rims.

Further, they are reactive when pulling away from traffic lights or accelerating into the foot of climb, never feeling like the weak link in the bike-rider amalgam.

Satisfaction might be a bit far, but I wasn’t frustrated at the very least.

Nearly all Roval

For the most part eschewing the trend of getting in third party parts for certain areas of the wheelset, the hub perhaps, these are Roval throughout in what the brand calls ‘a complete system’.

Roval credits this approach with keeping the wheelset weight down to a claimed 1,248g.

‘By making wheel systems, not just rims, our engineers can control every aspect of the design; rim, hub, spoke spec and lacing pattern,’ Roval explains. ‘This eliminates variables associated with off-the-shelf components, which in turn allows us to optimise weight and strength.’

Buy the Roval Alpinist CLX wheelset from Sigma Sports now

Which all sounds pretty good, but it’s the next claim that should be remembered when Specialized pushes the next generation of yet light and stiffer wheels.

‘The Alpinist CLX has precisely the amount and type of material needed, in precisely the correct place, and not a gram of fat anywhere.’

Certainly, these are a pair of wheels that do what you want them to do so if that’s thanks to Roval hubs being laced with Roval spokes into Roval rims then it is working just fine in my experience.

Rims and hubs on closer inspection

The rims are made with a ‘complex and precise’ carbon fibre layup with the intention of minimising weight and boosting strength and durability.

The AeroFlange hubs, meanwhile, are aerodynamically optimised – presumably in Specialized’s ‘WinTunnel’ – with wide bracing angles for increased strength and reduced spoke weight.

However, it’s here that the wheels do move away from being just Roval as the brand has employed the reduced weight, increased strength and reliability of DT Swiss’s new EXP freehub internals.


Lightweight and stiff, just what you need from climbing wheels and they do just fine on the flat, too.

Buy the Roval Alpinist CLX wheelset from Sigma Sports now

What’s more, thanks to being disc brake wheels they’ve been at home in a range of weather conditions and would suit most riders all year round.

£1,850 pair

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