Roval Alpinist CLX II wheels review – Wheelsets – Wheels

The original Roval CLX Mountaineer The wheelset was impressively light and improved the agility and overall ride quality of whatever bike it was mounted on.

However, this featherweight wheelset fell short against its competitors due to a disappointing lack of compatibility with tubeless tires.

I put this second generation climbing wheelset to the test on the paved and unpaved mountain roads of Colorado and was impressed with its ride quality and stiffness.

Roval Alpinist CLX II Wheels Details and Specs

The second iteration of the Alpinist uses reinforced carbon rims.
Josh Patterson / Our Media

As I noted on my first look at the Rapide CLX II, aside from the addition of tubeless compatibility, the Alpinist CLX II is not a significant departure from its predecessor.

Roval engineers reinforced the Alpinist’s 33mm deep carbon rims with additional layers of carbon to improve impact resistance, thus ensuring that the tubeless tires would stay seated in the event of a severe impact.

the Rapide CLX II focused on aerodynamics received a 100g weight penalty for similar rim reviews.

With a low gram count a design priority for the Alpinist II, engineers offset the weight gain in the rims with updated hub shells that eliminated every ounce of leftover material between the Center Lock disc mounts.

Roval shed 50 grams from the previous Alpinist CLX hub shells with lower profile hub bodies and machined rotor mounts.
Josh Patterson / Our Media

Additional weight savings come from the DT Swiss EXP freehub and SINC ceramic bearings.

Despite the additional carbon reinforcement, the Alpinist CLX II is still the lightest set of road bike wheels has produced Roval, with a measured weight of 1,265g.

Many wheel brands are switching to hookless rims, but the Alpinist CLX II retains a hooked design.

According to Roval, a hooked bead provides an extra layer of security and offers the widest range of tubeless and tubeless tire compatibility, while avoiding sacrificing strength or cut fibers.

Hooked rims give riders the option to race tubeless or tubeless.
Josh Patterson / Our Media

If you’re confused by the marketing behind the pros and cons of hooked and hookless rims, take a few minutes to read our primer on the subject.

The hook vs. hookless debate will continue, but for now, as long as many road riders want the option of running standard tires with inner tubes, there will be a place for hook rims. The Alpinist CLX II also accommodates them.

Roval Alpinist CLX II Wheel Highlights

  • light wheelset
  • Front Rim: 33mm deep, 27mm wide
  • Rear Rim: 33mm deep, 27mm wide
  • 21mm internal width
  • tubeless compatible
  • Optimized for 26mm wide tires (tested with 26 and 30mm tires)
  • DT Swiss Aerolite spokes, 21 front / 24 rear
  • Roval LFD hubs with EXP Internals and SINC ceramic bearings
  • 275lb/125kg rider weight limit
  • Actual weight: 1265g (including tubeless tape and valves)
  • Retail Price: $2,650 / £2,500 / €2,500

Roval Alpinist CLX II Wheel Performance

We tested the Alpinist CLX II with 26 and 30mm wide tires.
Josh Patterson / Our Media

I spent three months testing the Alpinist CLX II on high mountain roads and mixed surface routes through the slopes and plains of Colorado.

I switched between two of my personal favorite bikes: one Specialized S-Works Aethos and a echo ally. For rolling stock, I switched between 26 and 30mm wide tubeless tires.

The ultralight Aethos is a natural match with the Alpinist CLX II, which comes standard on select Aethos models. With this wheelset mounted, a great bike becomes even better.

The weight savings weren’t substantial over the Shimano Dura-Ace C36 wheelset it replaced (less than 100g), but there was a noticeable improvement in ride quality.

When I mounted them on my Aethos, these lighter, lower-profile wheels quieted the road buzz better.

The Alpinist CLX II’s refined ride quality was most apparent on sealed roads. These rough-hewn turnouts have a tendency to transmit high-frequency vibrations from the bike to the rider, and while the buzz was still present, it was muffled and much less distracting.

Unsurprisingly, the Alpinist CLX II was at home traversing mountain passes. This 1265g wheelset got up to speed quickly and was an agile companion when changing direction through tight turns.

The Alpinist CLX II rolls on DT Swiss SINC ceramic bearings with an EXP freehub.
Josh Patterson / Our Media

While I can’t speak to its performance with riders near the top of the wheelset’s 275lb/125kg weight limit, the steering was precise and flex was never an issue with my 155lb mass. /70 kg.

After testing the Alpinist CLX II in its natural environment, and on the bike it was primarily designed to complement, I wanted to go further and see how this wheelset would fare on more demanding terrain.

The next test mule was Allied’s ECHO, an off-road/gravel racing bike that’s at the other end of the Alpinist’s intended use.

Roval line of dirt wheels are specially designed for gravel riding and they are the best choice for dedicated gravel riders, although the Alpinist does a good job on mixed-surface routes.

With 30mm wide rims mounted, the Alpinist CLX II wheelset tackled packed dirt with ease. The quiet ride of these wheels, coupled with the larger footprint and lower pressure that comes from using 30mm-wide tubeless tires, inspired confidence through bumps and over the rattle of braking bumps.

If, like me, your favorite ‘road’ rides include soft dirt and gravel sections that can be ridden with 30-32mm tires, rest assured the Alpinist CLX II is up for the challenge.

Having said that, I would seriously consider investing in a set of gravel bike wheels with an internal width of 25mm if your excursions require a larger volume of 38 to 40mm (or larger) gravel bike tires.

Crash replacement bracket

Roval has done a lot of things right in creating the Alpinist CLX II, but one area where the company seems to lag behind its competitors is warranty support.

As I noted in my Rapide CLX II wheelset review, Roval offers only a two-year crash replacement policy, with discounted crash replacement coverage after that. It has a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.

Compared to programs from ENVE, Zipp, and Reserve (among others), which offer longer or lifetime crash replacement schemes, Roval appears to lag behind.

Overview of Roval Alpinist CLX II Wheels

More than just a climber’s wheelset, the Alpinist CLX II is a great choice for any rider looking to improve their bike’s ride and handling.
Josh Patterson / Our Media

A lighter, more aerodynamic wheelset is one of the best updates anyone can do their road bike.

The Alpinist prioritizes weight savings over aerodynamics, but the 33mm-deep rims cut through the wind better than shallower rims, and as mentioned, the ride quality is outstanding.

In fact, it may not be fair to pigeonhole the Alpinist CLX II as a “climber wheel” in isolation, despite the name.

My test prints confirm a statement made by Ben Edwards, director of global marketing for Specialized.

“It’s a climbing wheel, but it’s also a wheel for anyone who wants to improve the ride quality of their bike,” says Edwards. “This is the wheelset most riders should probably be on.”

After three months of testing, this is a sentiment I share. The Alpinist CLX II builds on the impressive ride quality of the original with the addition of tubeless-back compatibility. Warranty support is very good, but not as impressive as several of its close competitors.

The Alpinist CLX II is light, nimble and supremely comfortable on rough roads, making it a great wheelset not only for weight-conscious climbers, but also for any rider looking for a comfortable wheelset.

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