Specialized Roval Rapide 60 CLX

2013 Specialized Roval Rapide CLX60 235x300 Specialized Roval Rapide 60 CLX

Specialized Roval Rapide CLX60 Wheels

Specialized have really found their place in the ‘complete bike’ market.  One reason for is that they supply their complete bikes with decent components. That’s important for our conversation, because the reason their stock components are good, is that they care about them. They put a lot of research into all the parts on the bikes and their own wheelsets are no exception. When you are looking for a seriously fast set of race wheels, you should look to Specialized.  Whether or not you have one of their bikes, the Roval Rapide 60CLX is a great place to start.

Why 60s?

First, let’s explain why these are the perfect first set. Specialized has picked all the right specs for a first shot at the mid-section versatility market, where wheels are fast and pockets are deep. The ‘60’ in the Roval Rapide 60CLX tells you you’re looking at a 60mm rim, which is just about perfect if you want to spend your cash on one set of wheels to get you across the line first in all kinds of races. 60mm is just deep enough to get some real aerodynamic benefit, yet not so deep that you’ll wish you left them in your car once the crosswinds pick up. At 60mm, you aren’t adding a load of weight, but you can build up some stiffness and responsive. That’s why Specialized markets the Roval Rapide 60CLX as the ideal all around classy wheelset.

And classy it is. At 1550g for the pair this is a super light wheelset. Getting down to those kind of numbers usually means either settling for a shallower rim depth and some aerodynamic compromises, or spending a load more cash. That feather weight puts them only 50g heavier than the comparable HEDs.  Not that these wheels are cheap – at $2200 a pair you have be pretty serious about racing to be considering the Roval Rapide 60CLX. That said, it’s a pretty fair price for a wheelset as good as these. If it’s too much for you, you can find nice, light Specialized wheels for less, but if you really want to win, put your money where your ambition is and give these a try.

Thoughtful design

The technology behind these wheels suggests a wheelmaker that wouldn’t touch stock wheels with a bargepole, so kudos to Specialized for having managed to produce something truly competitive in the race wheelset market. Specialized used only top end ceramic bearings, so once these wheels get going the ride is smooth as glass. A wider than average rim gives you more ride comfort and stability – so you can go downhill with reckless abandon - and that stability means less time on the truing stand, too.

If there is a downside, it is in the off the shelf model. The hub comes with an 18T ratchet, and frankly, that doesn’t make sense. If you are thinking about wheels like this, you want light, stiff, and responsive. That last bit is the problem. When you jump up to put the hammer down for a sprint, you don’t want to wait for your wheels to catch up. There’s a simple fix though – upgrade to a 36T hub, neither difficult nor expensive – and you have the ultimate race wheelset in the Specialized Roval Rapide 60CLX.

Totally versatile

I’ve mentioned these are a perfect choice for your first ‘real’ wheelset. That’s because these wheels are perfect for just about anything. They are aero enough for triathlon, stiff enough for criterium, and responsive enough (with the ratchet upgrade)  for road racing. If you just want to beat your friends to the coffee shop on the Sunday ride, don’t be afraid to take these wheels with you – clinchers mean a remote puncture is no problem to fix. They do have a carbon braking surface though, so respect that with your brake pads. The pads supplied with these wheels give you plenty of stop, even in wet or dusty conditions, but it isn’t what you’d get from an aluminum braking surface. Of course, you are buying the Specialized Roval Rapide 60CLX wheelset to go fast, so why are you braking anyway?

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