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Which of these Roval Tour de France wheelsets is best for your bike? The Alpinist CLX II vs the Rapide CLX II

Choosing a wheel upgrade is tricky, but Roval has provided us with two of their Tour de France stage-winning wheelsets to make things easier

A set of carbon wheels is the ultimate upgrade for most road riders, but with so many wheelsets out there, it can be tricky to know what you need. Thankfully, Roval has provided us with two of their best wheelsets, the Rapide CLX II and the Alpinist CLX II to help you choose what type of wheel is best for your road bike.

Roval’s wheels can be found on the bikes of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, Bora Hansgrohe and Total Energies at the 2022 Tour de France. They’ve already been successful, winning the opening two stages and Roval will be confident of its wheels crossing the finish line first on more stages of this year’s race.

Roval Rapide CLX II - The go-faster option

Roval Rapide II & Alpinist II-1 (CyclingImages)

Their sponsored riders have the choice between two wheelsets. First up are the wheels that you might have seen Fabio Jakobsen using as he sprinted to victory on the opening road stage in Denmark. The Roval Rapid CLX II is a brilliant example of a wheelset that is going to make any bike feel faster and look pretty rapid too.

We’re not all as fast as Fabio, but if, when you head out for a ride, it is generally for a fast group ride, then the Rapide CLX II, or something similar, is the way to go. These wheels boast a wind-cheating rim depth combination of 51mm in the front and 60mm out back so they are best suited to faster days when you haven’t got any mountains to climb.

But given the low claimed weight of just 1,520g, this wheelset should be perfectly at home on punchy climbs. While the depth is what we usually look towards when determining how fast a wheelset will be, the Rapide CLX II hoops also pack a super-wide front rim profile to maximise crosswind stability.

Roval Rapide II & Alpinist II-4 (CAuldPhoto)

That crosswind stability is really important when you’re riding deeper wheels out in the real world. While brands can chase fancy-sounding aero gains in a wind tunnel, if you’re blown into a hedge every time it is a bit gusty out, then you’re not going to go very fast at all. Thankfully the wide rim profile of the front wheel does a very good job of helping to tame those pesky crosswinds, so you can ride the Rapide CLX II wheels in any conditions.

All of this leaves plenty of room for a generous 21mm internal width and when run with a 28mm tyre, you get plenty of comfort and grip, even over broken roads.

Another area where deep wheels are great is stiffness and that comes in handy whenever there is a town sign coming up because as we all know, a group ride always descends into a race with a sprint finish for the local town sign. With the winner getting first place in the cafe queue, it could be argued that these races are more important than the Tour de France.

Roval Alpinist CLX II - The lightweight handling upgrade

Roval Rapide II & Alpinist II-3 (CAuldPhoto)

But what if you’re not always looking to go as fast as possible? What if you want something that is going to improve the handling and responsiveness of your favourite bike? In this situation, you’ll likely what to go for something like the Roval Alpinist CLX II.

The Alpinist is generally seen as a climbing wheelset, but if you’re not concerned by saving a few watts or chasing the fastest average speeds then the Alpinist could be a much better wheel choice.

Roval Rapide II & Alpinist II-2 (CyclingImages)

The semi-deep 30mm rim profile makes the wheels really easy to handle, but you’ve still got a little bit of an aero profile, which will help if you decide to head out on a faster group ride or you fancy a weekend road race.

With a claimed weight of just 1,265g, we can’t really ignore the climbing abilities of these wheels. While aero has trumped weight in the past few years, you’re still going to benefit from shaving those grams when the hills get steep and there are plenty of riders out there who love to dance on these challenging gradients.

For a wheelset to be good on the steep climbs it can’t just be light, it has to be stiff too. This will ensure that all of your precious watts are going into propelling the bike upwards rather than being wasted to lateral flex.

Roval Rapide II & Alpinist II-6

Once you’ve gone up, the road will hopefully go down and on technical descents, a wheelset like the Alpinist impresses once again. The low weight and rim height make these wheels brilliant when it comes to handling and you can really flick the bike between corners.

So if you’re all about aero and wanting to go really fast, then a wheelset like the Rapide CLX II would be the way to go, but if you’re looking more towards an upgrade in the way your bike handles or goes uphill, then something like the Alpinist CLX II would be the wheel to pick.

Tech to look for

Roval Rapide II & Alpinist II-11

With the new CLX II models, Roval has also brought back tubeless tech. This is a really important feature to look for if you’re trying to save those precious watts as Roval says that tubeless alone is worth 3.4 watts at 40kph.

Tubeless also brings the benefits of being able to run slightly lower tyres pressures as there is no inner tube to worry about when you hit a bump. This lower pressure will give you a much smoother ride, saving you energy over the course of a long ride and it’ll provide you with extra cornering grip too, so you can sail through turns at an even faster speed.

But while tubeless has many benefits, it isn’t for everyone. That’s why Roval has opted for a hooked rim bed as it gives riders the widest choice of tyres possible and that’s going to mean the easiest time buying tyres.

Roval Rapide II & Alpinist II-10

Both wheelsets are also equipped with DT Swiss CINC ceramic bearings which have been developed as a system. They are based on balls made from silicon nitride which is an extremely tough wear and corrosion-resistant ceramic material. The bearing rings are made from a specially developed steel alloy, which is adapted to the properties of the specific ceramic material used and are precision ground. This combination reduces the rolling resistance to an absolute minimum and guarantees greater durability than conventional ball bearings.

If you’re looking for a wheelset upgrade for your bike and you’ve got this much money to spend then both of these features should be on your checklist and both the Alpinist CLX II and the Rapide CLX II would be a good choice.

Which is for you?

So when it comes to picking a wheelset for your bike, have a serious think about what you want from your wheels. If it is going faster in group rides, smashing races, or simply trying to better your average speeds, then pick the Rapide CLX II. If you want your bike to fly up the climbs and then handle beautifully on the way back down, it's the Aplinist CLX II for you.

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