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The Roval Alpinist CLX II wheelset improves in key areas over an already very good set of all-around road wheels. The newly tubeless setup is easy, the weight is still low, and stiffness is great. Thanks to the rim shape remaining unchanged, they still handle beautifully too.
Right, if you read no further than this paragraph, I don't blame you: all you need to know is that the Alpinist CLX II now has a tubeless-ready rim bed, and certainly the S-Works Turbo 26mm tyres I had on test installed easily. They went up without sealant and with just a track pump.
Roval got some very bad press for not making the first version tubeless. As it turns out, Roval intended them to be tubeless, but had some issues with keeping the tyres on the rim in the event of a blowout, so just sold them as clincher-only.
Thankfully, this new version has a revised carbon layup at the rim bed to stop the carbon cracking when you ram your nice hoops into a hole or kerb, and this has apparently solved the tyre-falling-off issue. Roval provided an in-depth look at the impact testing it did, though in the real world I'm yet to hit something big enough to really test out the claims.
Onto how these ride and, like any lightweight carbon wheelset that is also stiff, these have the ability to transform the way a road bike rides. Yes, I naturally put these on my S-Works SL7 and hammered it up a load of the local climbs. But I've also had them on my Kinesis 4S Disc, which is generally my winter bike and best described as 'sluggish' in its winter build. But after giving it a clean and installing the Alpinist CLX II, the bike felt faster and more nimble.
A lot of this change is simply the low weight and the stiffness. The 1,265g total is very good, but it's the way it pairs with the stiffness that makes the wheels for me. It results in a wheelset that punches up from slow speeds effortlessly and can be flicked through tight corners.
With a 33mm-deep profile, these aren't going to mix it on flatter rides with something like the Rapide CLX IIs. But they're perfectly capable of holding onto speed, so if your rides aren't all elbows-out group smash-ups or races, these might be the better set for you.
The build is still solid, but there have been a few small changes. Firstly, the hub shell has been changed to chop a bit of weight. This moves the spokes away from each other at the points where they cross. The old wheels could ting slightly on a steep climb if the spokes got dirty, but there's none of that here.
Inside those hubs you'll find DT Swiss ceramic bearings have replaced CeramicSpeed's. This is probably because DT Swiss makes the rest of the hubs and wanted their own bearings in there. I'm yet to have any issues.
At £2,500, these are certainly expensive wheels. You can spend more if you want yet not get a lot more performance, but you can easily spend a lot less too – and still get most of what you'll find here. Examples would be the Hunt 32 Aerodynamicist UD Carbon Spoke (£1,199) which I currently have on test, or the Scribe Aero Wide+ 32-D Carbon Wheelset at £870, so if you haven't got this sort of cash, there are options out there.
But I'm not about to say that the Alpinist CLX II is an overly expensive wheelset: at this premium end of the market they actually represent decent value. For example, the Fulcrum Speed 40 CMPTZN DB wheelset is £2,599, Zipp's 353 NSW Tubeless Disc Brake Wheelset is £3,376 and the Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 33 Disc Brake wheelset will set you back £2,813.99.
These are wheels designed for racing in the mountains, but if you're just looking for something that's simply great to ride – and that will improve pretty much any road bike – then your money is going to be well spent here.
I'm very glad Roval has brought tubeless back to its top-end wheels, as a large portion of riders want it. Roval has done it well too, and that makes setup far easier for those of us doing it in a rush in the kitchen, and who don't want sealant going everywhere.
All in, these are brilliant wheels that are a joy to ride. You just have to stump up quite a bit of money to get them.
Light, stiff and handle beautifully. Tubeless is back too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Roval Alpinist CLX II
Size tested: 700c
Tell us what the wheel is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Feel your bike come alive on the open road with the new Alpinist CLX II - the lightest, best-handling clincher wheels we have ever made. Hyper-responsive acceleration, magic in the corners, sublime over rough roads, all elevated with the performance of a tubeless system. There's no room for a single excess gram whether you're chasing summits or ride quality because perfection is only achieved when there is nothing left to take away."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Alpinist CLX Cabon Clincher, 700c, Disc Brake, Tubeless
33mm Depth, 27mm External Width, 21mm Internal Width
DT Swiss Aerolite T-head, Radial/One-cross (2:1) 21 count, DS: 276mm, NDS: 290mm
DT Swiss Aerolite T-head, One-cross/Two-cross (2:1), DS: 288mm NDS: 286mm
DT Swiss Hex Prolock Al 2.0x14mm
Roval LFD (LFD13) Center Lock, 100x12mm
Roval LFD (LF14R) Center Lock, DT Swiss Ratchet EXP 36t internals (10 degs), 142x12mm, Shim. RD. 11SP HG freehub
DT Swiss SINC Ceramic Bearings
ASSEMBLY METHOD/ EXTRAS
Hand Built / Roval Rim Tape, Spare Spoke & Nipple Kit
Wheelset 1,265g, Front 570g, Rear 694g (including 15g, tubeless rim tape and tubeless valve)
SYSTEM WEIGHT LIMIT
275lb / 125kg
24mm - 38mm
Max Pressure: 24mm-35mm: Tubeless (110psi) Tubed (130psi), 36mm – 38mm: Tubeless (60psi) Tubed (60psi)
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
True out of the box, and they stayed that way.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
So simple with the Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2Bliss tyres. Just a track pump required, and no mess.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
Tubeless-ready rim tape and valves are included, and do a solid job.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These handle beautifully and climb really well too. Excellent performance.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Roval has added a very good tubeless-ready rim bed without raising weight overall.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
The price has climbed significantly since the original model – they're a different proposition.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are premium wheels, but they're not overly expensive. See the main review for comparisons.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? I'd have to look at cheaper options
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I gave the original Alpinist wheelset 9/10 and, while the new version getting a tubeless-ready rim bed with no weight penalty might have pushed them to a 10/10, the price increase is significant. They remain a 9.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.