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  • Alex

    I see a bad tubeless setup as a deal breaker for something at this price point. Most people that buy disc wheels like this will want to use them for CX or gravel adventure riding where tubeless is a huge advantage in both.

    Also, you’d like that Specialized with it’s advanced rim manufacturing could create a rim bed without any spoke holes to help tubeless setup. Ritchey does this, hell Yoleo OEM Chinese wheels have this option!

    • velocite

      How do you judge a ‘tubeless setup’? My first tubeless wheels had an aggressive bead seat. Once I managed to seat a tyre with an ordinary floor pump, but usually it took a compressor or flash pump. The replacement wheels, after I destroyed the first on a pothole, have no shoulder. They always require a flash pump. The only advantage of a shoulder that I found is that I could reliably check the sealant level by removing the valve core and inserting a wire dipstick. Doesn’t really work with the no-shoulder design because the shape of the tyre changes – and the fluid tends to slop out.

      Seems clear from this review that you’d ditch the individual seals and go with tape. Does seem silly that you’d have to do that with wheels at ‘this price point’ – which I was not really aware of!

      • James Huang

        Yes, I would replace the plugs with tape myself on these (which I did), but even then, I wasn’t fully satisfied with the wheels’ tubeless performance. As stated in the review, it seems fine for general road use (at typical road riding pressures), but would not be my first choice for lower-pressure applications like cyclocross, or maybe even gravel riding.

        • velocite

          Is that because you think they would be more likely to burp at low pressures without the locating shoulder?

          • James Huang

            The locking shoulders themselves are not requisite features, but in my opinion, the fit between the tire and rim on a tubeless setup needs to be sufficiently secure such that the tire won’t peel off the rim at low pressures in high-traction situations like cyclocross.

            • RayG

              Two layers of tape?

            • Il_falcone

              Finally the wild west years of road tubeless may come to an end rather sooner than later. From what I’ve heard recently from my contacts at a big tire manufacturer heavily involved in the road tubeless market the ISO council wants to define a standard for TL rims and tires to be included in the next updated version of their norm for road bikes. I was skeptical at first when I heard that but those guys believe that this will have a bigger impact than any effort the ETRTO could ever come up with. Contributing to that effect seems to be that after many years of denying that road tubeless has any advantages Mavic has finally jumped onto that band waggon and now put all their influence – which still seems to be big – behind it.
              From what I know now a hump in the rim bed will be a feature incorporated in that standard now that even road rims have become wide enough that there’s enough space for two properly placed hump AND a sufficiently wide center channel necessary to ease tire installation.

              • Wily_Quixote

                Pirelli?

                • Il_falcone

                  Who, the tire company I work for? It’s German and it’s not Continental ;-).

  • jon

    Question: “stable” was one of the words that you used in the title. In your experience, is instability an issue in wide-body 30+mm carbon rims? When you said stable are you referring to stability in crosswind or stability in general, such as descending? I have encountered high speed wobble when descending on two separate times, first time was riding Zipp 202 on a roadie, and the second time was using ENVE XC 29’er rim on a CX bike. After those two experiences, I began to question the wisdom of 30+mm carbon rims.

    • James Huang

      When I say “stable”, I’m referring to how well the wheels hold their line in windy conditions. Deeper rims do tend to be more easily influenced by crosswinds than shallower ones, but it’s not always a one-to-one correlation. I’ve ridden some shallow-section rims that got blown around way more than I would have expected, and some deeper-section rims that are rock-solid.

    • Ragtag

      I have always found the Campagnolo and Fulcrum wheels very well built. The Boras are a much more superior wheel than ENVE and Zipp in my humble opinion because of the build quality, bearings etc. The real life difference between the aero performance of an ENVE or Zipp or Rovals is going to be miniscule when compared to the narrower BORAs but the real life difference between the build quality is surely material and felt. I am happy to lose 1/2 a second for better bearings and build quality of the Campagnolos and Fulcrums to be honest.

      • jon

        interesting you point out the bearing factor, Campagnolo’s bearing is completely different than what others are using. Not sure if its the grease or the balls just spent that more time in polishing for friction reduction.

  • StevieTopSiders

    I was considering the tubular versions of these wheels as the “race wheels” for my next build, which would avoid the tubeless issues you discovered. I live in Seattle, though, and it looks like those Ceramic bearings are gonna be NO GOOD for our weather.

    • James Huang

      I don’t know if water played any factor in the short lifespan of the hub bearings on my test wheelset. I received the wheels brand-new eight months ago (as part of the Specialized Venge ViAS Expert Disc I reviewed a while back), and they’ve maybe been ridden in wet conditions once or twice. I’m not sure what caused the bearings to go bad up front, but they feel crunchy now nevertheless.

  • Youme

    What is the widest tire these can handle? Since everything has gone 32m-50m these days since they provide less rolling resistance, can they handle them?

    • James Huang

      I suppose that depends on who you ask. It wasn’t long ago that mountain bike rims weren’t even this wide, and yet we were all running 2.3″ tires on them. In terms of aerodynamics, though, you likely wouldn’t want to go with an actual width greater than 28mm on these.

  • cthenn

    Excellent review as always. However, I’ll just never be able to look at wheel prices the same anymore, with the influx of (I’ll just use the term) “generic” carbon wheels. You may not be able to check all the boxes for the very latest in wheel tech, but you can get almost the same performance (probably imperceptible to the majority of recreational riders) out of generic wheels that cost (in some cases) 10x less.

    Not trying to start another one of these pointless debates, I’m just stating my view of where the pricing has gone on wheelsets. I see value in most cycling related items, even very expensive ones, but carbon wheels is where I am having trouble aligning the price points with perceived value, especially when we’re talking close (or over) $3,000.

    These are very nice looking wheels though! Tubeless is something I can foresee myself getting into in the future, but this wheelset seems to be a no-go for that.

    • James Huang

      Agreed; wheel prices have gotten pretty outrageous, and the increasing prevalence of disc brakes is removing much of the advantage the bigger brands held over no-names in terms of heat resistance and other rim brake-related issues.

      That all said, if you don’t want or need an especially aerodynamic setup, there are some outstanding aluminum rims out there now, both in terms of performance and value.

      • Superpilot

        All I ever see is $4k carbon wheels splashed everywhere. So hard when your budget is less than $500. Cheap light and tough, pick any 2…

        • Wily_Quixote

          I reckon you can pick any 3. How much heavier are mid-range wheels than elite wheels?

          if you really want the carbon effect on your aluminium wheels put on bigger tyres for comfort and, next time that it rains, lightly spray your braking surface with WD-40 to duplicate the loss in braking effectiveness.

      • MattyP

        ‘gotten’ no
        ‘become’ yes

        • Wily_Quixote

          Gotten is a word, albeit a word that has all but disappeared in modern British English. It is still used commonly, and correctly, in the North American idiom. The word still appears in British English – commonly in the word ‘forgotten’ and less commonly in ‘ill-gotten’.

          The author was not wrong to use ‘gotten’, it is jarring to non Americans but I have gotten somewhat used to it now.

      • Ragtag

        Which ones do you recommend in alu rims?

        • James Huang

          That depends. What features/characteristics are you looking for?

          • AllanBarr

            Wide, light(ish), tubeless.

            • James Huang

              Define “wide”. Also, what’s your timeline?

              • AllanBarr

                I would define wide for a road wheel as +25mm external, but would happily go wider.

                I have a new Canyon Endurace Di2 Disc (based upon your excellent review) with clearance up to 33/35mm. Regarding timeline, if you’re asking how long I’m prepared to wait to buy a new set of wheels, then I could probably hold off another 6 to 12 months for the right pair.

                The spec on these Rovals looked ideal (tubeless, 27mm, 12mm F&R and sub 1500g), so I was eagerly awaiting your review. However, having read your impressions, I don’t think I can justify spending my hard earned cash on them.

                Keen to hear your thoughts on other options to consider, either now or in the relatively near future.

                P.S. please keep the excellent reviews coming!

                • James Huang

                  One key point I’d like to get across is that external rim width is only important in terms of aerodynamics and rim brake caliper compatibility. In terms of how a rim width affects tire performance, it’s the internal width on which you should focus your attention.

                  Currently, my favorite option is the Enve 4.5 AR Disc, which has an unusually wide 25mm *internal* width, tubeless compatibility, and a 31mm external width that seems almost ideally suited for 28mm (marked width) tires. It’s quite dreamy at 45psi :)

                  Here’s the review I wrote on them last year: https://cyclingtips.com/2016/12/enve-ses-4-5-ar-disc-wheelset-review-changing-the-game/

                  • AllanBarr

                    Absolutely understand your point about internal vs. external widths. I should’ve made my reply clearer.

                    Those in Enve’s did sound fantastic wheels, but at £2500 GBP they are WAY out of my league!

                    • James Huang

                      Sorry, misunderstood! And no worries at all; those Enves are out of my range, too :)

                      Feel free to email me directly so we can discuss further: james.huang@cyclingtips.com.

      • AllanBarr

        Was eagerly waiting on this write up. Really fancied these wheels, but the tubeless issues are a bit of a deal breaker for me. That’s an interesting point you make about aluminium rims. What are some of the examples you’d point out of modern alu rims?

  • Il_falcone

    Unbelievable that Speci…, sorry Roval, still has not understood how the perfect rim bed for TL tires has to look like. There are of course other companies who also sell some of their wheels as tubeless-ready which are clearly not. But for Roval’s brand new line of wheels I certainly wouldn’t have expected that. What a major fault (shaking my head in disbelief).

    Thanks James for sticking your finger into that wound ;-)

  • velocite

    It’s unusual for a hub bearing to fail, in my experience anyway. Did grease get out or dirt get in? Faulty design or faulty manufacture? I would think CeramicSpeed would be keen to have a look – especially after this review.

    • Il_falcone

      It’s absolutely not unusual for hub bearings to fail. I see that all the time. Most of the time the reason is a combination of immersed water and too little grease in the bearings which were not produced for bicycles applications and therefore received an insufficient amount of grease for that application. But many hubs these days also come with bearings which have inadequate load ratings for the forces a hub sees. That’s of course more of a problem with rear hubs than front hubs. It’s a consequence of using thru axles which necessitates axles that have at least 15 mm outer diameter. Many hubs have already moved to 17 mm axle diameter. Since you can’t increase the outer diameter of the freehub body for obvious reasons the space you can fit the bearings into has become somewhat limited. In order to compensate for this you would have to use different bearings or more than just two of the smaller ball bearings that still fit in, but nobody does that because of the associated weight gain.
      And my personal experience as a mechanic / engineer with Ceramic bearings of all makers can be summarized in two words: Stay away! At least if you have to pay for them and don’t have a mechanic who does the wrenching (bearing replacement) for you.

      • velocite

        Not being a mechanic my only experience of ceramic bearings is the hybrid ceramics in my 6 year old SRAM Red bottom bracket. Spins beautifully – but I conscientiously grease them every hundred hours or so with grease from CeramicSpeed.

        • Il_falcone

          6 years of use on bb bearings? You must be either a climber type of rider or ride that bike not so frequently. The biggest mileage I can get out of even the best bb bearings is always considerably lower than 10k km. 80 to 82 kg rider weight, a lot of (sometimes punchy) climbing and some sprints put in for the fun of it, bike components are not really made for this kind of load.

          • velocite

            Well, here’s my alternative fact: to date the bike has done 45,990 kms and an estimated 805,684m of climbing – and I weigh 78kg. Hard to reconcile…

  • dllm

    As an owner I could testify that the disappointment is true indeed.

    I run it on road bike, but expect the tires to be secure on rim even when theres no pressure. Think tire suddenly got cut deeply, down hill… It would be much safer if the beads stay put.

    Not perfect tubeless. Yes… So close…

  • b sloma

    Sad that this has already been figured out, yet this poor design was still brought to market.

    It seems like the driving force of designing these wheels was weight, and nothing but. Stupid light carbon disc wheels that most people can’t afford. What drives this nonsense?

  • NLee

    Any update on the review of the CLX 50 rim brake version?

    • Tyler2017

      Agreed, would love to see a review of the CLX 50, especially since no other website has reviewed them. Also, in general, if there are disc and non-disc versions of the exact same wheel, seems like it makes more sense to review the rim versions. We all know disc brakes work flawlessly, but rim brake performance can very widely, from great to awful.

    • James Huang

      Matt Wikstrom currently has the 32, 50, and 64mm rim-brake CLX wheels on hand for an upcoming detailed comparison review. Shouldn’t be much longer at this point. Sit tight!

      • Tyler2017

        Brilliant, hopefully his review will be as insightful as this one. Looking forward to it.

  • Tan

    I’m surprised that they decided it is okay to use plugs on the disc version when the issue is only related to the rim version. That just sounds like they got lazy at the end of the development cycle. Pity

    And can we get a proper standard for road tubeless that’s not UST?

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