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  • Legstrong

    CLX 64 wheelset was in my radar until I received some inputs from local racers that the rear wheels consistently rubbed the brake pads when they sprinted. Then I saw Bike Radar’s youtube review on some carbon clincher wheels, including CLX 64s, which confirmed the same issue. Bike radar called it “flexi”, though the wheels were aerodynamically not bad. It might have been caused by less material in a pursue of light wheels.

    I think these wheels have the thinnest wall section, particularly on the braking surface area, in the market. 21mm inner width…

    • Heath Dotson

      Having recently built up a set of deep section rims and experiencing brake/chainstay rub despite 24 2x spokes I went looking for answers. What seems to be happening with the deeper section rims is that they are so stiff that there is no flex in the rim itself and they are overwhelming the spokes. I personally wondered about the Rovals since they only have 21 spokes. This seems to confirm my guess that they’d do the same thing. There’s a few good resources out there that explains all this. One Damon Rinard did, and another is http://www.rouesartisanales.com/

  • Marcus

    I’m surprised there’s not more weight given to the poor braking performance. You’ve called it out, but I’d suggest one of the most important features of a rim-brake wheelset is how well you can stop when you need to – perhaps second only to structural integrity. Does it matter how light, aero, or stiff they are if you’re inherently less safe? If they’re not up to par on this point, they’re just not worth it. I realise these are probably no worse in this regard than all carbon rims were a few years back, but given their price they should be expected to stack up against the (now exceptional) braking offered by Enve etc.

    • I can see two aspects to the quality of braking. First, there’s whether the brakes can slow the wheel, and second, there’s how much confidence it gives the rider. In terms of general safety, I’ve yet to encounter a wheel that fails the first test, even in the wet. It’s the second aspect where I see the greatest differentiation, but it is subject to a variety of conditions, including the weather and the rider’s skill.

      In this instance, Roval’s wheels aren’t unsafe, but the quality of braking may undermine a rider’s confidence. As you’ve noted, a high-end wheelset really should inspire every buyer’s confidence.

      • Larry @CycleItalia

        So what is UNSAFE? There should be some sort of standard for these things. X braking force for X time at X speed and X load with the specified brake pads. INDEPENDENTLY tested and verified. Too many seem to think if something can be sold it must be safe to use. And once these things are proven to melt under more-or-less normal conditions, why no recalls?

        • Once any product gets into the hands of the general population, you can count on at least one person finding a way to challenge it to the point where it starts to fail. Some may label this as misuse or abuse but how do you distinguish this from normal use? And how do you even define what normal is?

          Brake load testing is important and at least some manufacturers subject their rims to this kind of testing, but how will a consumer know whether they are within those limits when hurtling down a hill? There’s no readout to guide them, and besides, they’re more likely to pay attention to their sphincter response.

          • Larry @CycleItalia

            Fair enough, but we’re not discussing misuse as if the consumer was using a rotary lawn mower as a hedge trimmer. This is more like a motor vehicle manufacturer equipping an automobile with brakes that work great, until you attach a trailer and drive down a steep hill. Aluminum bike wheel rims have to have a wear indicator so the consumer knows when to replace them, but no independent agency tests carbon clincher rims to see if they melt under severe braking loads?

          • OR_biker

            Releasing my inner 12 year-old for a moment…

            “sphincter response” <—- hehe :-D

  • MrJono

    A riding partner of mine cooked the rear rim of his Rovals descending a 5k climb in France very recently. The brake track was completely warped. He’s well below the rider weight limit. Perhaps the relatively poor braking contributed to this as he was having to apply more pressure. I rode down beside him and had no trouble with my zipp 303s. He’s yet to speak to Specialized about it but I think any modern carbon wheel should put up with a lot more than that. If he was riding the brakes down the Galibier fair enough, but a 5k descent is a hill, not a col! I had the wheels in mind for when my 303s need replacing but not now.

    • Spartacus

      Sounds like a manufacturing defect on the Roval or a non-approved pad. Carbon rims are fine on any descent (I’ve ridden through the French and Italian Alps on them) but there are couple of points to note. 1. If you are heavy – over 85kg – you are staring to create some risk. 2. You do need to know how to brake like a pro. By that I mean hard and late on the brakes and then straight off them. Dragging brakes will cook a rim in no time and, ironically, those who are fearful and so drag end up increasing their chances of crashing through a rim delam.

      My very strong recommendation is for riders who aren’t high-level descenders to stick to alu

      • MrJono

        I was ahead of him so can’t really say I know exactly how he was breaking, but unless the manufacturers are going to detail that technique as part of the bike’s documentation they should stand up to any kind of breaking on a 5k hill. He was using the pads that came with the bike. In my opinion he has a strong case for a replacement, and an even stronger case to use aluminium rims next time he’s descending a lot.

  • Luis Lopez

    I still have a pair of rovals from the late eighties, they where best aero wheels before carbon existed

  • Eat More Lard

    I was wondering if you were planning on a similar comparison – Bontrager’s Aeolus 3 TLR D3 clincher vs the new Pro 3 TLR, which is half the price?

    • CyclingCraze

      OR review carbon wheels on Ebay for $500 with similar profiles to famous rims. I’ve got 2 pair, each as good as famous names with better braking than the Rovals.
      But those rims from China dont advertise here :(

      • James Huang

        I can’t speak for Matt, but I decided long ago that I was unwilling to test any carbon clincher wheels that didn’t come with some serious heat testing data to go with them. These sorts of review proposals land in my inbox regularly, but almost without fail, the line goes dead when I ask for that sort of test data — and one time that I can recall, the company provided test data that basically proved that their wheels would fail under heavy braking loads.

        I’m as interested in high-value kit as anyone, but I’m not willing to risk my own safety to do so (and while I haven’t experienced any major heat-related wheel issues, I have plenty of good friends who have).

        • SpartanBike

          really James you review enve wheelsets? ask why enve refuses to send their wheels for testing by TourMagIntl. the golden standard.

    • No plans at the moment, but it would be an interesting comparison.

  • Tan

    I guess if you’re using disc, these wheels are excellent then. So the CLX 50 will be the best all-round of the bunch since its +100g from the CLX32 offsets by its aero performance?

  • Larry @CycleItalia

    Thanks for what seems to be a refreshingly honest review. Not much has changed despite what the marketing-mavens would have you believe – “…aerodynamic performance is just a nuance that prospective buyers may or may not appreciate when using the wheels.”
    In the end the sexy look is what sells this stuff – same as it was with Spinergy Rev-X back-in-the-day. “Carbon clincher ” continues to be a performance oxymoron – you want light weight? Ride carbon tubulars if you’re OK with the reduced braking performance/special pads, etc. Convenience? Ride aluminum clinchers…and save a ton of money in the process.

    • Dexter Deveau

      100% agree Larry – my alloy C24’s aren’t going anywhere.

  • Sean Lally

    Hey-soos, way out of my range! Slightly off topic, but can anyone recommend a single wheel in the 300-400 USD range?

    • OR_biker

      Flo 30’s are like $270 for the rear wheel and $225 for the front I believe. Aluminum clinchers. Can be hard to order occasionally since they’re a direct-to-consumer place and are often out of stock. I had one of their 60mm carbon clinchers ($600) and loved it, but wife made me sell when we were buying our house. But I’ve heard a lot of good things about the 30’s, and if I can’t talk my wife into letting me get a deeper set again I’ll most likely opt for the 30’s for my next wheel purchase. They put a lot of work into aerodynamics (founders are brothers who are both engineers and triathletes), so even the 30mm is claimed to be pretty aero for the depth, and it’s a wider rim too. They try to be very transparent about their testing/design methods as well, so even if it’s still marketing BS it at least *feels* like their claims are true :-)

      • Sean Lally

        Thanks for the great recommendation. I’ll check those out!

  • Heath Dotson

    How much does the tester weigh? 50psi seems super low.

    • I’m around 75kg. I’ve been experimenting with tyre pressures for the last few years and it’s clear that there is no magic number: https://cyclingtips.com/2017/05/what-is-the-optimal-tyre-pressure-2/

      • Spartacus

        Beat me to it! I remember the linked article Matt but am really interested to know how you find the speed at 50psi -ie perception vs reality. I have recently dropped to 90psi (same weight as you) and felt I was pushing the envelope…

        • There was some of that sense when first I started dropping my tyre pressures. Now, 90psi feels unbearably harsh!

          • Michael

            Thanks for addressing this and linking the other article. 50psi caught my eye too. At 76kg, I’ve been running 80psi on Scwhalbe Pro One tubeless 28C or 85 with the 25C (topically, on CLX32s). I thought that was low!

            As an aside, I managed to rip a sidewall on the Schwalbe and ended up in conversation with their North American tech support. Schwalbe still recommends old-school tire/rim width mapping, which specifies that the 21mm internal width of the CLX should use a 35mm tire(!).

  • pedr09

    I get that Roval is playing in the Zipp/Enve league and I understand the law of diminishing value as you go up in price but if I was buying a new wheelset today and had no limit on budget, I’d still be asking myself if these wheels, at A$3,600, were any better than the A$1,400 Reynolds Assault SLGs I’ve been running the past few years. My current thinking says no.

    • Velt

      The 2015 onwards Reynolds assaults are damn fine wheels for the money. Have a pair myself.

  • Webbovich

    I like what James Huang is saying about heat, but feel that it can be better aligned to application. Coming off the Glandon in 2015 a colleagues spokes cut through his enve 3.4 rim like a knife to butter. Alu rims or disc brakes would be better is most instances for long descents, I believe.

    I disagree with the CLX50 being the one that shines out; caught in the marketers web maybe? It is not light, not very aero. If I want aero with a hilly course, then CLX32 for me. If I want aero on a flat/flattish course, then CLX64 please. Too heavy for hills, not aero enough for flat racing.

    Regards tyre pressures, what terrain are 50-60psi occurring on and under what conditions? Are they being pushed on corners, and who’s definition? Not critical, just curious.

    • I take in all sorts of terrain from smooth bitumen to potholed chipseal. I like to corner hard and throw the bike around yet tyres with those kind of pressures typically feel sturdy. I wouldn’t recommend diving in and dropping 40-50psi suddenly. Try 10psi and live with it for a week,

  • Nutso

    I have had a set of CLX 64s for about 2 years now (Rim brake) and I have been in general pretty darn happy with the brake performance, in my experience they have definitely been at the worst on par with my aluminum rims. Sort of interested in what would be considered “better”.

  • Matty

    I am going to attempt to offer my $0.02 on the matter…I have over 5000 miles on the CLX50 clincher rim brake model. I am 174 lbs. These wheels brake better than any alum rim brake I have ever used. Not sure what is going on here? They are exceptional in the dry braking department. Even in wet, they are fine. I live in Denver/Golden, CO and know a thing or 3 about going downhill…really fast! Brake rub under sprint load? What? NONE. Period. Stiffest f’ing wheels. Buy them. They rock.


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