Roval announces new range of lightweight carbon fiber cockpit components

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Roval has always been known exclusively as a wheel brand, but the label is now expanding into premium carbon fiber handlebars and seatposts — with much more likely to follow in the months ahead.

Headlining the road side of things is the new Alpinist cockpit, which boasts a one-piece molded handlebar-and-stem layout and titanium steerer tube clamp bolts that help bring the claimed weight down to just 255 grams. There’s also a dedicated attachment point for Specialized’s tidy computer mount (the same as what’s used on the Venge and Tarmac), internal routing that’s compatible with all major mechanical and electronic drivetrains (Campagnolo EPS included), and the steerer clamp threads are replaceable in the event of a hamfisted mishap.

The handlebar dimensions and shape are on the more traditional side, with nominally round tops and a more classical bend with the same 125 mm of drop and 75 mm of reach shared across all sizes. And speaking of sizes, Roval thankfully isn’t skimping here as there will be ten variants offered in total. The narrowest 40 cm bar (center-to-center) is offered in 80, 90, and 100 mm stem lengths; the 42 cm bar in 90, 100, 110, and 120 mm lengths; and the 44 cm bar in 110, 120, and 130 mm lengths. The rider weight limit is specified at 125 kg / 275 lb, and the retail price is US$600.

The shape and dimensions of the Roval Alpiniste one-piece road cockpit look fantastic for riders who want a traditional look and feel with minimal weight. The bolt-on computer mount looks especially tidy, too.

Joining the integrated cockpit is the Alpinist carbon fiber seatpost, whose main technological draw is its low claimed weight of 136 g for the 300 mm-long version, and 141 g for the 350 mm variant. For now, Roval is only offering the Alpinist seatpost in a single 27.2 mm diameter with a 12 mm setback on the two-bolt head. Retail price is US$275.

On the gravel front, Roval is offering for the aftermarket the same Terra carbon fiber seatpost currently found on higher-end Specialized Diverge models, boasting up to 18 mm of claimed movement (depending on rider weight, impact force, and seatpost extension, of course) to help smooth the ride on rough terrain.

The Alpiniste seatpost (left) is designed more for shaving grams, while the Terra seatpost (right) is mostly meant to provide a smoother ride.

The Terra seatpost is also only offered in 27.2 mm diameters, but in 330 mm and 380 mm lengths, and 0 mm and 20 mm offsets, all with a side-access, single-bolt cylindrical head. Claimed weights range from 199-203 grams, and retail price is US$250.

Finally, the mountain bike crowd gets the new Traverse carbon fiber handlebar, which is “built to handle the biggest descents and rowdiest lines without compromising on weight [and is] both ready for the EWS circuit and everyday trail shredding.”

The Traverse handlebar is available in 780 mm and 800 mm widths (Roval apparently doesn’t trust buyers with a hacksaw), both with 35 mm stem clamp diameters, 30 mm of rise, six degrees of back sweep, and eight degrees of upsweep, all with a claimed weight of 227 grams. Retail price is US$170.

The Roval Traverse carbon handlebar sounds pretty good on paper, but it’s debatable whether it has the cachet to draw buyers from brands will more storied reputations.

Pricing for all of the above in other currencies is to be confirmed.

Why bother?

Invariably, the question will come up of why Roval would bother making such a stink about standalone components when so many people still view it as a sub-brand of Specialized. After all, virtually every major bike company has its in-house component label these days, and they’ve all faced the same challenges of convincing buyers that they can compete with brands that are more solely dedicated to the respective categories.

Can Roval really be viewed as being on-par with the likes of Enve, Ritchey, Fizik, and others? From a purely functional perspective, there’s honestly very little — if any — legitimate argument to the contrary, and Roval’s marketing materials certainly indicate that the people there believe they can go head-to-head. Not that this is necessarily any grand indication of the greater market, either, but it’s perhaps worth noting that I didn’t hesitate to use the Bontrager Aeolus RSL cockpit (Bontrager is Trek’s in-house component division) on my personal Seven Evergreen Pro, which, as it turns out, also proudly wears a set of Roval Terra CLX carbon clinchers.

“At Roval, our composites engineers are some of the best in the world. Up to now, their talents have been trained on our class-leading wheels as a means to improve the riding experience for discerning riders.

“When we identified components beyond wheels that we felt we could make a difference, we turned our engineers loose on a new challenge: to develop components that truly elevate the ride.

“These new components are the first fruits of our work, and we’re proud of the accomplishments of our team in building components that meet our motto of being True To Your Ride. Developed to exceed rider expectations on the trails and roads of every surface, this is just the beginning for us. We have the best R&D resources in the world and we’re taking full advantage of them to make the best carbon composite components we can.”

Function is one thing, but perception is another. Admittedly, Roval’s wheels truly have proven themselves to be just as good — and, in some cases, better — than what’s currently out there. But will the rest of the buying public agree? Let us know in the comments below.

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