2022 Roval Rapide & Alpinist CLX II (now tubeless capable)

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As someone who occasionally dabbles in shock-related requirements, design, and testing for work, I found this super interesting. Thanks!!

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I am so pissed!! So although the wheel sets look the same, I mean you take the tire off my 2020 SL7 Pro it looks tubless. But it’s not tubless??

Sure was interesting to hear the real backstory. Funny (or upsetting for Roval owners) to look back at the introduction and podcast discussions that CyclingTips in particular offered. One with the Roval crew and another with CT only.

  • Read the article (CT in particular) to learn that there is more to it than “looks”. They stumbled onto what some might consider a serious design flaw (and got lucky that Sagan is the bike handler he is :wink: ), and took the easy road by swapping to tubed-only use.

  • After more than a little research and testing, they altered the functional design inside the wheel to correct that problem.

I read it, but i still don’t see it’s 100% clear. Can you set them up as tubless as long as you’re not jumping round abouts?


People can certainly go against manufacturer recommendations and prohibitions. They do so at their own risk though, and I can understand the reason for not running them tubeless. Hopping curbs is one thing, but unexpected stuff happens to people all the time.

Catch a pothole you don’t see when following a group, or simply not paying attention to any other sharp road irregularity, and you can be right in the same boat that Sagan landed. Not something I would take lightly.

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Why are you pissed? The original wheels were never advertised as tubeless.


no but they basically are. You just can’t crash on them lol

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As an outside person who doesn’t own these wheels (but knows 2 locals with them), I think Roval made a good, difficult choice by not rating the originals for tubeless. Shitty deal for them to have to knowingly downgrade them despite their clear intentions and goals. They got real heat from teams, management, bike mags and users.

But the why behind that decision is what sticks with me. They chose to protect the users and prevent them from running a potentially dangerous combo, even if the odds were low for exposure. Cynics might say they were mainly covering themselves from potential litigation, which is likely true to a point, but the results of their non-tubeless rating kept people safe on both ends.

Point being, they didn’t remove a capability that was actually promised to users, but I see how it might be frustrating considering the notable marketing push at that time and the apparent contradiction with that and the wheels presented (looking quite compatible).

As a person working at an equipment manufacturer, I respect the tough call they made back then.


The CT article has a quote from Victor a Specialized engineer on the Roval team. That is the guy I met at the top of a gravel climb 10 days ago on the Central Coast. We had nearly identical SL7s down the the color and wheels, except for groupset (SRAM vs Shimano), and he was riding some unannounced tires. Respecting his position and non-disclosure agreements, I didn’t press him for details on the backstory. However we did have an interesting conversation including a technical discussion on why tubeless requires a different rim design.

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The level of effort that they put into solving this problem and improving the rims is impressive, and I think things like this are what separate the big name brands from smaller brands. Now that this is public, how many brands will change their testing to do destructive testing with rims configured tubeless? I think Roval has set the bar here, possibly to the point where manufacturers that choose not to do this could reasonably be viewed as negligent.
It is things like this that really give me pause regarding ordering much cheaper directly imported wheels, even from well known and largely respected brands. I’d love to see a meaningful response from places like lightbicycle, farsports, and winspace.

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Sure, but it’s like driving a car with faulty seat belts. It’ll drive fine, just don’t crash it.

Surviving impacts in a safe manner is a pretty important design consideration for things like this. So just because it might work under your normal operating conditions, doesn’t make it safe to use in the event that you hit something.

Also, the wheels were never advertised as tubeless so this isn’t some big surprise or anything that they aren’t tubeless compatible.

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For how much vitriol that Spec gets (sometimes warranted for sure!) I am really surprised the initial reactions don’t see this as egregious. They backpedaled on “tubeless is everything” by offering non-tubeless wheels under the moniker of “designing the best/lightest wheels possible” - which was patently false. Then 2 years later they come clean and turn it into another marketing story around their new, faster, more expensive wheels. Brilliant but an extreme example of what they get taken to task for…

I am glad it was sorted out, and looking forward to them being offered in the CL versions, but holy cow, they are diabolical…


Lol. So rims failed the qc and there was no time to change anyting.
Kudos to forum experts for casually calling this out back then. I remember more than one making this guess.

Now, what about all the other premium(!) rim manufacturers out there?

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The press covered the last minute change from tubeless to tube only. What was missing is how they discovered a problem big enough to make that last minute change. Now we know.


Yup. The spin they used is regrettable but also understandable. I ask anyone to consider what they’d think of any other approach for the product introduction.

  • Hey everyone… we have these great new wheels that were supposed to be tubeless, but we nearly killed a world tour pro… so we figure tubes is best for everyone right now, thanks!

Just rolls off the tongue and instills confidence, doesn’t it :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s hard to imagine any other company would cop to that fully and openly, but that’s just my speculation. If they had, I expect there’d be strong pushback on the product in any fashion or use to the point that it would have potentially failed.

It’s the “rock and hard place” situation for sure. I still think they did the right thing from a safety standpoint. Marketing aimed to at get a product in place that met plenty of requirements and needs, but lacked one feature they’d hoped to include is certainly questionable then as now. Noting that, it’s hard to expect them to trash the whole project, or take a larger risk in full exposure that there were potential failures if used as they had originally hoped. Again, what would any other company do in that situation?


Just sell them like they planned. Before doing so create a shell company in bahamas and spin the whole wheel business to it for a gigantic sum.
Come litigation your craptonit wheels ltd would go belly up, you apologise and people move on.

LOL, yup… shady and likely to be the case more often than we probably want to know :wink:

Those 3.5W faster because of tubeless really sounds like bro science.
I am pretty happy with gen one, they are amazing.
ENVE SES releases are just around the corner, too. Probably good to wait if they are more appealing than the new rovals.


Agree with you, the gen one are amazing but I’m sick of all the flats because our roads are littered with nails and screws.

Finally used my Specialized discount this morning, and ‘your order has shipped’ email just landed in my inbox. Rapide CLX II are on the way. Now I just need to find a buyer for my gen one… And a gravel bike for the Terra CLX lol.