Roval CLX32 vs Zipp 404 NSW

Has anyone used both of the above wheelsets that can offer advice? I am at my wits end and am looking to buy a new set of carbon clinchers.

I currently have some Zipp 404 NSW rim brake wheels. They give me constant brake rub problems. I am a bigger, stronger rider at 86kg / 400W FTP / 1550W peak power. But they just rub all the time, with the brakes wide open. Yesterday I did a TT with them and they were even rubbing when sat down on the flat when I hit small imperfections in the road (not potholes, just natural little bumps). They also rub in corners let alone if I actually get out the saddle. I’ve had them checked over by a wheel builder and a shop but there’s nothing officially wrong with them.

I’m after some new race wheels and can get a decent deal on some Roval CLX32s. Has anyone ridden both that can comment on the relative performance of the two with regard to whether the Rovals can actually hold their shape?! Thanks

For someone of your size, the Roval is going to be worse, in the depth you are mentioning.

Given that very few manufacturers are making 28 spoke rims these days, you are better off looking for a deeper section rear wheel, which should deflect less due to both the shorter spoke length and the more rigid carbon structure.

Enve 5.6 combo, or if you can swap the rear wheel on the Roval’s for a CLX64 that might also work.

I will say that the Rovals 50s are very stiff, bordering on harsh for my size at 68kg so they may actually be a decent option as well.


Thanks. I don’t think it’s really about the rim depth though causing the issue. I’ve used many alloy wheels in the past which were fine at ~25mm depth and I’ve also had a set of carbon Reynolds ~50mm which didn’t rub (but had other issues with the hub).

Everyone I speak to says that Zipps are just not well made enough and always cause rub. I just don’t want to buy something new and have the same issue so hoping someone has used a set of Rovals or similar that can compare them. Enve’s pricing is just ludicrous (at least where I live) so I’m looking at other options.

What was the spoke count and lacing pattern on the alloy wheels?

Depending on how the Zipps are currently laced, you could have them laced with a different pattern (i.e. if they are 1x you could probably go to 2x) which should help with some of the lateral movement.

I use the same Zipp wheels as you and experience the same problem and it really annoys me. I ran the none NSW wheels many years ago and they weren’t as bad.
On another bike I run Roval CL40’s and they’re definitely a harsher ride. I can’t comment on wheel rub as that bike is running disc brakes.

The Zipp wheels are definitely faster and more comfortable than the Roval wheels. They also spin more freely compared to the Roval wheels.

1 Like

I agree with @stevemz about the rim depth and lacing comments. Also consider what model of spoke it is. Are there stiffer options available that your LBS can recommend? I’m not an expert on wheel building, but believe CX rays have a good reputation…


“Not well made enough” suggests quality control issues.

The problem you’re experiencing is design issues. Your wheelset doesn’t have sufficient lateral stiffness for your liking. Some other riders might prefer the Zipps over stiffer wheels.

Ways to get more lateral stiffness:

  • Stiffer rim construction (thicker cross sections/walls, at the expense of more weight)
  • Deeper rim
  • Different spoke lacing
  • More spokes
  • Stiffer hub

So when you replied, “it’s not the rim depth”, well… it can be, because it’s one of the factors that affect overall wheel stiffness. Not only is a deeper rim inherently stiffer, but it also shortens the spokes, which makes those stiffer as well.

I’m a few kg heavier than you and have clx32 that came with my bike and some nsw zipps ~50mm depth. I did have the rear nsw hub fail and recently rebuilt the rear wheel with a dt Swiss hub, the builder used round spokes on the drive side so it’d be stiffer under standing efforts at my weight. The Rovals are nice and they’ve been sturdy but I do have some rotor rub on the front during standing or faster turns that doesn’t seem to happen on the zipps. Have had no trueness issues with the Rovals, around 7000 miles on them by now over 2.5 years.

1 Like

OP has rim brakes. His whole wheel is flexing causing brake rub.

Your wheel may or may not be flexing, but it’s mainly the hub and frame flexing that’s causing your rotor(s) to rub.

My wife and I have experience with 808 NSW front, 454 NSW front, 858 NSW front, and 808 Firecrest front and rear, all carbon clinchers. No experience with Roval.

Our zipps rub too, but we just leave brakes more wide open, leaving a bit more play in the cable when I set the cable with the screw. For regular riding, I’ll adjust the barrel adjuster to close the tolerance a bit. At that point, it takes an out of the saddle sprint >>1400W to get them rubbing. I tension the wheels to max, use Sapim CXray spokes, and make sure it’s true. My wifes won’t rub even when sprinting. She’s 62-64kg with 1200W max power. I’m 95kg with ~2000W max power. They’ll rub when I sprint unless I leave the brakes REALLY open, which I do if I’m going to be sprinting.

What I find odd is that yours are rubbing when seated. I have not experienced that. Post a picture of your brakes in the most open position you ride them in?? I’m curious.

1 Like

The problem is actually too stiff of a rim realtime to the spoke stiffness which is why you don’t see it with aluminum rims. The hoop on carbon rims are much stiffer than aluminum so the actually deflect in the opposite direction of the force being applied. The solution as others mentioned is more spokes, possibly different lacing, stiffer spokes with higher tension, or a deeper carbon rim.

This rim stiffness issue is one I’ve heard before, which is one reason why I’d have thought a shallower rim (like the CLX32) may be beneficial?

Either way, I believe it’s likely not just a single issue, but perhaps the overall design of the Zipps since they seem markedly worse than other wheels I’ve used in the past of various depths/materials/spokes.

It’s difficult to get a good picture but I measured the gap with callipers at 5mm either side so there is a lot of lateral movement to hit the pads. They’ll make contact when cornering hard and sometimes even when seated.

It’s a 24h rear, but I’ve used several 24h wheels over the years without issue. I have a set of 16/21 spoked Fulcrums that are solid. Yes, if I actively try and get rub with those Fulcrums I can, but I think they show that with 24h it should be possible for the Zipps to perform.

Perhaps a different way to approach the problem could be:

If you were to build up a rear wheel using a Zipp 404 NSW rim brake 24h rim to achieve the best sprinting wheel with the least lateral movement, what components would you choose and how much improvement would you expect vs the stock 404? Which hub, spokes and layout would you choose?

I can’t find the existing hub dimensions of the Zipp hubs so I’d say anything that has a wider hub flange diameter. The Industry Nine road hubs seem to have a 59mm drive side flange, so that could be a good option. Otherwise the MI5 hub from White Industries could also work with 55mm on both sides.

If the Zipps are laced 1x drive side and radial non drive side, going to a 2x drive and non drive side with CX-Rays would be a meaningful improvement when taking in combination.

We aren’t talking about a massive improvement here, but it could be a few percent which could prevent the rub at a lower all in cost.

Was just about to say the same - anything with a wider flange will shorten the spoke length needed. If you want to get into the weeds, a hub with the smallest possible drilling will help.

Re spokes…There are heavier guage CX rays, but you may even want to look at CX sprints.

Similar to the CX-Ray but stiffer and heavier duty due to its thicker gauge bladed section. The CX-Sprint it a great choice for MTB, cyclocross, and road riders looking to emphasize lateral stiffness with the advantages of a blades spoke. The aerodynamic elliptic shaped blade fits all standard hub holes.