Which wheel set with Tarmac SL7? Please help :)

Hi there,

I’m planning to get a tarmac SL7 and I’m wondering which carbon wheel set I should get with it (rapid CLX, Alpinist, Zipp 303). I have seen some discussions about these wheels in the forum but I’m wondering if I can gather more feedbacks.

I live in the Austrian mountains and I love climbing, my favourite segments are around 7 - 10% avg gradients over 5 - 8 kms. I’m 68kg for 189cm with a FTP around 300W.
My A Races are mountain road races around 150km for 2500m elevation.

I have never ridden on tubeless and I do not puncture very often, therefore TL is not so important to me.

The Rapide look cool but I’m thinking the Alpinist may perform better in the mountains? It seems that the guys from Bora and Deceuninck use the Alpinist for the mountain stages too…

Any recommendation? Does it really make a difference or am I overthinking it way too much :slight_smile: ?


I’ve (good) experience with recent Zipp wheelsets, and would say if you’re not big into tubeless probably avoid. From what I hear the Rovals are both great wheelsets, and for a pure road climbing wheelset I don’t think the 303s can offer anything over those. Being forced into tubeless with the hookless rims is also a commitment you don’t need to make from the sounds of things.


Thanks Jack!

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zipp 303 fire crest are 1352g
Roval rapide clx are 1400g

I dont think you will notice 48g, but you will be faster on a 50/60mm rim vs a 40mm rim

I have an SL7 have ridden it with Aeolus Pro 3V (a 32mm wide ‘gravel’ wheel), ENVE 5.6 Disc, and Rapide CLX. Have taken the CLX on a couple climbing rides, about 8000m climbing, with a 3.5km climb at 10%, so comparable to Austrian mountains, but it wasn’t in strong crosswinds. The CLX are my favorite, but out my door I ride mostly flat and rollers (it takes 90-120 minutes to ride to the Sierra mountains).

Rapide CLX are fantastic unless you want TL… which also works great on them, but they aren’t officially rated for it.

Thanks guys for your inputs! It seems the Rapid CLX are the way to go

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Mountain passes on tubeless scares me. I dont know about anyone else, but I like the safety of the latex or butyl tube.

Is it tubeless tires that scare you? Or the combination of tubeless tires + hookless rims? If it is tubeless tires alone, why?

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I’ve descended my fair share of mountain passes, I don’t know what about them presents any more danger to a tubeless setup than any other riding…

Definitely can’t think of any danger that a tube would mitigate…

Ya, my worst experience was front tire flatting suddenly on GP4K with tube. Near the bottom of a 3000’ / 9 mile descent. I’ve also had an issue on a long 4000’ descent running tubeless. I like the feeling of security with Vittoria AirLiner on tubeless.

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Tire inserts are also a great option. They can weigh as little as 11g per tire (tubolight) and you will not be riding on your rim in case of a blowout.

I have see a bead on a tubeless fail. If it would have happened while doing 40mph it would have been bad. Occurred at 10mph

It was a bead failure. The bead wouldn’t hold the hook on the rim

Tubed tires never fail? I’ve only ever had one catastrophic tire failure and it was a tubed tire.


Enve ses 5.6. Love mine and they are amazing with my SL6.

I use Roval CL50s on my SL7 - they are designed for TL and work great with GP5000TLs. So quick and only cost £1200 a few years ago. Wouldn’t want anything else on my bike.


Extremely underrated wheel set… I regret selling mine :frowning: The only wheel set I’ve used so far that beats them in feel are the new Rapide CLX.

But they also cost more than double…

I think there’s more overall risk with tubed clinchers than tubeless. Tubeless punctures rarely lead to an instant flat. Last season my front tyre took a large cut from a piece of sharp metal debris while going flat out downhill. The cut was too big for the sealant to keep it inflated, but it held up long enough to easily come to a stop without drama. Had this been a tubed tyre it would have been an instant flat and probably a big crash. Risk of bead failure is very small if you use the right wheel/tyre combinations. Although I’m not ready to trust hookless rims at this point.

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Hi Robin…

Just wanted to add my .07 cents… I owned a pair of Zipps previously and I had problems with the hubs (three separate times, each time leaving me stranded). I realize/am aware they recently reworked their hubs, but my concern was more related to their customer service which I found to be somewhere between substandard and extremely poor. The first time they blamed the hub internals coming loose on user error (it came out while I was changing a flat). The second time they said it was the bike’s geometry putting stress on the hub that caused it to come loose (locking up my back wheel). The last time, they blamed it on the LBS failure to fix it right. There was no fourth time because they took the wheel back and supposedly sent it back to wherever they built them to rebuild the wheel itself. By that time, I purchased a set of Roval’s CL50’s (with DTS hubs) and haven’t looked back. No problems, easily serviced, with really good customer service. An example of the customer service is a friend of mine I race with was involved in a crash. Specialized replaced his wheel when the LBS couldn’t get it trued with no questions asked. That’s the customer service I should’ve gotten from Zipp.

Once you get past the price, what kind of customer support and service are you getting. That’s the question to ask. I hope this quick background helps in making your decision.