The new wheelset, known as the Rapide CL II, will use exactly the same rims as its more expensive sibling, the Rapide CLX II, but paired with a cheaper hub with cheaper spokes for a more affordable package. They are accompanied by three new tire offerings from the parent company Roval, Specialized.
Roval Rapide CL II: Aero and (more) affordable
The use of the same rims as the Rapide CLX II means the Rapide CL II wheels can boast the same tubeless compatibility claims as their stable mate. Thanks to the hook bead, they are compatible with all tubeless tires and can be safely inflated to 110 psi, although the maximum pressures vary depending on the tire size. Commonly used pressures are likely to drop well below this value anyway.
Specialized says the rims “almost double” current industry standards, thanks to an extensive period of research and development that followed an issue discovered in late 2019. This happened when Peter Sagan jumped over the curb while testing the original Rapide CLX wheels. It hit the curb, broke the rim and the tire came off in no time. Specialized decided that despite successfully passing impact tests, it was not safe enough and decided to redesign them, but not before releasing these wheels as “required inner tubes”.
The rims also have the same dimensions as their more expensive siblings, combining a wider and shallower front wheel with a deeper, narrower rear wheel. The front wheel is 51 mm deep and has a particularly wide outer width of 35 mm. The back is 60mm deep but slightly narrower at 30mm. Despite their differences, both have an internal width of 21 mm. They are optimized for use with 26mm tires, but can handle anything from 24mm to 38mm. Specialized says tires up to 35mm can run at a maximum speed of 110 psi, but tires 36mm or higher should not exceed 60 psi.
Roval says that by focusing on stability, not straight speed, in the real world the Rapide CL II is faster than most 65mm wheels and 25% more stable than its two-generation CLX50 wheelset.
While the rims remain the same, Roval has found savings on the remainder of the wheel. This is associated with a weight penalty, albeit a small one.
Both use the hubs of the competitor DT Swiss wheel brand, but while the high-end wheels use the lighter Ratchet EXP hubs, the Rapide CL II chooses the more affordable DT 350 hubs. The lacing of the rims to these hubs is also handled by DT Swiss, with Competition Race Straightpull spokes – a lowered version of DT Swiss Aerolite – with 18 spokes at the front and 24 at the rear.
Specialized wheel weight for Rapide CL II wheels is declared to be 1590g. Despite differences in specifications, it is only 70g heavier than the CLX II.
Compared to the more sophisticated stable mates, the Rapide CL II is priced at a slightly more pocket-friendly £ 1,500.00 ($ 1,750.00 / € 1,800.00 / AU $ 2,600.00). They may be a popular option in the inexpensive aero wheelset segment, but will face stiff competition from the likes of the Zipp 303S, Enve Foundation 65 and the Hunt 60 Limitless Aero Disc.
Time for Turbo
The rims of the Rapide CL II are joined by the Roval parent company Specialized trio. Each one will be called the Turbo, and the cheapest one will be priced at £ 45 per tire, an increase from £ 55 for the mid-tier option to £ 65 for the top-of-the-range Turbo SW RapidAir 2BR.
2BR is a nickname that stands for 2Bliss Ready, a play on words, phonetically similar to “tubeless ready”. It is decorated with two of the three new tires, and the third – the cheapest – is only a tube lining.
Specialized cites the development of the two new rubber compounds (Gripton T2 and T5) as the key difference in improving durability, rolling resistance, grip and puncture protection for all three tires.
More broadly, the reported savings in rolling resistance are small. Specialized only provides one watt for the Turbo SW RapidAir 2BR compared to its predecessor. However, that one watt is a significant saving considering the previous RapidAir was widely considered fast. Compared to the similarly small savings achieved in our wind tunnel tests on wheel retrofits that cost thousands, the cost-effectiveness is also worth noting.
Priced at £ 65.00, the S-Works Turbo RapidAir 2BR is said to weigh 230g and is currently only available in 26c.
Priced at £ 55.00, the S-Works Turbo 2BR is available in 26c, 28c and 30c versions, weighing in at 260g, 280g and 300g respectively.
The cheapest of the three, the S-Works Turbo is tubular clinker and costs £ 45.00. It is available in 24c, 26c, 28c and 30c versions, weighing in at 200g, 220g, 240g and 260g respectively.