A Wheel For All Seasons?

Julian Alaphilippe finishing race as fans cheer him on in costumes

This sleek and handsome pair of hoops is our CLX32 wheelset. A subtly aerodynamic carbon fiber wheel that outperforms many deeper section wheels in the wind tunnel is mated to our distinctive, proprietary hub via DT Aerolite spokes. The clincher rim weighs a scant 390 grams, and a pair of rim brake clincher wheels comes in at around 1280 grams. They’re light. CeramicSpeed bearings enhance their already impressive slippery low-drag qualities. No compromises. These are the kind of wheels that a guy could use to win a hard spring classic, like say the Flèche-Wallonne. Or maybe knock out a couple climbing stage wins at the Tour De France, and come home with the Polka Dot jersey.

That’s what Julian Alaphilippe did this year, riding these wheels. So, spring and summer, cobbles to climbs, we’ve got a set of wheels that have gone through the crucible of competition, been raced by the strongest and the best, and have proven themselves in the most demanding arena of all.

This is the final test of a product; after countless hours of design, so many prototypes, revision upon revision, the howl of the wind tunnel, to finally put the wheels beneath the fastest riders in the world and see what they can do, that’s a huge rush. It’s also a very rarified environment. After that, it’s time for the real world. Out here, these wheels face new tests, where you can push them to chase your own goals, or exorcise your demons.

There’s a whole different set of demands in a different arena though. As the summer fades, and the daylight gets that silvery slant-shadowed hue in the approach toward winter, our thoughts turn to the masochistic beauty of cyclocross. Choppy hardpack in the dry, power-sucking mud in the wet, lap after lap of dismounts, remounts and sprints. Barriers to bunnyhop, an exercise that in of itself has crushed many a rim when executed with just the slightest miscue in timing. ‘Cross is hard on wheels. The thinking used to be that you’d want a beefy setup. Old-school ‘cross diehards still hoard their 36 hole hubs and stashes of old Open 4CD rims (or GP4s if they dig the smell of tubular glue). But at the same time, races are intense and short, and every gram counts. So, you don’t want to be trying to accelerate a pair of boat anchors twenty times a lap during that hour of exquisite pain.

Still, it’s not the kind of place where you’d expect to run the same wheels that a guy could use to win a climbing stage of the Tour, right? That’s like a whole different universe, right?

Closeup of Maghalie Rochette riding bike during race

Photo Credit: Ten Speed Hero

This is Maghalie Rochette. She is a certified badass when it comes to cyclocross, with 25 UCI podiums under her belt and a 5th place at the World Championships last year. Already a committed professional mountain and cyclocross racer, that 5th place at World’s sparked something in Maghalie, planted a seed of “what if” in her, and led her this year to form her own program – CX Fever. Dedicated to leaving “what if” somewhere in the mud and dust behind her, she is focusing on her attention entirely on ‘cross at the highest level.

The wheels she’ll be abusing during her podium hunting in the chunked up fields and off-camber grass and frost hardened muck and skatey dirt? The very same CLX32s that Julian Alaphilippe used in the spring and summer in his quest for glory on the road. Well, not the EXACT wheels. She gets her own wheels, Julian gets to keep his. Maghalie runs disc brakes anyway, and thru-axles, so his wheels wouldn’t fit her bike, but you get the idea.

Maghalie Rochette cheering while crossing the finish line at night

Spring, summer, fall winter. Cobbles, climbs, pelotons and pacelines. Dust and mud. Rim brakes or discs, quick release or 12mm thru-axles, clincher or tubular. You want a super-lightweight, aerodynamic, fast as bejeebers wheelset that can reap KOMS and sprints all summer long AND also handle the abuse of cyclocross? We should talk.

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