Rapide CL II: World Tour Speed for All

Rapide CL II: World Tour Speed for All

In a world where fractions of a second decide who is on the podium, the Rapide CLX wheels offer an unapologetic advantage over the competition. Ridden to repeated victory since the launch in May 2022, the Rapide CLX II wheels have exhibited their prowess on the world stage, and we wanted to bring that same energy and advantage to everyone. 

With the introduction of the Rapide CL II, we have taken the same rim profiles that have endured and dominated the world tour and paired them with the ferociously reliable DT Swiss 350 hub and spoke system. The amalgamation of these components makes for an undeniably fast and serviceable wheelset for anyone looking for an advantage over the competition. 

Two Rims in One 

The Rapide CL II is actually two wheels in one, each optimized for the unique aero challenges of its position—a 51mm-deep front rim with a 35mm external width and a 60mm-deep rear rim with a 30mm external width. The result is a tubeless wheelset that’s faster than most 65mm wheels but is 25% more stable than our CLX50 in heavy wind. 

The rear wheel is the last thing the wind sees, so we developed that rim shape to minimize drag at the trailing edge of the bike. At 60mm deep with a 30mm external width, the Rapide CL II rear rim reduces turbulence and yields the greatest aerodynamic benefit. Since the rear wheel doesn’t affect steering the way the front does, this deep section doesn’t adversely impact handling. Together, they represent the fastest package for real-world race conditions.

Stability Equals Speed

Deep-section front rims are affected adversely by crosswinds. This negatively impacts handling, in turn causing a rider to slow down. By utilizing the first modeling algorithm designed around riders’ real-world reaction times we developed a front rim that both reduces drag AND increases stability by 25% in sudden wind gusts compared to our previous 50mm rims. 

We know from extensive automotive and aeronautical reaction timing studies that it’s wind gusts between 0.5 and 2.0 seconds that riders struggle with. Essentially a rider can’t react to wind gusts shorter than 0.5 seconds; they are too short. A rider can react to gusts lasting between 0.5 and 2.0 seconds but will react after the wind gust is over. This causes an overcorrection that needs to be corrected again, which is why blustery crosswinds feel so sketchy. So we instructed our algorithm to optimize stability in the 0.5 to 2.0 second window time. Faster than that, and you can’t react quickly enough to overcompensate. Slower than that, and you can easily adjust to the side force of a crosswind. 

For days, the algorithm randomly mutated, virtually kicking out low performers and iterating on high performers. The resulting Rapide shape was the best combination of pure drag reduction and stability within the reaction time frame that matters for a rider.

Systems Approach

The Rapide CL II is hand built every step of the way, from initial lay-up to the final tensioning on the nippels. Built on DT Swiss 350 hubs with a 36 tooth Star Ratchet and Competition Race straight pull spokes the result is a set of wheels designed as a complete system that weighs just 1590 grams a set, delivering incredible reliability and durability, with World Tour ready performance. 

Hooked on Tubeless

The reduced rolling resistance of a tubeless setup is undeniable, as are the benefits of improved handling and incredible puncture protection. The development of the Rapide CL II involved the most rigorous and extensive engineering and testing program that we’ve ever undertaken and resulted in a wheelset that almost doubles current industry impact standards while managing to achieve the lightest weight possible. It took 21 months, but the resulting rims are the strongest we have ever made at the lightest possible weight. As a system, they now pass the rigorous testing standards we have created while delivering more performance as a tubeless system than the world-beating tube-type Rapide and Alpinist. 

Why Tubeless is Faster

Lower internal friction equals more speed and grip. When the tire rolls through the contact patch, the tire casing must deform. This causes internal friction, which increases rolling resistance and uses energy. Using a tube means more material deforms—casing and tube—so more friction is created and more energy is lost. 

Running tubeless significantly reduces the amount of material that must deform—tire alone—which reduces friction and reduces the energy lost, leaving more energy to propel you forward. Decreased material deformation also leads to a tire that deforms easier in response to road imperfections for better grip and a more comfortable and controlled ride. These are “always-on” benefits, regardless of speed or terrain. If your tire is rolling, you’re faster on tubeless. 

“We can say the average the rolling resistance reduction is 8%. In terms of a performance road racing tire at 40 kp/h, it is a 1.7 watt saving per tire, 3.5 watts per bike.” – Oliver Kiesel, Specialized Tire PM

The Rapide CL II utilizes a hooked rim (allowing for real-world riding pressures up to 110psi, if that’s your thing) for secure tire bead retention and an easier set up and mounting experience than ever before. This is tubeless done right. 

True To Your Ride

The Entire Roval team is really proud of the new Rapide CL II wheels. These wheels represent years of work with our teams, in the test lab and, and out on the road. Taking World Tour level performance and injecting it into a wheelset available to more riders, with durability and reliability for many seasons of riding on the most demanding roads in the world is what being true to your ride means. 

We really hope you enjoy these wheels as much as we do. 

Rapide CL II

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