The Gravel Horizon

The Gravel Horizon

Light enough to give a road climbing purist heart palpitations. Strong enough to make mountain bikers and Clydesdales smile while daydreaming of warp speed descents. Versatile enough to ride from here to...everywhere. Roval is proud to introduce a new range of wheels: Terra.

The Terra CLX offers a thoroughly modern 25mm inner width and hook bead, making it ideal for running modern clinchers between 28 and 42mm, at pressures from real low all the way up to 90psi. The big bomber CLX EVO is available in both 650b and 700c diameters, and features a massive 30mm inner rim width. This lets riders who have the frame clearance and a hunger for the roughest terrain to run up to full-on 2.0” knobbies. In all cases, 650b or 700c, CLX or CLX EVO, weights are the lightest in class, and the strength and ruggedness redefine perceptions of what is possible when it comes to gravel and adventure riding.

For the full skinny on our newest wheels, please head over here to get all the details. In the meantime, if you’d like to understand some of the “why” behind Terra—why we developed them, why you might need them—read on!

There’s no denying it. For a few years now, gravel riding has been a red-hot kinda thing. What first started as a way to get a diet of miles that weren’t choked with traffic and all the subsequent hazards, as a way of embracing versatility and adventure, has blown up into a full-on scene. The entry field for Dirty Kanza, an annual 200-ish mile pilgrimage/death march in Emporia, Kansas that is arguably the brightest feather in every gravel racer’s hat, has exploded over the 12 years of the event’s existence. What started out with no entry fees, 34 racers and some pizza afterward has ballooned into a mega-event that in 2018 used a lottery system to try and handle entrant demand, and was capped at 2750 total participants.

So yeah, gravel. To paraphrase Will Ferrell’s character Jacobim Mugatu in the motion picture classic Zoolander: “That gravel’s SO hot right now.”

Along with the burgeoning hotness of the gravel world, there has been a frenzy of innovation at the manufacturing end of things. Go back to 2006 and take a look around at tire options for gravel riding. Not much out there. Basically, the market was a mashup of cyclocross and touring leftovers. There was sorta room for tire clearance on most ‘cross and touring bikes, if you were content with tires that maxed out at 35mm wide.

3X Gravel World Champ, Alison Tetrick, putting her Rovals through the paces

3X Gravel World Champ, Alison Tetrick, putting her Rovals through the paces

But with the growing popularity, the bike industry sat up and took notice. Tire clearance became a must-have item with more ‘cross bikes in order to get a little traction – literally and figuratively – in the gravel market, a growing bikepacking and adventure scene also injected some much-needed diversity, versatility, and capability into the unpaved world, and the divergent appetites of the young gravel scene began to get fed. Tire manufacturers are now churning out a huge range of rubber; from the venerable 700x33 file tread ‘cross clincher all the way up to beefy 650x50 tires that run the gamut from slick to full-on knobby. Keeping pace with that, in the past few years most brands have evolved their own take on the gravel bike – some opt for versatility and bikepack style capability, some for comfort, and some for straight out road and ‘cross bikes with a ton of tire clearance. As disc brakes and thru-axles have become widely sourced across all these various approaches to bike design, the door has been blown off its hinges with regard to how you can set up your own gravel rig.

Say you’ve got a new Ibis Hakka MX. Sweet bike. It has modern CX geometry, asymmetrical chainstays to minimize chain slap on rough ground, thru-axles, disc brakes, and BAGS OF TIRE CLEARANCE. Set it up with a sweet new set of Terra CLX 700c wheels, weighing in at a flyweight 1296 grams, and you can fly down the road on 700x28 or 30 road meats, or get dirty with some 700x35 ‘cross tires. Or heck, run all the way up to 42c rubber, knobby or smooth tread, drop your tire pressure down to a comfy 40 psi or so, and ride anything from chunky potholed pavement to washboard gravel in Cadillac comfort. Your one bike is now a roadcyclocrossgraveladventure all-conditions superstar! Rigorously tested and ready to kick ass all the way from Emporia to Emporia.

But if you REALLY want to get versatile, how about some 650b wheels, and some real tires? That’s where the Terra CLX EVO wheels come in. With a massive 30mm inner width, they are insanely light for their size (1387g per set in 650b, 1492g in 700c), super tough and ridiculously versatile. These are really, really nice wheels. You’d think maybe a little too nice for a life of abuse, but slap on a set of 650x47 Pathfinders, drop the pressure down around 30psi, and own any terrain you encounter, regardless of how ugly the road surface or how heavily loaded your rig may be. These wheels broaden your versatility, and bring functional workhorse toughness to the fore.

Next level, a diet of steady dirt? No problem. A set of S-Works Fast Trak 2.0 tires and you’re edging into desert truck territory. With these tires you’ve just turned your drop bar bike into a surgical singletrack carving tool. You are John Tomac in 1991, only your bike is a lot faster and lighter than his was (even if you will probably never be as fast as him). Sure, mountain biking is these days defined by super-efficient suspension and long wheelbases, and this configuration of bike is probably not the wisest choice to tackle the Red Bull Rampage, but until you’ve fired a 16 or so pound bike up a climb and completely crushed every one of your prior Strava KOMs along with the egos of your regular riding partners, you haven’t really lived. These wheels, those tires, they are the keys to dirty speed.

One of the best things about gravel riding is that it is an opportunity to broaden your horizons, both the physical and conceptual. We love that. We are always looking to go farther, and further. That’s why we developed Terra. Go find your gravel-broad horizon, then go find what lies beyond it.

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