Our Process

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Wheel design is a dance of complexity. Weight, ride quality, durability and aerodynamic performance are goalposts that oftentimes compromise each other. It’s easy to make something light; to design it to be light, great riding and durable is whole different matter.

At Roval, we don’t believe in compromise. A good set of wide trail wheels that can get you safely home from smashing rocks deep in the backcountry shouldn’t have to weigh 2000 grams. A flyweight road climber’s dream should descend as well as it climbs. The most aerodynamic spoked wheel on the market should be light enough, and handle well enough, to be a regular go-to road wheel.

In order to achieve these uncompromising goals, sometimes we have to reinvent the wheel.  Our process is how we do it.

Design Prototype Test Iterate Produce
01

Design

First, we define the riding experience the wheel we’re creating needs to advance, and then we set the performance goals. In the case of our CLX 64, for example, the goal was to create the most aerodynamic spoked wheel ever, while also hitting class leading weight targets and retaining real-world rideability.

Systems approach

Rims and hubs are purpose defined and designed specifically to work in concert with each other and the spokes. This helps minimize weight and at the same time optimize strength and durability. For example, by designing the hub and optimizing the spoke count, we know the exact angle and location that each spoke will interface with the rim. This enables us to lay-up the rim with reinforcement precisely where the spoke nipples will be, and then to drill the spoke holes at precisely the angle that they will intersect with the rim.  There is no wasted material, and stress points that can be caused by generic components are eliminated.

Solid modeling

Starting from a blank screen, every Roval component from hub to rim to complete wheel assembly is first rendered as a “solid model.” Advanced computer modeling software allows us to optimize the materials and geometry of each wheel component. Finite Element Analysis simulates loads and stresses, enabling our engineers to rapidly refine and optimize their designs before they ever exist in physical form.

02

Prototype

After Finite Element Analysis has been performed, and the solid model optimized, it is time to create the wheels in carbon and aluminum. This is a laborious and expensive process, performed entirely at our California innovation lab by master craftsmen.

Machine shop

Using a combination of advanced CNC mills and old-school craft, the prototyping begins here. Hubs are whittled out from solid billet stock, and the molds that will be used to form the rims are machined into shape.

Composite shop

Carbon fiber is placed into the molds in strategic sequence. This is known as the layup, and the “layup schedule” that gets generated here will ultimately be the guide used when the wheels reach the production stage. The layup schedule is part hard number crunching, and part black art. An initial layup schedule is developed and a prototype built and tested. Based on the test results, another layup schedule is developed and tested. This process continues until we arrive at the optimal layup schedule.

Hand building

From prototype to production, every wheel gets assembled by hand. There is no substitute for the experience and meticulous attention to detail that a human being brings to the craft of wheel building.

03

Test

Computers are a massive developmental aid, but they can only get you so far. In order to find the limits, and the limitations, of a design, it has to be rigorously tested before it can move on toward production. Wind, destruction, and people with big quads and bags of skill are how we take those next steps.

Wind tunnel

We are so committed to furthering the development of our wheels that we built our own wind tunnel. No other wheel manufacturer can say that. This allows us to validate our CFD process, and enables us to test wheels mounted on real bikes, with real tires, in real-world conditions at various yaw angles. We then refine the design using the data we glean from the wind tunnel.

Field testing

Design. Prototype. Test. Test again. Test in the real-world. Every step of the design and prototyping process leads to this. We draw from a deep pool of critical and talented riders around the globe, who punish our work in all conditions, who make it their mission to sniff out weaknesses and expose them. Sometimes they send us back to the drawing board, and we thank them every time.

Test lab

Thousands of hours of punishing lab testing—simulating exaggerated real world forces – generates relevant data regarding strength, stiffness, weight, and other critical measures. We compare the test data to all the relevant wheels we’ve made in the past, and to every respected wheel in the market. This ensures that our wheel i snot only up to the task it was designed for, but that it will also advance your ride. 

Pros

The best riders in the world are often the hardest to please. Their continual feedback from prototype through production enables us to perpetually improve the performance of our products. The victories they have racked up on- and off-road at World Championships, World Cups, Olympic games and Spring Classics are the ultimate proof of concept.

04

Iterate

Toward the final stages of design, testing and revision are played out relentlessly. When some aspect of our rigorous testing protocol yields information that we can use to improve the wheel, changes are made, a new prototype is built, and the test process is repeated. This is called iteration. With each iteration, the wheel gets closer to what we consider worthy of production. We don’t stop iterating until we can’t find a way to improve. Think of it as rapid evolution.

05

Produce

Only once a wheel has made it through each of these prior steps—design, prototype, testing, testing, more testing, iteration – refined through the input of everyone involved during every step along the way and met every one of our goals, will we move to production. This is the final product; designed, prototyped, thoroughly tested in California, assembled to exacting precision by hand (each Roval wheel contains a card that is signed by the person who built it, detailing final assembly spoke tension for every single spoke as well and degree of true precision). A wheel we are proud to call Roval; a wheel true to your ride.