Road Tubeless Done Right

Rapide and Alpinist

The benefits of tubeless are real—the efficiency, the handling, the ride quality, and the puncture protection. But the downsides have been real too. The tires can be tough to mount and tough to seat. When a tubeless rim is damaged in an impact, the tire can dismount, and the rim can fail. The Roval engineering team was determined to solve these issues and amplify the world-beating performance of our road wheels with a tubeless system.

No Easy Path

They didn’t take the easy path. Sure, it’s not as hard to make a light and durable tubeless rim hookless, but our engineers were unwilling to make the compromises that came wit—72.5psi/5bar max tire pressure or the severely limited tire choice with a hookless solution. They were committed to doing road tubeless right.

What is tubeless done right? It’s a hooked rim with the flexibility to run the tire, width, and pressure you want—up to 110psi/7.5bar. It’s a consistent and confidence-inspiring install and seating process, and it’s the confidence to know your wheels have almost double all certification standards at the lightest weight possible.

It took almost two years of development and the creation of entirely new testing standards, but with the all-new Rapide CLX II and Alpinist CLX II, our team has delivered the performance of the winningest wheels in the world and elevated it with tubeless done right.

After years of developing tubeless, our team understands the benefits and challenges better than any team in the industry. We know tubeless wheels have a different failure mode than tube-type wheels. Upon impacts strong enough to damage the rim bead, a tube can slow the escaping air just enough to prevent major damage. In a tubeless wheel, that air can escape with more force, potentially damaging the sidewall. This had to be solved, but first, what level of impacts were occurring in the real world?

Solving for Standards

To solve this problem, our team created an instrumented bump. Used outside, it is a steel right angle with a load cell that can calculate the exact force created as a rider hits it. Almost any real-world impact can be calculated from these impacts. Thanks to the instrumented bump, we had our goal—ensure that any impact where a rider may be able to keep their hands on the bars, they will be able to stop safely, even if the rim is damaged. 

Informed by this real-world testing, the team created a set of new standards involving different energies and strikers in the lab to ensure we would reach this lofty goal.

180lb/82kg rider. 2” Square Edge Instrumented Bump. 20mph/32kph. 30 Joules of Energy. No damage.

• 40 Joules/Sharp Edge Striker: While the potential for damage exists, you can finish your ride or race without issue. 

• 50 Joules/Sharp Edge Striker: The wheel may be damaged, but the tire will remain on the rim and the system intact, so you can roll to a stop safely. 

• 55 Joules/Blunt Striker: No damage.

• 60 Joules/Blunt Striker: While the potential for damage exists, you can finish your ride or race without issue. 

• 70 Joules/Blunt Edge Striker: The wheel may be damaged, but the tire will remain on the rim and the system intact so you can roll to a stop safely. 

An impact of 30 Joules is huge—equivalent to a 180lb/82kg rider hitting a 2” square edge bump at 20mph/32kph, and if you’re running a tube, you’re going to pinch flat. Hanging onto your bars at energies past 50 Joules is no guarantee, but even if you reach levels of 70 Joules, our team wanted the wheels to allow you to roll to a stop safely, if you do hang on.

Blunt Edge Striker. 55 Joules of Energy. No Damage to Wheel.

Iteration After Iteration After Iteration

The new wheels had to ensure the entire structure was tough enough to survive these impacts, and forces would be transferred to the spoke bed to protect the rim bed from propagating cracks. All that remained was design and build new Rapide and Alpinist wheels that delivered the world championship performance they were famous for, with all the benefits of a tubeless system. Easy, right? 

The answer to all these problems was not sexy, but it was simple. Hard work. Knowing the shapes of the Alpinist and Rapide were literal world-beaters, alterations to shape were not on the table, so it became an exercise in layup iteration and material selection. More than 1000 wheels were made and tested during this process, encompassing 150 different layup iterations across Alpinist and Rapide. 

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 incredibly rigorous testing standards we have created while delivering more performance as a tubeless system than the world-beating, tube-type Rapide and Alpinist. 

The tubeless future we have dreamed of is here. We believe we have created a tubeless wheel system that is the greatest combination of aerodynamics, light weight, efficiency, and durability in the world with a hooked rim to ensure riders have the options they want, from tire selection to tire pressure. And more importantly, a system that meets relevant and stringent test standards well beyond what is currently required of wheels. 

This is Road Tubeless Done Right.

Our people

The engineers and designers who develop each Roval product, the athletes and ambassadors who test our wheels in the crucible of real-world competition: every one of us shares something in common. We want to make our rides better. We want the same for you as well.

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Our Process

Wheel design is a dance of complexity. It’s easy to make something light; to design it to be light, great riding and durable is whole different matter.  See how we do it.

Explore our process