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Roval Terra CLX wheelset review

Roval Components, a subsidiary of Specialized, has made intensive use of its new Terra wheel portfolio and placed it on the steadily growing gravel market. The range includes a number of options – the Terra CLX and the CLX Evo – designed for both speed dealers and Gnar lovers of dirt road driving. The CLX Evo is available in both the 700c and 650b versions.

Roval sent us a DeAnima Soul gravel bike that was tricked into the lighter of the two Terra options to be tested, the Terra CLX gravel bikes. The CLX wheels, while not as wide as the Evo, are designed to play well with rubber in the 28-42mm range. An interior width of 25 mm and the ability to absorb lower pressures mean improved ride comfort and performance across the board.

The Terra CLX bikes are versatile in terms of application and design and can be combined with your racing bike, cyclo-cross bike or gravel grinder. Our wheelset has been wrapped in Specialized Trigger Pro 38c rubber, which offers an excellent mix of roll speed and grip.

Roval Terra CLX wheels

The shiny decals of the Terra CLX are not as expressive as some of the other wheel set designs from Roval, but they do offset the matt black rim profile in an impressive way (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Design and aesthetics

While Roval has been known over the years for delivering tires with bold and expressive decals – especially when it comes to deep dish offerings for road bikes – the Terra wheels seem far more restrained, favoring functionality over visual appeal. Nevertheless, they are still impressively brave and full of character. The mottled carbon fiber texture and glossy black decals create a stealth-like appearance.

In contrast to the current trends in wheel design, Roval has deliberately avoided the hookless rim construction architecture for a conventional hook arrangement in order to improve tire safety across the entire size range at any pressure. Given the hard and often treacherous surfaces that riders often traverse, Roval has made sure that the lightweight Terra bikes are tough enough to withstand the rigors of mountain biking.

To achieve this, they went through the same benchmarking and impact testing protocol as the company’s MTB-specific systems to ensure the correct lineup and formula. The result? Performance and strength of the mountain bike wheel at road bike weight.

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DeAnima Soul with Roval Terra CLX gravel wheels

The DeAnima Soul was the ideal rig to put the Roval Terra CLX bikes to the test (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Specification and structure

With an inner rim width of 25mm, the Terra CLX wheels offer a wide range of tire options – in this case rubber between 28 and 42mm, so you can customize your setup and ride quality for every occasion.

The 32 mm deep tubeless rims consist of disc-specific Roval AFD hubs and straight DT Swiss Aerolite spokes with 2: 1 lacing. The hubs are equipped with the new 180 EXP internals from DT Swiss – consisting of a 36-tooth star ratchet with 10 degree engagement – which increased hub stiffness by 15 percent and helped keep weight to a minimum. The hubs support 12 mm x 100 mm thru axles at the front and 12 x 142 mm thru axles at the rear.

A complete Terra CLX wheel set weighs just under 1,296 g, including the tubeless system (rim tape and valves). Not only is this incredibly light by gravel / mountain bike ratios, it’s also lighter than most high-end road bike sets. Only time will tell whether this will affect long-term reliability and durability in an off-road environment, but Roval believes the strength-to-weight ratio has struck the perfect balance.

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Roval Terra CLX wheels

The Roval Terra CLX wheels use Roval AFD hubs built by DT Swiss (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)Image 2 of 5

Roval Terra CLX wheels

The specialized Trigger Pro 38c rubber compound provided additional performance quality for the Terra CLX rims (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)Image 3 of 5

Roval Terra CLX wheels

The front hubs are laced with 21 straight DT Swiss Aerolite spokes (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)Image 4 of 5

Roval Terra CLX wheels

Sign of the best: The Terra logo represents Roval’s entry into the gravel market (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)Image 5 of 5

Roval Terra CLX wheels

A close-up shot of the Specialized’s Trigger Pro tread pattern – grippy, fast and smooth (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

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Performance, ride and handling

Our wheelset was equipped with 38c Specialized Trigger Pro tires, which are in the upper range of the maximum tire width limit of the rim. During our test phase, we covered 450 km – 349 km of it on gravel roads and paths. Despite their lightweight properties, the Terra CLX wheels are very stiff, and although this can sometimes lead to a jarring ride quality – especially on more abrasive gravel roads – pressure tests can help suppress low-frequency vibrations.

In that regard, we set the tire pressures to just 20 psi by the last part of our testing, which dramatically improved speed and cornering grip. However, we found the perfect compromise between comfort and performance at psi levels of 21 front / 25 rear for this 62kg rider. Driving deeper – which I have tried – can be detrimental to performance as the tires move on the rims and increase the likelihood of burping.

And what about the performance of the bikes on the road? Well, despite the rather chunky Spesh tires, the wheels roll impressively well on asphalt when pumped to 70 psi. On the road, you wouldn’t know you were riding a set of gravel bikes. This is the speed with which they roll and respond to pedal input. Part of this was of course partly due to the incredibly light and stiff DeAnima Soul gravel bike, which rides like a racing bike in many ways, but also to the 32 mm deep semi-aero rim profile.

While the wheels behave in a moderate breeze, things can get a bit annoying in cross winds as they tend to move despite the relatively flat rim profile. However, this is more due to the Trigger tires, which increased the overall height of the bike to a profile you would expect on a 45mm wheel / 28c tire combo.

Roval Terra CLX wheels

A wider rim means lower pressures, which radically improves compliance and performance (Image credit: Aaron Borill)

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It is incredibly difficult to criticize a wheelset because many external factors can affect overall performance. Now throw in something that blurs the lines between different types of terrain and things get even more complicated. Still, these rovals are hard to fault.

Not only are they painfully beautiful, they’re also incredibly rounded and can be manipulated to discard anything you throw at them through tire pressure experiments, be it asphalt, gravel, or even single-track trails. As an all-round option, nothing we’ve tested so far comes close to the value and versatility they offer in spades.

The Roval Terra CLXs are neither a gravel nor a road bike specific bike option. Instead, they combine lightweight performance with an ultra-stiff chassis for every imaginable discipline. As a wheelset upgrade, the Terra CLX offers speed, cornering precision and a tailor-made ride quality that not only makes you faster, but also improves your driving style, especially on unpredictable surfaces such as gravel.

Not cheap at £ 1,850, the Roval Terra CLX wheels come with a lifetime warranty and a two-year fault-free crash replacement policy. A worthy upgrade in our books.

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Roval Terra CLX wheels

Roval Terra CLX wheels: in our opinion, a worthy gravel wheel upgrade (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Technical data: Roval Terra CLX

  • Material: carbon
  • Depth: 32mm
  • Brake disc
  • Tire format: tubeless and clincher tires (28-42 mm)
  • Rim width (inside): 25mm
  • Number of spokes: 21 front / 24 rear
  • Weight: 1,296 g

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