Motorcycles The New Terra CL Wheels From Roval are Heavy on Performance and Light on Price

14:00  11 june  2021
14:00  11 june  2021 Source:   bicycling.com

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The Takeaway: Riders looking for high-end performance without too hard of a hit to their wallets will appreciate Terra’s CL Roval wheels. After riding around on them for several weeks, I found that they deliver much of the same performance as the more expensive, premium Roval CLX. In fact, my impressions of them were so good that I would be hard-pressed to recommend that pricier version over these new wheels.

a bicycle is lying on the ground: Identical carbon rims as the top-end CLX wheels in a more affordable package. © Dan Chabanov Identical carbon rims as the top-end CLX wheels in a more affordable package.
  • Optimized for 700c tires between 28mm and 47mm widths
  • Lifetime warranty against material and workmanship defects; two-year free crash replacement warranty
  • Dependable DT Swiss 350 hubs and DT Competition spokes

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Roval pitches the Terra CL wheels as the workhorse wheelset of its newly expanded Terra gravel and all-road range of products. These new wheels use the same exact carbon, tubeless rim found on the much pricier Terra CLX wheels launched in 2019. But with hubs and spokes from DT Swiss that are more cost-effective, the Terra CL promises top-level performance at almost half the price of the higher-end CLX model.

a person lying on a dirt road: Tubeless tape and valves come pre-installed. © Dan Chabanov Tubeless tape and valves come pre-installed.

All in the Details

So what are riders giving up for that $1,100 price cut from the top-end CLX model? The truth is, not much. The CL wheels are only 104 grams heavier and perhaps lose a tiny bit of aerodynamics due to having round double-butted spokes instead of the much pricier DT Aerolite spokes. But they keep almost everything that we loved about the CLX version, particularly the lively ride feel of a light wheelset combined with excellent stiffness.

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At the heart of the Terra CLs is a DT Swiss 350 straight-pull hub, with the ever-reliable 36-tooth Star Ratchet mechanism lending the CL wheels a good bit of dependability. DT Swiss recently acknowledged ongoing issues with its new EXP internals (that come on the more expensive CLX wheels) where premature wear of the ratchet ring caused the hub to freewheel in both directions—less than ideal. You can skirt this issue completely by buying the CLs.

a close up of a bicycle: The always reliable DT Swiss 350 hubs and Competition spokes. © Dan Chabanov The always reliable DT Swiss 350 hubs and Competition spokes.

Like the more expensive CLX version, the CL wheels come with pre-installed tubeless tape and valves. The brake interface is Centerlock, with 12mm 110/142 hub spacing and a Shimano 11-speed freehub, which can be converted to any other standard supported by DT Swiss.

The 32mm-deep rim uses a hooked bead to ensure compatibility with a broad range of tires. Roval recommends tires between 28mm and 47mm, with a maximum tire pressure of 90 psi (with a tube) or 80 psi (tubeless) for a 28mm tire. The rim’s internal width of 25mm (30mm external) will likely have many tires inflate a bit larger than listed.

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a close up of a bicycle: The rim shape is not “aero” but it’s also not not aero. Many brands use a similar blunt edge profile with a bit more depth to claim the aerodynamics. © Dan Chabanov The rim shape is not “aero” but it’s also not not aero. Many brands use a similar blunt edge profile with a bit more depth to claim the aerodynamics.

The Terra CL wheelset has a very comprehensive warranty program. First, there’s a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. The next level of protection is a two-year no-fault crash replacement policy. After two years, the policy switches to “assisted replacement”—essentially a discount off the retail price of replacement parts. After five years, the crash policy ends, but there’s a lifetime warranty against manufacturing and material defects. It’s good to see Roval back its products this robustly, and the overall policy on these wheels is good (Bontrager offers similar coverage).

The Competition

The new Terra CL wheels enter a market segment that is steadily getting more crowded each season. Comparable sub-$1,600 carbon wheels include Easton’s EC90 AX (1,470 grams claimed weight, 24mm internal width, $1,550/pair), Bontrager’s Aeolus Pro 3V (1,575 grams claimed weight, 25mm internal width, $1,300/pair), and Zipp’s 303S (1,540 grams claimed, 23mm internal width, $1,300/pair).

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The Terra CLs are the lightest in this bunch by 70 grams. The Zipp 303S wheels are $100 cheaper but come in 140 grams heavier while also having a narrower internal width.

How They Ride

I wrapped the Terra CL wheels in Specialized Sawtooth tires, one of my favorite setups for fast, mixed-surface rides. With the generous internal width, the 38c-labeled tires inflated to 41mm in my caliper. This is something of which to be mindful if your frame has more conservative tire clearance.

a bicycle parked on the side of a trail: The overall look of the new Terra CLs is quite understated. © Dan Chabanov The overall look of the new Terra CLs is quite understated.

Out on the groad, if you will, the first thing I noticed was the weight of the wheels. The Terras were substantially lighter than the previous wheelset I was riding, and I quickly appreciated the dropped 250 grams of rotating weight. A wheelset this light can make a gravel bike feel almost as feathery and responsive as a road bike up steep pitches. At 32mm deep, the Terra CLs are relatively shallow for carbon wheels, and Roval makes no claims about aerodynamics. But these also felt quite fast on flatter or more rolling terrain.

To check on durability and light trail use, I decided to take the Terras through some of my favorite local singletrack. Here, even more so than on the road, I found the weight of these wheels helpful. Hopping over logs or up onto ledges was noticeably easier. In tighter spots on the trail where I sometimes feel like I’m muscling my bike through, it felt a bit more like I could employ some finesse and carry momentum, particularly when the trail was uphill. On steep and rutted descents, the Terras didn’t let me down either. These wheels are exceptionally stiff, and there was never any of the load-and-spring-back feeling that some lighter-weight setups can have when you’re hard on the brakes over a rough surface.

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Riding a bit of rockier trail, I tried my best to knock these wheels out of true, with no luck. The overall durability and build quality is excellent, and the wheels have a max rider weight limit of 275 pounds. I’m a big fan of how easy these CLs are to service, with external nipples for any eventual truing. The inclusion of DT Swiss hubs also means you will have easy access to service parts if the need does arise. Roval even includes a few spare replacement spokes in the box, just in case.

a bicycle parked on the side of a dirt field: Roval Terra CL © Dan Chabanov Roval Terra CL

Overall, the Terra CLs are a lot of wheelset for the money. So much so that I would have a tough time recommending the pricier CLX version to most people. With the 100-gram weight difference being entirely in the hubs and spokes, the ride improvement would be minimal. It’s hard to think of a better all-around wheelset for anyone who uses tires over 30mm and wants to take a few hundred grams off their current gravel, cross, or all-road bike setup without spending significantly more money.

a bicycle wheel: Terra CL Terra CL


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