We first saw the Roval wheels earlier this year at the Quick-Step cycle team press day in Spain and we thought “we must get our hands on a set of those.” You, our dear readers, are also interested as we have received a lot of questions from you wanting to know when we would spill the beans on these beauties
We received two pairs of Roval wheels, the Roval Fusee Star wheel Set and the Roval Fusee E5 Wheel Set. We are going to tell you what we thought of both sets, how they ride in different conditions and comparing them to each other and our usual wheels of choice. First we will look at the star wheels as these are the ones you’ve asked most about.
Roval have been manufacturing factory built wheels since the 1970’s and are now under the Specialized umbrella and take advantage of Specialized quality and top production methods.
We used a test course for all the wheels; it’s the same one we like to use for all our tests. The course has a long climb, a fast descent, some tight bends and some flat power sections; basically it has everything to put these wheels through their paces.
The Star Wheels
Let’s have a good look at the technology of the wheels before we get to ride them.
The hub gives aerodynamic superiority as the design offers 50% less frontal area, dramatically reducing the wind drag, the hub is super stiff made for 7075 aluminum and feature the five point star flange. The rims are E5 alloy low profile and seamless with a slight aero section, the width is 21mm and the depth is 24mm, the braking surface has been machined for perfect, smooth braking.
The spokes are custom made by DT and are Aerolite butted, the nipples are hidden and with nylon threadlock with Rovals’ custom self-alignment system, 20 spokes front and rear with a 2 into 1 spoke pattern to maximize strength and power transfer. The axles are titanium quick-release with forged alloy levers. The wheels come with a Shimano 10 speed cassette body which caused us a problem as we are running on Campagnolo, but with a Shimano 10 speed cassette we managed to get some good rides in, the gear change wasn’t precise but was good enough. Specialized say they make cassette bodies for Campagnolo 10 and Shimano 9 speed. The wheels also come with padded cordura nylon wheel bag to take both wheels. The wheels weigh 1750 grams a pair and the quick-releases are 91 grams for the pair.
On The Road Performance
Once the wheels were fitted they looked very smart, even though we only had yellow tires to fit to them. The bearings are very smooth and you can feel how easily they run and they are silent and sweetly true and straight.
First, on the flat, to push forward was effortless and they felt responsive, lively and seemed to cut through the air. Looking down on the front wheel you don’t see anything apart from the tire and the axle, everything is so close to the centre.
On the long climb the Roval Fusee Star wheels transferred the power from the pedals out onto the road, they did seem a little sluggish on tight, sharp bends, but on power climbs they were faultless.
Where the wheels really came into there own was on the fast descent, they were precise and accurate in to and out of the corners, the braking was also smooth without juddering or grabbing, ease the brakes on into the corner and accelerate out of the bend, the wheels followed a perfect parabola giving a sure feel to the descent.
Riding fast into a roundabout the wheels went where I pointed them so that I didn’t need to slow down to take the bend. Into a head wind or with the wind behind the wheels felt great, but with a cross wind the front wheel felt to be slightly affected, it didn’t wobble or anything dangerous, but I could feel a pull on the wheel, the rear wheel was not affected and reacted as any other wheel in the wind.
Our Thoughts and Conclusions
These wheels are stylishly designed and very well made, the rims are perfect as are the bearings, and they handle well in all conditions and are definitely stiff and sure, good for racing and all-round road riding.
Yes, in a cross wind you could feel something, not a lot but there was a feeling of something affecting the handling of the front wheel. Climbing off the saddle on sharp bends the ride felt a little slow or heavy, the Roval Fusee Star wheels are not the lightest on the market, but by no means heavy, so maybe it’s a spoke stress thing in that they are so stiff the don’t have any give in them. The stiffness also could be felt on rough roads making the ride a little uncomfortable, but not much and the ride quality was not ruined by this.
What is in Part 2?
In the next part we will look at the Roval Fusee E5 Wheels, they are of a more standard design and we will compare them to the Star wheels and our Campagnolo Electron wheels, so come back and have a read of our complete conclusions on the Roval Fusee wheels.