A few months ago, just before the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, our first of the 2017 road demo wheelsets arrived. Having had the Fondo in my sights for some time I was excited to get some super light wheels in to ride over all the hills. My current wheelset was something I built myself with some parts available. It is a 1430g set of aluminum rims, and some run of the mill hubs that are nice, but I notice some flexing when I lay a bit more into them.
The CLX 32 wheels in comparison, were slightly lighter, at 1340g for the set, but weight was the smallest difference that I noticed. The 32mm deep wheels have a wide shape to them with an internal rim width of 21.7mm. My alloy wheels are much narrower at 16mm. These wheels were claiming to be more aero than the previous Specialized race wheels, the CLX 40, which are deeper (and weigh more). Having been the first wheelset to my knowledge that has been fully developed in the Win Tunnel, the expectations were high.
After mounting my 24mm Turbo Cotton tires up, I got out on them and did some big rides. It was apparent immediately that the wheels were faster. It's so difficult to discern where speed is coming from. The wheels are lighter, and much stiffer, with a great tire profile, but I would say the aerodynamics were the most noticeable upgrade from my alloy wheels. Up above 20mph are where they really feel much faster.
This was all before I mounted the 26c Turbo Cotton tires up. Wanting wider tires, especially for the Fondo, where one of the timed sections is incredibly rough, and knowing that these wheels were actually designed to be fastest with 26c tires, my well worn 24c Cotton tires were replaced with their 26c brethren. I use Vittoria latex tubes. They are proven to roll faster in addition to smoother. Latex tubes are a bit more expensive and require pumping every ride, but I haven't had more flats with them. I threw the 26s on the bike a few days out from the Fondo and only had a few short rides on them, but what a difference 2mm makes. They were significantly smoother and had me super stoked for Sunday.
The Fondo itself went great. With three climbs timed, 11,000 feet of climbing overall, and 107 miles of sweet riding in Virginia and West Virginia, it was sublime. Having ran an aid station for the previous 3 years I hadn't actually ever done the Fondo. What a stellar event.
Riding with Kelly, Ryan, Jeremiah, and a few other friends during the day was super fun. The scenery back in West Virginia is so good, especially around when the Fondo happens. If you haven't done this ride yet, or one of the other loops offered, you owe it to yourself to do it. The full Alpine Loop ride is worth the extra training miles!
I know that equipment is only part of our sport, but it is a big part. I ended up taking the overall KOM competition this year, I think I got Jeremiah by 9 seconds or so! I've continued to put miles on the CLX wheels (now I have 32c tubeless Roubaix tires on them) and have yet to have a problem. We are also waiting on the disc version of these wheels to come in for demo. Look for them on our new Roubaix demo bike!