Specialized has been offering their Roval line of wheels on various road bike models over the years, but the 2013 model year marks a special occurrence: with the release of the all-new Roval Rapide CLX series, Specialized is ready to go toe-to-toe with some of the bike industry's biggest wheel brands. Available in 40mm and 60mm depths, the Rapide CLX carbon clincher wheels were developed in North Carolina's A2 wind tunnel with aerodynamics and torsional stiffness being top priorities.
Both the 40mm and 60mm wheelsets are built with proprietary carbon fiber hub shells with DT Swiss 240 internals, using straight-pull DT Revolution spokes in a radial pattern (both front and rear). Rim width and claimed weight for the 60mm-deep model are 24.4mm and 1515 grams, respectively. The same measurements for the 40mm version are 23mm and 1390 grams. The 40mm Rapide CLX will also be available in a disc-brake compatible version, with claimed weight being 1550 grams. All three CLX wheelsets will have a 240-pound rider weight limit.
SPECIALIZED'S 2013 TIRE TECH
What good are wheels without tires to go with them? The 24mm-wide S-Works Turbo clincher tire is Specialized's most advanced rubber to date. Specialized's research shows that the Turbo is faster (meaning it produces less rolling resistance) than the company's 24c tubular. The S-Works Turbo tire will be available as an aftermarket product starting in September, and will come standard on many 2014 Specialized road bikes.
The newest version of Specialized's Roubaix endurance tire will be available as a tubeless model. "we're very excited to bring tubeless technology to Specialized tires," says Equipment Research and Development manager, Mike Taylor. "Depending on the feedback we receive from the Roubaix, we may look to incorporate tubeless technology into other models."
THE S-WORKS SHOE RECEIVES MORE THAN A FACELIFT
Besides the bikes, the most significant road product to be unveiled at Specialized GPL was the brand's flagship S-Works shoe. Although the new model appears to be just an updated version of the previous rendition, Specialized's shoe designer, Rob Cook, says that the new shoe is a "nearly a complete redesign," which includes a brand-new last. Availability is set for sometime in the fall, with three color options and a retail price of about $450 (final pricing has yet to be set).
First and foremost, the new S-Works shoe has an all-new sole. Tom Boonen referred to the design as "alien." Specialized reps call it "asymmetrical," referring to the different carbon densities between the white and black portions. Like the previous S-Works shoe, this one sports two Boa closure dials, but the've been positioned closer to the outside of the foot to create a smoother instep.
Borrowing technology and inspiration from high-end soccer shoes, all of the upper materials of the S-Works shoe are laser-cut, and then thermobonded together to create an incredibly supple and comforming fit. The heel cup has been redesigned, as well, to create a firmer hold on the rear of the foot. A women's version of the S-Works will also be available, with a different last and a slightly lower heel collar.
A complete redesign, indeed! Specialized's footwear team started with a blank slate for the new S-Works shoe project. "We build prototypes at the opposite ends of the performance spectrum, and dozens in between," says Cook. "One was as stiff as we could possibly make it. Another was made from duct tape, with a basic carbon sole, and was the lightest possible we could build. The idea was to look for elements in all prototypes that we could combine to create the perfect shoe."
Specialized's "74 Series," including shoes and gloves, was released last year and it featured designs inspired by some of the company's earliest products but crafted from modern technologies. For 2013, the popular 74 Road shoe, with a kangaroo leather upper and double Boa closure, will be available in white (the black option will remain in the lineup, too).
NEW WOMEN'S RUBY AND AMIRA BIKES UNVEILED
While the biggest men's bike reveal at Specialized GPL was the new Roubaix SL4, the company's women's divison rolled out the equally impressive, all-new Ruby endurance road bike. Although it shares several of the same design elements as the Roubaix, such as updated Zertz elastomer inserts at the fork and seat stays and the new COBL GOBL-R seatpost, the Ruby sports some of its own unique design features. An integrated "wedge" seatpost clamp adds to the bike's clean aesthetics, for example. Five frames will be available, as well as several build options.
Specialized is one of the title sponsors of the Specialized-Lululemon women's road race team, and that sponsorship appears to continuing into 2013. For the new model year, Specialized is offering its high-end Amira road race bike in two special edition, Lululemon-themed replicas.
More new women's products include the new Aspire road helmet. The Aspire incorporates several design elements from Specialized's other lids, such as the widemouth vent ports up front and a minimal Tri-Fix strap splitter under the ears. But the Aspire (and other women's helmet models in Specialized's catalogue) also includes the new "HairPort Fit" system. This involves a small cutaway area of foam at the back of the helmet, as well as a retention system placed higher up, to allow more room for long hair or ponytails.
For more info: Specialized