Tested: Specialized Roval Control 29 Carbon Wheelset

Words by Chris Southwood | Images by Flowtographer

The not-so-minor details

Product

Specialized Roval Control 29 Carbon

Contact

Specialized
www.specialized.com

Price

AUD1,499.00

Weight

1,593gm

Positives

Excellent value for a carbon wheelset.
Very tough.
Wide profile gives excellent sidewall support.

Negatives

Tubeless rim strip isn't very tight fitting, allowing some sealant to seep into the rim cavity.

Us

Adaptors for QR or 15/142mm axles are all part of the package, so there wheels will fit most bikes.

We’ve been rolling on these carbon hoops since back in mid-February (read our first impressions here) and can’t say enough good things about them.

They’ve spent the last three months fitted up to our Trek Superfly 100 long-term test bike, have been shod with a few different sets of rubber in that period and have been ridden all over the state.

Even ignoring the very reasonable $1400 price tag, these are a fantastic pair of wheels. The sub-1600g weight puts them into weight range that makes them acceptable for cross-country racing, but the strength and stiffness is awesome and the rim profile lends itself to bigger tyres and harder riding.

Plenty of beef to these rims, just not a lot of weight.

With an internal width of 23mm, these rims offer loads of support for tyres of 2.25″ or larger, giving more stability to when cornering and a broader contact patch. Coming off wheels with a 19mm internal width, the difference is immediately noticeable.

One of the key elements in the rim’s construction is the absence of a bead hook. It makes for a very strong rim wall, as the carbon is a constant width (there’s no weak point where the carbon dips in to form the ‘hook’). This gives you the confidence to push into the rocks even harder, knowing you’re less likely to cause damage to your expensive rims. 29er wheels so often exhibit confidence sapping flex, but these guys hold a line superbly, without feeling overly harsh.

There’s no bead hook to the rim, which makes for a stronger rim profile without extra weight. The rim is made tubeless with a simple tape to seal up the rim bed.

Any reservations we had about the hookless bead rim construction have proved unfounded; these wheels hold onto a tyre just as securely as any other rim we’ve ever used. We tend to run our pressures in the mid-twenties range on a tubeless 29er and we haven’t burped a tyre yet.

We did find that the tubeless rim tape pulled away from the rim bed a bit when changing tyres, allowing sealant to seep into the rim cavity. This is not an uncommon occurrence ¬†with tubeless setups that rely on tape to create an airtight seal; it’s not a huge drama, just a bit messy.

DT Swiss supply the freehub. Needless to say, it’s flawless, precise and easy to service.

To date we haven’t had to take a spoke key to the wheels, and the DT-made Star Ratchet freehub has been characteristically perfect. The freehub sounds brilliant too, as does the resounding ‘clang’ that resonates through the high-tension spokes when you shift under load.

Carbon wheels would ordinarily be the kind of investment that only the serious racer would consider, but at $1400 these wheels move into the realm of upgrades that you can afford without resorting to a diet of lawn clippings and water. For serious cross country racers, there are obviously lighter options, but as the ultimate trail riding 29er wheelset, these most be pretty close to perfect.

Them

Not all carbon wheelsets have to cost an arm and a leg. Using tricks learned from development of Control SL 29’s, we’ve been able to put together a competitively lightweight set of 29″ XC wheels at a more attainable price point. Rim uses a zero bead-hook design for use of continuous fiber across the sidewall and rim bed, which creates a stronger impact resistance.

  • Rim Type: clincher, tubeless ready
  • Rim Material: carbon fibre
  • Rim Width: 27mm external
  • Front Spoke Pattern: radial/3-cross (2:1)
  • Rear Spoke Pattern: 3-cross (1:1)
  • Spoke Count: 32 front and rear
  • Spoke Type: DT Revolution
  • Nipple Type: DT Pro Lock hexagonal
  • Front Hub: alloy body, 15mm thru-axle, and 24/28mm QR end cap options included
  • Rear Hub: CNC machined alloy body, high-quality DT 350 internals and ratchet system cassette, 135/142 end cap options included
  • Bearing Type: sealed cartridge
  • QR: Roval Cr-Mo
  • Assembly Method: hand-built
  • Rider Weight Limit: 240lb (108kg)
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
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