20 Feb 2013

The Specialized Roval Control Trail 29er wheelset is a stunning pair of hoops with serious potential to give the after-market 29er wheel world a shake up. We’re very, very impressed – even more so when you consider the $1400 ticket, which is well below the asking price for most carbon wheels.

We’re going to be putting these wheels onto our Trek Superfly and razzing the pants off them over the coming months (along with some other high end 29er wheels). Our first impressions are overwhelmingly positive. Here’s what we like about them.

23mm internal width and tubeless ready. Good news for riders of big-bagged tubeless rubber.

Excellent internal width: Hooray! With a massive 23mm internal rim width, the Control Trails should give great support to larger tyres, meaning less tyre roll with 2.25″+ treads. This is a problem found on many 29er wheels, especially when running lower pressures.

No bead hook: A quick look at the rim wall reveals something is missing; the Roval Control Trail wheels do not have a traditional bead hook! It looks odd, but Specialized say the tyre holds on just as well as hooked rim, and the simpler construction allows for stronger, lighter rims with reduced manufacturing costs.

Look, Ma! No hook! Removing the bead hook allows for a stronger rim wall without needing to add more weight, and also reduces construction complexity.

Weight: We weighed them in at 1593g (which is bizarrely 200g less than the claimed weight listed on Specialized’s website) and puts them in the weight range of many race wheel sets, despite them not being billed as race-specific item.

Tubeless ready: With rim tapes already installed, the Control Trails wheels are ready for tubeless action, simply fit the supplied valves and add sealant.

Simply swap the axle end caps for a 15mm or quick release axle. Check the spoking pattern too; straight pull non-disc, three cross disc side. The rear is three cross all round.

Adaptability: Modular hubs allow you to fit them up to a 15mm or quick release fork, and 135mm or 142mm rear ends.

Quality hub internals: With DT’s star ratchet freehub system, you’re ensured reliability and exceptionally easy servicing should the need arise.

Tough: Specialized markets these as a trail riding wheelset, not a cross-country wheelset, and as such they’re designed to handle some pretty hard riding. There is no rider weight limit – great news for Clydesdales – and they come with a limited lifetime warranty.

A full review of these wheel, alongside the Bontrager Race X Lite wheels previewed recently, will be posted here on Flow soon.