Looking to step outside the box of being “Specialized’s in-house wheel brand” Roval has invested some major R&D into creating affordable wheels that are desirable for riders regardless of the bike brand they ride. Since the Traverse wheels first hit the market in 2014, we have spent a fair amount of time riding them in various sizes on several bikes. Last summer we attended a small media event at Crankworx Whistler where the Roval team stepped up to show that they were looking to create their own shadow beyond the big S. The new Roval Traverse 29 Carbon wheels offer solid ride characteristics at a competitive price point.
Available in either 27.5 or 29-inch these wheels sport a 30mm internal width, hookless beads, 28 J-hook DT Swiss Competition spokes laced 2-cross to DT 350 hubs. The ingredient sure sound like a recipe for a good wheel. There’s no outrageous offsets, no proprietary spoke designs, no exotic carbon layups. The wheels come pre-taped with tubeless stems installed, both of which are well done and have gone through multiple tire changes without issue. 10 degrees of engagement off the proven DT 36-tooth pawl is plenty but if you worry about that extra few degrees, Specialized offers an SL version that also shaves off a few grams.
I have gotten in the habit of rating carbon wheels on their blend of stiffness to compliance to strength. From the first ride out on our new Roval Traverse wheels the feedback was the same. They’re snappy, quick and ride well. Lateral stiffness is on par with most high end carbon offerings out there, I would rate these wheels as being slightly less stiff than a WeAreOne but a little more stiff than a Light Bicycle wheel. They do not “railroad” the rider in every little rut or undulation and have a very nice lateral compliance. Hand and arm pump are negligible even after some longer descents.
Strength is as good as any wheel we have tested yet with the wheels shedding large shale impacts with nothing more than decal damage. We regularly ran pressures in the low 20s without tire inserts or rim strips and never had any problems. Even after some aggressive attempts at trying to “hurt” the rims we have not had to tighten spokes or true these wheels in the five months we have been hammering on them. They’re a very capable and competitive unit for the price.
The Wolf’s Last Word
While Roval certainly isn’t reinventing the wheel, we’re not mad at them for falling in line. Focusing on the basics and stepping away from the bleeding edge of design is a proven record we would chose spending our hard earned dollars on proven designs 9 times out of 10. The Roval Traverse Carbon has been built with the best and most serviceable parts kit and the details have not been overlooked. These details and thoughtfulness shine through as wheels that have been strong, ride comfortably and remained problem free for the entirety of testing. Throw in a lifetime warranty and a decent price tag and it looks like carbon wheels aren’t the exclusive luxury item they were just a few years ago.
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