rad
Product Intro

Specialized Re-Launches Roval Wheels for 2019

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae (unless noted)
Date Sep 25, 2018

Why the big relaunch? Specialized went back to the drawing board without telling us why. Actually the hub and spoke change was explained, because one of the engineers couldn't find a replacement spoke in Whistler, where there is a bike shop or two. Was it sales, failure rate, performance or something else? Or maybe simply a response to other manufacturers stepping up? Maybe it was just time to improve something that wasn't actually broken? For whatever reason, Specialized began with a clean slate for 2019. While the profile might seem similar, the fact that layups, hubs and bracing angle have all changed was made very clear to the journalists in attendance at the Crankworx presentation. 

rad

You'll have style like this with these new wheels. Really. Photo - Harookz

Specialized tried a bunch of different cross sections including some very experimental shapes, but found most of them lacking. Larger voids led to more sound transfer and an unacceptable lack of compliance. After trying several of these (fail quickly was the motto) the team arrived at the shape they began with; the Traverse Fattie from 2014.

The goal was improved strength without compromising weight or compliance.* New resins and layups were part of the story but the hubs also came into play significantly. The Traverse SL and SL 38 use DT Swiss 240 internals for reliability and proven performance but the hub shell was designed in house. The intention is to allow spokes to travel in the straightest line possible from flange to rim for improved strength. Because all spokes, both pushing and pulling, are inserted from inside the flange (apart from the drive side rear) the bracing angle is also improved.

*The weight goal was not met

Aluminum

Aluminum lives on! A slight weight premium, DT 360 internals but better compliance for a savings of $1250 over the top of the line carbon set. That'll pay for a riding trip somewhere rad. 

DT butted spokes are used to improve strength at the J-bend. Wait… J-bend? Roval wheels have until this year used a straight pull spoke. Spokes that drop directly into the hub have some advantages; they can be changed without removing rotor or cassette and they have no bends where forces concentrate and create a failure point. Unfortunately they can be hard for riders to find at a local bike shop in the event of said failure. J-bend spokes are found the world over and the 2019 Roval wheels use one length of spoke front and rear and left to right.

Roval Graphic

Three models. Strength is clearly job one. The original Traverse Fattie wheels weighed 1570 and 1530 grams a set for 29 and 27 respectively (without rim strips or valves) while the new top line wheels are 1735 and 1690. Price has gone the same direction with a $500 boost to the SL version but now you can also choose an $1100 budget set. 28 spokes front and rear for all the wheels. 

Specialized came out with some pretty wide rims when Roval carbon launched initially - in fact they called them the Traverse Fattie - but now wide is the standard and the new version measures an identical 30mm internal. They believe that's the sweet spot for most riders, but if you want to go wider they will sell you a 38mm internal, which they now suggest for tires over 2.8”.

Studio wheels

A studio shot of the wheels. Photo - Specialized

We haven't had a chance to try and destroy these wheels yet but the lower priced set should arrive shortly, just in time for some nasty winter riding. We'll let you know if it makes sense to sacrifice 65 grams to save 800 USD.

For more check out rovalcomponents.com

Comments

AX3L
0
Axel Ericson  - Sept. 25, 2018, 7:05 a.m.

Are these budget carbon hoops the same pair as those found on the new stumpy expert?

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Axel Ericson
Cam McRae  - Sept. 26, 2018, 8:38 a.m.

It appears so.

Reply

Brumos73
0
Brumos73  - Sept. 26, 2018, 12:57 p.m.

Not exactly.... while it might be the same rim, it's definitely not the same hub. 

I ride the new Stumpy expert and it came with a standard 3 pawl Roval branded hub and not the DT ratchet system. I've since swapped out the rear hub to a DT 240.

Reply

niels@nsmb.com
0
Niels  - Sept. 26, 2018, 1:32 p.m.

That's the "DT 360 internals" mentioned in the article, it's DT's 3-pawl hub.

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Brumos73
0
Brumos73  - Sept. 26, 2018, 4:27 p.m.

That's the alloy version. I'm talking about the carbon version. In the listing above it states 350.

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niels@nsmb.com
0
Niels  - Sept. 26, 2018, 9:19 p.m.

You are right. Misread that, sorry.

UFO
+1 Kos
UFO  - Sept. 25, 2018, 12:21 p.m.

I've always had good success with Roval wheels, running the 27.5 Traverse Fattie 29mm id aluminum rims. 

I hope with this relaunch that Roval Joe also comes back to at least MTBR. He was an invaluable resource for all things Roval related, spitting out parts numbers left right and center for all bits conventional or obscure

Reply

earleb
+3 Cooper Quinn Darryl Chereshkoff Velocipedestrian
earle.b  - Sept. 25, 2018, 12:57 p.m.

Does anyone actually buy Roval or Bontrager or Santa Cruz or Ibis wheels aftermarket? 

In my mind they are in-house brands to be spec'd on their own bikes and not much more.

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AX3L
0
Axel Ericson  - Sept. 25, 2018, 9:47 p.m.

I bought a pair of new Roval wheels from my buddys Stumpy expert (hence my question). Seems to be fantastic wheels, but it feels a bit wrong putting them on my Santa..

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Sept. 26, 2018, 8:42 a.m.

I love cross pollinating bikes! I do it whenever possible.

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Sept. 26, 2018, 8:41 a.m.

It's certainly the goal. Roval has even used other brands to show off the wheels on social - Yeti being an example. I'm sure it happens but how much? You'd likely have to as a bike shop because otherwise you'd just get marketing spin.

Reply

troy
0
Troy  - Sept. 26, 2018, 11:30 a.m.

Yea, I did. Put the carbon ones on my Evil Following MB to go plus.

The price and warranty were great compared to other brands. I've been super happy with them. First ride on them was at Whistler.

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - Sept. 25, 2018, 3:38 p.m.

I see they are using J bend spokes again , my buddy has been breaking the straight pulls on his 2018 set.

Reply

kos
0
Kos  - Sept. 25, 2018, 8:45 p.m.

These look good.  I love j-bend spokes.  I had a couple sets of the OGs that were 25 mm inner width and straight pull spokes.  They did not hold up well at all -- Trail or SL versions -- but to be fair, it was damn long ago, and the Big S did stand behind them.

Reply

EVRAC
+1 Cooper Quinn
EVRAC  - Sept. 25, 2018, 9:32 p.m.

Claims "to allow spokes to travel in the straightest line possible from flange to rim for improved strength", then shows off probably the worst case of bent spokes at the first crossing that I have ever seen. In all three of those close-up shots you can see horrible bends about a cm after the J-bend. Look at the nearly-vertical spoke in the top-left of the first pic. Just awful. I actually thought they had laced them wrong until I read the description. Nope, they just crapped the bed.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Sept. 26, 2018, 9:13 a.m.

Good point. I guess should have been qualified. The bends on the drive side, with both inboard and outboard spokes, are very straight. On all other flanges, ostensibly to improve bracing angle, all spokes are outboard. Doing that without the machined hub would be impossible so it likely would have been better to say, "considering the spokes cross on the same side of the hub flange." Normally there would be no contact at the first crossing but there is often a bend as the spoke crosses the edge of the flange, which is what we should be comparing that to. That said, the bends don't look consistent. Some look pretty good while others have more bend.

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