If you know Specialized, then you’ve probably heard of their wheel brand, Roval. Specialized own Roval and it has been their go-to wheels for a couple of years now. Roval is currently building towards becoming a more independent brand.

For their 2017 range, Roval have updated many of their wheels and released a brand-new Control SL carbon wheelset. The set is wider and lighter than on previous models. Check out the following press release for more information on Control SL and the rest of the Roval range.

Ask Jaroslav Kulhavý, and he’ll tell you—every gram counts in cross country racing. But with XC tracks becoming more aggressive than ever, just being a flyweight wheel is no longer sufficient. Now, wheels need to be as tough and stiff as they are light, with all of the handling characteristics that seasoned XC riders have come to expect. These days, wheels need to be more like the new Control SL.

Specialized Roval

When our riders asked us for the ultimate cross country wheels, we knew that they were really asking for some pretty specific features. They had to be light in order to be low in the inertia and weight departments, strong enough to take on rocks and roots on a short-travel race bike, and wide enough so that the tyre profile was optimised for both traction and rolling resistance—not an easy feat.

To check all of these design boxes, we started by looking at our Traverse SL rim to see if we could extract the wide-rim benefits while keeping the weight at, or below, the previous Control SL. Based on the width, that we knew was ideal for the desired ride characteristics, we tuned the rim shape to optimise the stiffness, weight, and ride quality of the system as a whole—too tall and the ride is too stiff; too shallow, and the wheel is too flexy. Our engineers meticulously went through rim shape developments to find the perfect balance and optimal geometry, and after fine-tuning multiple layup iterations and schedules, we ended with a 30.4-millimeter deep rim, with a 25-millimeter internal width.

Credit Ian

Being able to add material and width (three millimeters to be exact), without a weight penalty, makes for a stronger XC wheel, but we weren’t content settling with just an increase in strength. With our goal being the fastest XC wheelset available, we took the new and old rims, paired them with a set of 2.0 Specialized Fast Trak tyres, and performed rolling resistance tests at both 20 and 30 PSI. The result? The new, wider rim tested faster at both pressures.

Keeping the Zero Bead Hook design, the new Control SL wheels keep all the sought-after…

Focusing on the wheels as a system, we kept with our core design tenants of lightweight and durability, so we made sure not to skimp on the build. Each wheel is built by hand, and while this is somewhat of a lost art, we know that a real person can achieve qualities that a machine simply can’t. When hand-building, little discrepancies can be found that would otherwise be missed by a machine, so we took the refined 2Bliss Ready rim and matched it with our CNC machined hubs with DT Swiss Competition Race spokes. The hub internals feature sealed bearings and DT Swiss 240 internals with a 54-tooth star ratchet in the rear, making for lightning fast engagement. In our quest to save as much weight as possible, we also implement our Tubeless Plug System, replacing
a traditional rim strip.

Specialized Roval

This wheel is expected on South African shores later this year.

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