Roval Traverse EL Wheelset - Preview

Nov 18, 2009
by Mike Levy  
Specialized Roval Traverse EL Wheelset


While better known for their complete bikes, Specialized has an all encompassing range of after market apparel and accessories, some of which includes a complete wheel line up for both the road and the mountain. Intended for the "all-mountain" riders who are willing to earn their tuns, the Traverse series consists of two offerings: the Traverse AL is the fiscally responsible choice, while the Traverse EL is the lighter and more expensive option. With an upcoming light AM bike build looming we decided to have a go on the EL's.

The Roval EL rims use eyelets and anodized aluminum nipples
The Roval EL rims use eyelets and anodized aluminum nipples

The rim bed is designed to make seating tubeless tires a bit easier
The rim bed is designed to make seating tubeless tires a bit easier

Roval EL front hub equipped with 20 mm adapters
Roval EL front hub equipped with 20 mm adapters

The Traverse EL's have some interesting features, one of which is a very competitive fighting weight of 1612 grams (w/ 20 mm adapters). Every year bikes get more capable while at the same time getting lighter. It was not that long ago that the EL's weight would have been light for a set of XC race wheels, let alone intended for a 6" travel bike that is prone to getting airborne. Because getting airborne is exactly why I happily suffer on climbs, I'm hoping that the obviously light rims are resilient to a proper B.C. beat down. Other weight saving measures include double butted spokes threaded to aluminum nipples, an aluminum freehub body, and aluminum axles. Having just come off a set of sub-1700 gram AM wheels that have been holding up great has set the bar high, I'm optimistic that the Traverse EL's will do the same.

The front wheel uses 24 straight pull DT Super Comp spokes
The front wheel uses 24 straight pull DT Super Comp spokes

Most likely the first thing you noticed, the Traverse EL's are built up using straight pull spokes. While visually quite different than classic J-bend spokes, there is actually some science behind using a straight spoke over its more common bent cousin. Spokes generally will fail at one of two weak points: either the cut or sometimes rolled threads, and the bend where it passes through the spoke flange. By removing the more common offender, the J-bend, you can greatly reduce the chance of failure. Of course straight pull spokes require special hubs, as can be found on the entire Roval lineup. Out back you'll find 28 spokes laced 3 cross, up front a less traditional pattern of 8 drive side spokes and 16 disc side adds up to only 24 spokes.

The rear wheel see's the same DT Super Comp spoke's, 28 of them laced in a 3x pattern
The rear wheel see's the same DT Super Comp spoke's, 28 of them laced in a 3x pattern

The Details

• Tubeless compatible rims with use of tubeless rimstrip/tape (included with wheels)
• Includes tubeless presta air valves
• Traverse EL rim has an exterior width of 26 mm, 22 mm interior (bead seat), and are 18 mm high
• Front hub is convertible between standard QR, Specialized's OS28, 15 mm thru-axle, and 20 mm thru-axle (all included with wheels)
• DT Swiss Star Ratchet freehub system
• DT super comp 2.0/1.7/1.8 mm straight pull spokes paired with DT Pro Lock alloy nipples
• Front wheel weight: 765 grams w/ 20 mm adapters, Rear wheel: 847 grams, 1612 grams total! (claimed 1550)
• $800 USD msrp.

An aluminum freehub body has a large part in the EL's low weight
An aluminum freehub body has a large part in the EL's low weight

Hidden inside is DT's proven Star Ratchet clutch system
Hidden inside is DT's proven Star Ratchet clutch system

Specialized chose to use DT's time tested Star Ratchet freehub design to transfer power down to the ground. I've had a number of DT hubs over the last decade, all of which have proven to be more reliable and less prone to contamination that any other system I've used. Because of my rather wet location I've learned to appreciate any system that can survive multiple seasons of terrible weather and washings, which the Star Ratchet system has done with flying colors. Nonetheless, I look forward to putting them through the ringer.

Front hub conversion is simple and requires no tools
Front hub conversion is simple and requires no tools

In an effort to appease as many riders as possible (as well as only needing to manufacture one model of Traverse front hub) both the AL and EL wheelsets feature a front wheel that will fit nearly any fork under the sun. A firm tug on the adapters and they pop out of the hub shell, no tools required. Included with the wheels are kits to fit regular QR, Specialized's OS28 forks, the new 15 mm standard, as well as any 20 mm thru-axle fork. I should note that unlike some convertible hubs, the adapters will not simply fall out and roll away to never be seen again. An O-ring keeps them snug as a bug within the hub until the time comes to change it up.

Front hub axle conversions from Left: Standard QR, Specialized 0S28, 15 mm thru-axle, 20 mm thru-axle
Front hub axle conversions from Left: Standard QR, Specialized 0S28, 15 mm thru-axle, 20 mm thru-axle

The Traverse EL's will be spending a lot of time on a 2010 Enduro S-Works Carbon test bike, which should be a great start at putting together a slack 6" travel bike sporting both a Hammerschmidt and telescoping seatpost while still being able to come in under 30 lbs. Look out for a complete review of both the Roval Traverse EL wheels and our custom Enduro S-Works all-mountain monster in the coming months.


Head on over to Specialized.com to see everything from bikes and wheels, to clothing and shoes.

Mike Levy


43 Comments

  • + 2
 Those are some nicely speced wheels. I too have had some DT hubs that just keep on going and going and going. The DT internals are super easy to service so unless you are destroying rims I can see those wheels lasting a long time.

Seems like you are building the 6x6 to be the king pimp of bikes.

The nest question is.....tires??
  • + 2
 Wait until you see this bike! He had it here last night shooting pics of it all built up - sick AM spec! His tire choice is wild, but it's for the conditions we're currently facing - muck!
  • + 1
 Good lord, I can't wait until I can put the SM8 onto the back again!
  • + 2
 They look nice, but so similar to the Easton Havoc AM wheelset. I don't see the point in having 28 spokes on the rear seeing as it's a 26mm rim. I have 24 spoke on 28mm rims and have found them to be reliable enough. If I had extra cash and decided I needed 28 spokes for strength i'd get the Havoc DH's. They look really nice, but the 26mm rim put's me off.
  • + 1
 By the sounds of things when you talk about the Havoc DH, you seem to be looking for a burlier DH wheelset. The Roval's are not freeride or DH.
  • + 1
 I was only refering to the need for 28 spokes, I just find it strange that for a trail/all mountain wheelset it has 28 spokes on the rear..
  • + 6
 when they are this light, does it really matter? just means a stiffer wheel...
  • + 2
 I could be wrong, but I feel like these are on the same level or at least marketed towards the same people that might choose shimano xt-776's but at the price of hopes laced to 819's... I guess they are about 300-400 grams lighter than the xt's but I've found those at $300, considerably less than the specis. I just dont think I'd spend top of the line prices for a specialized product when I could just get a custom wheelset for the same price. I do like the interchangeable hub axle converters, but I dont see myself changing forks often enough to make up for the cost of these.
  • + 2
 You make some great points. The EL's are not a cheap wheelset, but what if they can be 300 - 400 grams light but just as reliable? That is nearly a full pound of rotating weight, right where it counts. Nope, I don't have a long-term impression of them yet, but if the can be lighter and stand up to some abuse then I'll be happy. Now, wether they are worth the extra coin....
  • + 1
 whats the sound like on the rear hub? if its not as loud as my aeroplane noisy hope 2 then i think i may stay with the british made stuff, it saves on buying a bell to alert walkers. i know cosmetics mean little but colour options might be a good idea? still, a smart light looking wheelset, good job guys!
  • + 1
 I've had these wheels on my Stumpjumper for about a month now. They are certainly light, however with the low spoke count I am experiencing some lateral flex. Especially while braking on a steep descent. I would like to see what the reviewer has to say about these wheels. I'm just riding in Northern California not B.C..
  • + 1
 How in the hell do you get the adapters out so I can service the bearings. It says in the review to give them a tug, but I've had the mole grips on them, without going mad and to no avail. I have the roval traverse which came on a stumpjumper Evo 2014. Any help would be gratefully received.
  • + 3
 looks like a very solid and versatile wheelset for sure!
  • + 3
 i like the convertion hubs..thats very cool acctualy
  • + 1
 I'd like to see a write up on some DH/FR wheels, as I keep breaking mine.
  • + 3
 I dont even ride mountain bike, and i still want a set Smile
  • + 4
 specialized definitely needs to get more into the aftermarket DH/FR as their AM/XC stuff is super quality, so it would follow that anything else would be the same way. rep the S!
  • + 2
 I know this thread is super old. Is there a follow-up somewhere?
  • + 1
 Mike, What was the wheelset that you've just finished using that you mention in the article? Recommended?
  • + 2
 Mike had built up a set of wheels using Stan's Flow rims, butted spokes and a few different hubs.
  • + 1
 Thanks....
  • + 1
 To elaborate, I used Sapim's CX-ray spokes and aluminum nipples. Still going strong!
  • + 1
 Let us wait to see the long term testing. Numbers cannot justify a wheelset.
  • + 1
 anyone know if the rear is QR only or will it do bolt thru aswell ?

thanks.
  • + 1
 the front lacing is so weird! it looks awesome
  • + 0
 I'd like to know when radial on one side and 3x on the other became "weird."
  • + 0
 I don't see that often, do you?
do you have to be an a*shole about me stating my opinion?
I don't think you do.
  • - 2
 Yes I see this lacing pattern all the time since I am a bike mechanic.
  • + 1
 So nice, Me want a pair haha
  • + 1
 thats a pimp set of wheels
  • + 1
 They retail for £600, but you can get them for £540
  • + 1
 wkd wheels best on the market
  • + 1
 We'll see... as of right now I don't have any real time on them!
  • + 0
 them hubs are soooo loking like DT ones!
  • + 4
 They are DT hubs.
  • + 0
 ohhhhh i seee......I am being an idiot to think specialized actually made their own hubs. thanks
  • + 2
 DT makes hubs for a lot of different "wheel" companies. Up until quite recently they were making the hubs for Bontrager as well.
  • + 2
 My Reynolds Topo C hubs are made by DT. Actually they are 240s hubs with no label. Actually for what it's worth I changed the front hub to the Hope Pro II so it can fit QR, 15 and 20mm.
  • - 2
 Looks good, Price? I've been thinking of getting the XT 766 wheelset but I heard some bad things regarding the rear hub..
  • + 2
 The price is in the article, but just so you have it. MSRP from Specialized's site is $800 US
  • + 0
 pretty expensive then...you can get industry nine for that price and i9 is much better & better looking cause they come in crazy colors.
  • - 1
 The rims yes. hubs not so much.
  • + 2
 I've had nothing but great experiences with any hub thats used DT's Star Ratchet internals, I have hopes that these will be just as trouble free. Time will tell....

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