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