Specialized aren't newcomers to the carbon wheel game. In fact, the Roval Traverse SL Fattie wheelset that was released back in 2014 deserves credit for helping to prove that it was possible to create light and strong carbon wheels that weren't insanely expensive.
Specialized went back to the drawing board to create the next generation of Roval Traverse wheels, but even though they experimented with a number of wacky looking designs, the end result was, well, quite ordinary. J-bend spokes, no radial lacing, and a fairly traditional rim profile – it turns out that many of the tenets wheelbuilders hold near and dear are still very relevant.
Roval Traverse Wheel Details
• 27.5" or 29" (tested) options
• Carbon rims, 30mm internal width
• 28 spokes / 2 cross lace pattern
• DT Swiss 350 hubs, 36t ratchet ring
• DS Swiss Competition J-bend spokes
• Weight: 880g (front), 960g (rear)
• Lifetime warranty
• MSRP: $1,200 USD
The carbon rims have an inner width of 30mm and use a hookless bead design. Those rims are built around 28-hole DT Swiss 350 hubs, with a 36-tooth rachet ring in place in the rear. The wheels come pre-taped, and tubeless valve stems are included, which makes setup a cinch. The 29” version tested here weighed in at 1840 grams, retails for $1,200 USD, and comes with a lifetime warranty.
There's also an SL version for riders looking for a little faster engagement and slightly lower weight, although it'll cost you $700 more.
The hookless carbon rims have an internal width of 30mm, and arrive pre-taped with tubeless valve stems included.
DT Swiss' 350 hubs are simple and reliable. With the 36-tooth ratchet rings there's 10-degrees of motion between engagement points.
I've mounted several different sets of tires to the Traverse wheels over the last few months, and every time getting them seated and sealed was hassle free. That 30mm internal rim width works well with tires in the 2.3 – 2.6” range, and every tire snapped right into place with the satisfying 'thwunk thwunk' that's the hallmark of a successful tubeless installation. Depending on the tire and conditions, my pressures ranged from 20-21 psi in the front, and 21-23 psi in the rear.
The best wheelsets are the ones that you don't notice, and the Traverse wheels fall squarely into that category. They're stiff and precise, but without going overboard - my hands and forearms never felt like they were taking a beating, even on long, rough downhill sections. Determining wheel stiffness isn't all that easy when you add big tires and softer ground into the mix, but I'd say that the overall feel is similar to that of Santa Cruz's Reserve wheels, and slightly less stiff than Race Face's Next R wheels.
The wheels are also nice and quiet - the occasional 'twanging' noise that emanated from the previous version has been eliminated, likely due to the switch to a two-cross lacing pattern. The rims survived all of the root and rock smashing I subjected them to, including a few hard landings where I was certain I'd need to spend some time with a spoke wrench, only to be pleasantly surprised to find that they were still properly tensioned and perfectly true.
I've had very good luck with DT's hubs over the years, and the ones on the Traverse wheels were no exception. The 36-tooth ratchet rings create 10-degrees between engagement points, which is moderately quick, with a very positive feel when the hub engages. After three months of mud and grit the bearings are still spinning smoothly and are free of any lateral play. Pinkbike's Take