J-bend spokes, brass nipples, no radial lacing... No, that's not the credo of a crusty old wheelbuilder, although it could be. Instead, it's a list of features found on the newly released 2019 Roval Traverse wheels. Specialized, errr, excuse me, Roval, experimented with some wacky rim shapes and different spoke patterns during the development process, but in the end they went back to the basics in order to create a carbon wheelset that met all of their goals on the trail and in the workshop.
Traverse SL Details
• 30mm internal width carbon rim
• J-bend spokes, brass nipples
• Lifetime warranty
• Weight: 1735 grams
• MSRP: $1900 USD
The Traverse SL is the flagship, no-expenses-spared model, designed to hit the sweet spot when it comes to weight and stiffness. Roval's engineers tried multiple carbon rim profiles, including a wild looking design called 'The Stegosaurus', which had an extremely tall sidewall profile and a shape that's unlike anything currently on the market. It certainly would have turned heads had it entered production, but its performance in the real world simply didn't pan out. A more traditional rim shape ended up making the cut, with a 30mm inner width that allows it to work well with a wide range of tires.
The Traverse SL hub shell is where things get interesting. There are 28 holes, with sections machined out of the flange for each spoke head. Roval refer to this as their 'Step Flange' design, and say that it keeps the spokes from getting bent over the top of the hub flange, which can lead to early failures. The hub's flange dimensions also allow the wheel to be built up using the same size spokes, which makes things easier if you ever do run into an issue and need to find a replacement. DT Swiss' 240 internals are found inside that hub shell, a classic, dependable design. Total weight for the 29” version is 1735 grams, and the 27.5” version is said to check in at 1690 grams.
A look at the Traverse SL's 'Step Flange' design.
The $1900 Traverse SL wheels do have a less expensive counterpart, the Traverse Carbon. That wheelset weighs 65 grams more, but it also retails for $800 less. An $1100 carbon wheelset with a lifetime warranty would have been unheard of a few years ago, but we're finally seeing prices start to come down from the stratosphere, which is a good thing. The Traverse Carbon wheels use a different rim layup, and they don't get the fancy machined hub shell, but they still look good on paper. A set just arrived in for review – I'll see how they hold up to a few months of muddy abuse and report back with a verdict.
Not a fan of carbon? There's also an aluminum Traverse wheelset with a price tag of $650 USD. Weight is said to be 1870 grams for the 29" version, and 1830 for the 27.5" option.