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Roval Control SL Team XC Race Wheels Dip Under 1,200g

roval control sl team xc mountain bike wheels with carbon fiber spokes
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The goal behind the extremely lightweight new Roval Control SL Team wheels was to give their XC riders the fastest possible wheels for the 2024 Olympics.

The project started in 2021 with 8 samples of wheels, ranging in stiffness and weights. They had their pros ride them on the same loop over five hours. They measured both subjective feedback from the riders, and actual feedback coming vibration and other sensors on the bike and wheels.

They machined several hubs in-house and tested an assortment of carbon fiber (stiff) and glass fiber (flexy) spokes. In all, they tested 36 different variations to arrive at a wheel that just the right amount of stiff, compliant, light, and fast.

prototype hub closeup details on new roval control sl team wheels

Shown above, the silver hubs are one of the prototype designs. Note the smaller brake mounting flange and small mounting nubs created by machining even more material away. The concept was (at least partially) to reduce heat transfer to the hubs in addition to saving weight, but ultimately they went with a slightly more robust design.

What’s impressive is that they’ve achieved this weight with a 6-bolt rotor design…most brands use Center Lock to produce a lighter hub shell, but then we end up with heavier rotors.

hub closeup details on new roval control sl team wheels

The result? The new Control SL Team wheels are 70g lighter than the current SL with a claimed weight of just 1,180g.

rim closeup details on new roval control sl team wheels

They actually use the same rim as the Control SL wheels, so the weight savings comes from the spokes and hub. That rim has been good to them, so they didn’t want to mess with that.

rim closeup details on new roval control sl team wheels

Compared to XC rims in general, they say it’s 33% more impact resistant, on par with some competitors’ trail wheels, and that their racers haven’t broken in a wheel in years. Thick 4mm bead hooks have 40% better pinch flat resistance, so it’ll help save your tires, too.

roval control sl team rim closeup

A note about these wheels’ compliance & stiffness: Specialized did point out that other brand’s wheels, particularly those with companion bike brands (Syncros & Scott, Reserve & Santa Cruz), may rank differently in stiffness, wind-up, etc., because those are the specs that worked well for those brands’ bikes.

Specialized designed theirs for the new Epic 8 to be optimized as a system. So, while you and I are still likely to be very impressed with their performance, their performance might be even better on the new Epic 8.

hub closeup details on new roval control sl team wheels

The carbon spokes are custom-made for Specialized, they’re not a stock item. And they’re only using 20 spokes, not 24 like on the standard SL model.

Even with the lower spoke count, they’re tested to perform with a loss of up to two spokes, so you can ride home in the unlikely event you break a spoke. It’s unlikely, because they say they’re much stronger than the steel spokes they use on other wheels. With those, you’re more likely to break the spoke than the rim. With the carbon spokes, the rim will break (also unlikely) before the spokes do.

roval control sl team wheels shown in the sand

While these wheels were made for their athletes, they’ll have 400 sets available globally in black-on-black.

They’re yours for just $3,300 and come in a special box with the following:

  • Ti Rotor Bolts
  • End Caps and End Cap Tool
  • Microspline Freehub Body (stock with XD)
  • SINC Bearings
  • Roval Branded Dynaplug Racer Pro + extra set of plugs
  • Spoke Kit (20 total)
  • Premium Double Wheel Bag
  • 1 S-Works Fast Trak 29 x 2.35 & 1 S-Works Renegade Tire 29 x 2.35
  • 2 Custom Roval Water Bottles
  • Personalized letters from S-Racing Riders

Want a set? Act now, they’re available immediately and only while those 400 consumer sets last.

Specialized.com

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seraph
20 days ago

Kinda interesting that you show them with the black hubs, but the production wheels have silver hubs.

Zee
Zee
19 days ago
Reply to  seraph

While these wheels were made for their athletes, they’ll have 400 sets available globally in black-on-black.”

Larry Falk
Larry Falk
20 days ago

I thought they might be using Arris MTO spokes, but it doesn’t look like it.

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