The Contrôle XC Race is the lighter of Specialized’s 2008 mountain bike wheels, at 1,425g for the pair. We made a point of deliberately spanking them down our roughest trails and are very impressed with how well they’ve held up.
The Roval hubs were developed in conjunction with DT Swiss, and the rear internals feature their neat star ratchet. Their alloy bodies have been CNC’d to within a gram of their featherweight lives before being neatly finished in high gloss black. They sure are pretty.
Straight-pull triple butted Revolution spokes and ProLock hex nipples hold it all together, with the rear wheel sporting a sensibly minimal 28-spoke three-cross pattern. The front wheel features Specialized’s DoubleDrive system – 16 three-cross spokes on the disc side to cope with braking forces, and eight radial on the drive side to help equalise spoke tension for a stronger wheel.
The E5 disc-only alloy rim is only 24mm wide, making big tyres ill-advised, but we ran 2.2s for floatiness without any problems. The wheels are tubeless ready, with valves and rim strip fitted, and smooth Roval titanium quick releases in the box. Slip on your tyres, slop in your sealant of choice, add air and hit the trails.
If you’ve never ridden super light wheels then the effect of removing a large lump of rotational weight needs to be explained. It’s blisteringly fast, not only uphill where the diet wheels feel like you’re climbing on air but also on descents, where the acceleration is astonishing. The Rovals are no exception, and every bike we fitted them to turned into a total speed machine.
Light wheels can come at the expense of stiffness, but these stuck firmly to the lines we forced them into in our attempts to induce some twang.
The bearings were smooth from the off and have remained so. If we had to take issue with anything about these wheels, it’s the aesthetics – silver rims, black hubs and a mixture of black and silver spokes just ain’t right. But as we couldn’t see the trail for the speed blur, let alone the wheels beneath us, we’re not going to quibble.