For really rough rides, Specialized have the Traverse wheels, but these thick-wall Trail rims have proved plenty tough during testing. They’ve shrugged off rock and log wallops, although this does come at the expense of internal width. But at 28mm outside and 21mm inside, they still add useful volume and stability to tyres up to 2.3in.
The 32 tough, double-butted DT Super Comp spokes in either wheel spread load and increase stiffness. The nipples are external for easy adjustment and the reasonably shallow (24mm) rim means conventional inner tube valves stick through a decent distance. The removable core valves tried our patience, though, with persistent leaking after we’d added sealant, but otherwise tubeless-ready tyres blow up easily and securely.
Specialized also supply a full range of front axle adapters, including conventional and oversized quick-release, 15mm and 20mm hollow axle caps, and 135mm QR or 142x12mm rear adapters on the conventional 29er version. The 142+ version is fixed.
About that ‘plus’: this proprietry 142+ freehub body size is 2mm wider than normal, and only fits in Specialized 142+ frames – such as our trusty Specialized Epic. The cassette lockring will jam against the frame of conventional 142x12mm bikes, so if that’s you, choose the non-plus Roval Control Trails.
Internals for the rear freehub are based on the excellent DT Swiss 240 unit, with a usefully quick 10-degree engagement. The Trail SLs come in impressively light at 1,597g (775g front and 822g rear).
Add the fast pickup to low weight and a sturdy three-cross spoking pattern and these wheels light up immediately, with no sense of flex or lag from loose, long spokes, however hard we cranked.
The broad tubeless rims mean you can drop pressure to increase traction further, and they’ve got a distinctively planted, quiet feel. They hold a line really well for a big wheel on twisty, rough or rutted trails, making most similar wheels feel seriously whippy and wandery.
The Trail SLs are also available in 26in, with a truly super-light Control SL option in 26 or 29in diameter. Our long term Roval sets (rider weight-limited at 108kg) have held up very well too, and it all just makes the ‘cheap for carbon’ price even more impressive.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.