Roval’s newest Traverse Alloy 29 mountain bike wheelset is designed to handle anything from trail riding right the way through to enduro descending, and is fitted as original equipment to Specialized’s Stumpjumper Evo Expert and Evo Elite Alloy, and Enduro Expert full bikes.
They’re also available as aftermarket upgrades in both 27.5in and 29in versions, where Roval – which is owned by Specialized – hopes a competitive blend of performance, technology and price will make them a compelling option over their competition.
Roval Traverse Alloy 29 wheels details and specifications
Sharing technology with DT Swiss, the Traverse Alloy 29 wheelset’s rear hub is fitted with the internals from DT’s newest 370 hubs, which are fitted to the Swiss brand’s E 1900 wheels. That includes sealed cartridge bearings and, most importantly, the latest Ratchet LN freehub technology.
The Ratchet LN freehub uses the same system as the pricier 350 and 240 hubs, but has fewer points of engagement (18, or every 20 degrees, rather than 36 or every 10 degrees) and a slightly different method of sealing the hubs from the elements, so that pawl freehubs can be upgraded to ratchet systems.
Bar those differences, the ratchet system works the same on all of DT’s hubs. Although the Roval hubs use the internals from DT’s 370s, externally, they do not share the same looks.
Roval’s Traverse rims are made from extruded E5 aluminium alloy, with a claimed 30mm internal width and 34mm external width. These two design specifications, the brand claims, makes them tough to handle any type of terrain, and wide enough to support the sidewalls of modern wide tyres.
They’re tubeless ready thanks to factory-installed rim tape and are supplied with tubeless valves.
The rims are hand-built and are laced to their hubs using 28 DT Swiss Competition Race J-bend spokes in a two-cross pattern front and rear.
Riders will appreciate that both sides of both the front and rear wheels use the same 283mm long spokes (29in wheel), requiring fewer spare spokes. DT Swiss’s Hex Pro Lock brass nipples feature for the wheel build. Five replacement spokes are supplied with the wheels.
As mentioned above, they are available in either 27.5in or 29in diameters – but are only Boost hub spacing compatible front (15x110mm) and rear (12x148mm).
My pair of Roval Traverse 29 Alloy wheels with an XD Driver, rim tape and valves weighed 1,939g (924g front, 1,015g rear).
Roval Traverse Alloy 29 wheels performance
I tested the Roval Traverse Alloy 29 wheels on my home trails around Scotland’s Tweed Valley, the location of the UK’s round of the Enduro World Series.
The wheels were fitted to a Marin Alpine Trail XR, which is the same bike I’ve used to test DT Swiss’s EXC 1501, EX 1700 and E 1900 wheels, and later to my BikeRadar Builds Marin Alpine Trail E2 electric mountain bike (article coming soon).
Roval Traverse Alloy 29 wheels setup and tubeless inflation
The factory-fitted rim tape created an airtight seal with no leaks out of the rim through the nipple eyelets. The supplied tubeless valves were easy to install, requiring no force to locate them into position.
A wide rim bed with a sunken central portion meant most tyres were easy to fit. Only the toughest downhill casing versions required a helping hand from a tyre lever to fit the final few centimetres of bead.
Tubeless inflation was also easy, with most tyres needing just a standard track pump to seat against the rim’s hook and form an airtight seal. A few tyres were tougher – notably a WTB Verdict – requiring a tubeless inflator pump, but I’ve had issues getting this tyre to seat on other rims too.
Thanks to DT’s Ratchet LN freehub, swapping between XD Driver and Microspline versions was quick and easy, and is one of the most user-friendly advantages of this system over pawl hubs.
Roval Traverse Alloy 29 wheels on-trail feel
When hammering over rough terrain the Rovals don’t feel overly taut or harsh, with impacts and trail chatter being well-insulated from my hands.
On chopped-up rooty and rocky off-camber sections they tracked a straight and true line and were able to help the bike maintain impressive levels of grip, where stiffer wheels caused steering deflection and made the ride harsher.
This helped reduce hand and arm pump on prolonged, rough descents.
They weren’t overly soft, however, with no discernible compromising of steering accuracy or vagueness on the trail.
A few times I bottomed out the rim onto roots and rocks. This caused them to emit a low-frequency donging sound at the point of impact, but the rims didn’t get damaged and neither did they buckle. Spoke tension also remained consistent and they didn’t require re-tensioning during the test period. Their reliability has proven to be impressive.
The rim’s internal 30mm width gave the tyres a well-supported shape, helping reduce burping and squirming, but they weren’t so wide as to create a square profile limiting cornering traction.
The 18-point engagement Ratchet LN hub – like the one fitted to the E 1900 wheels – could have been snappier, but the amount of pedal crank free play before engagement wasn’t an issue on winch-and-plummet-style riding.
On technical climbs where instant drive was beneficial the small lag certainly didn’t help, but neither did it significantly hinder progress.
How do Roval Traverse Alloy 29 wheels compare to the competition?
In my experience the Traverse Alloy 29 wheels felt very similar to DT Swiss’s E 1900, which I’ve also recently tested, sharing a forgiving ride quality.
Both wheelsets are slightly softer feeling than the EX 1700 and EXC 1501, which I have also tested. Both those wheels tended to feel their best when ridden harder and faster, while the Roval Traverse and E 1900 were more comfortable at slower speeds.
In terms of weight, the Traverse Alloy are lighter than the E 1900 by 231g, and lighter than the EX 1700 by 84g. Given they cost less than the EX 1700, this makes them an appealing prospect for riders looking for an impressive weight, performance, and price ratio.
They are more expensive than the E 1900 (£399.98), costing £650, but are slightly cheaper than the EX 1700 (£689.98). The EX 1700 rear 350 hub does get more points of engagement (every 10 degrees), however.
These three sets of wheels are close in terms of performance, but it’s hard to ignore the E 1900’s price and feel, and they’re the set I would choose to buy.
Roval Traverse Alloy 29 wheels bottom line
It’s hard to find fault with the Roval Traverse Alloy wheels. They have a pleasingly inconspicuous performance out on the trail, feeling neither harsh nor noodly and providing a consistent and predictable ride quality. Their discreet nature is a truly desirable quality in a wheel.
They’ve proven to be robust and use DT Swiss’s revered Ratchet hub technology to boot. Price-wise they’re pitted directly in competition with the EX 1700, though despite being lighter and feeling slightly softer, they lack the 10-degree engagement of 350 hubs.
For me, their feel trumps this slight reduction in freehub pickup and makes them some of the best mountain bike wheels currently on sale.
|Price||AUD $650.00GBP £650.00|
|Weight||1,939g (29in) – Roval Traverse Alloy 29 SRAM XD Driver, 110x15mm (f) 148x12mm (r) axles, 6-bolt disc with tubless valves|
|What we tested||Roval Traverse Alloy 29 SRAM XD Driver, 110x15mm (f) 148x12mm (r) axles, 6-bolt disc|
|Freehub||SRAM XD, Shimano Microspline, Shiamno HG|
|Hubs||Roval Step Flange with DT Swiss Ratchet LN|
|Rim internal width||30mm|
|Spoke count||28 front, 28 rear|
|Spokes||DT Swiss Competition Race J-bend|
|Tubeless compatibility||Tubeless ready|