A Closer Look at Roval

What makes Specialized's in-house wheel program worth considering? See here.

By Vernon Felton

It's been said before, but one of the best ways to upgrade any bike is to add a new wheelset to the mix. Unfortunately, wheelsets (particularly those of the light, strong and stiff variety) don't come cheap. Not by a long shot. Wheelsets, in fact, have become outrageously (dare I say “stupidly”) expensive in the past four years with the advent of carbon rims. Remember when $800 was a crapload to spend on a wheelset? Now, the upper limit is more like three grand.

Specialized has their own line of in-house, Roval, wheelsets, which offer some impressive featrures (DT 240-based rear hubs, DT spokes and not a whole lot of grams). This video gives a quick snapshot of what the company is doing with the wheels and also hints, ever so briefly, at its new beadless rims (found on the new Control Carbon 29 wheelset).

Beadless? Yup. No hook beads. None. It sounds scary as hell, but Specialized contends that you can run conventional clincher tires on this $1,200 carbon wheelset without risk of the tires blowing off. What’s more, they contend that going beadless allowed them to make an even stronger (from an impact resistance perspective) rim. Check it out.