Specialized Roval Control Trail SL 29er Carbon Wheels

29er Pro Reviews Wheels

The crew at Specialized dropped these wheels off to me and they have been the work horse of the mtbr stable for the last four months. I have used them on the Epic, Camber, Tallboy LTc, and rigid carbon Niner. Friends have taken it out on test rides, from endurance guys, fast guys, powerful and heavy riders.  The reaction is always the same as they call them ‘cheater wheels.’  That’s just an endearing term we use for components that give you one unfair advantage over normal 29er wheels.

The Basics:

  • Model: Specialized Roval Control Trail SL 29er
  • Price: $1700
  • Weight: 1530 grams
  • Rim: Carbon fiber with 28 mm external and 21 mm internal rim width
  • Skewers: Ti included
  • Tubeless Compatible: Yes with rim tape, tubeless valves included
  • Axle compatibility: 142+ and 9m skewer compatible on the rear.  20 mm, 15 mm, 9mm skewer compatible in the front.
  • Rider Weight limit: 240 lbs.

There is another lighter model called the Specialized Roval Control SL 29er and  weighs in at 1440 grams for the same $1700 price. The SL model is more optimized for light weight as it uses lighter  spokes like the DT Revolution and DT Aerolite. The other difference is the front hub flange is smaller as it can only accept a 9 mm skewer and 15 mm thru axle (not 20 mm). It can be identified by its swath of red spokes on the front and rear wheels.

Although the weight and price  of the wheelset are very competitive, what’s really cool is the versatility of the wheelset and all the included parts.  We’ve had race-day wheelsets before, but we’ve never seen one this light and this ready to take on all duties.

It is tubeless and all the tubeless gear is included. The valve sits on the rim nicely to provide a leak-free interface. The only knock we have is the valve core is not removable. Removing the valve core is handy when seating a tire or adding sealant to a mounted tire.

Axle compatibility is why this wheelset has seen so much action in our garage. The world of front and rear axles is a mess right now with 9 mm skewer and 142+ available in the rear and 9 mm, 15 mm, 20 mm competing in the front.  The mtbr garage right now is a sea of  mismatched skewer types and most of our wheels won’t fit on other bikes.  The great news is this Specialized Roval wheelset can fit them all.  It does it with included endcaps that can be installed without tools. Simply snap in the end caps that you need and you’ll be able to fit this in all the skewer types listed above.

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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  • C Allison says:

    As far as the valves go, we have been using the WTB valves in the Rovals and they are bomber, removable core and hold a seal! Great wheel set!!!

  • Bill Jucha says:

    Could you please ask Mr Benedict a question. What are existing customers with Roval MTB wheels, suppose to do for tubeless valve stems. I am owner of a ’10 Epic Marathon with two sets of Roval wheels, that I am trying to convert to tubeless use. I have been told by my Specialized dealer that Specialized no longer sells tubeless valve stems for their one or two year old Roval wheels. The same dealer also told me he has no idea what I can do to ever run tubeless with these wheels as other stems from Stans or American classic simply won’t work with my Rovals. In short I have no way to run my existing Rovals tubeless. Please help.

  • Doug P says:

    People who ride wheels where a tube cannot be inserted to get back home in case of tire failure must not ride very far from the car. I ride a helluva way away from my car in areas with no cell service. Pardon me if I want to have the ability to put in a tube! So if I get it right, the non-removable valves can be switched for removable cores that allow a tube in case of tire failure. Is the wheelset still under warranty if the valves are switched?

    • Troy says:

      People who think non-removeable valve CORES are the same as non-removable valves must not read very well…

      The valves are removeable so you can carry a spare tube if you want… the vavle core is just the actual ‘switch’ that holds the air in and removing it let’s you pour sealant into the valve instead of having to unseat a bead of the tire. That said, if you’ve ever spent time on tubeless, you’d know the frequency of flats drop significantly. In the last 4-5 years of riding tubeless on everything from XC to DH, I’ve had exactly 2 flats… and one of those was due to me overtightening a Stans valve and breaking the seal.

  • Francis says:

    Doug P,

    The tubeless valves are removable so putting tubes is a non-issue. The ‘core’ that we point out is the center tip of the tubeless valve. It can usually be removed to provide a bigger hole in the valve temporarily. The 2012 valves that we got did not have removable core but the valves can be switched or removed at any time.

  • Loll says:

    As I am reading this, I am thinking why would you get these over the Stan’s Flow wheelset. 1/3 the cost, actually 1/4 if there is a sale, weights about the same.

    I think the advantage of this is the unlimited endcap possibilities and the stiffness of carbon.

    Is $1700 better than $478, I think to each his own. Love to have a pair though.

  • Francis says:

    >>As I am reading this, I am thinking why would you get these over the Stan’s Flow wheelset. 1/3 the cost, actually 1/4 if there is a sale, weights about the same.

    Stans Flow 29ers are 1870 grams at $545 so you probably have them mixed up with another set as the Stans would be almost a pound heavier than the SLs.

    The Control SLs can really be compared to the Stans 29er Race Gold at $950. The Stans will be lighter but will have a 170 rider limit and will not be as laterally stiff.

    That being said, Stans is the king of value and performance in aluminum wheels.

  • Brad says:

    I don’t have kids and as a Specialized rider I would love to put a set of these puppies on the epic but will they be doing a 26 version?

  • Francis says:

    Hey Brad, 26er is available. I would recommend the Roval Control SL that are $1650 and weigh 1200 grams http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/SBCEqProduct.jsp?spid=64364.

    Put some tubeless Fastracks on that and your Epic will fly.

  • Alan says:

    Would you recommend both the trail and XC version as daily riders? Most people that purchase carbon wheels seem to only run them on race day. In my eyes, they would definitely need to be trusted as a daily rider to justify that kind of coin.

    On another note, how well does Specialized handle both warranties (manufacture defects) and crash replacement?

  • Francis says:

    Yes, Control SL and Control Trail SL can both be daily riders. They are equally stiff and both have a very high weight limit of 240 lbs. The Control SL cannot take a 20mm front thru axle but that is just DH forks these days anyway. The Control SL has revolution spokes which are very thin so if you hit your spokes a lot on debris, then that would not be ideal.


  • Rich says:

    I have the Roval Control SL 29, came with my 2012 epic. I thought initially these would be great wheels but since i’ve had 2 failures in 5 races there not so great. Maybe they’ll do well in other parts of the country but the North East we have lots of rocks.

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