Roval Control SL Team Wheels – First Ride Review

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The world of the carbon-rimmed wheel is a complicated one. After all, you need to know why you’re making your rim out of expensive carbon fibre instead of affordable, durable, but ductile aluminium. The Roval Control SL Team is singleminded in its approach and its reasoning. With the newest Control SL wheels, Roval wanted two things – to make the lightest mountain bike wheelset ever, and it still wanted to make it durable enough to withstand hard racing on the terrifyingly technical World Cup cross country courses out there. 

I was lucky enough to get four days of flat out riding on the wheels on the rocky, gritty, sandy trails of Rancho Cacachilas in Baja California Sur. And, while I’m certainly not a World Cup racer, I think that five rides and over 130km of riding technical trails blind was a good test of the durability and puncture-resistance of these top end Control SL Team wheels from Roval – a company that claims the title of ‘the biggest carbon wheel manufacturer in the world’. 

My test bike for the test was a carbon Specialized Epic full suspension bike, the kind of machine you’d expect to be racing these wheels. Tyres were initially a pair of Specialized Fast Track – minimally treaded XC race tyres, though I did swap to a front Ground Control after a couple of rides, just for a bit more steering precision in the soft granite soil. Incidentally, it went up with a standard track pump. 

The wheels were set up tubeless and tyre pressures were left to us to adjust to suit – I went for my normal 20PSI front and 24PSI rear, although I generally run a bigger tyre than the 2.3in Fast Traks. The wheels had Shimano Microspline freehubs fitted and six-bolt discs.

The wheels were set up tubeless and tyre pressures were left to us to adjust to suit – I went for my normal 20PSI front and 24PSI rear, although I generally run a bigger tyre than the 2.3in Fast Traks. The wheels had Shimano Microspline freehubs fitted and six-bolt discs.

The extensive trails of Rancho Cacachilas were an ideal testing ground for the wheels. The trails are hand-built and the surface varies from gritty, decomposed granite soil, to bedrock, to hand-laid rocks and trail features – the kind of thing you might see on a good cross country race course. We couldn’t do anything about the weather, which was best described as ‘arid’ but for an all-round test of the Control SL Team wheels, it was a pretty good place. Combine that with a trail layout that winds through the folds of the hills, with plenty of switchbacks, fast off-camber sections and a bunch of bike journalists all trying to passive-aggressive race each other and you have a pretty good race scenario. 

The Ride


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Review Info

Brand:Roval
Product:Control SL Team
From:Specialized.com
Price:£1950
Tested:by Chipps for 130km

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