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While the benefits of wheels that are lighter and stronger than their aluminum peers are clear, carbon fiber wheels come with a price premium that can be awfully hard to justify. With a number of
perfectly good excellent wheels available in the $600-900 range, dropping 3-4 times for something a bit lighter and stronger is often out of the question. A large part of the cost for which carbon fiber rims are known comes from their manufacturing complexity. Unlike aluminum rims, which are extruded as a continuous section and then welded or pinned into a hoop- a largely automated process- carbon fiber rims are much more process- and labor- intensive.
Rather than simply accept the high cost of manufacturing carbon fiber rims, the engineers at Specialized’s wheel brand Roval decided to question the function of each and every part of the rim. Realizing that tubeless tires’ snug beads no longer rely on rim bead hooks to stay in place, the company decided to do away with them altogether. With them, the bead hooks took away complex tooling and/or secondary machining processes- and a good deal of expense. How much? Enough that the DT-hub’d Control Carbon 29 wheelset retails for $1,200- the cost of 1 1/2 high-end carbon fiber rims (without hubs or spokes). Revolutionary breakthrough or evolutionary dead-end? Hit the jump to find out!