Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels

I’m pretty adamant in believing that out of any bike you own, your MTB deserves carbon wheels more than the rest. Now, my point that I’m trying to make – without getting too far off-topic – is out of all your bikes, your MTB gets abused the most and is required to do the most. With road and even cross wheels, you’re rarely taking big hits off-axis and you’re certainly not charging rock gardens. Regardless of tire size, a MTB benefits from a carbon wheel, both in durability and performance. Just ride a set and you’ll see what I mean.

That said, I’ve never been convinced that a set of proprietary wheels is a worth while investment, when compared to a set of hand laced wheels. The problem is, those hand-built wheels get expensive when you’re talking carbon fiber rims, laced to a DT, King, White Industries or the like hubset.

If you do decide to pull the trigger on a set of carbon hoops, there are so many options out there. Do you want XC race-light or “trail” wheels? Well, SRAM made it easy with the Roam 60. They’re nearing the weight of an XC wheelset (1650 grams for a 29r) with the durability of a legit trail wheel. I tend to over compensate my inability to connect what I see myself doing in my head, to what actually happens on the bike, with products that are engineered for even gnarlier undertakings. In short: I like riding beefy products on my XC rig, because it’s not just a XC rig.

Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels

My first introduction to the SRAM Roam 60 wheels was at the Trail House last year, where I rode the 27.5 version. Prior to that, I’d ridden other carbon wheels, ranging from mid-range to high-range pricepoints and was pretty set on the wheels I was demo’ing back home on the Tallboy LTC 29r. After a few runs however, I was very impressed with the Roam 60’s. Almost to the point where I was questioning the feasibility of purchasing a set of higher end MTB wheels for myself. Six months in, with numerous wheel swap outs – with everything from high end carbon hoops to aluminum rims – on my 29rs and I’m sold.

Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels

For around $2,200 you get what SRAM describes as:

“It’s the only wheel you need. By layering extra material onto stress points, ROAM 60’s UST compatible CARBON TUNED rim is light enough for long climbs and strong enough for the toughest Enduro races. Its DOUBLE-DECKER hub shell design takes straight pull spoke slots and stacks them two-by-two—distributing force perfectly around the wheel’s SOLO SPOKE design. The resulting wheel dish is wider, maximizing lateral stiffness while retaining frontal compliance. If you love to ride, this is your wheel. ”

With the following features:

-CARBON TUNED unidirectional and woven carbon fiber, asymmetrical rim profile
-WIDE ANGLE profile: 21mm inside, 28mm outside rim width
-UST compatible
-Available with 11-speed XD™ Driver Body, 10- or 9-speed driver body
-Aluminum nipples with nylon lock ring
-SOLO SPOKE design with double butted, stiff stainless steel spokes
-Durable hub internals with Star Ratchet 36-tooth system
-SIDE SWAP easy conversion to all axle types
-DOUBLE-DECKER hub shell design
-Weight: 1515g (26in), 1570g (27.5in), 1650g (29in). Wheel pair in lightest configuration. Wheel weights can vary 5%.

Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels

So what does all that mean? Well, let’s begin with the rims.

Carbon rims will take a lot of abuse, they’re great in tension, not so great in compression by default. I.e. they’re not immune from stress fractures and failures but engineering can tackle that issue. Surprise! SRAM’s Roam rims are made from unidirectional carbon fiber. I like to think that keeps them round and true, or consistent. Then, where there needs to be reinforcement, it’s there. The sidewalls are reinforced and tapered to do just that. All of which you really cant tell once a tire is installed.

Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels

I’m not going to dive into tech right now, but I will say I’ve taken some less than ideal lines up and down the limestone here in Austin, which has resulted in some off-center landings and a lot of bottoming out. The latter being the result of such limited tire clearance in my rear stays… It doesn’t take much for the gong of carbon and metal to ring on the trails.

Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels

I even recall landing some tech lines here after literally being thrashed about and thinking to myself “I’m going to break a spoke, or crack these rims.” Nope. Nada. I haven’t had to touch these wheels in 6 months. Rocks have flown off the rim and spokes numerous times and even if I did pop a spoke, they’re all the same length, so it’s easy to replace them.

Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels

Speaking of spokes… Sure, the rims are great, but part of the Roam 60’s durability comes from SRAM’s proprietary hubs. Their hub shell takes straight pull spoke slots, stacking them in pairs, equally around the shell, resulting in a wider wheel dish, which is crucial in overall strength.

Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels

The hub’s engagement is just as reliable as other hubs in my possession. I’ve never once felt a sluggish take-off. All this makes sense, because DT Swiss is making the hubs. They even have a nice freewheel sound. Not too loud but not so quiet that you scare hikers.

Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels

These days, with various axle types, the easier an axle swap, the better. Not to mention drivers. The Roam 60 wheels make that a cinch… No tools needed, just do it by hand following their easy on the web instructions.


Wider is better, but the Roam 60’s aren’t quite there… Well, they’re fine with me. I can’t notice a difference between a 21mm inner diameter and a 23mm inner diameter of other manufacturer’s offerings (seriously, look at 2mm on a ruler). At 28mm wide, I feel like the ability to notice rim width falls off drastically. For those techies who want the widest possible interior measurement, you won’t be happy with the 21mm in the Roam 60s – even though you can’t tell the difference!

Long Term Review: SRAM Roam 60 29r Wheels

The main points to take away from this review are, I tend to ride like a bit of a gravity bully. Even on my hard tail. If I see a line I want to take, I do, without hesitation. That sometimes results in less than ideal forays into limestone catastrophes. The number of times I’ve taken hits, or bottomed these wheels out, to find they’re still as true as the day I got them, six months ago is astonishing.

Lighter rims make all the difference and if your “trail” wheels are approaching XC weight, why not go for the upgrade? You’ll notice a huge difference when climbing and descending through technical, rooty or rocky sections. The stiffness is incredible and it will drastically alter your bike’s handling and ride qualities for the better. If you’re looking for a bomb-proof, affordable set if carbon wheels, the Roam 60’s are a top contender.

The Roam 60 wheels are available at your local SRAM dealer.

If you have anything to add, or ask, do so in the comments!

  • Tyler Morin

    When you posted a picture of your frame on instagram back in August you pictured an ENVE wheel. Were you originally going to put those and then switched or was the ENVE for something else?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I sent those wheels to Firefly to use in the mock-up of my 29r since I wanted to review these.

      • Tyler Morin

        So there is a firefly 29er coming in the future then…sweet!

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          Yeah, the Rosko was originally supposed to be used in a few bikepacking stories that fell-through over the summer (was going to use a rigid fork on it with frame bags) and the Firefly was going to be more of an all-around XC / Trail, dropper post 29r machine. Just took too long for the Rosko to show up and Firefly’s still on schedule for December, so they butted up closely to each other.

          • Trevor H

            Any details on the Firefly? Ti, Stainless, Ti-Carbon, or are you going to stay pretty tight lipped for now? Excited to see it. You are building quite the stable..

          • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

            Ti hardtail, dropper, 69* HTA, 120mm travel.

  • scott

    It seems like all of your your hand built wheels are 32h. Why is it that proprietary wheels always seem to go with a low spoke count? Was the 24h design ever a concern for you or are carbon rims so strong that spoke count is not really a concern? I am curious on your thoughts because, for whatever reason, at 180-190 lbs I am always scared of anything less than 32h.

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      The 24h wasn’t a concern – because if they’re rated for all-mountain / trail riding, my thoughts are the rims are engineered for 24h, straight spokes. I honestly didn’t give it a second thought after my initial spoke-counting was done when I first rode them. That is a good question. One that I’ve forwarded to my contact at SRAM.

      My hand built wheels are all 32h. Road, cross, MTB, whatever. I’m in the same boat as you…

    • Simon Cauwenbergh

      Scott, I’m riding a self built 28h carbon hoop wheelset for the moment on my enduro bike, no problems so far (after 3 months of riding). I’m not the heaviest of riders though @80-85kg including backpack and all, but they’re on a fully and I’m not pulling punches – I’d say they’re getting hammered :-).
      Advantage with the “modern” rims is that you can build with higher spoke tensions (up to 1200 N) which gets you a nice and stiff wheelset provided you have a rim that builds up tension very evenly and spokes that go well with that (I used Sapim CxRay).

      And I did notice the acceleration and stiffness increase right away when I rode them for the first time.

  • AttackCowboy

    Gotta say I really like your studio setup for photos like this. Great shots that really capture the wheels. Also enjoy this style review since I feel it gives me great information I can really work with while planning my own bikes.

  • GioFio

    Really stoked on these wheels so far after reading this (26 in production wheel?! YES!). SRAM might slowly be wooing me over after these past couple of months…One question though, will I need to get an adapter for the front hub to work with a QR, or is there a model that gives you an option to run a QR front and Thru-Axle rear?

    Might have to pick me up a pair of these sooner than later. The price is pretty killer too!
    Thanks Mr. Watson.

    • TechGuy

      The Roam 60 (and Rail 50) front hub allows usage of 20mm, 15mm, and QR end caps. Rear end caps are available in 142mm and QR.

      • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

        You’re my new favorite commentator!

      • GioFio

        Thanks dude! Couldn’t find it on the SRAM website, but glad you replied! Looks like these are in my future.

  • sam

    The difference in running a wider rim is the ability to run lower pressures with a reduced risk of flatting as well as creating a more natural profile for the tire virtually creating a larger contact patch, which is a noticable difference, so I personally feel as though SRAM missed the boat a little bit from this standpoint, they still look like an awesome wheel though. Awesome review John!

  • http://hopecyclery.blogspot.com/ Hope Cyclery

    if you’re still shooting one light holy shit….
    if you’re on two finally still hot damn

    profoto, you make me want

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Still one light.

      • Ace Metric Cycles

        got that kinoflo?

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          ProFoto b100 air TTL