Van Bikeradar: Best gravel wheels 2022: 15 top-rated picks

The best gravel wheels are light, stiff and durable. They’re built to withstand the rough and tumble of riding on mixed surfaces in all weathers, and they’re designed to work with gravel tyres, which are wider than conventional road tyres, but skinnier than mainstream mountain bike rubber.

We’ll be the first to admit there’s really no such thing as a gravel wheelset per se. You can fit your gravel bike with road wheels or mountain bike wheels if you have compatible parts. 

Having said that, there are some important features to consider and spec details that make some wheels better suited to gravel than others, and many wheel makers now offer products aimed specifically at the segment.

There’s a detailed buyer’s guide after our list of recommended products, but here are some key points to think about:

  • Rim width and what size tyres you’re planning to run
  • 700c or 650b?
  • Tubeless compatibility – all the wheels we’re recommending are either tubeless out of the box or designed to be converted
  • Carbon vs. alloy rims
  • Component compatibility (axles, brake rotors…)

Best gravel wheels in 2022

Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLR

The wheels are hand-built and very evenly tensioned with 24 spokes.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

  • Price: £1,200 / $1,300 / AU$2,200 as tested
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,590g (tested)
  • Internal width: 25mm
  • Highlights: Super-wide rims, competitive weight, priced well against direct competition

Bontrager’s all-road offering is super-wide internally, making it perfect for seriously fat gravel tyres.

Despite a respectably low weight, there’s no rider weight limit, and the own-brand hubs offer super-fast pick-up.

Campagnolo Shamal C21 DB 2WF XDR Carbon

Campagnolo’s Shamal C21 DB wheelset works for gravel and for road bikes.
Immediate Media

  • Price: £1,160 / $1,689 / €1,299 as tested
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,585g (tested)
  • Internal width: 21mm
  • Highlights: Differential rim depths, Ekar-compatible, don’t need taping

Campagnolo’s latest Shamal wheelset is designed specifically for gravel, with a 21mm internal-width carbon rim with a sealed bed that eliminates the need for rim tape. The rims are different heights front and rear, 35mm versus 40mm, which Campag says leads to nimble steering, coupled with rigidity at the rear to put the power down.

The hubs have cup-and-cone bearings for easy serviceability. As well as an N3W freehub to fit Campag’s Ekar groupset you can also specify Shimano/SRAM or XDR options. Spokes are laced in the unique G3 clustered pattern.

Miche Carbo Graff Disc

Miche’s Carbo Graff Disc wheelset offers top-end performance coupled with a low weight.
Our Media

  • Price: £1,150 / €1,456 as tested
  • Pros: Simple set-up; brilliant performance; low weight
  • Cons: Added freehub costs possible

Miche’s Carbo Graff is an evolution of the aluminium Graff wheelset, and is optimised for 35mm to 45mm tubeless tyres. It features 30mm tall, UD carbon-fibre rims, which have 22mm internal width and a hookless bead.

The rims have an asymmetric shape, to counteract the specific drivetrain and braking forces experienced by each wheel, and come with tubeless tape installed.

Their CNC-machined 7075 T6 aluminium hubs contain Miche sealed bearings, which can be adjusted without removing the wheels.

The 24 straight-pull, flat, double-butted Sapim steel spokes are crossed twice, and the price listed gets you an XDR freehub, with HG and N3W freehubs costing £45 extra.

The wheels come with wheel bags and tubeless valves, and weigh 1,463g with tape, valves and 12mm end caps fitted.

The Carbo Graffs offer a little more urgency in their response, generate speed faster and feel racy.

In short, you get road-bike weight and performance with all-road durability and versatility.

Roval CLX 32 Disc

Either on the road or off it, the CLX 32 Disc wheels roll remarkably well.
Immediate Media

  • Price: £1,850 / $2,400 as tested
  • Wheel size: 650b (tested), 700c
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,333g (tested)
  • Internal width: 20.7mm
  • Highlights: Super-low weight for class, DT Swiss hub internals

Roval’s CLX 32 has a lot to offer, with an amazingly low total weight and some top-quality components from DT Swiss.

Compared to the competition, the 650b option is not ultra-wide, so it’s best suited to road and mid-sized gravel tyres, rather than more extreme (47mm-plus) rubber.

Roval SLX 24 Disc

The Roval SLX 24 Disc is a reasonably light alloy wheelset.
Immediate Media

  • Price: £650 / $800 as tested
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Alloy
  • Weight: 1,562g (tested, including valves)
  • Internal width: 20mm
  • Highlights: Low weight, DT Swiss hub internals

While the SLXs are narrower and a bit more road-oriented than some of the alternatives, they’re good all-rounders at a price that isn’t totally ridiculous given their impressively low weight.

The rear hub gets DT Swiss mid-range 350 internals, while the spokes and nipples are from the same stable. This is less relevant to gravel, but there’s a rim brake version too.

Deda Elementi Trenta2

The Deda Elementi Trenta2 wheelset has 32mm-tall rims.
Our Media

  • Price: £1,205 as tested
  • Pros: Weight; modern rim dimensions; simple setup
  • Cons: High-spec wheels are pricey

Dedacciai’s (Deda’s) Elementi Trenta2 wheelset is designed for high performance on gravel.

It has 32mm-tall rims, which are 29mm wide externally and 23mm internally and are made from high-modulus (stiffness) unidirectional 3k carbon fibre.

They’re tubeless-ready, with tape pre-installed, and are supplied with tubeless valves, 12mm thru-axle end caps, and Center Lock rotor lock rings.

The 6061 alloy hubs have a 17mm axle, and four-pawl freehub, which can be supplied as Shimano/SRAM HG, SRAM XDR or Campagnolo N3W for no extra cost.

Each wheel has 24 straight-pull spokes, crossed twice, and including the rim tape, valves and end caps, the set weighs an impressive 1,475g.

The  Trenta 2s immediately injected life into the ride feel of our tester’s usual gravel machine.

They’re taut and very responsive to acceleration demands, from any speed, and willingly sustain speed on the flat, with help from their aerodynamic rim shape.

With good sidewall support for big tyres, they’re ideal for all-round gravel riding, particularly if you want to travel fast and light.

Overall, Deda’s Trenta2 offers low weight, great quality and fine performance, all at an appealing price.

DT Swiss CR1400 Dicut 25

On the road, the CR1400s feel like a quality wheel.
Adam Gasson / Immediate Media

  • Price: £700 / $1,047 as tested
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Alloy
  • Weight: 1,746g (tested)
  • Internal width: 22mm
  • Highlights: Quality hubs, all-round spec

DT Swiss classes these as “all-road” rather than gravel, but their 22mm internal width and benchmark DT 240s hubs make them a very appealing option that plays well with wider road tyres or full-on gravel rubber.

They’re not super-light and our tester found the supplied tubeless tape a little fragile, but there’s little else to fault.

DT Swiss GR 1600 Spline

The GR1600s are put together to a very high standard.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

  • Price: £495 / $707 as tested
  • Wheel size: 650b (tested), 700c
  • Rim material: Alloy
  • Weight: From 1,727g claimed, 1,750g (650b tested)
  • Internal width: 24mm
  • Highlights: Suitable for big rubber

DT’s full-on gravel option is generously wide and comes in both 650b and 700c flavours.

The 350 hubs are a solid option (albeit a touch lower spec than the 240s) and total wheelset weight is decent if unremarkable.

Our tester didn’t love the thin DT tubeless tape, but otherwise you can’t go far wrong with these.

ENVE SES 4.5 AR Disc

Fearsomely expensive, but so good.
Immediate Media

  • Price: £3,150 / $3,000 (Chris King version) as tested
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,600g (as tested, Chris King version)
  • Internal width: 25mm
  • Highlights: Ultra-smooth ride, gorgeous hubs if you opt for Chris King, ideal for wide tyres

ENVE classes the SES 4.5 AR Disc as ‘all-road’ rather than full-on gravel, but the huge rim width means these are ideal for gravel tyres.

The price is eye-watering (although there’s a choice of builds and some are slightly cheaper), but the ride is sublime thanks to those huge, featherweight rims.

Note that they’re hookless, which may impact your choice of tyres.

FFWD Drift

The Drift is the brand’s first dip of the toe into the gravel world and it’s brought plenty of smart thinking to the design.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

  • Price: £1,500 / $1,699 / €1,399 as tested
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,525g (tested)
  • Internal width: 24mm
  • Highlights: DT Swiss spokes and hubs, hookless

The FFWD Drift wheelset’s rims are 36mm deep and 24mm wide with a hookless rim. At the centre are DT Swiss 240 EXP hubs and they’re laced up with thicker-gauge DT aero spokes with brass nipples.

We had to replace the flimsy rim tape, which tore and leaked, but otherwise build and ride quality are first rate. They roll light and feel tight.

Mavic Allroad Pro Carbon SL

The Allroad’s recent evolutionary step includes carbon rims and a rather different price bracket.
Immediate Media

  • Price: £1,800 / $2,100 / €2,000 including 40mm tyres as tested
  • Wheel size: 700c (tested), 650b (SL+ model)
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,521g (tested)
  • Internal width: 23mm (700c), 26mm (650b)
  • Highlights: Comfy, super-stiff, premium construction

Mavic’s carbon wheels are seriously expensive, but they’re a premium product and ideal for gravel.

The internal width is suited to fat rubber and their low weight and stiff rims make them feel fast and responsive.

Mavic Allroad Pro UST Disc

Extended, multi-terrain rides are this wheelset’s natural territory.
Immediate Media

  • Price: £900 / $1,200 (includes Mavic tyres) as tested
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Alloy
  • Weight: 1,671g (tested, with valves)
  • Internal width: 22mm
  • Highlights: Sturdy components, no tubeless tape required, tyres included in price

Mavic’s inter-spoke milling (‘ISM 4D’) gives these a distinctive scalloped appearance and makes for a weight that’s not bad for a set of aluminium clinchers.

With no drilling in the rim bed, there’s no messing around with tubeless tape, and the 22mm internal width makes them a good match for gravel rubber.

They’ve now been superseded by the Mavic Allroad SL, which has a similar rim profile, but a slightly downgraded hub.

Reserve 32 Gravel 700c DT 350

The Reserve 32 Gravel wheels are built to ride fast over rougher surfaces.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

  • Price: £1,599 / $1,800 as tested
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,563g
  • Internal width: 24mm
  • Highlights: Fast-rolling and stiff, great for riding fast

Gravel racing is rapidly becoming a big deal. If it’s your thing, the Reserve 32 Gravel wheels from Santa Cruz are for you. They’re stiff, rather than being designed for a compliant ride, and power transfer and tracking are spot-on for fast riding. In fact, we reckoned the faster we rode, the better they were.

At the centre are DT Swiss 350 hubs, which should give many miles of maintenance-free riding, and they’re laced with DT Swiss Aerolight bladed spokes. You can buy the wheels with DT Swiss 180 or 240 hubs if you want to up your hub tech and save a little weight.

Roval Terra CLX

Roval’s Terra CLX gravel wheelset is lightweight but pricey.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media

  • Price: £2,200 / $2,500 / €2,600 / AU$3,900 as tested
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,296g (tested)
  • Internal width: 25mm
  • Highlights: Very light, fast-engaging DT Ratchet EXP freehub

The Terra CLX wheels are very light, especially considering their 25mm internal width and 32mm depth. That’s thanks to premium materials, including alloy spoke nipples – although that does make them expensive compared to Roval’s other Terra gravel wheelsets, which are only slightly heavier.

Inside the hubs are DT Swiss components, including the loud Ratchet EXP freehub. They’re readily serviceable, with major parts that can be taken out by hand to clean, and they have a reputation for durability.

Zipp 303S

Zipp 303S wheelset
Steve Sayers / Our Media

  • Price: £1,031 / $1,346 / AU$1,860 / €1,230 as tested
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: carbon
  • Weight: 1,558g
  • Internal width: 22.7mm
  • Highlights: simple and easy to maintain

While the Zipp 303S wheels are aimed squarely at those who want to go fast and are suitable for use on the road, the 22.7mm internal width and recommended low pressure make them a great choice for gravel racing.

The wheels are fairly light at 1,558g and they have a snappy and direct ride quality.

Zipp’s choice of spokes and hubs makes the wheels easy to maintain.

They are a bit harsher than some other wheels, so these likely wouldn’t be our choice for gravel riding on rougher terrain.


Buyer’s guide to choosing your next gravel wheelset

Rim width

Look for wheels with an internal width of at least 20mm.
Stan Portus / Our Media

The ideal gravel rim is wider than a typical road one. The key number to look for is internal width, which relates directly to the range of tyre sizes you can fit.

Gravel riding means different things to different riders, but it typically involves running 28mm-wide tyres at the very minimum, and more commonly 35 to 50mm. 

Unsurprisingly, wider rims work best with wider tyres, giving your tyres a better profile with more volume and less of a ‘lightbulb’ shape, which occurs when the tyre is significantly wider than the rim. 

There’s no hard and fast rule, but if you’re shopping for new gravel wheels, we’d suggest looking at rims with an internal width of at least 20mm, and preferably a bit wider (rims designed for the road are typically around 15 to 19mm internal, although that’s been trending upwards in recent years).

Wheel size: 700c or 650b?

700c wheels may provide more road-suitable tyre options, but 650b will provide more tyre volume.
Katherine Moore

The vast majority of gravel bikes accept either 700c (standard road size, actual rim diameter equal to 29in mountain bike rim) or smaller 650b wheels (actual rim diameter equal to 27.5in mountain bike rim). 

Many framesets are designed to accept both sizes, with the option to fit wider tyres if you opt for 650b. This works because the rolling diameter of a fat 650b tyre (e.g. 650b × 47) is similar to that of a 700c wheel fitted with a much narrower tyre (around 700 × 28 to 30mm, approximately).

Having said that, you can’t assume that both sizes will work. A frameset designed for 700c wheels may accommodate the diameter of chunky 650bs, but lack the clearance at the stays or fork for the width of the tyres. 

It’s best to follow manufacturer recommendations here, to avoid costly disappointment.

Choosing between 650b or 700c largely comes down to personal preference but, if you’re unsure which way to go, think about what size tyres you’re most likely to want on your bike.

If your gravel riding is more like all road, you might want tyres in the sub-40mm range that will work well both on and off tarmac. 

You’ll have more tyre options if you opt for 700c in this case and you’ll be able to go as narrow as 28mm for pure road riding (usually so follow manufacturer recommendations here), or about as wide as your frame will take at the other end of the spectrum (few gravel frames will accept a tyre larger than 700 × 45mm).

If you want as much tyre volume as possible and your gravel riding sometimes resembles mountain biking, 650b makes a lot of sense. 

A 650b × 47mm tyre is balloon-like in its ride quality and some frames will let you go larger still, edging fully into mountain bike territory.

There are, however, very few 650b tyres under 38mm wide and the rims themselves tend not to be designed for narrower ones anyway, so do consider if you might want the option to go narrower for road riding in the future. 

A very small minority of gravel/adventure/touring bikes, such as the Surly Long Haul Trucker Disc, are designed to take 26in tyres, i.e. the old standard for mountain bikes. 

If you’re touring in parts of the world where 26in is still the de facto standard for adult bikes, this makes sense from a spares point of view. 

Otherwise, there isn’t a compelling reason to favour 26in over the more mainstream sizes for gravel, and the latest gravel tyres are typically only available in 700c and/or 650b.

Tubeless tyre compatibility

Tubeless tyres let you run lower pressures.
Matthew Loveridge / Immediate Media

We’re big fans of tubeless tyres because you can run them at lower pressures without the risk of pinch flats. 

If you’re shopping for a new gravel wheelset, it makes sense to at least have the option of going tubeless, even if you don’t plan to do so initially. 

Tubeless adds complexity at the setup stage, but offers real benefits when it comes to riding. 

You can run lower pressures for grip and comfort without the risk of pinch flats (a particular concern if you’re riding relatively low-volume tyres on mixed surfaces) and sealant will take care of smaller punctures.

Many wheels will come with tubeless valves and tape (if needed) as standard, but if they don’t, you’ll need to budget for them as an extra. 

Weight and durability

Some gravel wheels use cup and cone bearings for easy servicing.
Wayne Reid / Our Media

As well as having wider rims, wheels designed primarily for gravel are likely to be burlier than their road counterparts, although this is a generalisation. 

They may have higher spoke counts and some manufacturers will opt for better-sealed hubs and/or larger bearings for durability. Super-lightweight road hubs are not the best choice if you’re planning to get your gravel bike muddy and wet.

As a result, dedicated gravel wheelsets tend to be heavier than road ones, although the difference may not be significant in the scheme of things. 

Rim materials

Alloy rims are arguably a lot better value for money than carbon rims.
Russell Burton / Our Media

As in other riding disciplines, carbon is the money-no-object choice and the best option in terms of overall performance and weight. 

If you want gravel wheels with aero credentials, the case for carbon is stronger. However, it comes at a huge price premium over aluminium (or “alloy”), which is arguably far better value for money, offering virtually all of the performance for as little as half the price, or less. 

Carbon is nice to have, but absolutely not a necessity. 

Axle and brake rotor compatibility

Thru-axles are pretty much standard on gravel bikes.
Russell Burton / Our Media

The gravel bike market has more or less settled on 12mm thru-axles front and rear as standard, but there are plenty of existing bikes out there with different setups, e.g. 15mm for the front, or old-school quick-release skewers.

When choosing a new gravel wheelset, make sure its hubs can be adapted to fit your frame and fork, and check whether the parts needed are included as standard or need to be bought separately. 

Disc hubs are designed to accept either six-bolt rotors or Center Lock ones. If you’re switching from one to the other in the course of a wheel upgrade, you’ll either need to buy new rotors or, alternatively, there are adaptors to fit six-bolt rotors on Center Lock hubs, and vice versa. 

Incidentally, we wouldn’t base our choice of wheels on the type of rotor used, but, for what it’s worth, Center Lock rotors are much quicker to install and remove. 

Note that Center Lock rotors require a lockring, which may or may not be included with the wheels (or with the rotors themselves). Some use an internal cassette style tool for installation, while others need an external bottom bracket (BB) type tool, of the kind used for Shimano BB cups.

Lockring threads are standardised, but we’ve encountered lockrings that don’t work on certain hubs because of the specific design, so check if there’s a recommended one for your wheels. Usually, that’s because the hub body is too wide to fit an internal tool, in which case you’ll need an external flange lockring and the requisite BB tool.

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