Fitting your gravel bike with the best gravel wheels can transform your ride. The difference in weight, stiffness, width and tyre compatibility can upgrade your gravel racing or adventure bike from something that is cumbersome and dull to a bike that is fun, fast, and most importantly, enjoyable.
In the past couple of years, the best gravel bikes have gone from modified cyclo-cross and touring bikes to purpose-built, ride-them-everywhere machines. With the new frame designs and their ever-expanding clearance for the best gravel tyres – plus the clever way brands are making room for this ballooned rubber – we've also seen an explosion in gear to kit out these adventure and all-road bikes.
In the early days, if cyclo-cross wheels didn't fit your needs, your options were skinny overbuilt MTB hoops or road wheels that might not be up to the task. Now we are flush for choice for specific gravel bike wheels in both 700c and 650b sizes.
Best gravel wheels
Tough yet responsive and versatile alloy gravel bike wheels
Internal rim width: 22mm | Depth: 22mm | Sizes available: 700c / 650b | Weight: 1,612g | Brake mount: Centrelock
It's been a few years since Mavic dove into gravel and adventure riding, and the Allroad SL hoops have evolved to better suit what we're looking for out of an all-road wheelset. With a 22mm internal rim width, Mavic recommends 28mm to 62mm tyres, although we would sick under 50mm. The undrilled rim bed means no tape or rim strips are needed to take advantage of the UST system so setting the wheels up tubeless should be faff free.
The alloy rims can take a beating, and though they weigh at 1,612g, they are efficient and responsive. The Allroads spin on Mavic's Instant Drive 360 freewheel system which provides a 9-degree engagement pickup and features Centrelock brake mounts. The hubs will also take a standard or Road XD driver, opening up gearing potential.
Smooth yet solid feeling budget gravel wheelset with instant pick up
Internal rim width: 20.3mm | Depth: 22.5mm | Sizes available: 700c / 650b | Weight: 1807g | Brake mount: Centerlock
Halo established themselves originally making bombproof wheelsets for the mountain bike dirt jump scene but since branched out to the road and gravel markets. The bombproof affordability that has made Halo popular has been brought over too and the GXC is a tough alloy wheelset. They’re laced up with enough compliance to make them feel surefooted and comfortable rather than uptight and racy, but that smoothness really helps conserve speed and energy on rougher sections.
Halo's Supadrive hub gives a rapid 120-point engagement so pedal pickup is an ultra snappy three degrees, and it comes in HG, SRAM XDR or Campagnolo options. The Supadrive has been around for a while too so reliability is well proven. You can also switch axle ends to fit QR frames/forks or 15mm forks.
The speed, ride feel, handling, weight and responsiveness are on par with the best wheels of their price
Internal rim width: 23mm | Depth: 45mm | Sizes available: 700c | Weight: 1,610g (700c with tubeless valves) | Brake mount: Centrelock
The Zipp 303 S wheelset enables riders on a slightly tighter budget to take advantage of the wider-is-faster trend. They mightn't offer the same low weight, instant pick up and floaty feel of the more expensive Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels, but there's no arguing they're one of the best gravel wheelsets in the circa-£1,000/$1,000 bracket.
With a total weight of 1,610 grams in 700c with tubeless valves fitted, they're plenty responsive and fast over all terrains. The hookless bead design helps Zipp reduce the manufacturing waste and keep the costs down, but it does mean that tyre compatibility is limited.
The hubs have a maximum engagement gap of 10 degrees, which means they don't pick up quite as quickly as the Firecrest (three degrees), but you do get J bend spokes for simple maintenance and easy-to-find replacements.
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For those with deep pockets, these are the best gravel wheels that money can buy
Internal rim width: 23mm | Depth: 25mm | Sizes available: 700c and 650b | Weight: 1,305g, 700c with Envy Alloy hubs | Brake mount: Centre-lock
Finding a happy middle ground between its road and MTB wheelsets, the G23 700 measure 23mm internally and feature ENVE's Wide Hookless bead which provides a larger and more forgiving surface during bottom-outs and is claimed to all but eliminate pinch flats — in our experience, it has worked pretty well. ENVE also offers these wheels in a 650b version which push the internal rim width out to 27mm.
The G-series wheels use a bell-shaped rim which makes for a laterally stiff wheel, and also offers some degree of absorption and damping. They also get ENVE's moulded rim holes, which the brand says makes their rims stronger, but also puts the nipples inside the rim making truing difficult.
The 700c version weighs 1305g for the set, and they are pretty snappy when pressure is applied. As you'd expect from ENVE, the G23s are stiff but don't wander into the bone-rattling harshness of the M-Series. Also to be expected is the hefty price tag, but you get what you pay for, and the G23s are also backed by the brand's no-questions-asked lifetime replacement policy.
Weighty for the price, but really well-built
Internal rim width: 24mm | Depth: 24mm | Sizes available: 700c, 650b | Weight: 1,820g | Brake mount: AFS
The Fulcrum Rapid Red 3 gravel wheels feature a wide internal width of 24mm, making them fat-tyre friendly and extremely versatile for all types of gravel cycling. With a hooked design, they're compatible with pretty much all the best gravel tyres.
They feature spoke tech derived from Fulcrum's e-bike range, as well as the brand's two-to-one build pattern that uses double the number of spokes on the drive side. This makes for a strong wheelset that delivers a smooth and almost silent ride for road and gravel riders alike.
Traditional cup-and-cone bearings make the hubs easily adjustable and serviceable in the long-term, and they're available in all freehub formats including the latest Campagnolo N3W 13-speed compatible.
Admittedly this is a heavy alloy wheelset without any aero benefits, however, the ride feel is incredibly smooth, and the width allows for voluminous tyres that provide a momentum-extending roll as soon as they're up to speed.
Affordable, enjoyable and utterly dependable for all sorts of riding
Internal rim width: 24mm | Depth: 25mm | Sizes available: 700c | Weight: 1775g | Brake mount: Centre Lock
Compared to some of the other gravel wheels on this list, the DT Swiss GR1600 Spline 25s are pretty affordable, but that doesn't mean they compromise on quality. Of course you get what you pay for, and this wheelset does feel chunky compared to lighter models, the rim tape is fragile and the hub engagement is very slow, however you also gain bombproof reliabiltiy that you'd expect from DT Swiss, wide rims that can take tyres as fat as your frame can handle, and a great ride feel, all for a price that's easy to swallow.
In terms of ride feel they hit a sweet spot between harsh and soft, tough enough to cope with low-pressure bumping, and a pleasure to ride on even the most punishing terrain. If you're not keen on the slow-engaging ratchet drive, you can easily upgrade.
Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLR
Tough, balanced, speed-sustaining, with a warranty to match
Internal rim width: 25mm | Depth: 35mm | Sizes available: 700c | Weight: 1720g | Brake mount: Centre lock
These wide-rimmed carbon road and gravel wheels from Bontrager are affordable and durable while delivering a balanced ride feel that maintains momentum despite being a bit weighty for carbon.
The Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLRs are a tubeless-ready wheelset with a wide 25mm internal rim width to accommodate voluminous tyres up to 55mm. They feature a snap-in plastic rim strip to provide a tough and tight seal for tubeless readiness, which does, unfortunately, add a bit of weight. Hooked rims, however, do accommodate almost any gravel tyre you want to use, while the Rapid Drive 108 system provides super-quick engagement and a satisfying freewheeling sound.
Overall they feel well-balanced, allow for precise line choice, but are forgiving if you end up hitting the rougher stuff. Best of all, Bontrager carbon wheels are covered under a lifetime warranty, so throw them at as many rough descents as you like.
Seriously smooth and practical tubeless wheels with instant engagement
Internal rim width: 24mm | Depth: 16.5mm | Sizes available: 700c, 650b | Weight: 1,700g | Brake mount: 6-bolt
These gravel wheels from Spank Industries come with the brand's unique Vibrocore damping foam filling, creating a smooth ride that quells vibrations from the trail. They also feature a 'Bead Nip' rim bed design that uses a ribbed profile to offer extra grip to tubeless tyres. The 28-spoke three-cross lace design makes them durable on rougher trails as well as riding with heavier loads.
Despite the Vibrocore filling, they're still pretty light for alloy wheels at 1,700g for the pair. Meanwhile, the Hex Drive freehub offers instantaneous engagement. Overall these wheels deliver a ride that feels smooth and compliant.
Lightweight gravel bike wheels that won't break the bank
Internal rim width: 23mm | Depth: 28mm | Sizes available: 700c and 650b | Weight: 1,685g (700c) | Brake mount: Centre-lock
Reynolds ATR or 'all-terrain road' are carbon fibre rims designed to handle a bit more abuse than its Attack or Assault Aero wheels. Available in both 700c and 650b sizes the brand started with the carbon layup used for its MR5 MTB wheels and adapted it into a toroidal shape measuring 28mm deep, 21mm between the bead and 29mm outside. Reynolds claims they weigh 1685g (700c) on their website; however, in reality, they are closer to 1550g, which is pretty light for heavy-duty hoops.
They come out of the box with tubeless tape and valves pre-installed and feature external brass nipples for simple truing. The rims are built around Reynolds CNC machined TR3 hubs with 36 points of engagement, which will accept an XD Driver and can be installed tool-free.
Reynolds also backs its ATR hoops with a no-questions-asked crash and damage replacement policy.
An incredibly light wheelset designed to transition effortlessly between tarmac and gravel roads
Internal rim width: 25mm | Depth: 32mm | Sizes available: 700c | Weight: 1,296g | Brake mount: Centre-lock
Not only are they achingly beautiful, but they're also incredibly well rounded and can be manipulated to dismiss anything you throw at them through tyre pressure experimentation, be it tarmac, gravel or even singletrack. As an all-round option, nothing we've tested thus far comes close to the value and versatility they provide in spades.
The Roval Terra CLXs, then, are neither gravel- nor road-specific. Instead, they combine lightweight performance with an ultra-stiff chassis for use across every imaginable discipline. As a wheelset upgrade, the Terra CLX offer speed, cornering precision and a tailorable ride quality that will not just make you faster but improve the way you ride, especially on unpredictable surfaces like gravel.
Hunt 30 Carbon Gravel Disc
A convergence of performance and value
Internal rim width: 21mm | Depth: 30mm | Sizes available: 700c | Weight: 1,479g | Brake mount: Centre-lock - 6-bolt adaptor included
Hunt is a relative newcomer to the wheel market, but since launching the brand has made waves with its road and gravel wheelsets. The 30 Carbon Gravel disc wheels marry the brands 30 Carbon rim with its 4-season hub which uses six-pawls for five degrees between engagements.
With a 21mm internal width, and 27mm external the 30Carbon Gravel disc wheels made for a well-supported tire in widths from 28mm up to 50mm, and Hunt employs its H-Lock tubeless rim bed, for painless tyre installs.
For years we've heard about high TG resin designed to withstand the heat caused by rim brakes, but the 30Carbon Gravel is only available in disc brakes Hunt has gone the opposite direction using a proprietary low temp resin claimed to be less brittle and offer superior impact resistance and vibration dampening. All of this makes for a wheel that weighs in at 1,479g.
A tubeless-specific, wider, lighter gravel-wheel option
Internal rim width: 25mm | Depth: 40mm | Sizes available: 650b (hooked) / 700c (hookless) | Weight: 1,352g (650b), 1,410g (700c) with valves | Brake mount: Centre-lock
According to our product tester Guy Kesteven, these are the most quietly rapid, comfortable, versatile, responsive and enjoyable drop bar wheel he's ever ridden, and they come with awesome warranty support.
Thanks to the new shape of the 700c rims and their hookless beads, Zipp was able to reduce manufacturing waste, and with it, the associated costs. Therefore, the cost of the 303 Firecrest comes in at a more reasonable price compared to Zipps of old. It's worth mentioning though that the 650B wheel still uses the older rim shape and therefore a hooked bead. This does open up tyre compatibility but at a fairly hefty cost increase of around $600.
Even compared to the wider rims and lower pressures flooding the best gravel wheels market, the Zipp 303 Firecrests are, according to Guy's recent Zipp 303 Firecrest gravel wheels review, a "mic-drop moment". Pair that with user-friendly setup, the top quality warranty and the more affordable price and the Zipp 303 really is one of the best gravel wheels around.
How to choose gravel bike wheels
On the surface, gravel bike wheels don't look all that different to road wheels, however, they need to be able to stand up to considerably more abuse. While the best road bike wheels can be as feathery as 1kg, a light set of gravel wheels will often tack on an additional 500g of armour.
Also, expect to find rims ready for tubeless gravel tyres. Each brand has its own system, some are distinctly better than others, requiring no frustration, broken tyre levers or a flash pump/air compressor to get a tyre on the rim and inflated.
There is a range of alloy and carbon options out there, with carbon fibre commanding a considerably higher price tag.
1. Gravel wheel sizing
These days, the best gravel bikes can roll on either standard 700c wheels or smaller 650b hoops wrapped in chunkier tyres. 650b or 27.5in comes to us from touring bikes, however, in recent years, mountain bikers have cottoned on to the mid-size rims for their manoeuvrability and lighter weight when compared to 29er wheels and tyres.
On gravel bikes, 650b wheels and tyres allow for fatter rubber, making for a bigger tyre footprint, lower tyre pressure and more traction and more bump absorption. On the other hand, 700c wheels require a skinnier tyre, but see less rotational mass and rolling resistance, and slightly better rollover capability — tyre choice will also have a significant effect in this arena, but that is for a separate guide. Even though the rims are two different sizes, both are nearly the same diameter with a tyre mounted and inflated, meaning you can swap between them without drastic changes in geometry or handling characteristics.
Your preferred wheel size will likely depend mainly on what kind of gravel riding you plan to do. If you ride smooth gravel, with a bit of tarmac mixed in, 700c is your go-to, however, if you're up for a big adventure with plenty of rutted, washboard gravel, singletrack or bushwhacking, 650b will serve you better.
2. Gravel wheel braking options
The benefits of disc brakes, especially in wet and dusty conditions are well documented, and most modern gravel bikes will have disc brakes. If you are in the market for a new set of gravel wheels, you're going to need a set of rotors too, so take note of whether the hubs accept centre-lock or six-bolt rotors.
Centre-lock rotors are attached to the hub with a lockring, while six-bolt discs use, you guessed it, six individual bolts. Centre-lock rotors are easier to install, and the hubs are typically a few grams lighter, but the rotors are generally a few grams heavier. If you do find yourself with incompatible hubs and rotors, adaptors do exist, however.
3. Gravel wheel rim width and depth
Just like on the road, gravel wheels are continuing to get wider. While average road wheels are usually measuring between 17mm and 23mm internally, median gravel wheel internal rim width seems to have settled about 21mm for the time being. Inner rim width is the critical figure to look at because it will determine how wide a tyre you can run, the profile and volume of the casing, and tyre pressure.
Typically when talking about external rim width, we'd be speaking in terms of aerodynamics, which does come into play, although to a lesser extent than on the road. Some brands employ external width to help prevent pinch plats, but the essential thing to take into consideration is what will fit into your gravel frame.
With such a wide range of tyre widths and tread patterns on offer, aerodynamics are less of a factor when it comes to gravel-specific hoops. Look for rims under 30mm deep.
4. Gravel wheels rim material
The age-old question of carbon versus alloy rims rages on in the gravel world just like it does with mountain bikes or on the road. In the lab, carbon wheels are stronger than alloy hoops; however, the trouble is in the real world they don't bend, dent or buckle; instead, they just break. Riding gravel you're likely to be subjecting your wheels to regular bottom outs, and rock strikes from projectiles launched by your riding mates tyres.
Because carbon wheels are usually built to be stiff, they can also have a harsh ride quality, especially over rough road surfaces. That being said, the energy transfer of a good set of carbon wheels when you get on the pedals, lean into a corner or pop over an obstacle is a feeling that alloy can't quite match.
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