Best gravel wheelsets 2022 - The best wheels for off-road and aggressive riding

Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels
(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

The best gravel wheelsets can help transform the ride and performance of a gravel bike. There are multiple different gravel bike categories now, but whatever type of riding you are doing on your gravel bike a wheelset upgrade is one of the biggest purchases and upgrades you can make, so we are here to help you get it right. 

During the gravel categories ascendancy before the equipment was as specific and well developed as it is now, even the best gravel bikes came with either road wheelsets that were really too narrow for wider tyres or cyclocross wheelsets that are built for a slightly different use case and tyre of riding. Now we have gravel-specific everything, from the best gravel bike shoes to the best gravel race bikes designed only to compete at the highest level.

Fast forward a few years and there is a broad spectrum of gravel-specific wheelsets to choose from in both 650b and 700c sizes. Current gravel wheelsets are lightweight but strong and wide enough to cope with off-road abuse and provide a far better fit for tyres (particularly tubeless ones) than in years gone by. 

If you are still not too sure where to start when it comes to choosing a new wheelset we've got a useful guide at the bottom of the page to help you make the right decision for your type of riding. 

A great gravel wheelset could be let down by the wrong or poor tyres so we would recommend you have a look at our list of the best gravel tyres too. 

At Cyclingnews we have years of combined experience and have spent thousands of miles riding off-road and competing. We've done the hard yards for you and have pulled together our pick of the best gravel wheelsets. 

The best gravel wheels you can buy today

Why you can trust Cyclingnews Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

A pair of black Zipp wheels with tanwall tyres on some gravel

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
The easiest-to-tubeless gravel wheels

Specifications

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

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding smoothness
+
Lightweight
+
Impeccable handling
+
Impressive impact strength

Reasons to avoid

-
Occasional freehub clunk
-
Easy peel graphics

According to our product tester Guy Kesteven, these are the most quietly rapid, comfortable, versatile, responsive and enjoyable drop bar wheels he's ever ridden, and they come with awesome warranty support. 

Thanks to the new shape of the 700c rims and its 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 our review, a "mic-drop moment". Pair that with a user-friendly setup, the top quality warranty and a more affordable price and the Zipp 303 really is one of the best gravel wheels around. Just ensure you adhere to the recommended tyre pressures when using the hookless versions.

To see why we loved them so much read our Zipp 303 Firecrest review.

(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
The best all round gravel wheelset

Specifications

Internal rim width: 25mm
Depth: 32mm
Sizes available: 700c
Weight: 1,296g
Brake mount: Centre-lock

Reasons to buy

+
A wide rim makes for a grippy tyre profile
+
High price-to-performance ratio

Reasons to avoid

-
Price
-
Prone to cosmetic damage

The Roval Terra CLXs 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.

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-around option, nothing we've tested thus far comes close to the value and versatility they provide in spades.

Check out our Rova Terra CLX review to see what makes them so good.

A pair of black Zipp 303 wheels next to each other on some grass

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
The best gravel wheels for all-road value for money

Specifications

Internal rim width: 23mm
Depth: 45mm
Sizes available: 700c
Weight: 1,610g (700c with tubeless valves)
Brake mount: Centrelock

Reasons to buy

+
Fast everywhere
+
Blissful tubeless fit
+
Brilliant warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as smooth as the new Firecrest
-
Not Continental tyre compatible

The Zipp 303S 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 manufacturing waste and keep costs down, but it does mean that tyre compatibility is limited and it's important you don't exceed the max recommended pressure. The 303 S isn't as light as the firecrest, but in the real world, the extra grams aren't going to cause you any problems. 

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. 

Check out our Zipp 303 S review for more info.

A pair of black dt swiss wheels with white logos on gravel surface

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
The best gravel wheels for enjoyable dependability

Specifications

Internal rim width: 24mm
Depth: 25mm
Sizes available: 700c
Weight: 1775g
Brake mount: Centre Lock

Reasons to buy

+
Bombproof quality
+
Full extras pack
+
Good price

Reasons to avoid

-
Very slow hub engagement
-
Fragile rim tape

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, but you gain bombproof reliability 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 it. It's also easy to pop off and service at home. 

Our DT Swiss GR1600 Spline 25 review will clear up any questions you may have.

A pair of muddy gravel wheels leant against each other on a gravel path

(Image credit: Future / Guy Kesteven)
The best gravel wheels for axle options

Specifications

Internal rim width: 22mm
Depth: 22mm
Sizes available: 700c / 650b
Weight: 1,612g
Brake mount: Centrelock

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Accurate feel
+
Super easy tubeless
+
Extensive axle options

Reasons to avoid

-
64mm tyre compatibility is optimistic

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 from an all-road wheelset. With a 22mm internal rim width, Mavic recommends 28mm to 62mm tyres, although we would stick 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 is easy and quick.

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.

Want to know more? Then head to our Mavic Allroad SL review.

The front Cadex wheel and forks of a bike, held up in a stand on some grass

(Image credit: Josh Ross)
The best gravel wheels for weatherproof reliability

Specifications

Internal rim width: 25mm
Depth: 35mm
Sizes available: 700c
Weight: 1270g
Brake mount: Centre Lock

Reasons to buy

+
Very muck-proof
+
Reasonably light
+
Wide tyre compatibility

Reasons to avoid

-
No specific aero claims

The Cadex 35 AR Disc wheelset hits the sweet spot between lightweight and strong reliability. It has excellent, fuss-free hubs that in our testing, have managed to shrug off the worst that winter riding could throw at them, combined with ceramic bearings for a long-lasting smooth ride.

The hookless design shapes the tyres into the best possible shape for optimum traction, too. The only real downside for fans of all-out performance is that the wheels make no specific claims around aerodynamic efficiency, which will be a markdown for anyone with designs on being at the pointy end of a race nowadays.

To see how they held up over a nasty winter of testing, read our Cadex AR35 Disc review.

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
The best gravel wheels for tough affordability

Specifications

Internal rim width: 20.3mm
Depth: 22.5mm
Sizes available: 700c / 650b
Weight: 1807g
Brake mount: Centerlock

Reasons to buy

+
Seriously strong
+
Instant freehub pick-up
+
Proven components

Reasons to avoid

-
Solid, not sprightly feel
-
21mm inner rim diameter limits tyre width options

Halo established itself originally by making bombproof wheelsets for the mountain bike dirt jump scene but has 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 wheels also use J - bend spokes so finding spares if you ever need them will be easy and they come with tubeless tape installed. 

If you're curious to know more about what we think of these wheels then take a look at our Halo Vapour GXC review.

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
The best gravel wheels for serviceability

Specifications

Internal rim width: 24mm
Depth: 24mm
Sizes available: 700c, 650b
Weight: 1,820g
Brake mount: AFS

Reasons to buy

+
Useful rim width
+
Hand-built quality with serviceable bearings
+
All tyre compatible

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly weighty

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, 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.

Head to our Fulcrum Rapid Red 3 review to find out more.

A pair of black Spank wheels and tyres on a gravel driveway

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Best gravel wheels for vibration damping

Specifications

Internal rim width: 24mm
Depth: 16.5mm
Sizes available: 700c, 650b
Weight: 1,700g
Brake mount: 6-bolt

Reasons to buy

+
Unique damping filler
+
Super secure tubeless grip
+
Very quick engagement

Reasons to avoid

-
Loose end caps and free hub
-
Expensive for alloy

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 aren't the heaviest wheels in this guide 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.

To read more on vibration damping, head to our Spank Flare 24 review.

A pair of bontrager wheels on a gravel driveway

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLR

Best gravel wheels for tyre compatibility

Specifications

Internal rim width: 25mm
Depth: 35mm
Sizes available: 700c
Weight: 1720g
Brake mount: Centre lock

Reasons to buy

+
Secure tubeless setup
+
Rapid-reacting hubs
+
Friendly handling

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy for carbon
-
Slightly expensive

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 Bontrager snap-in plastic rim strip to provide a tough and tight seal for tubeless readiness, which does, unfortunately, add a bit of weight and costs a little more than tubeless tape if and when you do need to replace one. 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, and 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.

If you're interested in these wheels then our full Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLR review can give you more details.

How to choose the best gravel wheels for you

Look closely and you will be able to tell a difference between a gravel wheelset and a road-specific one, especially the best road bike wheels which will tip the scales at under 1400grams per pair. Gravel wheels will feature wider rims to accommodate wider, gravel-specific tyres as well as make them burlier to withstand the rigours of off-road abuse and riding. 

There are different categories of riding that fall under the gravel umbrella now and this will influence your buying choice. If you are planning on competing in events and races on your gravel bike you may want to consider a stiffer, more aerodynamic wheelset that will offer some performance advantages in competition. If you want a wheelset upgrade that will cope with everything then perhaps consider an aluminium wheelset with a higher spoke count and look into spare part availability and ease of hub servicing. Gravel riding often involves a lot more mud and water and easily serviceable components will help protect your investment long-term. 

What size wheels do I need?

This is going to be led initially by your frame; if it can only run either 700c or 650b wheels then you'll have to stick to what will work for your frame. Many framesets now have the option to run either size, so which one is right for you?

Generally speaking, 650b wheels can accommodate a wider tyre than the larger 700c size, with a small sacrifice in rollover (how easily the wheel itself rolls over bumps). 

In simple terms, a 700c wheel will be the choice for fast riding on narrower tyres, especially with tarmac sections sprinkled in, whereas for rougher adventures we'd recommend you opt for 650b. Smaller wheels are also stronger, so if you are worried about strength for a loaded tour then perhaps opt for the smaller size too.

It's worth nothing that from an industry perspective we've seen fewer 650b tyres being available in recent years, perhaps indicating that 700c is being settled on as the de facto standard, so if you want to be totally futureproof we'd suggest going with 700c.

Centrelock or six-bolt discs?

This decision will be dictated by the disc brake rotors you already have on your bike. Most gravel bike groupsets are equipped with centre-lock rotors, so this is the more commonly found spec in wheels too, but it's worth knowing the difference. 

A centre-lock system relies on a single lockring that threads directly to the hub of the wheel to attach the disc to the hub, the same kind that holds your cassette to the freehub in most cases. It's a simpler system and allows for a lighter hub too, but with heavier rotors themselves. If you are working on your bike you can use the same lockring tool to remove cassettes and rotors. 

The six-bolt mounting system uses six T25 Torx bolts to mount the rotor to the hub shell and has been around for a few decades. 

Neither is advantageous enough to warrant an intentional swap, so in our opinion, stick with what you've got and save yourself from having to buy a new pair of compatible rotors. You can also buy adaptors to get around any potential issues.  

Are wider rims better?

And what about gravel deep sections?

Rim with, in terms of performance for a disc brake wheelset, will be referring to the internal width of the rim. 

Road rims generally vary between 17mm and 21mm, but you can find gravel wheels much wider than that. to make the most of modern tyre widths you'll want to go for something around 21mm unless you're running particularly voluminous rubber.

External width does play a part in terms of aerodynamics, but given the variety of tyre widths that are possible to run on a single rim, it's hard to offer specific aero benefits without also quoting a specific setup.

As for deep-section wheels, the aero obsession from the road has yet to translate into truly gravel-specific deep aero wheels, especially as handling is more of a consideration here. For most riders, 30mm depth is a good point to aim for in this regard.

Are carbon wheels better than alloy?

'Better' depends on the metric you are using. In terms of absolute performance then the best gravel wheelsets are invariably going to be made of the black stuff, but they will also be significantly more expensive. Also, while they're stronger in testing, when they do fail it's usually catastrophically, rather than alloy rims which tend to bend or buckle.

If you're on a tighter budget, there are a myriad of fantastic alloy options out there, so don't be put off by the material they're made of.

Should I go tubeless?

The majority of decent gravel wheelsets nowadays will be tubeless ready, as will the best gravel tyres, so even if you're still staunchly using inner tubes against the general industry trend then you can make the switch one day if you so wish.

While tubeless for the road is a hotter debate, gravel tubeless, like disc brakes, has become the norm for good reason. It offers better puncture resistance and allows you to ride at lower pressures without risking pinch flats. Sure, you might have to carry an emergency tube just in case, and they're more of a faff to set up, but the advantages while out riding more than make up for it in our view.

If you want to make the switch be sure to check out our list of the best tubeless sealant, so you don't have a bad time.

How do we test?

Testing gravel wheels requires testing over a lot broader a range of surfaces than road wheels. We give each set a thorough run out on tarmac and broken roads, through smooth tarmac, to terrain where you could justifiably say you should have bought a mountain bike. 

Rocky descents test the longevity and strength of the components, and as we're out in all weathers we are also able to tell you if the hubs are impervious to grime over a whole winter or whether the rubber seals are as effective as a chocolate teapot. 

Testing is the backbone of the tech department at Cyclingnews and how we test is taken seriously, so read on to find out more. 

Josh Croxton
Tech Editor

As the Tech Editor here at Cyclingnews, Josh leads on content relating to all-things tech, including bikes, kit and components in order to cover product launches and curate our world-class buying guides, reviews and deals. Alongside this, his love for WorldTour racing and eagle eyes mean he's often breaking tech stories from the pro peloton too. 


On the bike, 30-year-old Josh has been riding and racing since his early teens. He started out racing cross country when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s and has never looked back. He's always training for the next big event and is keen to get his hands on the newest tech to help. He enjoys a good long ride on road or gravel, but he's most alive when he's elbow-to-elbow in a local criterium.