Our Early Verdict
Campagnolo’s first foray into a dedicated gravel-specific wheelset has all the right numbers. And they look great, too
- - Lovely shiny C-LUX finish
- - Sweet spot internal diameter for broad gravel tyre compatibility
- - Regular spoke pattern for easier maintenance
- - Serious gravel racers will miss aero gains of a deeper rim
I'm not sure even Campagnolo expected such success when it launched Ekar, its first gravel groupset back in late 2020 but, since then, gravel has been a fruitful discipline for Campagnolo. The Italian brand has now bolstered its gravel range with the Levante wheelset, which will sit alongside the existing Shamal all-road wheels as Campagnolo’s best gravel wheelset.
Campagnolo says that the Levante has been designed from the gravel up for all drop-bar off-road riding, whether it's racing or bikepacking. The new wheels borrow tech from the brand's ultra-premium road wheelset, too, and have been finished in order to complement Campagnolo’s Ekar gravel groupset.
Keep reading as we take a look at the new Levante wheels and give you our first ride impressions.
Design and aesthetics
The first thing that locks you in with the Levante wheels is the aesthetics. The Levantes have a beautiful gloss to them from the C-LUX finish - this is the same smooth finish used on the Bora Ultra WTO wheelset. The graphics are lasered onto the rim surface, rather than stickers, for better durability. The graphics are subtle as well, so while there's the traditional Campagnolo wordmark in large letters, the grey-on-black design doesn't shout too loud. As Campagnolo hopes you'll pair this wheelset with its Ekar groupset, there are graphical elements from the groupsets branding carried over to the rim too.
The C-LUX treatment doesn't just give the rim an impressive shine - Campagnolo says it removes the need for lacquer which helps save weight. C-LUX is not only applied to the outside but on the inside of the rim with the slippery finish helping the best gravel tyres slide into place easier.
The carbon rim uses Campagnolo’s Hand-Made Ultra-Light Carbon (H.U.L.C) method which is said to reduce micro defects and allow more control over both fibres and bonding resin in order to tune the wheel's ride feel. The H.U.L.C construction has a hulk-like appearance and the wheel itself looks much broader than its 30.9mm external measurements would suggest. The Levante has a 25mm inner rim diameter which Campagnolo says is compatible with tyres between 38mm to 78mm. As aerodynamics are less of a consideration in an off-road environment, the rim depth of 30mm has been chosen as a middle ground between comfort, aerodynamics and strength.
Campagnolo also introduces what it calls Mini Hook. What this means is, instead of going fully hookless, this attribute promises the best of both hooked and hookless by using the minimal dimension possible to meet the ETRTO requirements. Campagnolo says that the rims are compatible with both tubeless and clincher tyres.
Bearing tweakers can rejoice at the fact that Campagnolo is continuing to stick fervently to cup-and-cone configurations. That means making adjustments to the bearing preload is a very simple process and if any play does develop it can be easily sorted with some Allen key twiddling.
Rather than use the G3 pattern that is seen on Campagnolo’s road wheels, the Levante gravel wheels have a regular spoke pattern and use 24 straight-pull spokes with external nipples in each wheel. This was done for a few reasons; it means the gravel wheels can have an asymmetric wheel design which should make them stronger and easier to service. It also keeps Campagnolo’s distinctive lacing pattern as a road specific design, reserved for its best road bike wheels.
Although the wheelset is rated for off-road and adventure riding, Campagnolo has managed to keep the wheelsets weight to a claimed 1,485g.
Campagnolo will offer the Levante wheelset in with the option of three freehubs, Shimano HG, SRAM XDR or Campagnolo’s own N3W freehub which is compatible with Campagnolo's 11-, 12-, and 13-speed cassettes.
Our test bike is set up tubeless with a set of Vittoria Terreno Dry tyres . At 38mm wide, these are the narrowest that Campagnolo recommends, yet the wheels still give them an excellent profile which actually looks a little plumper than what the sidewall says.
Campagnolo’s goal is to create a wheelset that is confidence-inspiring and fun to ride. While I haven't had a chance to hit any gravel in anger yet, the limited riding I have done has suggested the Levante wheels will have good compliance and comfort characteristics, filtering our vibrations and chatter which, as gravel miles accumulate, can be fatiguing on a rider.
It's still early days though, so I am looking forward to getting a better understanding of how these wheels ride once I've clocked up some more mileage.
Campagnolo has priced the Levante wheelset at $1,899.95 / £1,349.99 / €1,575 across all freehub standards (there is a slight Euro price fluctuation across freehub options).
Tech Specs: Campagnolo Levante gravel wheelset
- Rim Material: H.U.L.C. UD carbon fiber, 2-Way Fit rim, C-LUX finish
- Wheelset weight: 1485g (claimed)
- Rim Depth: 30mm
- Internal Rim Width: 25mm
- External Rim Width: 30.9mm
- Spoke Count: 24 front and rear
- Minimum tyre size: 38mm
- Hub: Aluminum hub, cup & cone adjustable bearings
- Spokes: double-butted, aluminium external self-lock nipples
- Spoke Type: Straight pull
- N3W: £1349.99 / $1899.95 / €1575 EUR (Pair)
- SHIMANO HG: £1349.99 / $1899.95 / €1580 EUR (Pair)
- SRAM XDR: £1349.99 / $1899.95 / €1584 EUR (Pair)
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Graham has been part of the Cyclingnews team since January 2020. He has mountain biking at his core and can mostly be found bikepacking around Scotland or exploring the steep trails around the Tweed Valley. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has gained a reputation for riding fixed gear bikes both too far and often in inappropriate places.
What is a hands on review?
'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.
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