Despite sharing visual similarities with their road bike cousins, gravel bikes possess greater frame tolerances much like the mountain bikes of yesteryear, which means they are able to clear wider wheels shod with larger volume tyres. With the majority of contemporary gravel bikes eschewing suspension systems, the best gravel wheelsets have become crucial components - to such an extent that fitting the wrong wheelset could have dire consequences in terms of ride quality and all-around performance.
With the cost of living crisis rapidly shifting through the gears, you will be pleased to hear that the best gravel wheels don't have to cost the earth. Our experienced team of testers have been thoroughly putting them through their paces and the options listed here span the entire price spectrum.
If you are stuck with where to start with the purchase of your new gravel wheels you can skip to the bottom of the page to read our guide to choosing the best gravel wheels. This will help answer some of the most common questions and steer you in the right direction.
Best gravel wheelsets 2022
The choice of wheels is constantly expanding and it's easy to get overwhelmed before dropping the cash so we've put together a collection of our top-rated, best gravel wheelsets to point you in the right direction. As for our collection of the best gravel wheelsets, each option listed here has been tested rigorously and has scored at least 4 stars or higher in our tests.
The DT Swiss G 1800 Spline 25 is a bargain gravel wheelset with decent performance and premium looks. With reliability at its core, the G 1800s have been well received by both the cycling media and riders all around the world. The hub has a slow pickup and the set is not especially light, but £350 for a disc-compatible, aero-spoked, thru-axle set of wheels with rims good for 42mm tyres is pretty compelling.
Just Riding Along's (JRA) Gecko Carbon Wheelset is a very impressive set of hoops designed to take on the constant knocks and vibrations the roughest gravel tracks can throw at them, while still being so light that they won't hamper your performance on the road. With a claimed sub-1,400g weight and all the strength you could need, it's also pretty amazing that they come in at well under a grand.
Known for their appreciably vocal rear hubs, Scribe's wheel offering has grown in stature over the past several years. The Gravel Wide++ featured here is an alloy wheelset from with a generous 25mm internal rim well suited to wider gravel tyres. They're not the lightest out there, but they offer good all-round performance, and instant engagement and are cheaper than most comparable wheelsets.
The FFWD Drift feature a hookless carbon rim with a 24mm internal width. This extra width creates a more stable tyre which is more important as the tyre width increases – the Drift wheels are designed to fit a wide range of tyres, from 30mm to 60mm (2.35in) meaning you can even fit 29-inch mountain bike tyres to your gravel bike. Overall, these wheels combine lightweight carbon rims with excellent, well-proven hubs to create a stiff, high-performance wheelset – but this level of performance comes at a price.
Sector's GCi wheelset is its new gravel and adventure offering, with a rim that's been created using a recipe of various materials and fibres to produce the characteristics required for riding on rough surfaces. How much of a difference it makes is hard to define out on the tracks, but one thing's for sure: this wheelset performs very well, with a comfortable ride.
The new Fulcrum Rapid Red 5 DB gravel/adventure wheelset competes well against some of the best in the market in terms of price, stiffness and weight. The Rapid Reds proved themselves to be stiff when ascending long, steep road climbs and there's no feeling of any lateral flex when pedalling out of the saddle. On the gravel, they feel just as tight when riding, braking and steering hard. The wheels are tough and can take plenty of abuse.
Stayer_Adventure_Gravel_Carbon_Main.JPG, by Matt Page
The Stayer Gravel Adventure is not the cheapest gravel wheelset available but it does deliver performance to back up the asking price. The superb mix of an incredibly lightweight package, with the stiffness and expected reliability of the optional Hope RS4 hubs, makes them ideal for anyone looking for a premium all-around wheel. The hand-built element also sets them apart from some other options, with the ability to customise certain areas of the wheel.
At 35mm deep, the Halo Carbaura XCD Carbon Gravel wheels have an external width of 30mm, but more importantly an internal width of 26mm which makes them compatible with tyres from 28mm width up to 50mm. This allows you to run them as road wheels, too. We fitted some 32mm slick tyres for road use and the shape of the tyre worked well with no stretching that kept the sidewalls where they should be. Their sweet spot though is for wider gravel tyres, of which I tried both 40mm and 45mm for testing.
The standout feature of the VEL 30 GRL wheelset is the very fast engagement hub, along with the rim design that allows easy tyre changes and the flat valve hole that makes tubeless installation just a little easier. Assuming strength and hub performance are a priority for you over weight, the VEL GRL 30 wheels deliver great all-around performance at a price point that puts them near the front of the line while still delivering excellent performance and nice design touches.
For riders looking for a lighter, gravel-specific build wheelset with a performance angle, the lower weight of the Tenaci GR20 wheelset is an appealing prospect as, for the money, they are among the lightest in the category. The broad rim allows easy tubeless set-up, although the lack of tubeless valves is a con. Performance is impressive, though: this wheelset remains stiff under acceleration and on rougher descents. With a choice of six colour accents, you’re sure to find one to match your bike.
The new Spinergy GX MAX Wheels are light, tough aluminium wheels that play nicely with wide tyres and are super easy to set up tubeless. The fat PBO spokes still stand out but are less evident in this tasteful colourway. They're good-looking, tubeless-friendly, hard-hitting, gravel adventure wheels that, as a bonus, could also work on your mountain bike.
2021 WTB CZR i23 carbon rim, by Matt Page
The WTB CZR rims could be fantastic to build the ultimate dream wheelset, either for gravel or cross-country mountain biking. Offering both stiffness and strength, these rims should last a while regardless of how tough you are on them. They cost a considerable amount but are backed up with an impressive lifetime warranty at least.
The gravel genre is a broad discipline with varied interpretations. Some riders are looking to ride back lanes and countryside roads littered with mud and potholes, others embark on races that cross continents while carrying everything they need for multiple days on their bikes. These variations put different demands on the bikes and componentry, so it's important to find the right wheels that best suit your budget and gravel riding persuasions.
What size gravel wheelset do I need?
While not quite as important as with mountain bikes, it's worth double checking what wheel size you're going for and with what tyre combination you'd like to run. Many gravel frames can fit either 700c or 650b wheels with fatter tyres which both offer different performance advantages and disadvantages.
The smaller rim of the 650b (27.5inch) wheel will allow more space in the frame for a larger profile tyre and taller tread designs with the added benefit of more undampened squidge. This is a welcomed bonus if you intend to push the limit of your gravel bike on trails that would have previously been the domain of the mountain bike. Of course, the trade-off is that you might not have the same rollover ability on trail obstacles as the bigger 700c wheels and high rolling resistance when you take to the hard road surfaces.
Check what rim size/width is recommended by the manufacturer as well as what diameter tyre will fit inside both the frame and the fork.
How important is rim width for gravel wheels?
The internal rim width of your potential new wheels is something that also needs some attention. It's basically what dictates the overall profile of your tyre. Wider rims straighten the sidewalls and offer more support in the corners but at the expense of marginally increased drag. Traditional road rims will have an internal diameter of 16 to 19mm, whereas gravel (or wide road) rims can be up to 25mm wide. Stretching a tyre too far is not advisable and could have strange consequences on the overall profile and shape affecting more than just the tread pattern.
Centre-lock or six-bolt rotors?
If you're making the upgrade, or already have your brake rotors on hand you'll definitely want to be checking which rotor mounting hardware your new wheels come with.
Wheelsets either come with the traditional six-bolt or Shimano's Centrelock system. A bonus to Centrelock hubs is that it's really easy to pick up a pair of adaptors that allows you to mount your six-bolt rotors onto Centrelock hubs, so all is not lost if you've spent a fortune on new wheels without having the correct rotors. Things aren't so easy the other way around though, Centrelock rotors can't be adapted to fit six-bolt configurations.
Is carbon better than alloy for gravel wheels?
Gravel bike wheels are constructed using either carbon or aluminium. Many riders aspire to roll with carbon wheels, but there is no denying that aluminium wheels offer a better bang for your buck, which can be the deciding factor for many. The benefits of carbon wheels are they generally offer the best strength-to-weight ratio and if you can overcome the premium cost they allow for better aerodynamic performance.
Should I go tubeless?
The recent advances in tubeless tyre technology are well welcomed by gravel riders. Most modern wheelsets are tubeless compatible and sometimes come with valves and tape installed and ready to go. It should save you some rotating weight and let you run lower tyre pressures for added comfort without risking a pinch flat.
It can be more tricky to initially set up the wheel and tyre but it is almost a fit-and-forget system these days. Just remember to set a reminder to check the level and condition of your sealant as per the instructions usually around every six months.
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