Best gravel bike wheels – top-rated wheels rated by our experts

Crankbrothers Synthesis Carbon Gravel wheelset
(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

The best gravel wheels are almost as hard to categorize as the best gravel bikes. Some of them are designed for high-speed racing in a desert dust cloud, while others are designed to be tough enough to cross Tibet with a full bikepacking load. Some are aspirational carbon and some are affordable alloy, but whatever your priorities are, our expert reviewers have been trekking, racing, and testing their way through a whole load of wheels to help you find your perfect pair. 

Our top pick is the seriously smooth Reserve 25/GR, and we have two budget choices: Hunt's fat-tire-friendly 4 Season Gravel Disc X-Wide and the energetic Prime Orra V2 Carbon.

Once you've found the best gravel bike wheels for you, why not wrap them in a pair of the best gravel bike tires and set them up with the best tubeless tire sealant?

Not sure what to look for? Skip ahead to our comprehensive guide to how to choose the best gravel bike wheels.

The quick list

See the next 3 gravel bike wheels ↓

Best gravel bike wheels

Why trust BikePerfect Our cycling experts have decades of testing experience. We\'ll always share our unbiased opinions on bikes and gear. Find out more about how we test.

1. Best overall

Pair of Reserve 25/GR wheels on grass

Low weight, smooth and compliant, the Reserve 25/GR has a superb ride feel (Image credit: GuyKesTV)
Best overall

Specifications

Size: 700c
Internal rim width: 25mm
Depth: 18mm
Weight : 670g front, 780g rear = 1,450g total (includes tape, Filmore valves and Centerlock lock rings

Reasons to buy

+
Genuine lifetime warranty
+
Lightweight
+
Calmly damped grip and comfort boosters
+
Seriously tough
+
Easy tubeless inflation with Filmore valves

Reasons to avoid

-
Dulls sharp kick and precision sensations
-
Not aero

If you are looking for a combination of sustained speed, control and smoothness when riding rough gravel then we found the Reserve 25/GR gravel wheelset is a great option. The low weight gives them a lively ride feel while the dampened rim characteristic helps them stick in corners and on landings.

The gravel-specific asymmetric rim features a shallow 18mm deep profile and a 25mm internal width. The rims feature molded reinforcing plinths for the 24 j-bend spokes and can be built up with either DT Swiss 350 or Industry Nine Torch depending on your budget. 

Reserve includes its premium Filmore tubeless valves and backs up its rims with one of the best warranties in the business too, so should something happen you know you are covered.

Our reviewer Guy Kesteven summed up: "They’re the best wheels I’ve used in terms of speed sustain, control, smoothness and probable survival on rougher trails. Bonus grip, super light responsiveness, rock solid reliable hubs, easy tubeless setup and the best warranty in the business makes them well worth the investment if you can afford it."

If fun is more important than fast, check out our review of the Reserve 25/GR gravel wheels.

2. Best budget gravel wheel

Closeup of Hunt 4 Season Gravel Disc X-Wide wheel with gravel behind

Hunt 4 Season Gravel Disc X-Wide wheels are packed with performance considering their budget price point (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Best budget gravel wheel

Specifications

Size: 700c
Internal rim width: 25mm
Depth: 19mm
Weight: 800g + 930g = 1,730g (with valves and tape)

Reasons to buy

+
First-class ride, economy cost
+
Tire fattening breadth
+
Ride smoothing depth
+
Decent weight for the width
+
Secure, easy-to-fit tires

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly slow freehub
-
Potential wait for the availability
-
Heavy

These extra wide gravel wheels from Hunt scored a 5-star review from us earlier this year, thanks to their top performance and great price. We found them to be a bargain for anyone who wants wider, smoother and tougher hoops on their gravel bike.

They come at an entry-level price, which is even better, since performance-wise they match most similar wheels we've tested, and only cost a fraction of the price. Fat-tire-friendly and tough as nails, these durable tires are sure to level up your performance on terrain verging on XC territory.

In his tests our reviewer Guy Kesteven found they had, "a super-smooth limousine-like ride quality," and said: "The X-Wides are also unshakeably hooked up on loose or lumpy/stuttery surfaces."

For more details, check out our Hunt 4 Season Gravel Disc X-Wide wheelset review.

3. Best budget carbon gravel wheel

Prime Orra V2 Carbon Gravel wheelset on wooden table in front of brick wall

Prime Orra V2 offer carbon at the price of alloy (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
Best budget carbon gravel wheels

Specifications

Size: 700c / 650b
Internal rim width: 24mm
Depth: 35mm
Weight: 716g front, 853g rear = 1,569g (with valves and tape)

Reasons to buy

+
Wide 24mm internal rim width
+
Light and bright ride feel
+
Lighter than quoted
+
Compatible with all axle types
+
Upgradeable ratchet freehub

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly slow freehub
-
No stock XD driver option

Most carbon gravel wheels will easily cost triple figures however Prime Orra V2 Carbon Gravel wheelset retails for a staggeringly affordable and on par with many alloy options.

It's not just the price that's right either, the specs have all the right numbers too. Featuring a 30mm deep rim with a fat tire-friendly 24mm inner rim diameter. They ride well too, giving a precise and energetic feel that's going to be a noticeable upgrade over most stock alloy wheels.

Although when we tested them we gave the Prime wheels top marks, they aren't perfect. The 36t freehub gives 10 degrees of engagement so pickup is on the slow side and the wheels are only available with a HG freehub, although if this is an issue Prime sells 54t ratchets and XDR/Campagnolo drivers separately. Considering the price of the wheelset, we are willing to overlook this.

Our reviewer Graham Cottingham reported: "The wheels feel precise in corners and I haven’t experienced any twisting or twangs while riding. This tautness doesn't seem to affect the smooth nature either as Prime has managed the tune a decent amount of compliance into the wheelset."

For more details, check out our Prime Orra V2 Carbon Gravel wheelset review.

4. Best for ultra-endurance gravel racing

Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Adventure wheel on leafy grass

Deep and wide rims boost the speed of the 42 Limitless Gravel Adventure wheels (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
The best for ultra-endurance gravel racing

Specifications

Size: 700c
Internal rim width: 25mm
Depth: 42mm
Weight: Front - 771g / Rear - 893g = 1,664g

Reasons to buy

+
Aerodynamic profile efficiently holds speed
+
Comfortable
+
Suitable for wide tires
+
Durable and easily to service design considerations

Reasons to avoid

-
42mm depth adds weight

Hunt's 42 Limitless Gravel Adventure wheelset is an adventure and ultra-endurance gravel race-specific wheelset. The wheelset combines Hunt's wind tunnel-tested 42 Limitless gravel race rim from the aero race wheelset but increases the rear spoke count, and beefs up the rear hub and freehub for increased durability. 

Hunt claims that the Limitless wheels can offer a whopping 16.8 watt savings over a non-aero gravel rim, which is said to equate to seven to nine minutes across the course of a 200+ mile race. While we can't verify that ourselves, when we tested the 42 Limitless Gravel Adventure wheels there was a noticeable easing effect once speeds picked up to around 30kph. Whether that means you get a little more return for each pedal stroke or can freewheel for slightly longer, it all adds up when your ride is measured in days not hours.

To reap maximum aero gains Hunt recommends a 38mm to 42mm tire, however, the 25mm inner rim diameter is wide enough to support much fatter gravel tires if required. 

Hunt has reinforced the rear wheel with 28 Elliptical Wing spokes, rather than the 24 spokes used on the 42 Limitless Gravel Aero. It also features a 40t ratchet ring and a H_Ceramik anti-bite coating for added durability. 

Our reviewer Graham Cottingham summed up: "When you consider that the Hunts feel competitive with alternative gravel race wheels, particularly when you begin mixing in rougher terrain, and are considerably cheaper than the alternative aero gravel wheels, these wheels are a no-brainer for fast adventurers."

For more, see our full Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Adventure.

5. Best for cornering traction

Closeup of Zipp 101 XPLR gravel wheel on grass

The moto inspired rim maximizes traction in the corners (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Best for cornering traction

Specifications

Size: 650b and 700c
Internal rim width: 27mm
Depth: 15mm
Weight: 1,680g (700c with valves)

Reasons to buy

+
Like tank tracks for your gravel bike
+
Exceptional tracking and traction
+
Outstanding puncture and impact avoidance
+
Lifetime warranty
+
Easy tubeless setup
+
Quick freehub pick up
+
Tire fattening/stabilizing width

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Non-aero
-
Multiple spoke lengths
-
Too wide for road tires

As Zipp's first-ever purely gravel-dedicated wheels, these had some big demands to meet, and in our review we found they met almost all of them. Drawing inspiration from Moto-X design, they may not make sense to a lot of people, but they offer maximum control, comfort and confidence when you're pushing your bike to the limit.

They're hefty and non-aero, so don't expect these to perform well on a lightweight carbon racer, but if you're a gravel cyclist who often finds yourself testing the limits of off-road control, or you just want improved traction, impact-smoothing and line-holding, then you're going to love the 101s.

In his tests our reviewer Guy Kesteven found, "the effect of the rim mobility is very, very clear. Straight away it was very obvious that we could arrow straight through sections that normally kick and slip us all over the place. That’s because the rim distorts and writhes through root spreads and rocky chunder leaving the bike undisturbed and tracking true."

Read our Zipp 101 XPLR gravel wheelset review for more.

6. Best for low weight

Pair of Just Riding Along Monitor Gravel XC wheels on gravel

Just Riding Along Monitor Gravel wheels feature low weight and a wide rim profile (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Best for low weight

Specifications

Size: 700c/29er
Internal rim width: 27mm
Depth: 25mm
Weight: 610g front + 740g rear = 1,350g

Reasons to buy

+
Ultralight
+
Surprisingly tough
+
Experienced handmade quality
+
Complete axle versatility
+
Reduced price replacement warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for narrow tires
-
Short wait for delivery

You may not have heard of this small outfit from northern England, but Just Riding Along is an artisan wheelbuilder whose wares we've been testing for years. The Monitor wheelset is incredibly lightweight and versatile, plus ultra-reliable and compatible with fat tires if that's what you want.

We found they delivered instant acceleration and a boost in agility to your bike; they're the perfect upgrade you can make. You also get custom color and configuration options so you can personalize your wheelset, and it comes with a two-year warranty in case you end up having a bit too much fun on it.

Reviewer Guy Kesteven reported: "Once we’d established the effervescent ride character, it was just a case of seeing how tough they were. Despite several months of running them down to rim bumping pressures off-road, clattering them across cobbles and a constant cycle of drowning them in mud and grit, we’ve had absolutely zero issues."

For a full rundown of these wheels, check out our Just Riding Along Monitor review.

7. Best for gravel racing

Closeup of Zipp 303 Firecrest wheel on bike with grass behind

Zipp 303's are as fast on the road as they are on gravel (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Zipp 303 Firecrest

Best for gravel racing

Specifications

Size: 700c and 650B
Internal rim width: 25mm internal
Depth: 40mm
Weight : 1,410g (700c with valves, weighed)

Reasons to buy

+
Super comfortable
+
Wide rim
+
Sweet handling
+
Lightweight
+
Lifetime warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Stickers can peel

Zipp has repositioned its 40mm deep Firecrest as a do-it-all wheel and that means it not only works brilliantly on the road, its also a great option for fast gravel. 

The rim layup borrows compliance tricks from Zipps 3 Moto Zero MTB wheels and the German-engineered ZR1 hubs have uprated sealing based on feedback from filthy UK conditions. The hookless tubeless rim bed is 25mm wide and happy to support tires up to 55mm and pressures down into the 20s. Worries about smashed rims are soothed with a lifetime riding warranty but we battered our test set for months without a single issue. 

Despite their strength and 40mm depth, they come in just over 1,400g for a set of 700c wheels with valves fitted so they accelerate super quick too. If you are looking for a set of go-fast wheels for on and off-road drop bar riding, it's hard to look past the Firecrest 303's.

8. Best for durability

Closeup of DT Swiss G1800 gravel wheel on grass

We have given numerous sets of DT Swiss G1800 wheelsets a load of abuse and never had a single issue (Image credit: Neal Hunt)
Best for durability

Specifications

Size: 700c and 650B
Internal rim width: 24mm
Depth: 25mm
Weight : 1,832g (with rim tapes and valve fitted)

Reasons to buy

+
Bombproof quality
+
Great ride feel
+
Wide rims
+
Full extras pack
+
Good price

Reasons to avoid

-
Very slow hub engagement
-
Fragile rim tape
-
Chunky weight

DT Swiss has an exceptional reputation for superb riding wheels with bombproof reliability and it's brought both those strengths together in its affordable G1800 wheels. Alloy rims mean they’re relatively hefty but a 24mm inner width will happily support the fattest tires that can fit in your frame. The 24 straight-pull spokes front and rear thread into their slick-looking Spline hubs. These get the legendary 350 hub internals including the Star Ratchet freehub mechanism which is very slow to engage (up to 20-degree lag) but that means minimum drag when coasting. They never skip a beat once they are hooked up either, even if you only get round to pulling it apart and cleaning it annually. 

As much as the relentless reliability is a great bonus it wouldn’t be that useful if the wheels weren’t good to ride, but the G1800s are an absolute pleasure to roll on however punishing the terrain. They’re never harsh, but they’re never too twangy or soft either, they’re just an excellent sweet spot wheel that seems to shrink its actual weight as soon as climbs come along too. The package includes spokes, valves and centerlock / six-bolt adaptors and you can specify different axle ends and freehub options.

If you want something fancier then the GRC 1400 Spline 42 uses a 42mm deep carbon rim and 240-based hub internals to save around 160g but adds a fair chunk to the price. 

Our reviewer Neal Hunt summed up: "Overall an impressively straightforward, no-nonsense product at a reasonable cost that is entirely user-serviceable with established parts that should last a long time, ideal for high mileage adventurers."

Check out our full DT Swiss G1800 review for more.

9. Best for rowdy gravel riding

Pair of Crankbrothers Synthesis Carbon Gravel wheels on path

Wide gravel tire compatibility and burly build means Crankbrothers Synthesis Carbon Gravel wheelset can handle the worst trails (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
Best for rowdy gravel riding

Specifications

Size: 650B and 700c
Internal rim width: 26.5mm
Depth: 21mm
Weight : 712g front, 843g rear = 1,555g (HG freehub with valves and tape)

Reasons to buy

+
Noticeable smoothness
+
Improved cornering traction
+
Very tough
+
Wide internal rim profile supports widest tires
+
Lifetime warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
No aero gains
-
Wide profile doesn't suit tires narrower than 40mm

Crankbrothers has been using its compliance-tuned Synthesis concept for its mountain bike wheels for a while, adding both side-to-side (lateral) and vertical (radial) deflection into the wheel to improve grip and comfort. Crankbrothers has now added a Synthesis Carbon Gravel wheelset to its range which follows the same ethos.

The Synthesis Carbon Gravel rims have a super burly construction and are some of the widest gravel specific rims around, with the inner rim width measuring in at a whopping 26.5mm. Crankbrothers recommends 40mm to 48mm gravel tires, although we found bigger is better with these wheels. During testing, we rode these on some properly fast and rough gravel and the calm, smooth, and grippy nature was a real confidence booster, with the wheels rolling out the otherside totally unscathed. The shallow profile isn't going to offer much aero benefit on fast smooth sections but over rough surfaces and twisting loose trails they hold speed well.

Available in both 700c and 650b wheel sizes, Crankbrothers has built the wheels up with 28mm j-bend spokes front and rear to increase durability. 

Our reviewer Graham Cottingham summed up: "The combination of big tire compatibility and enough conformity to boost cornering and dampen impacts makes the Crankbrothers Synthesis Carbon Gravel wheelset a dependable adventure/rad gravel wheelset."

To find out more, head over to our Crankbrothers Synthesis Carbon Gravel review.

How to choose the best gravel bike wheels?

Because gravel biking can mean so many different things to different people you can’t assume a ‘gravel wheel’ will be exactly right for your version of the sport. That means you need to judge the various features against your actual needs.

What size gravel wheel do I need?

For a start, there are two main gravel sizes. 700c is the predominant diameter because it’s the standard road size (it’s also basically identical to 29in on MTBs) and because it rolls the fastest and smoothest. 650B (or 27.5in) is then touted as the ‘rougher, tougher, more fun’ wheel size based on the fact that smaller wheels mean you can fit a bigger tire into the same frame/fork space.

How do I choose the right rim width?

You’ve then got to think about width. The wider the rim the better it will support wider tires. That means while traditional road rims will have a 16-19mm internal diameter, gravel (or wide road) rims can be up to 25mm wide. Stretching a tire too far can do weird things to the profile though so don’t go 25mm wide if you want to occasionally run 25mm tires on the road.

Should I go tubeless?

Talking of tire fit we’d consider tubeless capability an absolute essential. The last thing you need on a hostile surface is being held hostage by the thought of splitting an inner tube and every gravel tire worth its salt is now designed to run at low pressures with sealant for self-healing powers.

How different companies make their rims tubeless varies. The most robust solution is a fully sealed rim bed (Mavic, Zipp, and others) or a plastic snap-in strip (Bontrager). The majority of wheels use a tape wrap over the spoke holes to seal the rim though and the toughness of that depends entirely on the strength of the tape used. However the rim is sealed, make sure you check whether tubeless valves are included or you’ll need to add them to the cost.

Are all gravel wheels compatible with all gravel bikes?

While we’re on the subject of extras, spare spokes are a nice touch - particularly for straight pull or otherwise special needs spokes. Some hub sets can be switched between different axle standards too, which is super useful if you’re on an older bike with 15mm and/or QR axles and are planning to upgrade to the standard 12mm format later.

The compatibility confusion doesn’t end there either. There are now three different freehub standards in play on gravel. Standard splined (Shimano and 10-11 speed SRAM), XD Driver (12 speed SRAM), and Campagnolo Ekar (13 speed Ekar). In most cases, you can swap between them but obviously, it makes sense to get the right one first.

Alloy or carbon gravel rims?

As for material, alloy is still by far the most cost-effective material for your gravel hoops. Weights and ride feel are often very competitive with far more expensive carbon and you won’t feel sick in your mouth if you’re smashing through rocky sections. That said, more carbon wheels are now coming with lifetime warranties and the best fiber wheels really are wonderful to ride.

How we test gravel bike wheels

We have subjected all the above gravel wheels to the full spectrum of gravel riding from fast, smooth forest roads to rock and rooty singletracks so that we can recommend the best gravel bike wheels. All the wheels have covered hundreds of kilometers and endured all weather conditions in order to determine how they perform, what they excel at, and to put their durability to the test.

Meet the testers

Guy Kesteven
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven has written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of bike components and riding gear. He's ridden gravel bikes since they first became a thing.

Graham Cottingham
Graham Cottingham

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro, and gravel racing. 

Neal Hunt
Neal Hunt

Neal has worked in the bicycle industry his entire working life and can be found riding his local trails on MTBs and gravel bikes whenever he can.

Guy Kesteven
Technical-Editor-at-Large

Guy has been working on Bike Perfect since launch in 2019. He started writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.

Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg

With contributions from