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Best gravel bike wheels: Road-cycling fast and MTB-tough gravel wheelsets

A close up of Miche gravel wheels being ridden over off-road terrain
(Image credit: Miche)

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, some are affordable alloy, but whatever your priorities are, we’ve been trekking, racing and testing our way through a whole load of wheels to help you find your perfect pair. 

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 seal them 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.

Best gravel bike wheels

Hunt 4 Season Gravel Disc X-Wide wheel

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
A gravel disc wheel that verges on XC territory for those who want to really push the limits

Specifications

Size: 700c
Width: 25mm
Weight: 800g + 930g = 1,730g (with valves and tape)
Price: $529 / £369

Reasons to buy

+
First-class ride, economy cost
+
Tire fattening breadth
+
Ride smoothing depth
+
Decent weight for the width
+
Secure, easy-to-fit tires
+
Proven hubs and spokes
+
Optional lifetime warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly slow freehub
-
Potential wait for the availability

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.

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

Zipp 101 XPLR gravel wheelset rim

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Zipp’s first purely gravel wheel uses a radical Moto-X inspired design

Specifications

Size: 650b and 700c
Width: 27mm
Weight: 1680g (700c with valves)
Price: $850 / €870 / £780 (front wheels), $950 / €970 / £866 (rear wheels)

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.

Read our Zipp 101 XPLR gravel wheelset review for more.

Just Riding Along Monitor Gravel XC wheel

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Super-light wheels from an artisan builder in York, UK

Specifications

Size: 700c/29er
Width: 25mm
Weight: 610g front + 740g rear = 1350g
Price: £861 (700c with tubeless valves)

Reasons to buy

+
Ultralight
+
Surprisingly tough
+
Experienced handmade quality
+
Excellent eclectic components
+
Tougher bikepacking version available
+
Complete axel versatility
+
Reduced price replacement warranty
+
Custom color options

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.

Delivering 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.

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

FFWD Drift gravel wheels

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Seriously tough and purposeful all-road wheels that are still relatively light, ride comfortably and work with wide tires

Specifications

Size: 700c
Width : 24mm internal
Weight : 1,540g (700c with valves)
Price: $1,699.00 / £1,524.95 / €1699.99

Reasons to buy

+
Relatively light
+
Surprisingly smooth
+
Tough, impact-proof rims
+
Wide, tubeless tire friendly
+
Top-quality DT hubs
+
Sturdy spokes and brass nipples
+
Stainless steel bearings
+
Quality wheelbase provided

Reasons to avoid

-
No lifetime warranty

Dutch wheel brand FFWD has always been favorites of hard riders with serious power to transfer to the road and its new Drift gravel wheels are marketed on serious strength and accuracy.

The all-new hookless rim has a 24mm internal width for supporting big-volume tires and a 36mm rim depth to keep things lively and flickable. 24 super strong, straight pull DT Swiss AeroComp spokes either end are laced 2:1 style into disc hubs based on DT Swiss 240 EXP hubs. Brass nipples make for easy tension tweaking of the seriously stiff ride character and the EXP driver wastes no time or watts when you get on the gas. At just over 1,500g they’re an acceptable weight for a wheel designed to handle a serious hammering day in day out. Stainless steel bearings are going to be a real help in the evilest conditions, too.

The wheels come with tubeless tape pre-fitted and valves ready and waiting in the padded carry bag. 

For full details, check out our review of the FFWD Drift gravel wheelset.

Zipp 303 Firecrest

(Image credit: Zipp )

Zipp 303 Firecrest

One of the best gravel wheelsets available

Specifications

Size: 700c and 650B
Width : 25mm internal
Weight : 1,410g (700c with valves, weighed)
Price: $1,900 / €1,800 / £1,600

Reasons to buy

+
Super comfortable
+
Wide rim
+
Sweet handling
+
Lightweight
+
Lifetime warranty
+
Easy tubeless
+
Better sealing
+
Reduced cost

Reasons to avoid

-
Stickers can peel

Zipp has repositioned its all-new 40mm deep Firecrest as a do-it-all wheel and that means it works brilliantly on gravel. The rim layup borrows compliance tricks (and the new logo) 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, they come in just over 1,400g for a set of 700c wheels with valves fitted so they accelerate super quick too. The final bit of winning? They’re also far cheaper than the previous Firecrest wheels.

DT Swiss GR1600 Spline 25

(Image credit: DT Swiss)

DT Swiss GR1600 Spline 25

Slow engagement but bombproof build and reliability keep the GR1600s rolling

Specifications

Size: 700c and 650B
Width : 24mm internal
Weight : 1,775g (700c with valves, weighed)
Price: $710 /€560/ £495

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 GR1600 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 are 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 GR1600s 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 add $1,700 to the price. 

Hunt Gravel Race Disc wheelset

(Image credit: Hunt )

Hunt Gravel Race Disc wheelset

Hunt's Gravel Race Disc wheelset sets the budget gravel wheel benchmark extremely high

Specifications

Size: 700c
Width : 22mm internal
Weight : 1,495g (claimed)
Price: £449

Reasons to buy

+
Very Lightweight
+
Excellent value
+
Balanced ride feel
+
Comprehensive spares kit
+
Super secure tire fit
+
All axle compatibility

Reasons to avoid

-
Hard to get tires off
-
Potentially long wait for orders
-
700c only

While Hunt’s carbon gravel wheels get the spotlight, this UK wheel building firm grew its reputation with excellent value, carbon-challenging alloy wheels and the Gravel Race Disc is a perfect example.

The rim is made from tough, shot-peened 6069-T6 alloy to keep the weight low. The disc-specific 25mm deep rounded profile also gets an ‘H lock’ bead seat on the 22mm wide rim bed for extremely secure tire mounting and easy tubeless inflation for tires from 25-45mm. Top-quality Sapim CX-Ray spokes slide into Hunt’s own Sprint race hubs with rapid engagement freehub in whatever style you need. The end caps can be swapped to fit all popular gravel/road bike axle options and the wheels come with spare spokes as well as tubeless valves and centerlock / six-bolt adaptors. 

Despite an impressively low sub-1500g weight that transforms bike acceleration the wheels are still usefully accurate and shrug off rough treatment and high mileages without complaint. Hunt will also pre-fit tubeless tires from Schwalbe, Panaracer and Hutchinson to save you the struggle and some cash, too. The only real issue is that getting a tire off the H-Lock rims can be a real fight and Hunt’s popularity means you might have to wait months to get a set. There are plenty of other options though, including the 4 Season Gravel Disc X-Wide which expands the rim bed to 25mm spokes, valves and centerlock / six-bolt adaptors or the latest Limitless Gravel Disc with 42mm aero profile carbon rim for flat-out gravel speed at £1,289. 

Enve G23 on Chris King

(Image credit: Enve )

Enve G23 on Chris King

The last word in hand-made ultra premium gravel wheels, made in America

Specifications

Size: 700c
Width : 23mm internal
Weight : 1,343g (claimed)
Price: £3,050

Reasons to buy

+
Very Lightweight
+
Super glide ride
+
Fantastic hubs
+
Superfast engagement
+
Pinch puncture resistant
+
Lifetime Incident Plan

Reasons to avoid

-
Sky high price
-
700c only

Enve by name, envy by others is the name of the game with these ultra aspirational gravel wheels. The 330g, carbon-fiber G23 rims are handbuilt in Utah by Enve using a specifically compliant and smooth-riding composite lay-up. The flared profile has a 4.5mm outer edge designed to minimize the chance of pinch flats and add strength to back up their Lifetime Incident Plan for worry-free riding. It also works perfectly with 40mm tires in terms of speed, efficiency and handling but the wheels are still great with 35-45mm rubber.

The rims are mated to Chris King’s incredible Portland, Oregon-made R45 CL hubs, complete with buzzing RingDrive freehub and ultra-smooth surgical-grade steel bearings, though and the hubs also need TLC and potential adjustment as they bed in. These premium components are hand laced together with Sapim CX-Ray spokes for a true best-of package. The resulting ride is as superlatively smooth and gliding as you’d hope from the exotic cast list too, but with the instant engagement and extremely low weight giving game-changing responsiveness, too. At over £3,000 for a pair, most riders will just have to take our word for that rather than experience it themselves.

Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37V

(Image credit: Bontrager )

Bontrager Aeolus Pro 37V

Lifetime guaranteed budget carbon wheels that spin on reliable DT Swiss internals

Specifications

Size: 700c
Width : 25mm internal
Weight : 1,720g (weighed with rim strips and valves fitted)
Price: $1,299.98 / £1,200

Reasons to buy

+
Secure tubeless set up
+
Bombproof hubs
+
Carbon Care warranty
+
Friendly handling
+
Sturdy speed sustain

Reasons to avoid

-
Alloy weight
-
Very slow pick up

Bontrager was a very early tubeless advocate and the 37V rims add generous width to create a solid all-round road and gravel wheel at a competitive price for carbon. 

The pricing does mean a heavier grade of Trek’s OCLV carbon though so weight is more comparable to lightweight alloy than other fiber competitors. The rims do come with a Carbon Care lifetime warranty for any weight of rider though and DT Swiss Star Ratchet-based hubs make for an extremely mechanically reliable wheel. 

The snap-in plastic rim strips make for a tough and tight tubeless seal too, but make sure you line up the valve hole accurately when fitting as the liners can be a pig to slide round.  Very slow 18 point pick-up can mean a lag before engagement but once you’re hooked up the minimal freehub drag and solid feel means they hold speed really well. The aerodynamics are totally trouble-free at all speeds, too.

Spank Flare 24 OC Vibrocore

(Image credit: Spank )

Spank Flare 24 OC Vibrocore

Smoothing wheels for those who frequently ride washboard chunder

Specifications

Size: 650B and 700c
Width : 24mm
Weight : 1,700g
Price: $700

Reasons to buy

+
Unique dampening filler
+
Naturally compliant rims
+
Super secure tubeless grip
+
Very quick engagement
+
Easily found spares
+
Plenty of spokes

Reasons to avoid

-
Soft not sprightly feel
-
Expensive for alloy

Spank Industries started using its unique Vibrocore damping foam filling in handlebars (yes they do a drop-bar version) and now they’ve added it to its MTB and Gravel rims. 

Combined with a very shallow 16.5mm rim depth that gives a natural shock-shrugging ride, these are conspicuously calm and quiet wheels. The Bead Nip rim bed design uses a ribbed profile to give extra grip to tubeless tires so you can go properly low on your pressures without peeling them off or burping them in turns. 28 spokes at either end give them plenty of strength for rougher trails or heavier loadings but the three-cross lacing and triple-butted build also contribute to the forgiving ride. Conventional J-bend spokes are also easy to find replacements for all over the world and the six-bolt rotor pattern is another globe-trotting win.

Despite all this engineered durability and the added damper fill of the Vibrocore they’re still acceptably light for alloy at 1,700g and that’s flattered by the almost instantaneous pick up from the 102 tooth Hex Drive freehub where six pawls mean a maximum 3.5-degree engagement gap. The overall feel is definitely about smoothing out rather than sharpening up your ride.

Campagnolo Shamal DB

(Image credit: Campagnolo )

Campagnolo Shamal DB

Bold-looking wheels from the Italian groupset manufacturer's new gravel range

Specifications

Size: 700c
Width : 21mm internal
Weight : 1,585g (claimed)
Price: $1,475 / £1,111 / €1,299

Reasons to buy

+
Silk smooth roll
+
Compatible with all gears
+
Serviceable bearings
+
Reasonable price
+
Sealed rim bed

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively narrow
-
Not light

Italian component godfathers, Campagnolo, has been slow to the wider-wheel and gravel/all-road worlds, but when it launched the Shamal DB this summer it created a real buzz.

The 21mm internal width is still pretty narrow but the new N3W freehub body hinted at its new 13-speed Ekar gravel groupset before it broke cover a couple of months later.

The Shamal’s have a fully sealed rim bed so you don’t need to worry about split tape with a 40mm deep rear profile and shallower 35mm front for trauma-free handling. The asymmetric hubs get user-serviceable cup and cone bearings that roll with Campagnolo’s signature silk smoothness. You can upgrade them to ‘CULT' ceramic sets for ultimate performance too. The distinctive triple set 2-to-1 spoking pattern is brought over from their road wheels and while they’re claimed to work with 23-65mm wide tires, bigger rubber is definitely going to be pinched. Weight is slightly weighty for carbon at just under 1,600g, but pricing is definitely competitive.  

You can order the wheels with Shimano, SRAM or the new Campagnolo N3W freehub though and initial reports from our testers on the ride quality and speed of the wheels are absolutely glowing.

Miche Carbo Graff Disc

(Image credit: Miche )

Miche Carbo Graff Disc

Competitively priced carbon gravel hoops

Specifications

Size: 700c
Width : 22mm
Weight : 1,445g claimed
Price: £1,160 / €1,294

Reasons to buy

+
Light
+
Affordable
+
Serviceable bearings
+
Sweet handling
+
All free hub types
+
Easy spoke spares

Reasons to avoid

-
Alloy nipples

The carbon version of the alloy Graff gravel wheels drops weight for extra responsiveness without emptying your wallet.

At just 30mm deep the UD carbon-fiber rims are shallow to keep weight low and remove any worries about crosswinds or gusting so they handle sweetly at all speeds. A 22mm wide hookless rim bed keeps them fat tire happy and the tubeless tape and valves are fitted and checked by Miche before dispatching. 

Double-butted, J bend aero spokes from Sapim keep things tight and true while making replacement easy in the back of beyond. You will need to be careful not to damage the alloy nipples if you need to adjust them though. The bearings are user-adjustable for extra smoothness and longevity compared to cartridge sets. An alloy freehub body helps keep weight impressively low and you can get them supplied with SRAM, Shimano or Campagnolo format bodies. 

Pricing is very good too and we’ve always had great long-term results with products from this Italian brand, too. 

Fulcrum Rapid Red 3

(Image credit: Fulcrum )

Fulcrum Rapid Red 3

Alloy gravel wheelset designed with excellent attention to detail

Specifications

Size: 650B and 700c
Width : 24mm internal
Weight : 1,740g (claimed)
Price: $575.99 / €605

Reasons to buy

+
Seriously wide rims
+
Handbuilt quality
+
Serviceable bearings
+
Balanced rims
+
Both wheel sizes
+
Reasonable weight for alloy
+
Stealth reflectivity

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for thin road tires
-
Slightly pricey
-
Rims can fill with water

Fulcrum’s latest alloy gravel wheels widen their bed to a fat-tire-friendly 24mm which matches the height of the machined hoop. The ‘specific nipple housing’ tech it debuted on its E-bike wheels gives optimum alignment of the 2-to-1 ratio spoking pattern. All Fulcrum wheels are hand laced into their straight-pull Monoblock hubs for super reliable build quality and straight running even on rough tracks. 

The hubs themselves use traditional cup-and-cone bearings for easy DIY adjustment that prolongs lifespan significantly if you know what you’re doing. The front hub can be switched to take a 15mm axle if you’re running older wheels or a suspension fork. The rims come pre-taped with valves included ready to fit and they’re available in 650B and 700C sizes. Fulcrum even builds a small weight into the rim on the opposite side of the rim for perfect balance and the logo stickers are stealth reflective. 

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 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.

Spares and compatibility

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 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.

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting 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.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg