Best gravel bike wheels: options for your gravel or adventure bike

Best gravel wheels
(Image credit: Ian Matteson)

Finding the best gravel bike wheels used to mean choosing from a rather narrow selection of suitable cyclocross, touring or cross country mountain bike wheels.

Fortunately the popularity of all things gravel has forced the industry to sit up and listen. The result is a plethora of gravel-specific wheels created to meet the demands of today’s rider.

Gravel encompasses such a wide range of off-road terrain that even within this somewhat niche category there lies further choice. Do you need wheels for smooth gravel or do you find you spend more time on chunky fire roads and singletrack? Perhaps you’re planning on entering a gravel race and need something fast and light? Or maybe you’re off on a multi-day bikepacking trip and require wheels that are close to bombproof? 

Regardless of your requirements, almost all gravel wheelsets will be disc brake specific, tubeless-ready, and spin around thru-axles. The internal rim diameter will be somewhere between road wheels and MTB wheels, typically in the range of 20-25mm, to accommodate wider gravel tires

Sizing, spoke count and materials will be where the real choices come in, with 650b wheels gaining popularity among riders seeking greater volume tires for comfort and for tackling more technical trails.

Gravel racers and bikepackers will have different demands in terms of wheel weight and durability too, but we'll touch on that a bit later. Last but by no means least, how much you have to spend plays a crucial role in determining which gravel bike wheels are best to suit you and your budget.

Choosing the best gravel bike wheels for you

Below is our pick of the best gravel wheels. Read on for more details on what to look for when shopping for the perfect wheels to help help you get the most out of your gravel bike.

With each bike is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

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Zipp 101 XPLR wheels

(Image credit: Zipp)
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Zipp 101 XPLR wheels

(Image credit: Zipp)

Specifications

Wheel size: 700c and 650b
Rim material: Carbon (hookless)
Rim internal: 27mm
Spokes: CX sprint, 28
Weight: 1,620g
Tubeless ready: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Confidence-inspiring control
+
Bombproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Single-use focus
-
Heavy compared to competition

Zipp 101 XPLR gravel wheels are best suited to riders who spend the majority of their time tackling rough and technical trails. They aren't the lightest set of wheels by any means - 1,620g - nor do they offer many aero benefits. However, they provide bags of control, which is far more useful when you're navigating rocks and tree roots  than a few grams saved in weight. 

When reviewing the 101 XPLR wheels we found they excelled in this kind of gnarly terrain. The intentional flex in the rims is aimed at providing control and grip in the corners - and it does just that. Zipp achieves this in part by using a single wall construction. It's also the reason that they weight north of 1,600 grams (in the 700c size) as the single-wall approach required the use of a thicker material.

Combine this flex with an internal rim width of 27mm and you have a gravel wheel that's far more attuned to riding rough tracks than many of its competitors (many of which are really all-road' wheels). This makes the 101 XPLR somewhat niche - but also a good match if you want wheels that inspire confidence over tough, techy terrain.

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Scribe Gravel Wide wheelset

(Image credit: Scribe)
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Scribe Gravel Wide wheelset

(Image credit: Scribe)

Specifications

Wheels size: 700c and 650b
Rim material: Carbon (hookless)
Rim internal: 25mm
Spokes: Sapim CX Ray, 28
Weight: 1,242g (650b) 1,316g (700c)
Tubeless ready: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight - just over 1,300g
+
Robust build
+
Quality hubs
+
Crash replacement service

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing!

Scribe's Gravel Plus ++ carbon wheelset is a genuine featherweight. When you bear in mind that sub 1,500 grams gravel wheels are regarded as pretty light, the Scribes numbers really do impress: the 700c option tips the scales at just over 1,300 grams, while the 650b size is even lighter at 1,242 grams. On review we found that this translated to quick and easy acceleration as well as superior handling, especially on climbs.

But despite their low weight the Gravel Plus wheels also proved to be durable, standing up well to lots of riding on loose, rocky trails. Scribe also back the wheels with a crash replacement service, which brings additional peace of mind should you be somewhat reticent about the combination of carbon wheels and gnarly gravel trails.

Elsewhere the hubs benefit from a simple ratchet mechanism and can be set up using the usual standards - QR and 12mm, with a 15mm option on the front. The hookless rims make fitting tyres straightforward while the generous 25mm internal width really helps to maximise the benefits of high volume gravel tyres.

At £870/ US$1000 the Scribe Gravel Plus wheelset represents genuine value for money. When you consider quality of the build, the low weight and the crash replacement service they are certainly among the best in class.

best gravel bike wheels

Specifications

Wheel size: 700c only
Rim material: Carbon
Rim internal: 23mm
Spokes: 24
Weight (pair): 1544g (with tape)
Tubeless ready: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Compliant but quick to get rolling
+
Easy to set up tubeless
+
Good value - RRP under £1000

Reasons to avoid

-
Hookless rim limits tyre options

The 303 S are one of Zipp's most unique wheelsets, in that they are not designed for the sole purpose of road racing. Instead, these wheels are meant for bashing down rough unpaved roads.

With a 23mm internal rim width and hookless profile, the 303 S are intended for wide tires at low pressures — in fact, the stated max pressure is 72.2psi!

Being a wheel with Zipp written on the rim, it should not come as a surprise that they are aero optimized, in this case, designed to be speediest with 28mm tires. That said you can use these wheels with much wider rubber, making them a good choice if you're after a set that can be used across disciplines.

On review we found them to be both compliant and fast. They got up to speed quickly while delivering a comfortable ride. Some of this came courtesy of that generous internal rim width - our 28mm tyres actually measured in at over 30mm. 

The price point is also worthy of a mention. At under £1000 / US$1300 they are surprisingly 'cheap' for a set of Zipp wheels. It's 303 Firecrest wheels for example have an RRP of £1,600 / US$1,900. This does mean they weigh 100 grams or so more but at just over 1,500 grams for the pair they certainly aren't heavy.

In fact, the only real downside to the Zipp 303 s wheels is the hookless rim. While it makes setting the wheels up a breeze (there's a good chance you'll only need a regular track pump to seat your chosen tyres) it does limit your choices somewhat.

Best Gravel Wheels: Hope 20Five RS4 wheels

(Image credit: Hope)

Hope 20Five RS4

Specifications

Wheel size: 700c only
Rim material: Alloy
Rim internal: 20mm
Spokes: 24 or 32
Weight (pair): 1,640g
Tubeless ready: Yes, valves and tape supplied

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to service hub
+
Choice of spoke count - 24 or 32
+
Choice of six hub colours

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavier than some competitors' wheels
-
Internal rim width might not suit 40mm+ rubber

Lancashire UK-based Hope offers greatly customizable wheelsets, and their popular 20Five wheels are available in either 24 spoke straight-pull or 32 spoke J-Bend configurations. These aluminum 700c alloy rims are best for tires between 25-40mm wide, and the whole wheelset weighs in from 1,640 g.

This choice of spoke count will be music to the ears of riders who are planning on tackling gravel routes under load. The 32 spoke count is better suited to such a bikepacking trip as is the use of j-bend spokes, which are easier to find replacements for should you be heading off the beaten path. 

By today's standards the 20mm internal rim width isn't that wide, and if you're planning on running tyres that exceed 40mm in width, you might want to look for wheels with a wider internal measurement.

Besides being a strong and dependable wheelset at a great price, you also get to choose from six different hub colors, including black, red, orange, blue, silver and purple.

If you've got more cash to spend and fancy a lighter carbon wheelset, check out their new RD40 RS4 wheelsets at £1,250 / $1580 weighing 1,495 g.

best gravel bike wheels

Reynolds ATR Carbon Disc

Specifications

Wheel size: 700c or 650b
Rim material: Carbon fiber
Rim internal: 23mm
Spokes: 24
Weight (pair): 1,615g (650b), 1,685g (700c)
Tubeless ready: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Offered in both 700c and 650b sizes
+
Brass nipples adds to durability and ease of repair
+
Carbon layup is same as brand's MTB rims
+
Lifetime warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
There are lighter carbon gravel wheels out there 

With 23mm internal width and 32mm external, the Reynolds ATR are a set of carbon gravel wheels that should work well with a range of tyre widths. They're clinchers too, which expands the tyre choice further still. 

Reynolds borrowed the carbon layup from its MR5 MTB rims. Although we've yet to test the wheels this should make for a wheel with plenty of durability. Equally the wheel's 40mm rim depth appears to hit a good balance between aerodynamics and stiffness.

The wheels use Reynolds Allroad center lock disc hubs, which see 10-degrees between engagements at the rear. Spoke count is 24 front and rear. Reynolds has decided to use brass nipples, which adds a bit of weight but is a choice better suited to gravel riding where wet and mucky trails could lead to the corrosion of alloy nipples over time. The wheels also benefit from the brand'a lifetime warranty.

However, for a set of carbon gravel hoops the ATRs aren't the lightest. Both sizes - 650b and 700c - exceed 1,600 grams for the pair. When you compare this to a super light set such Roval's Terra CLX, which tip the scales at just under 1,300 grams, it's a significant difference. In fact 1,600g + is more akin to alloy gravel wheelsets, such as Shimano's GRX offerings.

That said, weight isn't everything. If you ride on gnarly trails or do a fair bit of bikepacking, both durability and serviceability are probably of greater importance - both of which appear to be among the ATR's strong points. 

Best Gravel Wheels" Shimano GRX

(Image credit: Shimano)

Shimano GRX wheelset

Specifications

Wheel size: 700c or 650b
Rim material: Alloy
Rim internal: 21.6mm
Spokes: 24
Weight (pair): 1657g (650b), 1720g (700c)
Tubeless ready: Yes, ready taped and valves supplied

Reasons to buy

+
Uses Shimano MTB tech to improve riding in muddy conditions
+
Offered in two sizes - 700c and 650b
+
Affordable - under £500 

Reasons to avoid

-
Will find lighter wheels out there

Shimano laid down its commitment to the growing gravel discipline in 2019 by launching the world's first dedicated gravel groupset, the GRX. Alongside the off-road friendly gearing, powerful braking and ergonomic hoods, Shimano also released two wheelsets in the range specifically for this use too.

The GRX wheels come in either 700c or 650b sizes, weighing in at 1,657 g and 1,720 g respectively. Compared to most carbon gravel wheels this is heavy. However, the aluminium rims make for a far more affordable wheels - and as discussed with regards to the Reynolds ATR wheels, low weight isn't always a primary concern when it comes to certain areas of gravel riding.

Said rims feature 21.6 mm internal rim diameters, which is little on the narrow side compared to other wheels discussed in this guide. That said it should still make them compatible with most gravel tyres.

Elsewhere these center-lock disc wheels come tubeless ready in the box, already taped and supplied with tubeless valves. 

Interesting the GRX wheels take a nod from Shimano's MTB wheel line up, featuring an asymmetric rim profile to aid with mud-shedding in mucky conditions.

best gravel bike wheels

Roval Terra CLX

Specifications

Wheel size: 700c
Rim material: Carbon fiber
Rim internal: 25mm
Spokes: 21/24
Weight (pair): 1,296g
Tubeless ready: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Super light - 1,296g claimed
+
Versatile  - handles tyre widths from 28-47mm
+
Lifetime warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive - RRP £2,200

The obvious selling point of the Roval Terra CLX wheels is their weight. Tipping the scales just 48 grams heavier than Roval's ultralight climbing wheels, the Alpinist CLX, this gravel hoops are as feathery as they come. If you're keen to significantly reduce the weight of your gravel bike then these clinchers, at under 1,300g a pair, will certainly do that. 

We haven't yet reviewed the Roval Terra CLX but if you're concerned at the durability of carbon gravel wheel they have been tested to pass Roval's Mountain Rim standard. This hopefully should mean that, unlike some carbon hoops, they aren't too flexy, which can really comprises performance when cornering or riding technical terrain.

Said to work with tyres ranging from 28-47mm, the rim's 25mm internal rim width, and a hooked bead to ensure performance with the widest cross-section of tyres. If you're looking for a wheelset that can be swapped between bikes or you like to change your tyres often to match the terrain, then the versatility of the Roval wheels is a big plus.

While the hub shell may say Roval, on the inside are DT Swiss' new EXP internals for easy maintenance. Better still, Roval backs them by two-year no-fault crash replacement policy and a lifetime warranty.

The downside to the Roval Terra CLX hoops is their price. At over £2000 / US$2500 they are among the more expensive on the market.

Best Gravel Wheels: DT Swiss GR1600

(Image credit: DT Swiss)

Specifications

Wheel size: 700c or 650b
Rim material: alloy
Rim internal: 24 mm
Spokes: 24
Tubeless ready: Yes, tape and valves included

Reasons to buy

+
Very robust
+
Easy to service
+
Wide internal rim width suits high volume gravel tyres
+
650b and 700c option

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the lightest at over 1,700 grams

The DT Swiss GR 1600 sits in the middle of the Swiss brand's aluminium gravel range and are offered in both 700c and 650b sizes. On review we found the 650b wheels to   accelerate well - not as zippy as carbon offerings but still better than many alloy wheels we've ridden.

They delivered plenty of lateral stiffness too, with no discernible flexing under the pressure of a steep climb. As for durability, we tested them over 200 miles of flint packed bridleway. This is an unforgiving surface but we experienced no issues at all - even after taking. a few square edged hits. 

The GR 1600s aren't the lightest of gravel wheels, but given the choice of material (aluminium) and the relative low cost (£495) they make for a decent upgrade on many stock wheelsets. 

If this price tag is still above your budget, then the GR 1800s retails at just under £350 / $495 with the choice of both wheel sizes. You'll have to compromise a little on weight for this price though, with the front and rear wheels together weighing in at 1,895 g.

Best Gravel Wheels: Enve G23

(Image credit: ENVE)

ENVE G23 Clincher 700c wheelset

Specifications

Wheel size: 700c, also available in 650b (G27)
Rim material: Carbon fiber
Rim internal: 23mm (G23 700c) or 27mm (G27 650b)
Spokes: 24
Tubeless ready: Yes

ENVE caused quite a stir when it launched its G-Series gravel wheelsets at the Kanza race in 2018. Formerly known for their premium road and mountain bike wheels as well as finishing kit, ENVE staked their claim as one of the first brands to release a pair of high-end gravel racing wheels.

There are 700c and 650b options, named G23 and G27 corresponding to their all-important internal rim diameter. This wide hookless bead supposedly helps to reduce the risk of pinch flats. At just 300g, the carbon fiber rim is super light. The whole wheelset weighs in from 1,287g, dependant on hub choice, which includes the ENVE alloy hub, i9 Torch Road or Chris King R45.

Of course, such a mega lightweight wheelset comes at a price, so we might just have to drool over these for a while.

Best Gravel Wheels: HED Ardennes SL Plus

(Image credit: HED)

HED Ardennes SL Plus Disc

Specifications

Wheel size: 700c
Rim material: Alloy
Rim internal: 21mm
Spokes: 24
Tubeless ready: Yes, including valve extenders and rim tape

Weighing in at a respectable 1,481 g, the Ardennes SL Plus from HED proves that you don't need carbon rims to build a lightweight wheelset. The aluminum alloy Ardennes rims are laced onto HED 545 center lock hubs.

With a 21 mm internal rim diameter, these will be suitable for most gravel tires and some wider road tires too.

For a super lightweight gravel wheelset, check out HED's new Carbon Eroica, weighing in at an incredible 1,340g. But of course, the catch is the price, and to acquire them you'll need to part with nearly £2000 /$2195.

Best Gravel Wheels: Halo Vapour GXC

(Image credit: Halo)

Halo Vapour GXC Dynamo wheelset

Specifications

Wheel size: 700c or 650b
Rim material: Alloy
Rim internal: 21mm
Spokes: 32
Tubeless ready: Yes, supplied with tubeless tape

We couldn't discuss gravel wheels without including a dynamo hub option. This device, which makes up the front hub, converts the energy from the rotation of the front wheel to electrical energy, which can be used to power a set of fixed lights, or even charge devices through a USB adapter.

This system is popular with long-distance tourers and commuters alike, meaning you can keep rolling without having to remember your lights - or remembering to charge them.

Although this wheelset is very affordable (£479.99), the penalty comes in its total weight of 2,075g. There's also a slight increase in resistance from the SP Dyno PL series dynamo hub, although most riders won't feel this.

These wheels are built with long-distance and tough use in mind, laced with 32 J-bend spokes which not only make the wheels really strong, but also mean that should the worst happen, you have a better chance of replacing the broken spoke on your trip.

The Best Gravel Bike Wheels Buyers Guide

Just like anything, the best gravel wheels for you will be totally dependent on what terrain you ride, as well as your riding goals. If you want to compete in gravel races, weight will become more of a priority, whereas for long-distance bikepackers strength and durability are more vital.

When considering what wheels to get for your gravel bike build or upgrade, you'll need to consider wheel size (700c or 650b), tubeless compatibility, intended tyre width (linked to internal rim width), durability, frame compatibility and the all-important budget. Let's break it down.

Which wheel size is best for gravel bikes?

700c has long been the standard size for road cycling wheels, but 650b (the equivalent of mountain biking's 27.5") is fairly popular for gravel riding. 

This smaller wheel size yields greater clearance between the fork and rear triangle for greater volume tires with knobblier tread, making technical terrain much more accessible.

There's also comfort benefits from choosing greater volume tyres as you can run the pressures a little lower. Although (most) gravel bikes don't have suspension, don't underestimate how much difference tire pressure can have on comfort.

However many of today's gravel framesets will allow you to clear 700c wheels with tyres of 40mm and wider. The benefit to a 700c wheel here is that it's likely to roll over rough terrain better.

But choosing a 650b wheelset might make better sense if you plan on swapping between narrower smooth tyres, for say commuting or on-road touring, and wider knobbly tyres for off-road trails. The difference between the two with regards to handling will be less noticeable at the 650b size than it would be if you switched between a 32mm and a 47mm on a 700c.


How durable do gravel bike wheels need to be?


Rocky drop-offs, rooty trails and mucky fire roads, gravel riding can be tough on wheels. When considering how durable and strong you need your wheelset to be, take into account what you intend to do with them.

If it's easy gravel roads you intend to ride, you won't need to pay as much attention to this as if you're planning on loading your bike up with bikepacking bags and heading off to explore, for example.

Most gravel wheelsets have between 24 and 32 spokes. Consider upping your spoke count if you take in more technical terrain, load up your bike with bags or are a heavier rider.

You might also want to take serviceability into account too. For example, some wheels use standard size bearings that are readily available from a number of reputable manufacturers, which makes replacing them easier.

What internal rim width is best for gravel bike wheels?

The internal width of the rim is a good indicator of what tyres are most compatible with a wheelset. 

For gravel tyres, look for an internal rim width between 20-25mm, although most manufacturers will indicate an optimum and acceptable tire width range.

Don't limit yourself to options labeled as gravel wheels either. Check out cyclocross, touring and cross country mountain biking options before settling on the best choice for you.

How do I know if my frameset is compatible with the gravel bike wheels?

You'll need to make sure that your existing frame is compatible with the wheels you'd like to run. Most of the wheels listed here are compatible with 12mm thru axles and standard thru-axle hub spacing of 100/142mm, as well as disc brake only. Make sure you check these details before you buy to avoid an expensive mistake!

A lot of these wheels are also available with different freehub bodies dependent on your groupset choice, so make sure those are compatible too.

If you have a quirky frame or have any niche requirements, it's worth speaking to a wheelbuilder as they can help determine what the best build will be for you.

How much do good gravel bike wheels cost?

As you can imagine, gravel wheelsets vary hugely in price from entry-level hoops starting at around £300 / US350+ to those that cost over £2000 /US$2500.

Wheels are the lower end of the price scale will feature alloy rims. As your budget increases you'll be able to start to consider carbon rims, should you so wish. The main benefit here is reduced weight. Whether this matters to you may depend on the type of gravel riding you do. Multi-day bikepacking trips for example place a greater emphasis on durable wheels.

Generally speaking,  as with road bike wheels, the more you pay, the more lightweight materials will be involved. As weight is more key when it comes to wheels due to their rotating mass, shaving some weight off here can make quite a difference to your ride.

Expensive wheels may also use ceramic bearings, which roll smoother than their steel counterparts, creating less friction and more speed. 

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