String spokes in an ultralight package that is a blast to ride: the Berd Sparrow Gravel Wheelset reviewed

Berd impressed with its unconventional yet exceptionally light, uncommonly smooth and aero-be-damned gravel wheelset

Berd Sparrow Carbon Gravel Wheelset uses string spokes!
(Image credit: Sean Coffey)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

An exceptionally light, uncommonly smooth, aero-be-damned gravel wheelset that makes a lot of sense for gravel riding

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Very light

  • +

    Fibrous spokes dull sharp edges and dampen vibration

  • +

    Competitively priced for what they offer

  • +

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Slower in the wind compared to deeper rim/bladed steel spoke wheels

  • -

    No Campy option

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

The first thing you’ll notice about any of the Berd wheelsets is that the spokes are strings. Floppy as a shoelace when not built into a wheel, rigid like metal when in use. 

Berd’s PolyLight spokes may not feel particularly technical at first glance, but there’s more than meets the eye. Their fibrous material is an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, also known as Dyneema®, and it brings impressive claims: 

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Sean Coffey started out as a Northern California road racer and bike shop rat in the late 1980’s. In the three decades since, he’s used his journalism degree and technical cycling knowledge to wedge himself into a variety of marketing, editorial and product roles at several iconic cycling brands. Now residing in the 2015 UCI Road Worlds host city of Richmond Virginia with his wife, cats and an absurd quantity of bikes, Coffey prefers the sort of steep and miserable climbs others dread, actually looks forward to intervals, takes Strava KOM’s maybe a bit too seriously and will never stop racing cyclocross.