Best gravel wheels 2020: 8 top-rated picks

Buying advice for gravel, adventure and all-road wheelsets

  The products mentioned in this article are selected or reviewed independently by our journalists. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our opinion.
Best gravel bike wheels

The best gravel and adventure bike wheels are light, stiff and durable. They’re built to withstand the rough and tumble of riding on mixed surfaces in all weathers, and they’re designed to work with gravel tyres, which are wider than conventional road tyres, but skinnier than mainstream mountain bike rubber.

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What to look for in a gravel wheelset

We’ll be the first to admit that there’s really no such thing as a gravel wheelset per se. You can ride gravel on road wheels or, if you have compatible parts, mountain bike wheels

Having said that, there are some important features to consider and spec details that make some wheels better suited to gravel than others, and many wheel makers now offer products specifically aimed at the segment.

There’s a detailed buyer’s guide after our list of recommended products (scroll down!), but here are some key points to think about:

  • Rim width and what size tyres you’re planning to run
  • 700c or 650b?
  • Tubeless compatibility – all the wheels we’re recommending are either tubeless out of the box or designed to be converted
  • Carbon vs. alloy rims
  • Component compatibility (axles, brake rotors…)

The best gravel wheels as rated by our team of expert testers

  • Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLR: £1,200 / $1,300 / AU$2,200
  • Roval CLX 32 Disc: £1,850 / $2,400
  • Roval SLX 24 Disc: £650 / $800
  • DT Swiss CR1400 Dicut 25: £700 / $1,047
  • DT Swiss GR 1600 Spline: £495 / $707
  • Enve SES 4.5 AR Disc Chris King: £3,150 / $3,000
  • Mavic Allroad Pro Carbon SL: £1,800 / $2,100 / €2,000
  • Mavic Allroad Pro UST Disc: £900 / $1,200

Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLR

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike wheels
The wheels are hand-built and very evenly tensioned with 24 spokes.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • Price: £1,200 / $1,300 / AU$2,200
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,590g (tested)
  • Internal width: 25mm
  • Highlights: Super-wide rims, competitive weight, priced well against direct competition

Bontrager’s all-road offering is super-wide internally, making it perfect for seriously fat gravel tyres.

Despite a respectably low weight, there’s no rider weight limit, and the own-brand hubs offer super-fast pick-up.

Roval CLX 32 Disc

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike wheels
Either on the road or off it, the CLX 32 Disc wheels roll remarkably well.
Immediate Media
  • Price: £1,850 / $2,400
  • Wheel size: 650b (tested), 700c
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,333g (tested)
  • Internal width: 20.7mm
  • Highlights: Super-low weight for class, DT Swiss hub internals

Roval’s CLX 32 has a lot to offer, with an amazingly low total weight and some top-quality components from DT Swiss.

Compared to the competition, the 650b option is not ultra wide, so it’s best suited to road and mid-sized gravel tyres, rather than more extreme (47mm-plus) rubber.

Roval SLX 24 Disc

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike wheels
The Roval SLX 24 Disc is a reasonably light alloy wheelset.
Immediate Media
  • Price: £650 / $800
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Alloy
  • Weight: 1,562g (tested, including valves)
  • Internal width: 20mm
  • Highlights: Low weight, DT Swiss hub internals

While the SLXs are narrower and a bit more road-oriented than some of the alternatives, they’re good all-rounders at a price that isn’t totally ridiculous given their impressively low weight.

The rear hub gets DT Swiss mid-range 350 internals, while the spokes and nipples are from the same stable. Obviously this is less relevant to gravel, but there’s a rim brake version too.

DT Swiss CR1400 Dicut 25

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike wheels
On the road, the CR1400s feel like a quality wheel.
Adam Gasson / Immediate Media
  • Price: £700 / $1,047
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Alloy
  • Weight: 1,746g (tested)
  • Internal width: 22mm
  • Highlights: Quality hubs, all-round spec

DT Swiss classes these as “all-road” rather than gravel, but their 22mm internal width and benchmark DT 240s hubs make them a very appealing option that plays well with wider road tyres or full-on gravel rubber.

They’re not super-light and our tester found the supplied tubeless tape a little fragile, but there’s little else to fault.

DT Swiss GR 1600 Spline

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike wheels
The GR1600s are put together to a very high standard.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • Price: £495 / $707
  • Wheel size: 650b (tested), 700c
  • Rim material: Alloy
  • Weight: From 1,727g claimed, 1,750g (650b tested)
  • Internal width: 24mm
  • Highlights: Suitable for big rubber

DT’s full-on gravel option is generously wide and comes in both 650b and 700c flavours.

The 350 hubs are a solid option (albeit a touch lower spec than the 240s) and total wheelset weight is decent if unremarkable.

Our tester didn’t love the thin DT tubeless tape, but otherwise you can’t go far wrong with these.

Enve SES 4.5 AR Disc

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike wheels
Fearsomely expensive, but so good.
Immediate Media
  • Price: £3,150 / $3,000 (Chris King version)
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,600g (as tested, Chris King version)
  • Internal width: 25mm
  • Highlights: Ultra smooth ride, gorgeous hubs if you opt for Chris King, ideal for wide tyres

Enve classes the SES 4.5 AR Disc as ‘all-road’ rather than full-on gravel, but the huge rim width means these are ideal for gravel tyres.

The price is eye-watering (although there’s a choice of builds and some are slightly cheaper), but the ride is sublime thanks to those huge, featherweight rims.

Note that they’re hookless, which may impact your choice of tyres.

Mavic Allroad Pro Carbon SL

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike wheels
The Allroad’s recent evolutionary step includes carbon rims and a rather different price bracket.
Immediate Media
  • Price: £1,800 / $2,100 / €2,000 including 40mm tyres
  • Wheel size: 700c (tested), 650b (SL+ model)
  • Rim material: Carbon
  • Weight: 1,521g (tested)
  • Internal width: 23mm (700c), 26mm (650b)
  • Highlights: Comfy, super stiff, premium construction

Mavic’s carbon wheels are seriously expensive, but they’re a premium product that’s ideal for gravel.

The internal width is suited to fat rubber and their low weight and stiff rims make them feel fast and responsive.

Mavic Allroad Pro UST Disc

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike wheels
Extended, multi-terrain rides are this wheelset’s natural territory.
Immediate Media
  • Price: £900 / $1,200 (includes Mavic tyres)
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Rim material: Alloy
  • Weight: 1,671g (tested, with valves)
  • Internal width: 22mm
  • Highlights: Sturdy components, no tubeless tape required, tyres included in price

Mavic’s inter-spoke milling (‘ISM 4D’) gives these a distinctive scalloped appearance and makes for a weight that’s not bad for a set of aluminium clinchers.

With no drilling in the rim bed, there’s no messing around with tubeless tape, and the 22mm internal width makes them a good match for gravel rubber.

They’re not the cheapest, but bear in mind that the price includes a set of tyres.

Buyer’s guide to choosing your next gravel wheelset

Rim width

The ideal gravel rim is wider than a typical road one. The key number to look for is internal width, which relates directly to the range of tyre sizes you can fit.

Gravel riding means different things to different riders, but it typically involves running 28mm-wide tyres at the very minimum, and more commonly 35 to 50mm. 

Unsurprisingly, wider rims work best with wider tyres, giving your tyres a better profile with more volume and less of a ‘lightbulb’ shape, which occurs when the tyre is significantly wider than the rim. 

There’s no hard and fast rule, but if you’re shopping for new gravel wheels, we’d suggest looking at rims with an internal width of at least 20mm, and preferably a bit wider. (Rims designed for the road are typically around 15 to 19mm internal, although that’s been trending upwards in recent years.)

Wheel size: 700c or 650b?

The vast majority of gravel bikes accept either 700c (standard road size, actual rim diameter equal to 29in mountain bike rim) or smaller 650b wheels (actual rim diameter equal to 27.5in mountain bike rim). 

Many framesets are designed to accept both sizes, with the option to fit wider tyres if you opt for 650b. This works because the rolling diameter of a fat 650b tyre (e.g. 650b × 47) is similar to that of a 700c wheel fitted with a much narrower tyre (around 700 × 28 to 30mm, approximately).

Having said that, you can’t assume that both sizes will work. A frameset designed for 700c wheels may accommodate the diameter of chunky 650bs, but lack the clearance at the stays or fork for the width of the tyres. 

It’s best to follow manufacturer recommendations here, to avoid costly disappointment.

Wheel size comes largely down to personal preference but, if you’re unsure which way to go, think about what size tyres you’re most likely to want on your bike.

If your gravel riding is more ‘road plus’, you might want tyres in the sub-40mm range that will work well both on and off tarmac. 

You’ll have more tyre options if you opt for 700c in this case and you’ll be able to go as narrow as 28mm for pure road riding (usually so follow manufacturer recommendations here), or about as wide as your frame will take at the other end of the spectrum. (Few gravel frames will accept a tyre larger than 700 × 45mm.)

If you want as much tyre volume as possible and your gravel riding sometimes resembles mountain biking, 650b makes a lot of sense. 

A 650b × 47mm tyre is balloon-like in its ride quality and some frames will let you go larger still, edging fully into mountain bike territory.

There are however very few 650b tyres under 38mm wide and the rims themselves tend not to be designed for narrower ones anyway, so do consider if you might want the option to go narrower for road riding in the future. 

A very small minority of gravel/adventure/touring bikes, such as the Surly Long Haul Trucker Disc, are designed to take 26in tyres, i.e. the old standard for mountain bikes. 

If you’re touring in parts of the world where 26in is still the de facto standard for adult bikes, this makes sense from a spares point of view. 

Otherwise, there isn’t a compelling reason to favour 26in over the more mainstream sizes for gravel, and the latest gravel tyres are typically only available in 700c and/or 650b.

Tubeless tyre compatibility

While tubeless for road and gravel is still experiencing growing pains, we’re big fans of the technology. 

If you’re shopping for a new gravel wheelset, it makes sense to at least have the option of going tubeless, even if you don’t plan to do so initially. 

Tubeless adds complexity at the setup stage, but offers real benefits when it comes to riding. 

You can run lower pressures for grip and comfort without the risk of pinch flats (a particular concern if you’re riding relatively small volume tyres on mixed surfaces) and sealant will take care of smaller punctures.

Many wheels will come with tubeless valves and tape (if needed) as standard, but if they don’t, you’ll need to budget for them as an extra. 

Weight and durability

As well as having wider rims, wheels designed primarily for gravel are likely to be burlier than their road counterparts, although this is a generalisation. 

They may have higher spoke counts and some manufacturers will opt for better sealed hubs and/or larger bearings for durability. Super lightweight road hubs are not the best choice if you’re planning to get your gravel bike muddy and wet.

As a result, dedicated gravel wheelsets tend to be heavier than road ones, although the difference may not be significant in the scheme of things. 

Rim materials

As in other riding disciplines, carbon is the money-no-object choice and the best option in terms of overall performance and weight. 

If you want gravel wheels with aero credentials, the case for carbon is stronger, however it comes at a huge price premium over aluminium (or “alloy”) which is arguably far better value for money, offering virtually all of the performance for as little as half the price, or less. 

Carbon is nice to have, but absolutely not a necessity. 

Axle and brake rotor compatibility

The gravel bike market has more or less settled on 12mm thru-axles front and rear as standard, but there are plenty of existing bikes out there with different setups, e.g. 15mm for the front, or old-school quick-release skewers.

When choosing a new gravel wheelset, make sure its hubs can be adapted to fit your frame and fork, and check whether the parts needed are included as standard or need to be bought separately. 

Disc hubs are designed to accept either six-bolt rotors or centerlock ones. If you’re switching from one to the other in the course of a wheel upgrade, you’ll either need to buy new rotors or, alternatively, there are adaptors to fit six-bolt rotors on centerlock hubs, and vice versa. 

Incidentally, we wouldn’t base our choice of wheels on the type of rotor used, but, for what it’s worth, centerlock rotors are much quicker to install and remove. 

Note that centerlock rotors require a lockring, which may or may not be included with the wheels (or with the rotors themselves).

Lockring threads are standardised, but we’ve encountered lockrings that don’t work on certain hubs because of the specific design, so check if there’s a recommended one for your wheels. 

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Some used an internal cassette stye tool for installation, while others need an external bottom bracket (BB) type tool, of the kind used for Shimano BB cups.