Campagnolo has released the Levante, the component brand’s first dedicated gravel wheelset.
The wheelset sits alongside the Bora race wheels and Shamal endurance wheels in Campagnolo’s range. Like these two other wheelsets, the Levante is named after a wind – the levant is an easterly wind that blows in the western Mediterranean sea.
The Levante wheelset uses a combination of familiar and new tech from Campagnolo. It is made from Campagnolo’s Handmade Ultra-Light Carbon (H.U.L.C) and is said to help the Levante achieve its claimed weight of 1,485g.
But Campagnolo has also introduced a new ‘mini-hook’ rim standard with the Levante, which is said to combine the ease of hooked rims with the benefits of hookless rims.
The wheelset is designed to complement Campagnolo Ekar, the brand’s dedicated gravel groupset.
The Levante wheelset is available with Campagnolo’s Next 3 Ways (N3W) freehub body, the standard used for Ekar and compatible with 11-, 12- and 13-speed cassettes, alongside Shimano GH and SRAM XDR freehub bodies.
The wheelset takes visual cues from Ekar, too, with etched graphics that bear a resemblance to those on the groupset.
Campagnolo says the Levante wheelset is available for purchase now, with stock available around the world, and it costs £1,349.99 / $1,899.95 / €1,575 with the N3W freehub body.
Handmade carbon and a “mirror-like” finish
The Levante wheelset uses Campagnolo’s H.U.L.C carbon fibre and C-Lux finish, features the brand first introduced in 2021 with the Bora Ultra WTO wheelset.
When Campagnolo launched H.U.L.C, it said the handmade carbon fibre helped the brand achieve marginal gains in performance and in weight savings.
Such claims continue with the Levante wheels. Campagnolo says the technology helps its engineers to optimise the use of fibres and resin for strength, stiffness and low weights in order to achieve “a confidence-inspiring ride feel without undue harshness”.
Campagnolo says the C-Lux (short for Campagnolo Luxury) finish has a “mirror-like” appearance and is smooth enough not to require lacquer. Consequently, it helps the brand save more weight.
According to Campagnolo, the benefits of C-Lux don’t stop there, with the finish helping users seat tubeless gravel bike tyres and reducing the risk of abrasion to tyre beads.
Durable and versatile
It’s not uncommon to see bike components – and gravel components, in particular – come with claims of durability and versatility. The Levante wheelset is no exception.
Campagnolo says the Levante is “built to last” and has been tested against competitors for durability.
Although the brand hasn’t gone into specifics on how durable the Levante is compared to other wheelsets, it says the wheelset is validated to ASTM 2, a strength standard that means the wheels are suitable for use on unpaved roads with drops of less than or equal to 15cm.
The H.U.L.C construction helps the wheel achieve its durability, but so does the asymmetric rim, according to Campagnolo.
Campagnolo says the rim design helps the Levante achieve its versatility. The ‘two-way fit’ rim profile means the Levante is compatible with tubeless and clincher tyres, while the 25mm internal width can fit tyres ranging from 38mm to 76mm.
Campagnolo has opted to build the wheels in a way that means servicing should be straightforward.
The wheelset’s aluminium hubs have cup and cone bearings for simplicity and the external spoke nipples are said to require no tools for re-tensioning.
Each wheel has 24 straight-pull spokes arranged in a regular spoke pattern. Campagnolo says this should mean replacements are easy to source.
Mini-Hook – another rim standard?
When Campagnolo launched its Bora Ultra WTO wheels last year, the brand said the wheels were compatible with tubeless tyres, but that it was retaining a hooked rim design.
Many wheel brands have been moving towards the use of the hookless rims to tubeless setups over recent years. However, Campagnolo’s product manager, Nicolo Martinello, explained to BikeRadar at the time that it was retaining a hooked rim design to be “100 per cent compliant” with market needs and ISO and ETRTO regulations.
But Martinello also said Campagnolo was investigating hookless technology, and the Levante wheelset appears to show the results of that research.
The wheelset sees Campagnolo introduce a new rim standard, the Mini-Hook, said to combine the advantages of hooked and hookless rims while being fully compliant with ETRTO clincher and tubeless safety standards.
Campagnolo says the small lip of the rim means the Levante wheelset is compatible with tyres from all brands. This eradicates the complications of having to match a hookless rim with a select number of compatible tyres – a woe felt by video manager Felix Smith, whose gravel tech trend wish for 2022 was to see the end of tyre-compatibility issues.
The standard is also said to avoid giving a tyre the ‘lightbulb effect’ and to create a large contact surface area, increasing grip and comfort at lower pressures.