Gravel wheels: Light vs Aero?

So tempted to upgrade my gravel wheels from lightish alloy rims to a set of carbon hoops.

Current rims are not very heavy (1550 grams) but not very wide or very deep.

Considering either something a lot lighter (like 1200 grams) but not aero or something deeper and more aero but probably not lighter.

I do love the feeling of a light wheelset and I can’t seem to find anything definitive on where aero gravel wheels actually work with a wider tire. There is some talk the extra flex of a shallower rim might make for more comfort but also lower rolling resistance.

Anyone tried both and what is the brain trusts thoughts?

I think aero is the way except for pure hill climbs. I run 50mm deep rims all the time now and it’s felt easier. My rims are 32mm so they work well with 30-32mm tires. Dylan Johnson put out an 'aero gravel ’ video a few months ago that might have touched on this.

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Yes I watched that video ( I think Chris posted it) and I think that deep section wheels do have some aero benefit if not quite as much with wider tires. It is only aero data though and does not take into account any rolling resistance improvements with possibly more flexible rims.

GCN also posted this video recently Is The Science Wrong? Which Bike Actually Climbs Faster? | GCN

Not a big climb so they thought that aero wheels would be faster but in the end they think that light wheels would be faster. And that is climbing on a road bike with optimal surface. Adding to this I was watching some gravel races and the top folk are surprisingly not all on deep section wheels either. Got me thinking!

I have tried both deep section and shallow carbon rims in varying internal widths and tire sizes as well as some aluminum ones. I feel as if carbon rims are great, but I generally am not such a big advocate of really deep wheels for gravel.

I find that I don’t like the extra rotational weight coupled with the fact that they aren’t saving as much power when you consider you’re going more slowly on gravel, gravel bikes have more of an upright position, and a less aero frame. Plus, I find that as a lighter guy the deep section wheels can get unruly when it is very windy.

One thing I would consider is that Internal rim width is a big consideration when thinking about aerodynamics of gravel wheels. If you’re going to go aero make sure to match the rim width to the size of tire. I personally ride Aeolus pro 3V 37mm depth rims, that have a wide 25 mm internal width. I would speculate that with gravel tires they are more aero than a deeper rim that has a narrower rim width like a set of Aeolus 51 mm depth and 23mm internal width I was running because the tire bulges out negating the deeper rims effect.

One thing I have heard about that’s worth considering is the notion of unstable aerodynamics vs stable aerodynamics. When you’re going at a fast pace most of the wind resistance is applied in the opposite direction to where you’re riding. When you go slower like you would on a gravel bike, the smaller gusts of wind are more pronounced relative to the wind resistance being produced by your motion hence unstable aerodynamics. Climbing road bikes with smaller rims and tubes like the trek Emonda are actually designed to be more aerodynamically efficient at these slower speeds than a super aero setup meant for high speeds.

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So I’m thinking of splitting the difference here and going 40ish mm deep and 25 or greater wide. Some Zipp 303S’s are ideal but I can’t seem to find any deals on them (and they are honking expensive without a deal!). Anyone with a lead on deals on those let me know.

Alternately I might just go light bicycle wheels (which I normally do) but interested in the ICAN G24s. Anyone run those? I have heard good things about the G25s but not found much on the 24s.

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Oliver have you checked out BTLOS wheelsets?
Our family has 2 sets of these (on MTBs) and we’ve been very happy with them and will likely order again in the future. BTLOS seems to do a lot more real engineering compared to other ‘China direct’ wheel companies. They’ve also been good on answering questions and following up. You can get them with DT Swiss 240 or 350 hubs and customize spokes, graphics etc.

My son Lucas also has a set of the Zipp 303S on his CX bike and they are also really good although slightly heavier then BTLOS. The Zipps are also hookless which wouldn’t be my first choice at least for CX. We managed to find the 303S at Merlin Cycles at a great deal otherwise I would have just ordered the BTLOS WGX35A with a 22mm internal width and 35mm depth.

BTLOS does have quite a few options for gravel wheels with a 24mm internal width.


I know you’ve seen these 303s on my bike @Oliver_Smith

I was forced to buy them when @Askes let me try his Zipps on a gravel ride one day. Never let someone offer to try their fast wheels…because there is no forgetting that feeling of speed, stiffness and ok…bling factor…with those deep dish wheels and gold valves.

I also mounted narrower, faster tires on them…35mm Semi-Slick’s…and went tubeless. Superior hubs and pound lighter than the stock wheelset.

The combination of new wheels and tires turned the bike from an entry level Aspero into an R3 race rig. It felt that dramatic. And since our gravel rides can often reach a sustained 30-40kph on pavement, rail trails, and hard packed gravel roads around this region…you can really feel the aero benefit.

I found a super deal on the last set at McPhails 1 week before P2A this year…and it was a game changer.


Thanks @Francqlife yes I have coveted yours! Unfortunately not many deals to be had on them at the moment, I wonder if I have the patience to find some? The seem to be retailing for over $2k with tax which seems bit to much.

Not seen the BTLOS wheels before so thanks for that @KevinGoertz! I can build out a very similar wheel to the zipp with hookless (I’m willing to experiment there but not sold it either yet) and if I’m happy with bitex hubs be just over $900 delivered (assuming I don’t get stung with tax!). Do you have a referral code? Apparently we can both save $30 USD each on our next orders if I use it?

I just sent an email to BTLOS to ask if they could send me a referral code. I’ve ordered two sets already so I would hope so. Great idea.

I don’t recall if I had to spend additional taxes (other than the 13% HST) on the order but I’m sure if it was significant I would have remembered it.

I’ve also added a picture of my bike with the new rims. Because well…bikes :slightly_smiling_face:

I went for the glossy finish with the 12K weave. The spec I went with for my MTB is below. I’d probably do something similar for gravel if I needed another set.
- Coating Free Asymmetric 26.2mm inner width XC Trail shallow carbon wheelset
- Series: Premium
- Finish: Glossy
- Weave: 12K
- Hub Type: DT SWISS 240 EXP
- Spoke Count: 28H/28H
- Ratchet: EXP (54T)
- Front Axle: 15110mm BOOST
- Rear Axle: 12
148mm BOOST
- Freehub: SRAM XD
- Brake Interface: Center Lock ( Disc )
- Spoke System: Straight pull
- Spoke: Sapim CX-Ray
- Nipple: Brass Black
- Decal colors: Blue


The sales team from Btlos got back to me with a referral code right away. I assume this also gives you a 5% discount, but if it doesn’t I’d be happy to give you the commission :slightly_smiling_face:

I also found out that the name of the company is an acronym for “Beyond the Limits of Self”. Pretty cool I think.

Hi Kevin,
I have linked your order to your account
This is your referral URI, once your friend purchases we will provide you with a 5% commission

Due to China National Day, we are offering a free shipping discount, the code is CND23


Thanks Kevin, I gave it a try and it doesn’t seem to do much my end. Hopefully it does on your side if I do go this direction. Still got to get the go ahead from my wife :slight_smile:

So I think I’m going to gamble on these in a 45mm: Gravel GV Series

26mm internal width, decent spokes, dt-swiss like hub and under 1400gms. Bit of a new company but Hambini likes the maker (and he generally knows his stuff even if he is a bit crude). I think about $950 with the current discount.

And that look good !

Closing the loop on this. The 9velo wheels arrived today. Just under 2 weeks post order. Seem nice and clean and true out the box. Just under 1400 grams as per spec. Hub seems to be a homage to a dt240 and looks good.

Came with spare sapim spokes, tubeless values and pretaped. Also some wheels bags which is a nice touch.

Now just need to get them on a bike and see how they ride ( hopefully this weekend if my shoulder is up to it!).


New wheel day is the best day!

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They look so good.

You better not be faster than me now !!!


It will be a while @Francqlife but the fitness is coming back!

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Okay new tires on and wheels fitted. 40mm terraspeeds out to 42 mm on these wide rims yet I’m still 200gms lighter than my old wheels and 35 mm terraspeeds :person_shrugging:

Hopefully have time for a spin this weekend though not sure I’m ready for club rides yet ( will see how a family rides goes first!)


Quick update after a request form @dnair . Just done 3 rides on them so far (about 200km total) so not long enough to test long term durability Feel fast and light. Not feeling flexy either. Hubs have really good engagement at low speeds and are fairly quiet ( so not the hub for those that like noisy hubs!). Holding air really well with the Terra Speeds which were super easy to mount (no holes and no tape needed). I think they cost me $1k CAD all in. There was a discount when I bought them from 9velo so might be worth waiting till Black Friday to see if there are more discounts. They mark the customs value very low to I paid $40 in tax / duty.

I splurged or some fillmore tubeless valves ( Fillmore Valves | Tubeless Bike Valves | Reserve Wheels which are silly money but they are amazing. Very easy to get lots of air in and fill quickly. Plus don’t get blocked with sealant.

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Thanks for the review. I took the plunge as well and bought a set. I got the 35mm rim depth version though.