Gravel bike wheels are a specialised type of wheel that is designed for use on gravel roads. These roads are typically unpaved, rough, and often quite rocky, and as such, require a different type of wheel than those used on paved roads.
One of the key differences between gravel bike wheels and road bike wheels is width. Gravel bike wheels are typically wider than road bike wheels, with a width of around 25-45mm. The wider width provides increased stability and better traction on loose surfaces, allowing the rider to maintain better control of the bike in challenging conditions. Additionally, the wider width allows for wider tyres to be used, which also helps to improve traction and comfort on gravel roads.
Another important aspect of gravel bike wheels is their spoke count. Gravel bike wheels often have a higher spoke count than road bike wheels, which helps to improve their strength and durability. This is important because gravel roads can be rough and rocky, and the wheels need to be able to withstand the additional stresses placed on them.
Gravel bike wheels also come in tubeless-compatible versions. This great feature allows the rider to run lower tyre pressures, which can increase grip and reduce the risk of punctures. Lower tyre pressures can also help to reduce rolling resistance, which is the amount of energy required to keep the bike moving. Additionally, tubeless setups allow for more versatility in the type of tyre and the amount of sealant that can be used, which can improve puncture resistance even more.
Another important feature to look for in gravel bike wheels is the hubs. Gravel bike hubs are often built with a higher level of durability than road bike hubs, as they need to withstand the additional stresses of gravel riding. High-end gravel bike wheels also feature high-quality bearings, which help to keep the wheels spinning smoothly even in harsh conditions.