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Finding the right size wheels for road + light off-road use

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Finding the right size wheels for road + light off-road use

Old 04-10-21, 08:46 AM
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Finding the right size wheels for road + light off-road use

Hello! I'm thinking through a gravel build for which I'd like to put together two wheelsets: one for every-day riding, another for adventure rides. I'd like some feedback on the "every day" riding set.

In my case the every day riding scenario will be 80% road with 20% light gravel (hard pack dirt and pulverized stone) roads so I'm aiming for something a bit "roadie." Specifically I'm thinking 700c wheels with something like a tubeless 32mm gravelking SS tire. The trouble I've got is thinking of the right wheelset to pair this with. Will something that wide still benefit from aero wheelsets or should I forego that and get something shallow? I've looked at some of the big-name wheel manufacturers for insights and I'm just not sure what the right answer is.

For example, DT Swiss GRC 1400, ENVE SES 3.4 AR, or Zipp 303 Firecrest are very similarly spec'ed: 25mm inner, 32mm outer, ~40mm depth, hookless. These all provide aero benefit but I wonder if they'll work with a 32mm tire, or if I'm better off getting something smaller and lighter without aero, such as a 22mm inner, 27mm outer, 25mm depth, hookless wheel?

Any feedback, suggestions, or advice is welcome. I'm always happy to learn. Thank you!

(For the adventure set I'll probably get a 650b with 43mm wide tires, if you're curious)
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Old 04-10-21, 10:04 AM
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I have a GRC1400 wheelset running 38mm Specialized Pathfinder Pro set up tubeless. Certainly not gaining the "aero" advantage the wheels provide, but I am getting a very stiff, well-built wheelset to roll around on, and they function great on pavement (asphalt and cement), cobbles, and on gravel. They also come with a 36T ratchet, so hub engagement is quick. Minimum tire width for that wheelset is spec'd at 32mm, also not that it is a hookless rim, so it is ideally run tubeless, and you would be best advised to keep the pressure under 70psi (some may even recommend a slightly lower pressure).

The Zipp 303 have a good reputation, and Enve have done extensive testing for compatibility between their rims and tires to let customers know which ones will and will not work on the rim.
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Old 04-12-21, 04:05 AM
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I use the Bontrager Aeouls RSLV 37 with 25mm inner width with 28 mm without any problems or drawbacks. The tires do plump out to 30 mm on these rims.

I could have gone with the narrower version of these rims for this size of tire but I wanted the option of going with wider tires when the need arose.

As for hooked rims, I am still a fan because I can still use both, hooked tires or hookless (at least most of them). I am not hooked (no pun intended) to one style of tire. My choice is supple tires over tubeless but I can see why others choose tubeless.

Brand wise, as nice as the Bontragers are I think they are a little overkill. Light Bicycle wheels get great reviews, have an enormous selection of hub and rim selections and appear to be great value. I have yet to read anywhere with someone with a problem or a broken wheel.

My second set of wheels with wider tires and larger cassette have yet to be used because there is a possible issue with chain length between the two cassettes. It was something I didn't think about when starting down this two wheelset route. I have been too lazy to throw it up on the stand and see if it is really a problem, but I do know when I put on the smaller cassette I did shorten the chain. I may need a longer second chain when I use the second set of wheels. If you you use the same size cassette, you won't have this problem. Good luck on what ever you purchase.
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Old 04-12-21, 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud
Light Bicycle wheels get great reviews, have an enormous selection of hub and rim selections and appear to be great value. I have yet to read anywhere with someone with a problem or a broken wheel.
+1. They are not as inexpensive as they used to be, but are still on average about 20% less than roughly same level DT Swiss (only brand I compared to), just beware they manufacture rims as they are bought, and that takes 3-4 weeks, then they build the wheels. Regardless, they offer a range of options, none "cheap" or low quality, for hubs and use SAPIM spokes.
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Old 04-12-21, 08:27 AM
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I have a set of DT Swiss GRC1400 wheels with Teravail 32mm slick tires mounted and I’m happy with the combo.

40mm knobby on left, 32mm slick tire on right

DT Swiss GRC1400 wheel
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Old 04-12-21, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud
I use the Bontrager Aeouls RSLV 37 with 25mm inner width with 28 mm without any problems or drawbacks. The tires do plump out to 30 mm on these rims.
I could have gone with the narrower version of these rims for this size of tire but I wanted the option of going with wider tires when the need arose.
....
Good luck on what ever you purchase.
Thank you! What are the 28mm tires you're using that plumped to 30mm?

Originally Posted by Badger6
+1. They are not as inexpensive as they used to be, but are still on average about 20% less than roughly same level DT Swiss (only brand I compared to), just beware they manufacture rims as they are bought, and that takes 3-4 weeks, then they build the wheels. Regardless, they offer a range of options, none "cheap" or low quality, for hubs and use SAPIM spokes.
Supply & demand during the pandemic is the likely cause. That and them building up their brand? Thanks for the note about the lead time.

Originally Posted by sarhog
I have a set of DT Swiss GRC1400 wheels with Teravail 32mm slick tires mounted and Iím happy with the combo.
Nice looking setup!
What specific Teravail 32mm tires are you using, and what width do they measure once inflated? Same for the Schwalbes, too, if you don't mind (am curious).
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Old 04-13-21, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by BlueRaspberry
Nice looking setup!
What specific Teravail 32mm tires are you using, and what width do they measure once inflated? Same for the Schwalbes, too, if you don't mind (am curious).
The Teravails are Ramparts, they measure 32mm installed. The Schwalbes are G One Bite. They are not mounted at the moment, so I donít know what they measure.
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Old 04-13-21, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by sarhog
The Teravails are Ramparts, they measure 32mm installed. The Schwalbes are G One Bite. They are not mounted at the moment, so I donít know what they measure.
Sorry, just to be sure: you have the 700x32 Ramparts on a 25mm inner width wheel and the tires measure 32mm when inflated? No "bulging" width due to the wider wheels?
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Old 04-13-21, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by BlueRaspberry
Sorry, just to be sure: you have the 700x32 Ramparts on a 25mm inner width wheel and the tires measure 32mm when inflated? No "bulging" width due to the wider wheels?
Maybe 33mm.

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Old 04-13-21, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by sarhog
Maybe 33mm.
Wow. I was assuming they'd balloon to 35 on a wide rim. Great to know.

I appreciate that you took the time to confirm and share those images. Thank you.
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Old 04-13-21, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueRaspberry
Thank you! What are the 28mm tires you're using that plumped to 30mm?
The tires are Rene Herse Chinook Pass Extra lights. Supple tire running with tubes.
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