Tubeless wheelsets have become way more common recently, particularly since more tubeless tyre options arrived on the scene, and here are some of the very best that we've reviewed for under a grand.
A tubeless system is basically a clincher tyre inflated onto a rim with no inner tube. Instead of an inner tube holding the air pressure, an airtight chamber is created with a tubeless-specific tyre, developed with a special (commonly carbon) bead, and a compatible rim.
The main advantage is the substantially reduced risk of puncturing if you use liquid sealant inside the tyre. This sloshes around inside and reacts with air if the tyre casing is punctured, and plugs the hole. It can seal most small holes caused by flint or thorns and while you might suffer a small drop in pressure, you can continue riding.
If you want to go tubeless you need the right wheels, and here are 10 of the best, some for rim brakes and some for discs.
Clicking on the heading of each wheelset will take you to a dealer.
The CXD4 is an excellent mid-level alloy disc wheelset that's available in 6-bolt or Centerlock configurations. Weighing in at a very reasonable 1,580g, it's a chunk lighter than stock wheels you'll find on most bikes under about £2,000.
The rim is a tubeless-ready 23mm alloy extrusion, sleeve-jointed for extra strength. The rim shape is asymmetric to better balance the spoke forces, with the same rim being used front and rear. At the front the spoke holes are offset away from the disc side, and at the rear they're offset towards it, as the freehub moves the hub flange in more than the disc does.
Both front and rear are built up with 24 round stainless steel spokes in a two-cross pattern. The hubs have an alloy body and axle and sealed cartridge bearings.
We had these wheels set up with 30mm Schwalbe G-One Speed tyres for the duration of testing. Getting them to seal wasn't a problem and we had no issues with the tyres losing air more than normal.
On the road the wheels feel nice and stiff, with no obvious flex either from sprint efforts or heavy cornering. The bearings run smoothly, and whipping the cassette off showed that there's not very much notching on the alloy freehub body.
The Racing 5 is a well-established wheelset, available in both disc and rim brake (£299.99) configurations. It is a decent choice for a first upgrade.
Within the Racing range, the 5 is the general-purpose road wheelset. They're a reasonable weight for the money – we weighed them at 1,640g compared to a claimed 1,610g – which makes them competitive with similar-priced wheels from Hunt and Kinesis, and usefully lighter than Mavic's Ksyrium Disc wheelset.
The rims are asymmetric, which Fulcrum claims "improves rim tension, balancing the forces from brakes and sprocket cassette". If you're after more aero benefits, the similar-priced Racing 4 has a deeper rim, while the Racing 7 is now targeted at all-road use, with a wider rim profile and a higher weight.
The Racing 5 has a 26mm deep rim, which is 21mm wide – wider than wheels were traditionally but not as wide as some. Fulcrum says that it'll take tyres between 25mm and 50mm, making it an option for cyclo-cross too, although it is marketed primarily as a road wheelset.
If you want to run these wheels tubeless you'll need to buy the necessary valves and rim tape because they're not included, which is a bit mean. The Racing 5s should be used only with certain Schwalbe tyres, according to Fulcrum. We can't tell you to ignore that advice... but we did and things worked out just fine.
The hubs are quality affairs, as befits a sub-brand of Campagnolo. They've got sealed bearings and Campagnolo's signature way of reaching them, via a collar with a tiny pinch bolt. They come with various adaptors to suit different axles, from 15mm thru-axle down to a standard QR, and they can be swapped pretty easily as they're just retained with an o-ring friction fit.
The Fulcrums were solidly built, reasonably stiff and generally easy to live with. A lot of disc brake bikes around the £1,000-2,000 bracket will come with relatively heavy wheels as stock, often around 2kg; you'll see a lot of entirely serviceable but quite weighty wheels such as Mavic Aksiums, own-brand hubs with Alex rims and so on. Switching to something lighter like this can save 400-500g; that won't transform the bike, but is enough that you'll notice the difference.
Edco's Optima Roches are a tough set of tubeless-ready wheels that are built around Edco's own SuperG hubs. These hubs are guaranteed for a whopping eight years (the other components get a two-year guarantee), a strong hint at Edco's confidence in their durability. They use radial stainless ball bearings and are laced to the alloy rims with 20 Sapim Race double butted spokes on the front and 24 at the rear. You'll need Centerlock disc brake rotors for stopping.
That rear hub has Edco's own MultiSys cassette hub body, making it compatible with both Campagnolo and Shimano/SRAM cassettes. The hub body also has a hardened steel inlay to protect the aluminium body from being eaten by the sprockets.
The rims are wider (24mm) than they are high (22mm), making them bang on the bigger tyres trend. Edco recommends using 25mm tyres. Although the rims are tubeless ready, we found that a bit of perseverance was needed to get them set up,
The Optima Roches stayed perfectly true during testing, despite the fact that we loaded them up for touring over Edco's 110kg maximum weight limit.
These really are about as tough as they come, which is no mean feat for a pair of wheels that weigh 1,725g, have a low spoke count and spin up fast enough to enjoy sprints. They are stiff without rattling the fillings, making them perfect for any kind of riding that requires a fast wheel that will take a battering. Tubes and tyres come as part of the package, and the quick releases are really nice too!
The Ksyrium Elite, Mavic's highly dependable all-rounder, became tubeless in 2018 with the French company's UST system, like much of the range. The wheels are lightweight and durable and are still great to ride whether you are racing or tackling the club run, with a little bit of future proofing.
At 1,532g without tyres the Ksyrium Elite UST wheelset is light enough to be exciting on the climbs or under acceleration, and their stiffness certainly backs that up; you won't get any flex or brake rub here.
You get Yksion Pro UST tyres as part of the package, and they offer loads of grip. Mavic claims that its road UST tubeless system is different from other tubeless systems in that the wheel and tyre are designed together and there's tight control over production variances. Inflation was smooth and simple with the Yksions sitting snuggly against the rim with just the use of a standard track pump, and there were no leaks of sealant anywhere.
If you want a set of wheels to tackle a bit of everything, then the Ksyrium Elites are hard to fault. While you can get cheaper, this is a solid package that'll give you real peace of mind.
The disc version of this wheelset is priced £585.00.
Ritchey has managed to build a tough yet lightweight package with its Classic Zeta wheels and they look the part too with their highly polished silver finish. Whether on smooth tarmac, broken back lane or potholed byway, they roll quickly and aren't shy of taking a knock or two.
What you get here is a pair of 6061 aluminium alloy rims, Phantom Flange hubs connected by DT Competition j-bend spokes and an all-in weight of 1,491g.
The rims have an external width of around 22mm which makes them more suited to larger tyres like 28mm or even Ritchey's own 30mm-wide WCS Alpine JBs, which were used for a lot of the test miles.
Fitting tyres to them is simple: we tried a few brands out and none was a struggle or faff to fit.
Ritchey has specced these Zetas for road, cyclo-cross and light adventure use. Whacking a pothole is pretty much inevitable these days and we smashed through a few on the Ritcheys without issue; they still ran true. They also saw some pretty hard miles on various sizes of gravel, from the small stuff through to bigger, rockier sections. Again, not a single complaint.
Thanks to their low weight, the Zetas perform across the board. Acceleration and climbing feel great as the wheels are just so quick to spin up to speed, and once up there they roll extremely well.
They're comfortable, too, as the handbuilt setup leaves enough give in the spoke tension to keep the wheels stiff for those hard efforts without being an overly harsh ride.
Overall, the Ritcheys are a very good showcase for getting what you pay for, with a great all-round feel of quality, durability and performance. These igh-performance wheels that are just as at home on your race machine as they are on your gravel hack.
Vision's TriMax 30 KB tubeless-ready wheels are built to last, look great and stay that way thanks to a clever surface treatment. Weight-weenies might find them a shade heavy (we weighed them at 1,570g), but that's far less important than durability and reliability.
They arrived straight and true, and the spoke tension was decent, helping them stay that way. They're laterally stiff enough that we couldn't get them to rub on the brakes, even with the pads positioned close to the rim. They're unaffected by sidewinds because they'
re only 30mm deep, enough to give them a slight aero advantage over old-school square rims, but not enough to affect handling when it's windy.
Out on the road, the TriMax 30s spin up easily and roll well, and the lateral stiffness of the wide rims – the internal width is 19mm – helps them stay on line in corners. It also bigs up your tyres. Our 25mm tyres ended up more like 27mm across, so we could run a little less pressure for more grip and better cushioning.
Braking is smooth and very powerful thanks to the machined sidewalls and oxide coating which increases friction with the brake pads. This is especially noticeable in the wet.
These are great wheels on a number of fronts: looks, build quality, stiffness, braking, durability and general practicality. They're perhaps overkill if you're a 60kg racing snake, but for those who aren't exactly svelte, the extra beef is very welcome.
These wheels feature a ceramic coated rim surface that provides reassuring braking performance in a range of conditions, making them ideal for year-round cycling in the UK.
We rode these wheels for several months in everything from glorious sunshine to freezing rain and everything in between, and they were excellent regardless of the weather.
Braking performance using the supplied brake blocks is very good in dry conditions and is similar to any good aluminium rim. The rims really start to make a case for themselves in rain, mud and grit-coated surfaces, the OXiC coating becoming a benefit with powerful, predictable, and consistent braking.
The other big benefit of a ceramic coating is a rim that is much more durable. Ceramic-coated rims should last for years.
The rims are laced with straight-pull DT aero comp spokes to DT's own hubs with star ratchet internals. They weigh just 1,500g – a little over the claimed 1,472g. Measuring 18mm internally and 22mm externally, they're not as wide as the widest rims currently available, but wider than traditional rims.
DT supplies the sealant and valves you need for running the wheels tubeless, and we found the setup easy.
The hubs feature very wide flanges, intended to increase wheel stiffness, and spin on 240 internals. They are well proven and popular in many aftermarket hubs. The 36-tooth ratchet system in the rear hubs provides very swift engagement when you stamp on the pedals.
These wheels are stiff and responsive, with no give or flex when putting the power down in a sprint or steep climb. The low weight puts many carbon wheels to shame and while they are pricey for an aluminium wheelset, they are a snip compared with most carbon wheels of comparable weight and performance.
For year-round racing, training and just riding, these are excellent wheels with highly impressive braking in all conditions. The appearance, build quality and attention to detail is first class, as is the durability.
The Just Riding Along (JRA) Gecko Carbon wheelset is very impressive, designed to take on the constant knocks and vibrations the roughest gravel tracks can throw at them, while being so light (1,400g) that they won't hamper your performance on the road. It's also pretty amazing that they come in at well under a grand.
The Geckos are solid. We couldn't detect any feeling of flex on steep, short, sharp climbs, whether on the road or when scrabbling about on loose, large gravel.
The wheels took some big knocks during testing, and while sometimes the noise could be pretty scary, on inspection they had come away completely unscathed, remaining as true as they were out of the box.
The Geckos are built to order and the spoke tension is even throughout. They are comfortable as well, even 25mm tyres pumped up hard never giving a harsh ride.
The full carbon rims have an external width of 27mm and 21mm internal, meaning that tyres tend to size up a little bigger than their sidewall suggests.
JRA has specced Bitex hubs on the Geckos and they are a lovely piece of kit, spinning smoothly and freely.
Overall, the Geckos are excellent wheels for gravel use without being too overbuilt to stop them offering a great performance on the road.
The BORG50C carbon clincher aero wheels are a sharply priced tubeless-ready option for going fast. Handling well in crosswinds and with an industry-leading lifetime warranty, for the money these are a serious contender for Best Starter Bling Hoops Deal Going.
When the wheels arrived at road.cc they were already shod with IRC's Formula Pro RBCC Tubeless tyres, valves and sealant – that's £910 all-inclusive. The full combo weighed in at 2,520g. Borg sells the BORG50C for £800 naked, which is a very good price for the rounded weight/performance/warranty package.
Malcolm Borg builds his wheels in Suffolk with great attention to detail. Borg promises to replace anything that's failed – rim, spoke or hub – due to a manufacturing defect for the entire life of the wheelset. If you crash them, Borg will repair for the cost of parts only – the labour's free.
Borg has gone for nice Miche Primato Syntesi hubs, with a micro-adjustment ring to take up any play. The rim measures 26.1mm at the aero bulge, and with the 25mm IRC Formula Pro tubeless measuring 23.9mm, there's a definite aero profile going on front to back.
We found it difficult to get some tubeless tyres onto the rim and you need to have a good compressor setup to hand.
The usual concern around 50mm rims is buffeting, but these wheels never got out of hand even when we rode them in strong (20mph+) sidewinds.
during the review period. My rim-braked test frame is a Velocity Selene, a fairly agile responder and therefore commensurately susceptible to external influences.
All in all, for £800 plus tyres of your choice, tubeless-ready and with a best-of-breed warranty and repair service, the BORG50C wheelset is a cracking choice and should be a serious contender for your cash.
The 30 Carbon Gravel wheels use a disc brake-only rim design. They're built from unidirectional T24/30 carbon and are 30mm deep and notably lighter than most wide aluminium rims at a claimed 370g. Using carbon helps, obviously, but Hunt has also saved weight thanks to the absence of a brake track and bead hooks.
At 26.6mm externally, and 21.3mm internally, these are wide rims, as befits their intended use, and Hunt says they're suitable for use with tyres from 25mm to 50mm, making them an option for a really broad range of riding.
A healthy 24-spokes at the front and 28 spokes at the rear, laced 2-cross, makes for a really strong, stiff build. Hunt gives a rider weight limit of 115kg for these wheels, and they've shrugged off everything we threw at them, including bridleways, towpath commuting, and touring with panniers on some pretty appalling roads.
The 30 Carbon Gravel wheels are supplied taped and with tubeless valves included. Unlike the majority of road tubeless rims, there are no pronounced bead hooks, just small ridges to keep the tyre beads locked in position. Getting the tyre over the bead hooks is normally the fiddly part of inflating a tubeless tyre, but it's easy here with no bead hooks to get in the way. Using just a track pump, they were sealed within three pump strokes, and needed only a few more strokes to get them fully seated.
The hubs are based on those used in Hunt's 4season disc wheelset with uprated shielding and sealing on the EZO bearings to cope with off-road grot and the occasional jetwash.
It's really hard to find fault with these wheels. Light, wide, rugged and dependable, with genuinely easy tubeless setup, they're exactly what you want from a gravel wheelset. Carbon rims and disc brakes is a great combination, too. If you're in the market for a posh set of wheels for your gravel bike, these are a great option. Hunt has set a benchmark with these superb wheels.
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Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.