Edco has veered off-road with its latest wheelset, the Gravel. It's an excellent choice if you want a lightweight wheelset that'll take a heap of abuse, and it achieves that while still coming in at a relatively budget price point.
Over the last couple of years, we've seen the majority of wheel manufacturers adding gravel wheels to their line-ups and Edco has now done the same – and done it well.
The catchily named Gravel wheelset uses a 34mm deep carbon fibre rim which is 31mm wide externally and 25mm internally, which makes it ideal for using with the fat gravel tyres that are entering the market.
Edco has gone for a hookless rim, which means it basically does away with the bead hook that the tyre would normally locate beneath to stop it blowing off the rim under pressure. Tubeless-specific tyres have a stiffer bead, which means they don't require the bead hook of the rim, relying instead on the tight interface between tyre and wheel to remain in place. Obviously, tyre and wheel tolerances aren't always compatible, but I've ridden plenty of hookless rims both on and off the road and never had any issues.
Tubeless makes a lot of sense on a gravel bike where the need to run lower pressures for comfort and traction means that impact punctures would be commonplace if using clinchers and tubes. You can use hookless rims with an inner tube, but you'd have to use a tubeless tyre, so what's the point in that?
There was just enough tightness in getting them on the rim to feel confident that they weren't going to pop off when inflated (max 72psi for this rim) but not so tight that you wouldn't be able to remove them should you need to out on the road/trail.
Once seated, a quick blast from a Beto Surge track pump and they seated straight away, pinging up against the rim.
In over 400 miles of tough testing I've had no issues with the tyre/rim combos.
Out on the gravel tracks these wheels absolutely fly, and a lot of that is down to the fact that they weigh just 1,533g (including the pre-installed tubeless tape).
Getting your head around using a carbon rim on rough terrain is hard enough, even more so when it's a wheelset as svelte as this.
Some sections of my favourite gravel routes have been overlaid recently with large aggregate (they're military tank routes) and the downhill sections can be brutal. While I haven't gone out of my way to break the Edcos, I certainly haven't been easy on them and to be honest some of the sounds haven't been pretty as they've whacked rocks and potholes, but they've resisted everything I've thrown them at.
Their stiffness in all directions is great, which makes them good for the climbers out there and the sprinters. Gravel racing isn't that big a thing in the UK – yet – but if you want to get a shift on whether on the gravel or off it, you won't find the Gravels letting you down.
I've done a few four to five-hour epics on the Edcos in some really appalling conditions, the weather has been all over the place. On one I was chuffed to find a new (to me) byway stretching out for miles over to Avebury. The initial hardpacked gravel turned into chalk and then into wet, sloppy mud with puddles virtually up to the bottom bracket.
The hubs, rims, nipples, everything, have taken the full brunt of the conditions with mud, grit and water being sprayed over every component. To give the wheels a full test I didn't bother with the usual wash down at the end of each ride either.
Here we are at the end of the test period and there are no creaks from the hubs or any other part of the wheel; their durability certainly seems impressive.
The 24-spoke build front and rear is ideal for strength while keeping things light. The splines of the freehub fitted to the Edco Neo hub resist the pressure of the cassette when you are pushing down hard on the pedals. Freehub options are Shimano/SRAM, Campagnolo and SRAM XDR.
The hubs are designed for 12mm thru-axles while the brake rotor is held in place by the Centrelock design, although there are six-bolt adaptors in the box if that's the setup you run.
The only slight issue I've found is that a small amount of water has got inside the rims and they don't have any drainage holes for it to escape. I only noticed when the wheels were off the bike ready to be returned and I could hear it moving around; it's not enough that it is noticeable when on the bike. You can remove the valves to let it out, but that is a bit of a faff.
Edco has priced the Gravel wheelset at £900, and that puts them right in the mix with some very good wheels indeed.
The Sector GCi wheels are 200g heavier and an extra £200, and I'd say the Edcos match them for ride quality.
They are virtually identical to the high scoring Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide wheelset in terms of weight and you can divide them on price by a quid. I'd say, all round, the Edcos ride just as well as the Hunts too.
Overall, if you want a bit of carbon bling for your gravel bike without having to wince every time you whack a pothole then the Edcos are a very good choice. I think they look the business too.
Great combination of stiffness, durability and performance at a very competitive price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Edco Gravel wheelset
Size tested: 700C, 34mm rim height
Tell us what the wheel is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Edco says, "The new Gravel wheelset. Perfect for exploring the abundance of fire roads, bridleways and rough backroads the UK has to offer. There's nothing better for escaping the hectic nature of the modern world than getting on a gravel bike. Lightweight and durable, fast on any terrain."
Light, solid wheels that are capable off-road as well as on it.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Rim height 34mm
Internal width 25mm
Double butted round Sapim spokes
Black alloy secure lock nipple
Shimano/Sram 11spd or Sram XDR
Disc brake only
Hookless rim – Max 72psi
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Yes, they stayed true throughout testing.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Tyres fitted relatively easily, which isn't always the case with hookless rims.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
Everything that came with the wheels worked fine, air didn't leak from the tape or valves even when the tyres and sealant were initially fitted.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They'll take plenty of abuse on the gravel tracks while delivering excellent performance.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
They'll take loads of abuse.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Water can get stuck in the rim.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are well priced, competing directly with some of the best wheels we've tested, like those from Hunt.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Definitely
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A really solid set of wheels that will take a huge beating on the gravel while being light enough that you can treat them as a performance wheelset. Only the lack of drainage holes stops full marks – other than that, they really can't be faulted.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!