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The Corima Essentia 40 is described as the ultimate all-road wheelset, and with compatibility with tyres up to 45mm they certainly have both gravel and road bikes covered. They are a decent weight overall, considering their intentions and pricing, and the 40mm-deep rims give an aero boost on the road.
For other options at a variety of prices, check out our guide to the best road bike wheels.
With so many bikes straddling the lines between road and gravel, it's no surprise to see wheel manufacturers doing the same thing, and that is what we have here.
The Corimas are stiff and come with a deep enough rim that they're ideal for all kinds of general road riding, including faster sections, while still being a decent enough weight that they don't feel sluggish in the hills.
With a rim width of 28mm externally and 23mm internally, they'll take from a 28mm width tyre up to a 45mm, according to the text on the rim, so you can exploit all of those benefits on the local gravel tracks and byways. The build seems durable too – I certainly had no problems with them going out of true after a couple of months of testing on all sorts of terrain, and they'll take plenty of abuse from rocky trails.
I split the review period about 50/50 in terms of using the Essentias on the road or gravel bike, and the main thing I was impressed with was the ride feel. The excellent stiffness on out-of-the-saddle efforts didn't translate into a harsh or resonating ride. In fact, it is quite smooth, something I have found with other Corima wheels I've ridden over the years.
The 40mm-deep rim isn't as round in profile as many current wheels, it's a little more V-shaped but with a rounded leading edge. I found they reacted well against sidewinds, apart from when things got gusty, and there is no lag in the steering when leaning them over, like you can get with some deep-section carbon wheels at certain yaw angles.
The spoking pattern looks quite cool with the 24 spokes used front and rear positioned in pairs around the rim, and everything was tight and well tensioned straight out of the box. A few wheelsets arrive for reviewing that ping and go on the first ride as the tension settles, but there was none of that here.
For the freehub Corima has specced a ratchet system rather than the more typical pawl setup found on many wheels. With 36 teeth and 10 degrees between engagement points, they are not the quickest to lock in once you stomp on the pedals, but if you do trackstand with them you'll notice very little 'slop' as you rock backwards and forwards at the lights.
Specification-wise, Corima offers the Essentia 40s with Shimano HG, SRAM XDR and Campagnolo N3W freehubs, so plenty of options to suit the latest groupsets.
The rims are carbon fibre with a 3K layer finishing things off, which gives that chequerboard effect under the lacquer. I think it makes the wheels look more expensive than they actually are, which is always a bonus.
They are hookless in design, which won't to be everyone's taste – some people like the reassurance of a lip to tuck the bead of the tyre under.
This does also mean you can only use tubeless ready tyres, even if you want to run inner tubes rather than sealant. You are also limited to 75psi, which I know for most won't be an issue, but I like to run road tyres at a higher pressure than that, even 28s.
These wheels actually came fitted with the Continental GP5000 tyres you see in the photos, and when I swapped them over to some gravel tyres I found the fit snug but not so tight that you'd struggle to remove them when out on the road or trail, should the puncture fairy visit.
Both road and gravel tyres measured about a millimetre wider than their nominal sidewall width when fitted to the Essentias.
The Essentias are manufactured in Corima's own factories in France rather than just being assembled there from components made elsewhere. Bearing that in mind, I don't think the £1,301 asking price is excessive (they're listed as €1,490, currently reduced to €1,341, which equates to about £1,167.43).
Fulcrum's Rapid Red Carbons, which I tested last year, are designed for gravel use but are ideal for the road, too, although they don't have the same aero advantage, being just 30mm deep. That does mean they are a bit lighter than the Corima's 1,684g (including rim tapes and valves), but slightly more expensive at £1,399.
SwissSide's Hadron2 All-Roads have similar design intentions and come with 45mm-deep rims, which makes their overall weight of 1,530g impressive. The internal width is 22mm. They also use a ratchet freehub like the Essentias, and the rims are a similar shape, but they are hooked rather than hookless. They were priced at £1,442 when we tested them last year, but are now £1,249.
Heading in the other direction price-wise are the Just Riding Along Mahi Mahi Core wheels. They are designed as all-rounders too, and weigh in at 1,620g. JRA uses a direct to consumer method which means it can keep costs low – in this case, £700. But bear in mind, as I mentioned earlier, Corima's wheels are manufactured (not just assembled) in its own factories in France, which will also add a premium to their price.
The Essentias are a great set of all-rounders. In terms of price and weight there are many competitors, but I like the Corimas a lot, from their ride quality to the way they handle even on breezy days. They're looking good in terms of durability and reliability, too, which is ideal if you want a set of wheels to cover all kinds of riding.
A great choice if your riding is performance focused on multiple terrains
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Corima Essentia 40 wheelset
Size tested: 700C
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?
Corima says, "The Essentia 40 is the ultimate all-road wheel. Destined to erase the borders between road and gravel, the hookless rim is designed to maximize comfort and control with wider tubeless tires using lower pressures. Fast, lightweight, ultra-versatile and produced in France at our workshop in Loriol-sur-Drôme. The Essentia benefits from the full extent of CORIMA's unmatched experience and capabilities in creating wheels with the ultimate performance, reliability, and design aestetics."
They are a durable set of wheels that work with a wide range of tyre sizes.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
28" tubeless ready pair
Shimano / HG
Profile : 40MM
Rim width : 28mm
Axle front : Thru axle Ø12 x 100mm
Axle rear : Thru axle Ø12 x 142mm
Carbon weave : 3K
Front Black Spokes : 24
Rear Black Spokes : 24
Tubeless hookless rims
TLR tires compatible. Max pressure 4.7 bar in 28mm
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
The wheels remained true throughout the review period.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
I found both road and gravel tyres a bit snug to fit, which is reassuring for those being fitted to a hookless rim. Fitting and removing them wasn't tricky, though, so dealing with a puncture while out and about won't be an issue.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
The tubeless valves and tape performed without issue.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Deep-section rims can give a harsh ride, but these perform well in terms of comfort and ride quality.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Great ride quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They sit in the middle ground in terms of price, being competitive against those more expensive sets mentioned in the review, although brands like JRA offer quality wheels at a lower price point.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They are in the middle ground in terms of price and weight, but score highly on stiffness, comfort and durability.
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,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!