Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

review

Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake Wheelset

8
£418.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Strong, reliable wheels with a great ride quality and a bit of bling for no extra cost
Impressive ride feel
Well tensioned and durable
Customisation at no extra cost
Weight: 
1,700g

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

What the road.cc scores mean

Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

  • Exceptional
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Quite good
  • Average
  • Not so good
  • Poor
  • Bad
  • Appalling

Unless you are racing, carbon and a deep section aren't the main attributes you need for a gravel wheelset. You want them to be reliable and tough, and to work well with wide tyres, and that's what the Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake wheelset puts at the forefront. These UK handbuilt wheels are also well priced, too.

For more options, check out off.road.cc's guide to the best gravel bike wheels and our guide to the best road bike wheels.

> Buy now: Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake wheelset for £418 from RBW

I reviewed the road version of these wheels recently and was impressed, so it's not going to be too much of a surprise that I have the same overall feelings about these Club Gravels.

The build (which I'll delve into in a moment) produces an impressive ride quality. Not something that is quite as crucial on a gravel bike because of the role played by large volume tyres, but should you run them with a firmly pumped up set of wide slicks it's something you'll be thankful for. 

> How to choose the best bike tyre pressure — balancing speed, comfort and grip

There's a certain smoothness to the ride, and with a lack of road buzz there are no compromises when it comes to feedback passing through from the tyres up to the rider.

2023 Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake Wheelset wheel and tyre.jpg

Lateral stiffness is great too, most noticeable on those steep climb when I was out of the saddle and banking the bike hard side to side. When things turned towards descending that stiffness meant that the front end of the bike stayed feeling tight under high turning loads and when I was pulling hard on the brakes.

The wheels worked well with a range of gravel tyres thanks to the rim width, which ensured that the tyres had a natural curved shape, none of that top-heavy 'lightbulb' effect going on here.

> Buyer’s Guide: Best gravel bike tyres

From a durability point of view the Club Gravels also impressed, taking the battering from my local gravel tracks, which tend to be rocky, with many hidden potholes. They were perfectly true when they arrived and were still running exactly the same when the review period finished.

Build

The 22mm-deep Club Gravel rims are made from heat-treated 6066 T6 aluminium alloy, and the spoke beds have been tested to over 300kgf. The heat-treating is done after the extrusion and welding processes to make sure there is a uniform strength throughout the rim.

They are available in either 24 or 32-spoke builds, and we have the latter. You can choose between 700C and 650B diameters, too.

Internally they have a width of 25mm which will work with gravel tyres up to around 50mm comfortably, and you can still run 30/32mm road tyres without it affecting the shape of the tyre at all.

2023 Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake Wheelset rim bed.jpg

The wheels come fitted with tubeless tape and valves, and the rims are hooked, using a double locking bead design for a secure fit. I fitted a set of 36mm WTB road tyres, 40mm treaded gravel tyres and a 45mm set of slick Panaracer GravelKings without any real issue. The narrower tyres required a lever to flick the last section onto the rim, but things weren't so tight that I would have had any issues removing them at the side of the trail if I'd needed to fix a puncture.

All three tyre sizes popped onto the rim with just the use of a track pump, so running tubeless is a simple solution. Because of the number of tyres and wheels I review, I tend to run a lot of setups with inner tubes – the amount of sealant I'd get through in a month otherwise! I rode these with tubes, and everything worked absolutely fine.

The Bitex BX106 hubs are smooth rolling and remained so even after plenty of dusty riding on the trails and some rain too.

2023 Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake Wheelset - rear hub 2.jpg

They come with an aluminium freehub with Anti-Bite protection, a steel strip applied to one of the splines that stops your cassette from digging into it under load, although there is a full steel freehub option available should you need extra strength.

2023 Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake Wheelset freehub.jpg

The freehub feels quick to lock into drive, with six pawls and 48 points of engagement. All brands are catered for, with Shimano, SRAM XDR and Campagnolo's standard road cassette standard covered for the same price. Shimano's Microspline and Campagnolo's N3W 13 speed add £10 to the wheelset price.

2023 Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake Wheelset - rear hub 1.jpg

It's not just the freehub that you can spec with regards to the hubs, you can also choose the body colour, with a range of anodised finishes on offer like the blue we have, which can be matched to the aluminium Sapim nipples. Brass offerings are also available.

2023 Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake Wheelset - front hub 2.jpg

You can choose from a full range of axle options, too.

Sapim's race spokes are included in the standard build price of £410, but you can upgrade to D-Light or CX-Ray for an extra tenner.

2023 Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake Wheelset - valve.jpg

Including the tape and valves, the overall weight of these is 1,700g on the road.cc Scales of Truth.

Value

Considering that each set of wheels is handbuilt in Bristol, I'd say the price is very competitive. You can also upgrade to different rims – Kinlin RD 3-FT – if you want a stronger build, without increasing the price. And all of those colour options or changes to spoke spec give you a decent amount of customisation.

I reviewed the BORG31 wheelset back in 2021, a do-it-all handbuilt set that could take on all kinds of riding. They weighed about the same but came with 19mm internal rims, so I'd say that the RBWs have the edge for wider tyres.

Considering the price increases we've seen over the last couple of years it's no surprise to see that they have gone up a bit, to £559.99 – not a huge amount, but still £140 more than the RBWs.

When I reviewed the Spa Cycles Elan Ti bike recently it came with a set of Spa Cycles' own handbuilt wheels. They were tough, durable and use similar components. With a Kinlin rim, the same Bitex BX106 hubs, Sapim CX-Ray spokes and an upgrade to blue nipples, you are looking at a price of £415.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a strong and durable set of wheels that work well on your gravel bike, commuter or tourer. The fact that you can get some customisation like coloured anodised hubs and nipples for no extra cost is also a bonus.

> Buy now: Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake wheelset for £418 from RBW

Verdict

Strong, reliable wheels with a great ride quality and a bit of bling for no extra cost

road.cc test report

Make and model: Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake 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?

Ryan Builds Wheels says, "Introducing the Ryan Builds Wheels Club Gravel Disk Brake Wheelset.

Our high-end, handbuilt and semi-custom gravel wheelset, for disk brakes.

Designed to be super-reliable, tough and zippy these are the quintessential workhorse of the weight-conscious gravel racer, bike packer and adventure cyclist. We've included semi-custom options to suit lightweight, race-focussed setups and fully-loaded, hard-knocks, all-terrain bike packers."

This is a well-specced wheelset that can take on plenty of gravel abuse.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?

Rims - RBW Club Gravel (25mm internal 22mm deep Lightweight Gravel Racing Rim)

Rim Size - 700c

Hubs - Bitex 106 Centrelock – Blue

Axle Front - 100*12mm Thru

Axle Rear - 142*12mm Thru

Spokes - Sapim Race (32H)

Spoke Colour - Black

Freehub - Shimano HG 11 Speed (1.85 spacer included free of charge for 8/9/10 speed setups)

Nipples - Blue Alloy

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the wheel for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the wheel for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheel for weight
 
8/10
Rate the wheel for value:
 
6/10

Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?

The wheels stayed true throughout the review period.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

Fitting tyres was easy enough, although it was easier the wider they were.

How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?

All of the extras were of good quality and performed fine.

Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Tough wheels for taking plenty of gravel abuse.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

A really good ride quality.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

Nothing.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

They are a similar price to those offered by Spa Cycles, and a fair bit cheaper than the build of the BORG 31s of a similar weight and intended purpose.

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

The RBW Club Gravel wheels are solid performers built for a job and they do it well. They are well priced considering the spec too.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 44  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

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 team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 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. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

Add new comment

3 comments

Avatar
Doctor Darabuka | 1 week ago
0 likes

I've been riding a pair of Ryan's wheels for six years now.  I cannot speak highly enough of the quality of after-sales support.

Avatar
David9694 | 1 week ago
0 likes

I had some spokes from Ryan a few weeks ago - first time I've had to buy my own spoke nipples. Ordered 3 different lengths of spokes- they arrived bundled but not labelled - a bit below par in my opinion. 

Avatar
RyanBuildsWheels replied to David9694 | 1 week ago
0 likes

Thanks to Stu for the great review (a YouTube video about them both soon!) and thanks very much David for the above feedback. I just wanted to pop in and state that the spoke sales side of things is no longer under my control and that it is being re-branded shortly as I am no longer involved: I'm sorry to hear that the quality of service fell below what you'd expect whilst still under my name. It takes a little while to finalise some business going on's unfortunately!

Latest Comments