Adventure bike wheel upgrade routes

Currently planning to do my ultra on my adventure bike as it can take wider tyres, is less slammed, disc-equipped, wider bars and is generally comfier than the aero-ish Bianchi Aria.

It currently has alloy rims with 40mm gravel tyres setup for tubeless but I’ve got 6 months to save/change stuff to make it more suitable for a ~20-hour 320km ultra. I’ve got 3 options (assuming I stick with this bike):

  • Stick with current tyres and fast gravel tyres (~£120)
  • Stick with alloy but set up some 30mm GP5000 (~£120)
  • Get a set of 40/50 deep carbons with GP5000 ((~£750)

It’s never going to be that slippery as I’ll have a top tube bag, bar bag and tail bag but I’m thinking over that many hours any advantage on the wheels will help. Plus carbon and narrower tyres will be a good deal lighter.
Another option is just to find some fast-rolling mixed-surface tyres when my current ones are dead. I feel quite a difference in rolling about speeds between the bikes some of which will be tyres - Michelin 40mm gravel vs Wolfpack 25mm race.
The least favourable option is just GP5000s as then I can’t use it on light trails (which was part of the reason for getting her) until I wear the tyres out as 30mm is far too big for a rim brake bike.

Open to ideas from long-distance riders, setup wizards and all in between.

Pic below of wheels/setup although the steerer tube is trimmed now.

For wheels, they are pricey, but the Enve 3.4’s (formerly 3.4 ARs) is a super versatile wheel. Great as a road wheel with 28’s, but also great with a larger gravel tires. The aero advantage will be lost as you get into tires bigger than 32 though.

In terms of the best tires, it really is going to come down to the terrain. Are you riding more pavement than gravel? How rough is the gravel. Dylan Johnson has been talking a lot on the Bonk Bros’s podcast that he feels most gravel racers continue to run too small a tire and is convinced that larger tires (even 2.2 mountain bike tires) are faster than the smaller gravel tires off road. I’ve personally gone from 38s to 40s to 42s, and I’ve found something like the Pathfinder Pro in a 42 has been very fast on the gravel, but with its raised center ridge, feel surprisingly snappy on the road. They have the added benefit of being a very tough tire and I haven’t flatted on one yet.

You may want to take a look at to look at some of the different tire options there to get some idea of the rolling resistance in ideal conditions. It doesn’t tell the whole story, but gives you some comparables to look at.

It’s pretty much all tramac/hardcored paths nothing super rough. The route is also used for “non cyclists” aka people who just ride bikes.

Envy would be nice but that’s a long way above budget even with spec creep. If I did go for new wheels they’d not need to go off road, would swap depending what I fancied.

Website looks good will look at the options. Big thanks.

For that type of terrain, a 32 would work really well with low rolling resistance with the right tire choice, but big enough for some extra comfort on the long days.