Budget Rim Brake CX / Gravel Wheelset Recommendations

Hi everyone,

I’m looking for recommendations for a budget (therefore alloy) wheelset for my older CX frame with canti brakes. The bike will be used on gravel / hard packed trails, so the wheelset should be strong enough for that. I won’t be racing, so low maintenance and durability will trump performance. I’d preferably go tubeless, but that’s not a strict requirement. I’m looking at fitting 38-40mm wide tires, so the internal rim should be at least 17mm wide.

I’ve so far identified Hunt’s 4 Season Aero and Mavic Aksiyum. Do you have any experience with these? Anything else you can think of?


I have the hunt 34 aero wide disc wheel set, I’ve them for almost 3 years. No problems and actually enjoy using this wheelset. The only issue I’ve had is the spokes come loose and make a creaking noise. That’s an easy fix IMO, a little tightening here and there fixes that problem. I would buy again for sure.

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I have a set of Light Bike wheels for my road bike and have been quite pleased. Only downside is that it took about 2.5 months to get them.

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If you’re into lacing your own or have a shop that does good builds, you could build up a set from bikehubstore.com stuff, kinlin xr26T rims and their bitex hubs would be less than 400$. The kinlin rims are tubeless and should be a good fit for 38-40mm tires. I’ve been impressed with the kinlin rims I’ve built and am building some more up soon.

The advantage to building your own is you could use an asymmetrical rim on the rear and/or up the spoke counts for increased durability/strength too. I use sapim force or dt alpine III spokes for my rear wheels since they aren’t much more expensive than a butted spoke.

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Can you actually fit a 38c in the rear with dirt? Most CX frames can only tuck a 35c. 38-40c will only fit the rear if the tire starts rubbing the rear stay the moment the tire settles in and gets dirty.

Mavic Aksiyum - these are not up to this task. My memory of these is a spoke breaking and then the rest of the spokes breaking.

For $539, I don’t see any reason to pay more for those than a $100 wheelset. The rim isn’t wide enough to be aero unless you fit a 23c tire. The spoke count is good though. These might be better Mavic Cosmic Elite UST Clincher Road Wheelset - 2020 | Merlin Cycles

These are about the same price, but with MUCH nicer hubs and spokes.

Same, but with deep strong rim- DT Swiss PR 1600 Spline 32 Clincher Road Wheelset - 700c | Merlin Cycles

Same basic thing, but with a louder version of the same hub and slightly more flexy rim DT Swiss P 1800 Spline 23 Clincher Road Wheel - 700c | Merlin Cycles
Same but with deep strong rim - DT Swiss P 1800 Spline 32 Clincher Road Wheelset - 700c | Merlin Cycles

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Good question! The frame will clear up to 42c as per manufacturer and I’ve got my eyes on 38c, so should be plenty fine! The price and spec looks right on the DT Swiss P1600 (32) wheelset, thanks for the recommendation!

@clasher I must admit you got me curious and thinking here! There’s enough to do around the house these days though, so I guess I’ll be putting the spare time into actual riding.

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and you’ve got Canti brakes? Are you running two wheelsets? Meaning are you trying to work with two different rim widths or one?

One the Swiss 32s… those are TANKS. I ABUSED a version of those for thousands of miles, not maintenance needed. They are not aero though, so don’t get any ideas.

When you’re looking here… note the tubeless psi limit. I had a set of Stans Grail, which had a low limiter for my needs. I think they updated the rim though.

If you want deep, can find brake pads, and aren’t going down mountains, consider a cheap carbon set-
Probably $600 all in with some wait time AR36 Carbon Road/CX/Gravel Wheelset - Light Bicycle They’ll be road-aero and more durable.

I’ll be using a single wheelset. I bought the bike used for cheap and it came with front wheel that has a 15mm internal width rim - so pretty limited in terms of tire width. The back wheel is fine, but I’d rather get a matched set.

When you say the AR36 will be more durable, you mean than the P1600? What’s your point of reference?

I really like the Spinergy wheels. Value priced, hub seems good, pretty light. I put a set of GX on my gravel bike and GXX on my hardtail MTB. I do plan on putting Cushcore XC in the hardtail so I can bomb a little harder on them.


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Yes, the carbon rim edge can take a lot more beating than the AL one. The CF rims are overbuilt due to the production fault risk.

At $350-500, you can find some generic carbon wheelsets new, but with cheap hubs. I had a bad experience with a “Powerway” hub (not sure if it was a ‘real’ powerway), but good experience with others here. The braking will vary though. https://www.amazon.com/Superteam-Wheel-Clincher-Carbon-Wheelset/dp/B07R5S5QX3/ref=sr_1_11?crid=3PW0TE429W3F3&keywords=wide%2Bcarbon%2Bwheelset%2Bbasalt%2B-disc&qid=1645215118&refinements=p_36%3A30000-40000&rnid=3375251&s=sporting-goods&sprefix=wide%2Bcarbon%2Bwheelset%2Bbasalt%2B-disc%2Csporting%2C105&sr=1-11&th=1&psc=1

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Check out Bicycle Wheel Warehouse for some budget options, I have a tubeless wheelset on my disc gravel bike, super cheap for what they were. Did have some issues with valve stem hole being incorrectly sized and some leaking, but my bike shop seems to have solved that issue. GF also has a set (tubeless) for her MTB and has had no issues with those.

Lastly, they always have coupon codes at the bottom of the site so make sure you nab those.

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