Cyclocross Wheels

Hi, I’ve got a set of DT Swiss C 1800 wheels on my cx bike, and have recently dented the rear rim, so was looking at upgrade / replacement options in case it can’t be fixed. This got me thinking about priorities for CX wheels, and wanted to get people’s thoughts:

  • Durability - although rims shouldn’t get too much of a beating racing cx, if using for general ‘gravel’ riding needs to be strong

  • Weight - lots of accelerations make this a priority?

  • Rim width - I don’t race UCI, so presumably wider is better within reason?

  • Rim depth - as shallow as possible (25mm) - aero not important and want to reduce mud build up and weight

  • Rim material - I’ve seen mixed opinions here. Carbon for high strength for low weight, or alloy for better compliance since stiffness not useful in low grip (MUD!).

  • Tubeless - I’ve had no problems with tubeless, so unless someone can convince me there’s a huge performance difference on tubs and I’m going to be beating MVDP, then I would stick with tubeless

Given this, I’m leaning towards a lightweight alloy set, something like: LOWMASS Lightweight Aluminium Tubeless Disc Wheelset – CYCLO CROSS RACER

Does this sound sensible? or has anyone got a good recommendation (UK based)


My priority would be a decent hub with good seals, but also easily replacable bearings.

I disagree about the rims I think - they do take a beating, because you run low pressures, so always end up hitting the rim on something. Also riding along a camber or doing cambered turns puts additional stress on the wheel. And you might even be jumping, at least bunny-hopping.

I also have a feeling a slightly deeper rim is better, because you will have less mud accumulating on the top of the rim, if that makes sense.


Cyclocross wheels are a weird world. Aero is not a factor given the speeds and the tire/rim mismatch. Weight is much less of a factor unless you’re talking about big differences (a 1200g set likely feels snappier than a 2000g set). Spoke tensions and rim construction probably mean as much as anything. Fast-engaging hubs are nice but are more expensive to replace/clean when they inevitably get dunked in a giant mud-pit.

I’d get a wide internal width so that you can maintain a wide tread footprint without the lightbulb-ing effect of a narrow rim and wider tires.

IMHO tubeless plus a rim insert gets you 95% of the benefits of tubular without the hassle.

I’ve been thinking that the new lightweight gravel-specific wheelsets would be the best for all of us amateurs without a whole team working on their tubulars (or a hobbyist with serious skillz :blush:)

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That’s great, thanks. How would you go about telling that a rim is tough? or would you just steer away from super light rims? Also, everything i’ve looked at seems to be spec’d with Hope RS or Bitex hubs - any idea if these are any good?

Thanks! What would you consider a wide internal width? The ones I linked to above are 20 internal, 24 external

If you plan on just riding them cross, if your bike can handle the increased width, and you don’t plan on being in any UCI events, then I’d go at least 25mm if not 30mm wide. It will be a little extra weight but will help with traction. If you are going to do events where they measure your tire width, then obviously these won’t work, but otherwise they are better IMHO.

Also, there are several companies now offering no-questions-asked lifetime warranties on their rims which are especially nice if you are planning to ride a no-suspension bike with relatively narrow tires off-road (Specialized and ENVE specifically).

Alloy wheels are not necessarily “stronger,” just FYI

25-30mm external?

Internal width

As an example.

Again this is just my personal opinion. It is going to vary widely based on the specific course terrain and traction conditions.

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Don’t know, some rims just have a good reputation. Tbh I think most “branded” rims that say cx will be ok.

I’ve bought Hope wheels, they’ve been fine, but only used them a couple of times due to there being very little racing last year… Generally I’d expect Hope hubs to be up to the job, they know what they’re doing with them. You might be able to get something lighter though, if that’s a big priority.

I agree with @HMG --CX wheels are weird. My thoughts:

After riding tubulars for years I switched to tubeless a few years ago and won’t be going back. I never thought gluing was all that arduous, but being able to switch tires mid-season is pretty nice.

I don’t think rim material matters all that much, except I would avoid thin walled aluminum. In CX you take multiple little rim strikes (rather than few large hits in MTB), so I would guess that thin aluminum would fatigue, but I’m not a materials engineer.

Wide wide wide. I’m running carbon rims at 23mm internal. Most tires that are branded 33mm set up around 35-36mm wide on these rims. I love that. That will happen more with tubeless vs tubulars. I had to buy special tires in 2019 that would only sit at 33mm wide on my rims so I could race cross nats.

I don’t think depth matters (my former triathlete-self just slapped me for typing that).

How muddy are your races? I’d go for quality, inexpensive, serviceable hubs. DT Swiss 350?

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Dented rims suck. You can bend them back and they may last for many more years, but they’ll never quite be the same. If you’re running tubeless and they seal, you’ll still wonder in the back of your mind whether they’ll lose pressure at the most inopportune time.

Carbon’s worth the money, IMO. They don’t dent. They can explode with a big enough hit that would probably also destroy an aluminum rim, but crash replacement discounts are fairly common now.

I’ve had good luck with Santa Cruz Reserve, Roval, and Enve wheelsets.


Great point, I hadn’t thought of the tubeless aspect of a dented rim.