Thoughts / Opinion of Benefits of Wider Rims for Gravel

I’m looking for people’s thoughts / opinion on the benefits (or no benefits) for rims with wider (e.g., 25mm vs. current 20mm) internal width for gravel. I’m currently running 40mm tires, so would getting wider rims be:

  • Worth the $$?
  • Be noticeable?
  • Improve the ride quality?

Answer to questions 2 & 3 - Yes.

Question #1 can only be answered by you, unfortunately.

But the Roval Terra wheels for about $800 are a screaming deal right now from Specialized…pretty hard to say it wouldn’t be worth the $$ for that price, especially if you are gonna get new wheels anyway.


Thanks. The smoking hot deal is even better at $749.99

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Have you seen these? If I were the market for gravel wheels, these would be on my radar.

I bought a set of Terra C at the discount price, and am super happy with them. I was coming from a set of Easton SL90s (19.5mm internal width). I recently did a race I’ve done prior years, but this time with the new wheels (same tires, same bike otherwise) and felt it was a less harsh ride. World of difference? No. But some. And big benefit (for me) is not having to take tires on and off (as much). One set with knobbies, one set with semi-slicks. Done.

Friendly reminder: those $750 wheels clock in over $1000 when you add rotors and a cassette.


I own a set of Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel X-Wide Wheelset - 35 deep, 32 wide ext, 25 wide int - and I really like them. I think I got them on sale and they were my first carbon wheelset so of course it was a noticeable difference. Can’t speak to how much of an improvement it is over another wheelset. They are hookless and after 9 months with them I still have yet to flat.

Tires - I’ve used gp5000 s tr in a 32 and pathfinder pros in a 42 on the wheelset and both setup great with no trouble using just a standard floor pump.

What is your current wheelset and would you like to have a 2nd set to swap because that might help justify the purchase of whatever you end up with. I like having two so I can do road group rides and big gravel stuff with a quick swap.

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My big question remains: is there / would there be any noticeable different with 40mm tires of going from 20mm internal width rims to 25mm? If not, then I don’t need to spend the $$$

They’ll probably balloon up to 42-44mm. Can your frame fit that size? If so can you run a wider tire and achieve the same or similar effect before going to wider rims?

If there isn’t any benefit beyond effectively acting like a wider tire, then not worth the $$$ at this point

It changes the shape of the tire and the tread interaction with the gravel slightly. Think bulbous vs round. They may be slight aero improvements as well but I believe those are negligible. So if there is a need for new rims I would go wider, but I wouldnt upgrade just for that. I’m perfectly happy on my 21mm internal width with 38mms that measure ~40mm which is the max my frame will clear.

25mm will make 40mm tires measure 42mm installed. Would one actually notice the difference, I suppose it would depend on how tuned into the feel one is. Also, if the tire is getting pushed hard over rough terrain, high speeds and/or fighting for grip. Additionally, a higher volume should allow for slightly lower pressure which could improve feel and traction.

All that being said, likely in the marginal gains territory.

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Like for like… you won’t notice.

I’ve got a whole bunch of wheels all built up the exact same way (same rim company, spokes, hubs, builder - me). I move wheels and tires around all the time. It doesn’t make a noticeable difference if I put a 40c tire on a 21mm internal or a 28mm wide int.

The only change is the shape of the tread pattern, which does matter. If you go really wide (30mm int for a 38c), the side lugs will be too engaged when you’re going straight and rolling efficient - also you’ll impact the rim more. If you go radically narrow, you won’t be able to lean over to the corner knobs. If you’re riding more off-road, I’d suggest going progressively wide, so you can more easily engage the knobs as gravel cornering knobs are too high on the sidewall.

Only thing I’ve ever noticed would be differences in depth (deeper section rims act weird when you put lateral forces on them) and radial stiffness on radically different rim.
On the radial stiffness, basically any carbon rim is going to be way stiffer than an AL one. It was only noticeable when I went from a stiff 38mm deep rim to a flexible DT Swiss G (something) pinned AL rim. The AL rim was way more flexible when you hit a rock or a pothole. The carbon rim would take take the pounding at one point in the rim, the AL one would bend to the point where it would burp all the air out of the tire. Otherwise you can’t tell and I’m a heavier guy.