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Hello,

With the snow falling heavy and fast here in Wisconsin biking sure seems a long, long ways off... Ugh. Nonetheless, I am going to be doing some gravel road races this year and was wondering what is a perfect wheel and tire combo? I have never done any actual racing on the gravel but I sure am pumped to give it my best. I am interested in some top-end choices and am willing to spend the dollars to get it. Is custom the way to go or can I get great performance out of something stock?

What are your thoughts and opinions?

Thank you :)
 

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I'd go with some 23mm wide rims.

Velocity a23
HED Belgium
H Plus Son Archetype

Choose your hubs as your drivetrain (Campy versus Shimano/SRAM), brakes (disc versus rim) and budget dictates.

Campy Record
DT-Swiss 240
Hope Pro 2 (disc) or 3 (non disc)
Chris King
Shimano Ultegra/Dura Ace

Me, I'd go with Campy Record laced to Hed Belgiums 32 hole 3X with DT-Swiss Comp spokes. My bike has Campy drivetrain bits and rim brakes.
 

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I'd go with some 23mm wide rims.

Velocity a23
HED Belgium
H Plus Son Archetype

Choose your hubs as your drivetrain (Campy versus Shimano/SRAM), brakes (disc versus rim) and budget dictates.

Campy Record
DT-Swiss 240
Hope Pro 2 (disc) or 3 (non disc)
Chris King
Shimano Ultegra/Dura Ace

Me, I'd go with Campy Record laced to Hed Belgiums 32 hole 3X with DT-Swiss Comp spokes. My bike has Campy drivetrain bits and rim brakes.
thanks for saving me all that difficult typing. That's a perfect setup assuming tubular tires, you can use a wheel like that for anything, it will last a long time and can be serviced by any shop or home mechanic.
 

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it will last a long time and can be serviced by any shop or home mechanic.
This is most important especially on big rides long races where you might be on the side doing some work yourself.

As far as tires I do not use tubulars so not sure on what to use there but I use Panaracer Pasela tires for most of my gravel rides in a 35mm sizing. They'll held up through everything I've put them through.

I am interested in Challenges new Almanzo tire in a clincher.
 

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Or the Challenge Eroica clincher.
Truthfully this would be a better fit for myself with using a Pasela. I have never found a need for side lugs on gravel it just gives anyways so lets figure out how to go fast vs resistance. In a few rides I have done it has a lot of road connectors so it's nice to have a smooth ride.
 

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And as an aside, you just flat out don't need expensive wheels or gear to race your bike down a gravel road. the right tires, gearing, strategy and fitness are all that's required.

It's sort of dopey to see all these new products geared toward gravel road racing like it's some exotic new use for a bicycle. If road bikes had decent clearance they would be fine, my old MX Leader is great for bombing down gravel roads.
 

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I run Ambrosio Nemesis, A23's, Major Tom's and Archetypes. The Archetypes have a lower spoke count (20f 24r) but I would run whichever set had the correct tires on it, with my preference being the Ambrosios. I would recommend any of the above, and would add the HED, Pacenti and H+Son TB14's as great options as well. The TB14's have a classic look but at the expense of a little more weight. They are, however, probably a bomber wheel.

As others have said, pick a wide rim, a hub that you like and 28-32 spokes per wheel. Whatever you come up with will work great for your purposes.
 

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Here are the specifics...

135 mm spacing
SRAM Force for components
Disc
Tire width - anywhere from 32-38 mm

Thank you - I appeciate the feedback!
Do you want clinchers (tubed/tubeless) or tubular?
 

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I run Ambrosio Nemesis, A23's, Major Tom's and Archetypes. The Archetypes have a lower spoke count (20f 24r) but I would run whichever set had the correct tires on it, with my preference being the Ambrosios. I would recommend any of the above, and would add the HED, Pacenti and H+Son TB14's as great options as well. The TB14's have a classic look but at the expense of a little more weight. They are, however, probably a bomber wheel.

As others have said, pick a wide rim, a hub that you like and 28-32 spokes per wheel. Whatever you come up with will work great for your purposes.
xjbaylor, I'm riding Nemesis for my road wheels and love the rims. Have run C2 and A23 clinchers; a friend wants me to build up a set of clinchers for him and he's thinking Archetype or TB-14. How would you decide between the two? And I'm wondering what about the TB-14s has you thinking they'd be bombproof -- would they be more so than Archetypes?

Thanks!
 

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...he's thinking Archetype or TB-14. How would you decide between the two? And I'm wondering what about the TB-14s has you thinking they'd be bombproof -- would they be more so than Archetypes?
I only assume the TB-14 to be bombproof based on the weight, double eyelet design and the build quality. They are beautiful rims, very much like the Ambrosio. I am not qualified to compare it to the Archetype on anything other than spec sheets and aesthetics. Honestly, that is how I think your friend should choose. Does he like the classic box section profile of the TB-14, or the modern deeper "aero" look of the Archetype? If he still can't decide split the difference with the lighter A23 and call it a day.
 

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I am not qualified to compare it to the Archetype on anything other than spec sheets and aesthetics. Honestly, that is how I think your friend should choose. Does he like the classic box section profile of the TB-14, or the modern deeper "aero" look of the Archetype? If he still can't decide split the difference with the lighter A23 and call it a day.
Good counsel! He's already passed on the A23s after seeing/riding mine. I think he's going for the hard anodized finish -- again, like the Nemesis:thumbsup:

I think I'll nudge him toward the TB-14, just so I can see how they build up and ride. In theory they should be a bit more comfortable with the box section. But, 5 PSI less could do that too.

Thanks for the insights!
 

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