If your cycling adventures have landed you into the world of gravel, then you're probably looking at ways to make your gravel bike even better. More comfortable, more capable, lighter and with greater wow factor. 

While many will favour deep carbon wheels as fancy wheels for road bikes, in the world of gravel riding, really deep wheels aren't your friend. Sure, there may be occasions where that's not true, such as in an open and flat gravel race with little climbing. But for most of us, gravel bikes are an efficient way to get out and explore off-road, in a somewhat less committing way than jumping onto a mountain bike.

A shallow wheel with a wide internal width will likely be lighter, more comfortable, and offer better support for a proper sized gravel tyre. If you're looking at an upgrade to your gravel bike, wheels are an ideal place to look, as most stock wheels aren't amazing, unless you have bought a pretty high zoot gravel bike.

Don't miss our review of the Hunt 4 Season Gravel X Wide wheels.

A closer look at the Schmolke TLO Gravel Wheel Set

Talking of high zoot, that is pretty much what Schmolke specialise in. Leave it to the Germans to make such precision bike parts, with some help from the Swiss of course - in this case with DT Swiss 180 hubs and spokes.

The Schmolke TLO Gravel Wheels use a 28mm tall carbon rim with a 25mm internal width. The outer width is 31mm. It does look like this has come straight across from Schmolke's cross-country wheel platform - the numbers add up.

They have 28 spokes front and back, with an asymmetric rim bed. This means that spoke tension is more balanced given the dishing required for disc brakes and the cassette on the back. More even spoke tension makes for a stronger wheel.

The front wheel weighs 652g and the year 748g, without the tubeless tape and valves. 1400g is a light wheel set, even for gravel.

The rims come with tape and valves, and you can see the shaped rim bed, which is very nicely finished. The channel helps for tubeless tyre setup, so the tyre starts to fill and then the bead pops into place.

The wheels roll on the very smooth and very light DT Swiss 180 EXP hubs. You can get just about whatever freehub body you like to suit the new Ratchet EXP system. As a refresher, it ovvers the same star ratchet system but with less moving parts. With the DT Swiss SINC bearings, these hubs roll like a dream!

 

FIRST RIDES

I've ridden a number of high end carbon wheel sets, and owned almost 20 myself. But I don't think I have ridden a pair of wheels with a sticker price this high before. They are also the first carbon wheels I have ridden where the rims are made in Europe. Does it make a difference? I don't know. But along with some Schmolke carbon riser bars I'm testing on another bike, the detail and finish is exquisite and the ride feel is there to match.

Selling at $4990, these are a set of wheels only for those who really want something very nice. But so far, they really are very nice.

Even with a reasonably heavy 40mm gravel tyre fitted, the wheels easily get rolling thanks to the high quality DT Swiss 180 hub set. And despite the reasonably shallow profile, they felt solid when out of the saddle, with no chattering around like my usual slightly taller and narrower alloy wheels.

 On my local multiuse trails and dirt roads these wheels haven't been perturbed. The 25mm rim allows a nice body to the 40mm tyre, although I think it would suit larger tyres even better. Alas, my gravel bike is limited to about 40mm if I want to keep some clearance.

I need to get some more ride time on these, and that will include adding some rim strips to really play with the performance of the wheels - without impact being a worry.

RRP: $4990
From: Full Beam Australia