Just Riding Along's (JRA) Gecko Carbon Wheelset is a very impressive set of hoops designed to take on the constant knocks and vibrations the roughest gravel tracks can throw at them, while still being so light that they won't hamper your performance on the road. With a claimed sub-1,400g weight and all the strength you could need, it's also pretty amazing that they come in at well under a grand.
Pros: Lightweight, tough as old boots, good value
Cons: Tight tolerances on Centerlock which makes fitting and removing discs a little tight
To give you a realistic weight, with the tubeless rim tape and valves fitted the Geckos tipped the scales at exactly 1,400g and that can make a real difference to the feel of your bike. Dropping over 600g compared with the Mavic Aksium Disc wheels previously fitted, the bike became much more responsive to acceleration, sprinting and definitely climbing.
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It's okay dropping weight just because you can, but you don't want to achieve that by sacrificing stiffness and, more importantly, durability. Thankfully JRA hasn't done that.
The Geckos are solid. I certainly couldn't detect any feeling of flex on steep, short, sharp climbs, whether on the road or when scrabbling about on loose, large gravel.
The gravel routes that I tend to ride are fast and flowing in a lot of places. I can easily touch 50mph on some of the downhill sections and no matter how careful I am it's often impossible to avoid hitting at least a couple of the big stones littering the track, so I do spend a fair bit of time truing wheels up from rocky encounters.
The JRAs took some big knocks, and while sometimes the noise could be pretty scary, on inspection they had come away completely unscathed, remaining as true as they were out of the box.
Both the front and rear wheels use 24 spokes laced two-cross on both sides. They use Sapim CX-Ray J-bend spokes, although you can go for the straight pull option which builds into an even lighter set of wheels than we have here, a claimed 1,267g!
The Geckos are built to order and the spoke tension is even throughout, which makes for a stiff wheel. They are comfortable as well, though, with even 25mm tyres pumped up hard for the road never giving a harsh ride.
The rims are, as you've no doubt guessed from the title, full carbon fibre and JRA has gone wide. An external width of 27mm and 21mm internal means that tyres tend to size up a little bigger than their sidewall suggests. It's worth thinking about if you have minimal frame clearance.
JRA recommends a minimum tyre width of 25mm and the Panaracer Race L Evo 3s I used on the road came out at 27.4mm when inflated to JRA's recommended 70psi maximum pressure for tubed tyres.
Ritchey's Alpine JB's 30mm width increased to 32.9mm too.
Tyre fitment was easy enough, with both tubed and tubeless requiring little more than a bit of a push from my thumbs. I tried the Schwalbe G-One Bites and they literally popped onto the rim with a standard track pump, the bead pinging into the tyre well securely as the pressure increased.
JRA has specced Bitex hubs on the Geckos and they are a lovely piece of kit, spinning smoothly and freely.
Rain has been few and far between over the test period but on the odd days that we did get some downpours a ride didn't see anything getting in past the rubber seals. Dust has been the bigger issue, but again it hasn't led to any creaking or groaning.
I like a rear wheel to have an instant pick-up and this is what you get here, with a six-pawl setup in the freehub. Some wheels have just four or even two.
The pawls work together in three sets of two, which gives you 48 points of engagement around the circumference. It's instant and thanks to the three stainless steel strips added to the freehub body to stop gouging, huge starting efforts aren't going to see you damaging the body from the cassette cutting in.
The only minor criticism I have of the wheels is that fitting some Shimano discs to the Centerlock splines was tight, which could either be really close tolerances or possibly the thickness of the paint between each spline.
The discs didn't slide on easily and I had to tighten the lockring to ease them into position. This meant that I needed to tap them off lightly with a rubber mallet at the end of the test period.
On the whole it's a really well-thought-out build, showing that a well-chosen spec list of components can build into a very good wheelset, offering excellent durability and performance.
If customisation is your thing then JRA's website is a good place to start, with the Geckos coming in a range of fitments, sizes, axle choices and colours without it affecting the overall price.
Diameter-wise you can choose from 700C or 650B for starters, and you get the usual choice of freehub fitments, Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM's XD.
Some manufacturers chuck a selection of various adaptors and end caps in with their wheels to make them compatible, but with JRA you select your choice for whichever bike they are going to be fitted to. If you like to swap your wheels around your fleet, JRA offers a full a full selection of spares on the website.
Up front you can go for 9mm/12mm/15mm thru-axles, standard quick release or specific options if you happen to ride a Cannondale with a Lefty fork.
The rear options are quick release or 12mm thru-axle in either a 135mm length or 142mm. This should cover pretty much every option out there.
There's a whole array of anodised alloy nipples to spec, like the orange versions you see here ,or you can go black or silver if you want brass.
You can even tie in the hub stickers to match too, and all of this keeps the price at just £850 which is impressive value when you take everything into account. The only thing that'll nudge the price up is 11 quid for two tubeless valves.
> Buyer's Guide: 26 of the best road bike wheels
Hunt's excellent 30 Carbon Gravel Disc wheelset was £999 when we tested it but has now dropped to £879 which is much more competitive, but still a little higher than the Geckos.
Reynolds' ATR 2 wheelset is also designed for gravel use among other things. We were impressed with the 650B version and the 700C has the same £1,300 price tag.
Overall, the Geckos are excellent wheels for gravel use without being too overbuilt to stop them offering a great performance on the road.
Brilliant lightweight wheels that'll take plenty of abuse from gravel tracks or rough roads
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Make and model: Just Riding Along Gecko carbon wheelset
Tell us what the wheel is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Just Riding Along says, "Our road disk / gravel Gecko wheelsets just got much,much lighter with carbon rim options in 27.5" or 29er built onto our own JRA Centre-Lock disk hubs. Weights from 1280g for 650b or 1325g for 700c on our asymmetric, UD finish rims.
Where grip and light weight are your main priorities the Gecko carbon is the road-disk or gravel wheelset for you. With an internal width of 21mm the only limit is your frame clearance. We recommend a minimum tyre width of 25c on these rims and a maximum pressure of 80psi.
Hubs are 6 pawl, 48 point engagement hubs with premium stainless bearings.
Built onto our carbon Gecko rims in 650b or 700c. Rims are asymmetric for maximum strength and stiffness at very low weights, and are tubeless ready - supplied with tubeless tape fitted, valves available separately. The rims have a matt UD finish and no braking surface. We recommend minimum 25c tyres, which in the case of Schwalbe Pro Ones will measure up at 28mm wide on these 21mm internal rims.
The wheels are finished with tubeless rim tape but you will need to order valves separately. A crash replacement scheme applies to all JRA carbon wheelsets."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
hubs: jra centre-lock hubs 24 hole
freehub: Shimano road 11spd (with spacer for 10sp), Campagnolo or Sram XD option.
axles: QR, 9mm, 12mm, 15mm
axle: QR, 12x135mm or 12x142mm
request any of our JRA 6-bolt hubs for no extra cost, these offer a wider range of options such as a 10x135 rear and Boost hub shells as well as an option to match a Son Dynamo 15mm hub which is only available in a 6-bolt.
rims: JRA carbon Gecko in 650b or 700c. 364g rim weight (700c) or 344g (650b), 27mm external, 23mm depth and 21mm internal width.
spokes: Sapim CX-Ray - black
weight: front 605g / rear 730 / pair 1335g (700c weighed with 15mm front, 12x142mm rear axles; other end caps and small variations may add up to 20g per wheel)
Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
Rate the wheel for performance:
Rate the wheel for durability:
Rate the wheel for weight
Rate the wheel for value:
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Yes the wheels stayed true after plenty of road and gravel track riding.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
I tried them with both tubed and tubeless setups and had no issues getting the tyres on with just thumb pressure. The tubeless went on with just a track pump, popping on the rim as the pressure increased.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
I had no issues with the fitted tubeless tape.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They are light enough to be very good on the road but robust enough to take on the gravel.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
The weight vs reliability performance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Fitting the Centerlock discs was a bit of a tight affair.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are a very good set of wheels from JRA, striking just the right balance between lightness for performance and strength for fast gravel riding or on the road. The build quality and finish represent decent value for money too.
Age: 40 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
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