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AERA GR36 650B Gravel Wheelset



Solid and dependable wheels for gravel and adventure use, although they aren't the lightest or cheapest

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Aera has delivered a decent all-round package with its GR36 650B Gravel wheelset. They offer plenty of stiffness, will take a fair amount of abuse and aren't over the top when it comes to weight.

  • Pros: Great build quality, durable
  • Cons: Pricier than some of the top competitors

Sitting alongside the All Road (AR) 700C models in Aera's product line-up, this GR model is aimed at the gravel market. It's only available in this 36mm deep, 650B size and has a robust and durable build to stand up to the rigours of riding over rocks and rough trails.

> Buy these online here

There are plenty of configuration options on Aera's website, but the wheelset we have here is based around Hope RS4 hubs, 28 Sapim CX-Ray spokes front and rear, and a Shimano/SRAM freehub. Weight is a decent enough 1,660g.


After having issues with lateral flex when testing the 700C rim-brake version of Aera's AR55 wheels, I was interested to see how these 650B disc brake versions fared. Thankfully, things felt much better.

With no brake pads next to the rim, lateral flex is less of an issue when running discs, but these wheels felt tighter than their non-disc counterparts, especially when powering hard out of corners or hauling up steep hills.


Having a bit of a 'do it all' attitude, the GR36s are ideally suited to a gravel or adventure bike where your ride takes in a range of tarmac and rough tracks or trails. I ran the wheels tubeless with Vittoria Terreno Zero tyres in a 47mm width and it was a decent pairing considering the wheels are best suited to a size range of 28mm to 50mm rubber.


The tyres fitted easily to the 22mm internal rim width (29mm external) and sealed quickly with the help of a decent pump.


The wheels were running true straight out of the box and even after plenty of miles on gravel tracks there have been no issues with durability, even after taking some big knocks.

> Buyer's Guide: 18 of the best gravel & adventure tyres

The tail-end of the test period has seen plenty of long, hot sunny days with lots of dust but it's had little effect on the smooth running of the Hope hubs, making them a good choice if you spend a lot of time riding off-road in the wet or dry.


Freehub engagement is quick and precise, which makes the wheels fun to hammer away from a standing start at the lights while track standing. Off-road you spend a lot more time going from freewheeling to pedalling, especially over technical terrain, so a rapid lock in of the pawls is great when switching from a steep descent to a sharp climb.


Price-wise, this configuration will set you back £1,600, for which you are getting some quality components and very good build quality.

However, although it looks pretty good value compared with the £1,850 Roval CLX 32 Disc 650B wheelset, the Rovals are also over 300g lighter without sacrificing durability.

Also, I keep banging on about the JRA Gecko wheels and was massively impressed when I tested the 700C version, and JRA also does a 650B offering built around its own hubs. A similar build to the Aeras will cost you just £850 and they have a claimed weight of 1,332g! That is some competition.

> Is 650B the right wheel size for you?

Overall, the Aera GR36 wheels are a decent setup, offering plenty of durability for hard rides on punishing trails while rolling well on the tarmac – if you are willing to pay for it.


Solid and dependable wheels for gravel and adventure use, although they aren't the lightest or cheapest

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website test report

Make and model: AERA GR36 650B Gravel Wheelset

Size tested: 650B

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?

The GR36 is a new gravel wheel from Aera based around a wide, 36mm deep carbon fibre rim.

They offer a comfortable ride and plenty of durability for the type of riding they are designed for.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?

From Aera:

Rim - GR36, 36mm deep

Hubs - Hope RS4, 28 hole F&R

Spokes - Sapim CX-Ray

All hubs are specified with a Center Lock rotor system for quick and easy rotor installation.

Front hubs are 100x12mm and rear hubs 142x12 suitable for 12mm thru axles, unless otherwise specified.

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
Rate the wheel for performance:

Stiffness wasn't an issue thanks to a solid build.

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, they stayed true throughout testing.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

No issues with fitting or removing tyres at all.

Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Stand up well to the abuse of gravel tracks.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

Solid, quality build.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

Nothing to massively dislike anywhere really, but they're not the best value.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

There are a lot of wheels of this kind around this price point, but there are some really decent competitors at lower prices.

Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes

Would you consider buying the wheel? Possibly, especially if they were discounted a bit.

Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

If you want a durable set of wheels for a bit of adventure riding then these wheels are a good choice – but you'd be paying a bit extra over some decent competition.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

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

As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for, and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

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