Home
Verdict: 
Strong and dependable wheels for off-road abuse but overkill for most gravel situations
Weight: 
2,240g
Contact: 

The Spengle Adventure 650B Gravel wheels certainly turn heads, of both cyclists and non-cyclists, thanks to their three-blade design. They have some excellent qualities for off-road riding, although there are quite a few compromises when it comes to using them on a modern gravel/adventure bike.

  • Pros: Excellent stiffness; impressive strength
  • Cons: Compatibility issues with road cassettes; heavy for climbing

Spengle produced the 'original three-spoke wheels' back in 1988 and while they might have disappeared for a while, they've been reintroduced thanks to modern materials and manufacturing techniques to become what Spengle claims are the best on the planet.

> Buy these online here

Looking through Spengle's website you'll see three collections of wheels: MTB, Gravel and Urban, but technically they are all based around the one monocoque rim/blade construction.

Available in just a 650B (27.5in) size, the carbon fibre construction is hand-laid to create the rim and the blades as a single piece.

Spengle Naked Carbon wheelset - detail.jpg

The hubs, which are specific to Spengle, are then plasma-bonded with the wheel's body for a seamless setup.

Spengle Naked Carbon wheelset - front hub.jpg

The finished product is very strong indeed, and when running wide gravel tyres at low pressures like 25 to 30psi to cushion the blows from gnarly rocks, the Spengles took some really hard knocks without issue. There is none of that horrible plasticky sound like when you smash a deep-section road rim through a pothole.

Stiffness is impressive too; when really smashing down on the pedals on a climb they don't flex at all.

Spengle Naked Carbon wheelset - decals.jpg

The trade-off of all this material and strength is that they are a bit on the heavy side, especially for a carbon wheelset. That's something you do notice, especially on the long, draggy climbs I have here on my local gravel tracks.

The wheels are available with two hub options, Boost and Non-Boost. (Boost hubs are a new standard in mountain biking: the rear hub is 148mm wide instead of the 135mm or 142mm found on road and gravel bikes.) The ones we have here are Non-Boost, which are a touch lighter. The numbers on our scales are 960g for the front and 1,280g for the rear, which works out at 2,240g for the set.

Rims and tyre fitting

The rim bed is quite wide compared with a lot of wheels found on gravel bikes, with an internal width of 24mm and an external one of 32mm.

Spengle Naked Carbon wheelset - rim bed.jpg

As you can see from the pictures, the rim has no hook for the bead of the tyre to locate under, so you'll need to use tubeless-specific tyres that'll work with the hookless design rather than tubeless-ready offerings that often don't.

With no spoke holes, the rim bed doesn't have any opening apart from the valve hole so there is no need to add any tubeless tape, so you'll save a few grams there.

Spengle Naked Carbon wheelset - valve hole.jpg

With quite a cavernous bed, getting the tyres to seat against the rim means that you'll need a compressor or, ideally, a burst pump to force the air in quickly rather than a standard track pump.

Cassette conundrums

With tyres fitted, along with the disc rotors (Centerlock as standard, but six-bolt adaptors are supplied), it's time to move on to the cassette, and this is where I ran into my first issue.

Spengle Naked Carbon wheelset - rear hub.jpg

Mountain bike 11-speed cassettes have the largest sprocket overhanging the rear of the carrier (the spider that joins the four or five largest cassette sprockets together for when you slide them onto the freehub) by around a couple of millimetres, which means the cassette body will slide over that extruded ring of the hub that you can see in the photo below. However, if you are using an 11-speed road cassette from, say, Shimano's Ultegra or 105 groupset, it won't.

Spengle_Wheels_Freehub

The large sprocket of a road cassette sits flush with the rear of the carrier, so it bumps up against the hub here, which means that the freehub isn't long enough to get all 11 sprockets on and the lockring. An 8, 9 or 10-speed cassette should work, or you can use a mountain bike cassette or Shimano's 11-34 road cassette, which is set up in the same way as the mountain bike ones.

Most gravels bikes I've tested, especially ones that I'd be thinking about fitting a £1,290 set of wheels to, are using Ultegra or 105 with 11-28 or 11-32 cassettes fitted as standard, so you'd need to swap the cassette for an 11-speed mountain bike one or the Ultegra 11-34.

There are no options for Campagnolo or SRAM XD freehubs either.

Different diameters

Anyway, after finding a suitable replacement cassette, the next possible stumbling block is the front thru-axle diameter. Over the last couple of years 12mm has become the unofficial standard for axle size on road and gravel bikes, but the Spengles come with a 15mm diameter opening. It's easily rectified with one of the sleeve adaptors found online, some of which I have in my shed, but it's just another thing where you can see that these wheels are very much more orientated towards the mountain bike world.

Once everything is finally fitted to the bike the ride is very good, as I mentioned earlier. They're stiff and durable, and while you will be riding wider tyres at lower pressures for more grip and comfort, the wheels aren't exactly harsh either.

Spengle also backs everything up with a lifetime warranty.

Straight out of the box the bearings in the hubs aren't the smoothest out there, and that hasn't really changed during the test period. Spinning them in your hands you can feel a bit of resistance, but you don't really notice it out on the road.

Spengle Naked Carbon wheelset - fronh ub.jpg

The end caps that fit over the axle are just push-fit and can fall off whenever the wheel is out of the fork, so you need to keep your eye on that if you are making trailside repairs.

One thing that isn't all that durable is the painted finish. It scratches easily and after a few months of gravel abuse they are looking quite marked from stones flicking up and the general daily abuse.

The wheels are available in five colour options but going for blue, orange, red or white adds £200 to the price tag. The black finish and orange logos here are the cheapest option at £1,290 and it seems a bit steep to charge an extra hundred quid if you want the graphics in a different colour.

Value

Initially I was expecting the Spengles to be more expensive when you consider the materials and construction, but after riding them and taking everything into account I'd say they are probably around the right sort of money for the quality and weight.

Something like the top end Roval CLX 32 Disc 650b wheels are an eye-watering £1,850 but they are nearly 1kg lighter and that's going to be noticeable.

It's hard to compare the Spengles to standard built wheels, though, as they offer something completely different, especially when it comes to the ride feel.

> Buyer's Guide: 16 of the best tubeless wheelsets for under £1,000

On fast, technical downhill gravel sections they give loads of confidence so you don't worry quite so much about having to pick the perfect route through the mixture of potholes and large rocks. If you catch one they just smash straight through it.

Our sister site off-road.cc is testing the Boost version of these wheels, and I'm interested to see their overall findings of the Spengles, purely because I think that mountain biking is the more suitable playground for them.

Conclusion

With their considerable additional weight over most gravel wheels – not ideal when climbing or carrying a load of kit – and those few compatibility issues with the majority of gravel/adventure bikes, I think the Spengles just miss the mark in the transition to drop-barred shenanigans.

Verdict

Strong and dependable wheels for off-road abuse but overkill for most gravel situations

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

road.cc test report

Make and model: Spengle Adventure 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?

Spengle says, "SPENGLE ADVENTURE 650B

"From tow-paths to crossing continents, the SPENGLE Adventure 650B is your ideal adventure companion."

They are basically the same as the mountain bike wheels, which I feel makes them a bit overbuilt for gravel use.

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

From Spengle:

27.5' wheel diameter

24mm internal rim width

Centre lock as standard – IS adapters included

15mm front thru axle, 12mm rear

UST Tubeless ready

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
7/10
Rate the wheel for performance:
 
6/10

Because of their design the wheels are very stiff.

Rate the wheel for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheel for weight
 
5/10
Rate the wheel for value:
 
5/10

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

Getting tyres onto the rim was very easy, although inflation requires a quick blast of air to get them to seat.

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

For gravel use they are a bit overkill.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

Solid build.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

Heavy weight.

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

The Spengles are pretty unusual, so it's difficult to gauge their pricing.

Did you enjoy using the wheel? Not really.

Would you consider buying the wheel? No

Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? No, not for gravel use.

Use this box to explain your overall score

Tough wheels that'll stand up to plenty of abuse but limited setup choices mean they don't really fit in with the majority of gravel bikes and riding. They are heavy too.

Overall rating: 6/10

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

Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.

7 comments

Avatar
peted76 [1532 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Those wheels would make any bike look cool. 

Avatar
DrG82 [260 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Not really sure what they are trying to achieve in the design of these other than making a "cool looking" wheel.

 

Avatar
Team EPO [216 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

Get a groovy mag  like wheelset and whole full suspension mtn bike with cool wheels for £248!  And it folds!!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eurobike-Folding-Mountain-Suspension-Foldable/d...

Avatar
jollygoodvelo [1862 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
DrG82 wrote:

Not really sure what they are trying to achieve in the design of these other than making a "cool looking" wheel.

Without any inside information, I suspect the idea is related to how the outside edge of a wheel is moving faster than the inside.  So if you look at one of these carbon arms, the 'centre' part is more 'straight out' from the hub, while the outer end of each arm is sloped backwards, to reduce the surface pressure from the faster moving air, and the transition from one end to the other is gradual so as not to create drag by distrubing airflow.

Whether it works or not is debatable...

Avatar
handlebarcam [1322 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

A bonus is that if you ever give up cycling and decide to make a scifi-action movie, with an obligatory scene in which the characters have to jump through implausibly-positioned giant fans, these could serve a new purpose. But then at the price it'd probably be cheaper to do it in post with CGI.

Avatar
tom_w [238 posts] 4 weeks ago
1 like

I was lucky enough to get sent a set of these gratis by the manufacturer and I've had them installed on my 130mm full-suspension mountain bike all summer. 

They've not had an easy time of it, I've been riding some really rocky trails in Yorkshire and Wales and I'm a former wanabee downhill mountain biker, so my general maxim to riding really loose rocky stuff is "brakes off, hit it with as much speed as you can take in". 

At the beginning the sound of big rocks smashing off the rims (my tyres are about 24/26PSI) and off the spokes had me cringing, but the wheels have shrugged it all off with no sign of any structural damage whatsoever.  Like Stu says in the review, the paint has not faired so well though, which isn't noticeable from a distance as mine are black paint on black carbon, but would probably be a bit of a heartbreaker if you had one of the other colours.

I also really like that the freehub is really quiet, I had the Hunt trail wides installed before that and they are really, annoyingly, loud.  

They're great conversation starters too and get lots of interest at the trail centres.  I did feel a bit self conscious about riding what PinkBike readers would call "Dentist Wheels", but my experience is that people of a certain generation (like me) get misty eyed over the Spins and Spengles of yore, and are also transported back to mag wheels from their BMXs!

Downsides?  As mentioned they are heavy, about 500g heavier than the Hunts, but I haven't really noticed it (I'm not going to be setting any KoMs regardless of the wheels!).

 

Avatar
SPENGLE Carbon [1 post] 4 weeks ago
2 likes

@roadcc thanks for the review Stu, we appreciate the feedback - and we've made progress in, I think, all the areas you mention!

From a user persepctive, they were originally intended as MTB wheels, so the confidence you mention is super crucial, but a lot of the team use them on gravel bikes.

For gravel they are over-engineered for sure, but if you want to go on an extreme adventure, that confidence more than makes up for the additional weight!

We are in final prototyping stages with new freehubs, so road, 12 speed shimano and SRAM are all on their way soon!

Weight and paint is all being examined right now as well, and hopefully we will have new variants in the coming months  1

and what are we trying to achieve in the design? well, the most responsive, confidence inspiring, and safety conscious ride experience possible - spokes are good, but we think we can do better!