Campagnolo offers up modern gravel hoops

Whether or not gravel is here to stay is no longer up for debate, at least according to the legacy Italian innovators at Campagnolo. While we’ve been covering emerging gravel tech for nearly a decade, Campagnolo bided their time to release Ekar, their first gravel drivetrain, in September 2020. The 1×13-speed mechanical groupset pushed the limits of what the gravel community expected from a high-end drivetrain with a multitude of chainring and cassette options paired with Campy’s iconic double curve shifters and classic shift logic. As impressed as we were with the new Ekar components (and remained impressed with their fabulously performing disc brakes), the only thing missing was a set of wheels stamped with the Campagnolo name to join the 13-speed drivetrain.

Truth be told, we’d already found off-road success using wheels sourced from Campy’s Shamal road catalog. Still, Campagnolo was in no hurry to develop a gravel-specific wheelset since much of their early gravel strategizing was initially headed by sister brand Fulcrum Wheels (literally a part of the Campy family as their operations are overseen by Davide Campagnolo, the grandson of Campagnolo founder Tulio). Given time to design a proper carbon gravel rim, Campagnolo engineers have at last provided a modern hoop to pair with their Ekar drivetrain. The wait is over, meet Campagnolo’s Levante gravel wheelset.


Campagnolo has delivered a competitive carbon rim that proves they’ve been paying attention to the latest gravel tech trends. First, the internal rim width is sufficient at 25mm, and they’re tubeless-ready thanks to Campy’s 2-Way Fit (solid rim bed) technology. It’s the widest rim Campy offers, and the first that is best paired with at least 38mm tires to be appropriate for riding on a variety of rougher roads and gravel terrain. The solid rim-bed design means no tape is needed for tubeless setup.

The Levante wheels weighed in at 1492 grams and are only available in a 700c size. They’re not the lightest, and when compared to the prices offered by a competitor like Hunt, the $1900 Levante seemed a bit pricey, but they’re on par with Zipp’s XPLR 101s. Digging deeper, the specs reveal some premium design cues.

Like most of Campagnolo’s catalog, the Levante wheels have a distinct look that separates them from the assortment of mainstream components seen on group rides. A gloss finish Campy calls C-Lux technology coats the rim and its laser-etched graphics to give the Levante a distinguishable aesthetic. Campy claims the C-Lux finish is so fine it does not require a lacquer, which saves grams. All of the manufacturing is done in Campagnolo’s factories in Italy and Romania.

Unlike many modern gravel wheels, Campagnolo chose to include a reduced hook in the rim. They called it a “Mini-Hook” and attributed the decision to use it to improve compatibility with the multitude of tubeless tire designs. Given the still unraveling science of tire and rim design compatibility between hooked and hookless, this happy-medium approach is a smart and, most important, safer one. 

The 24 straight-pull spokes are laced between the asymmetric rim and the alloy hubs in a 2x pattern. Cup and cone bearings are used, as well as external nipples. The cup and cone bearings can be seen across most Campagnolo and Fulcrum wheels. They require a bit more maintenance and cleaning than sealed bearings, but when set up properly can roll extremely smoothly. The external nipples allow for quick re-tensioning, and the 2x pattern keeps things simple to work on, although Campagnolo’s MoMag Technology complicates nipple placement a bit. Shimano HG and SRAM XDR freehubs are available for purchase, as well as Campy’s N3W 13-speed freehub.


Our initial ride on the Levante took place over 100 miles of premium mixed-surface riding across the Eroica Nova route in Central California. Our bike du jour was a 3T Exploro Race built with a Campy Ekar group. From the town of Cambria to Paso Robles, we weaved away from the coast through the deciduous canopy of California’s Central Coast roads, up winding steep climbs, and flowing groomed descents. Throughout the day what stood out most was how smooth a ride the Levante provided with the 35mm Vittoria Tirreno tires. We ran 40 psi and measured the tires at nearly 36mm. 

Joining us on the ride was 10-year WorldTour veteran and first-year gravel pro Nathan Haas aboard a set of wheels matched to his Ekar-equipped Colnago G3-X gravel bike. The Aussie was impressed with the engineered compliance the Levante provided. Remember, on rough roads, compliance can be your friend, and the crew at Campagnolo got it right. We were able to keep our speeds relatively high when the gravel and pavement got rough.

On the climbs, the midrange weight of the Levante was appreciated. Navigating around rocks and rain ruts at slow speed is more manageable than we’ve experienced with heavier wheels.  Owing to the majority of paved roads, we would typically run narrower 28mm tires over this route, but we still came away pleased with the overall low resistance of the 35mm tires, especially with all of the added grip and traction. 

On the descents we felt in control, thanks to the balanced compliance the Levantes provide. This is where the benefits of the wide rim enhance the handling properties of the wheelset the most. 


With the Levante hoops, Campagnolo maintains its storied legacy of producing both desirable and quality components. The Levante exudes a well-thought-out design that challenges the notions of a hookless standard many wheel makers are striving for. We like the subtle design of the laser-etched logos and classy C-Lux finish, plus the wide range of tire compatibility simplifies the ever-growing uncertainty surrounding tubeless setup. Riders looking to up the aesthetics and performance of their gravel rides have yet another wheel option to seriously consider.


• Campy wheel tech finally meets gravel

• Considerable compliance

• Unique “Mini-Hook” design makes sense


Price: $1900

Weight: 1492 grams


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