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Gravel Gear

Campagnolo rolls further into gravel with Levante gravel wheels

Hooked or hookless rim? Campagnolo shoots the gap with 'mini hook' on the 1,485g carbon wheels.

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To complement its 13-speed Ekar gravel group, Campagnolo launched the Levante gravel wheels on Friday, a 1,485g pair of carbon hoops with asymmetric rims and compatibility with Shimano, SRAM, and of course Campagnolo drivetrains.

The wheels are priced at $1,899 and are designed for tires in the 38 to 78mm range.

“This is the perfect match for our Ekar gravel groupset,” said Campagnolo product manager Giacomo Sartore. “Campagnolo as a company has grown thanks to Ekar, and our competence and knowledge of off-road riding have expanded because of Ekar.”

Related: 9 gravel wheelsets on test

Campagnolo’s road wheels now range from Bora for road to Shamal for all-road to Levante for gravel.

The Levante rims are 30mm tall, with 25mm internal and 30.6mm external widths.

Instead of stickers or paint, Campagnolo uses laser-etched graphics on the rim and hub.

An ongoing debate in the wheel world is whether to use the traditional hooked rim or a hookless rim. Proponents of the first say hooked is more secure, while companies who make the latter say hookless offers a better wheel/tire interface.

Campagnolo says, let’s do both.

“Mini Hook offers the benefits of hooked and hookless wheels,” he said. “It keeps the security of a hooked system, with resistance to a blow-out and helps to keep the tire in place when using a small tire, but on the other hand since the hook is pretty small we don’t have such a lightbulb effect on the tire.”

“We believe for the safety of the rider, a hook is still required,” he said. “We always take care of our customers, and so we want them to be safe. For us, the Mini Hook is the best compromise.”

The hub is aluminum with cup and cone adjustable bearings, and 24 spokes, front and rear. Nipples are external.

Using the same handmade manufacturing style as first seen on the Bora Ultra WTO, the carbon rim requires no rim tape.

“Since there is no machining, there is no risk for small scratches,” Sartore said.

The N3W freewheel body works with 11-, 12- and 13-speed Campagnolo groups.

The wheel is made in Campagnolo’s factories in Italy and Romania.

There is a rider weight limit of 120kg.

Campagnolo uses an asymmetric design to balance the differing loads on the wheels, Sartore said.

“The front has the most force on the disc side, and we know for a fact that the most of the braking power is put into to ground via the front wheel,” he said. “The rear wheel on the other hand, has the most of the torque on the drive side. The athlete is always pushing on the pedals, and when the braking is applied doesn’t have the same power on the front wheel.”