The Austrian-made Xentis Kappa2 650b 4-spoke carbon wheelset stands out from the crowd. It is a throwback to the days of composite tri and quad spoke wheel designs from the 1990’s, but in a package featuring the latest advancements in carbon fibre technology.
Debuting a few years ago in the 26″ wheel size, the original Xentis Kappa wheelset was designed for mountain bikes, albeit in disc brake only. It didn’t take long before a 27.5″ version followed.
At 2017’s Eurobike show, Xentis released a new and improved version with lower overall weight and improvements in the carbon layup, simply known as Kappa2.
Oddly, the wheelset is still available in 26″, but the 27.5″ / 650b size is what I was interested in.
Unlike traditional wheelset designs, the Xentis Kappa2 cannot ever change its lateral trueness. This type of wheel is usually manufactured with a small amount of run-out, which in a nutshell refers to how true the wheel is laterally and vertically. However, the review wheelset is almost perfect in trueness laterally and vertically, and is perfectly balanced – a factor I attribute to the care that Xentis put into each of their handmade in Austria wheelsets.
OK, so, this wheelset is designed for mountain bikes. But, 27.5″ / 650b wheels have gained popularity among the gravel cycling crowd, gaining acceptance with riders and manufacturers. Thus, I thought it a brilliant idea to acquire a pair for review, and put it through its paces on a ton of gravel road training rides, and a little 150-mile race in Nebraska known as Gravel Worlds.
For a wheelset of this design, it is light at just over 1,400 grams. Sure, there are lighter, but the Kappa2 wheelset can never go out of true, is fast, easy to clean and in my opinion, incredibly cool. I love how this wheelset looks and sounds – imagine a low-volume helicopter blade sound and you get my drift.
I have no idea how this wheel performs aerodynamically, but it feels to me as the fastest wheelset I’ve ridden on dirt and gravel roads. Aerodynamics on a gravel wheelset are subjective and I don’t buy into most of the claims made by some wheel manufacturers. Their claims sound all well and good on paper and in the wind tunnel, but when you’ve got a 42mm wide gravel tyre acting as a sail – in my case, the WTB Resolute 42 (which measures about 45mm on these rims) – those claims go out the door.
Those points aside, placebo is strong with me, and if I feel fast, then I must be riding fast!
The Kappa2 wheelset features the tried-and-true 6-bolt interface for mounting brake rotors. The BikeRumor pundits may squawk about the lack of a centerlock interface – maybe that is coming in the Kappa3? – but when I last checked, unless you’re swapping rotors like shoes, it is a case of set and forget.
The front wheel axle caters to regular quick releases of the 9mm kind, 15mm thru-axle and Boost. I’m not aware of a Xentis 12mm thru-axle option.
For the rear wheel, 142mm x 12mm, Boot and regular quick release is supported.
The Kappa2 is available with a Shimano 11-speed cassette body or SRAM XD Driver.
The Xentis Kappa2 wheelset is tubeless compatible and an absolute breeze to setup with your sealant of choice. I cover all of this in the video review atop this article.
The wheelset arrives at your door inside a nice wheel box, inside a classy and well-padded wheelbag, as seen above.
Priced at about €2,150 sans VAT and shipping – or $US 2,500 – this wheelset is on-par with other high-end carbon wheelset offerings.
Article and video by Gravel Cyclist. Jayson O’Mahoney is the Gravel Cyclist: A website about the Gravel Cycling Experience.