Need one wheelset to cover any sort of drop bar bike riding? And want it to provide solid service without breaking the bank? Might be worth checking out Profile Designs’ new GMR wheels.
Available in three rim depths, rim and disc brake options, with tubeless readiness and solid builds, they start at just $1,299. And that’s with a two year warranty.
So, are they road wheels? Gravel wheels? Triathlon wheels? Yes. Yes, they are…
Profile GMR 50mm wheel tech features
From an aesthetic point of view, Profile Design’s GMR wheels have a very stealthy matte black finish. The gloss logos don’t stand out too much, even in the sun as you’ll see on the road riding photos below.
The knurled nut for the tubeless valve stems is a nice touch. They come pre-taped for tubeless with valves installed…ready to rock, out of the box. They also come with eight spare Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes (2 each in each of the 4 lengths used), plus eight spare alloy nipples and washers.
Profile says their aerodynamic shape is “real world tested” as opposed to wind tunnel tested. It has a basic aero shape. While I typically prefer shallower rim depths than the 50mm version they sent us for review (they wanted to show off the versatility of this depth for road and gravel), these handled various conditions pretty well. More on that below. Here’s the actual rim profile shapes:
They’re more rounded than their prior rim design, but consistently slope inward from the bead to the spoke bed. This, in contrast with some of the more bulbous rims that get wider below the rim bed before rounding off, makes them what I would call “generally aero” rather than “specifically aero.”
Indeed, Profile Design doesn’t make any specific claims, just that they’re more aerodynamic and stable than their prior V-shaped wheel series.
The rim bed has a platform for tubeless tire beads to snap into…
…and a hook to keep them there.
Internal width is claimed at 19mm, and they measure exactly that (19.05mm on our calipers). External width at the top of the rim was 26.24mm.
Profile’s disc brake wheels use a proprietary hub that they’ve designed to be stiff and strong. They come with 12mm thru axle caps and Center Lock disc brake mounting.
The shells are machined aluminum and designed to create a very stiff wheel combined with the straight pull bladed spokes.
Our test set weighed in less than claimed weight. Front was 748g, rear 944g, for a combined total of 1,692g. This is on par with several high-end wheel brands’ similarly deep disc brake carbon wheels, except these cost a lot less.
Profile GMR 50mm wheels review
So, if they’re not designed to be the most aerodynamically optimized road wheels out there, what are they for? They’re modernly wide for 25-30mm road tubeless tires, but still a bit slim for gravel’s biggest treads. They’re fast, but not triathlon geek fast. They’re decent in crosswinds, but not the fastest, most stable wheel I’ve ridden.
Turns out, they’re just a good, affordable all ’rounder. Throw them on any drop bar bike you own and they’ll get the job done.
The GMR 50mm wheels roll smooth and fast, and mostly free of drama. Strong crosswind gusts did affect them more than other wider, rounder rims I’ve ridden, but nothing that made me feel unsafe. Most of the time, I just forgot they were there and rode along as I would on wheels costing much more. There are noticeable aerodynamic differences, but I don’t think the enthusiast rider these are priced for would notice.
I really like the matte finish and subdued overall look. It worked well on the Canyon Endurace and Kona Libre I tested them on. I can’t think of any bike paint scheme or color it wouldn’t work with.
Hold up, what about that kit?
Bellwether is Profile Design’s sister company and makes some great cycling kits, and this one is no exception. It’s from their Breakaway Collection, and they have socks and gloves to match. The rear pockets are deep enough to swallow an iPhone Max and even my Sony A6000 DSLR. Or lots of snacks, all without sagging or swaying under load.
If you’re looking for stylish color matching from tip to toe that’s also comfortable on the longest rides, check it out. OK, back to the wheels…
Riding on the gravel
For gravel, I mounted 700×40 Kenda Flintridge Pro tires. Even with the relatively narrow (for gravel) 19mm internal rim width, the tires ended up with an appropriately rounded shape that held steady during cornering.
With aerodynamics basically out the window for gravel, the rim profile matters less than the overall lateral stiffness of the wheels. That, and their ability to roll quickly and smoothly.
Fortunately, the GMR wheels did all that perfectly fine when I got them on the crushed rocks. They held a line on skittish terrain. Ride quality was good, not harsh, as can be the case with some deeper carbon rims, especially when laced 3-cross with bladed spokes.
When a brand tells you their product’s great at everything, it’s to be taken with a big, chunky grain of sea salt. But when Profile said these are good at road, good at gravel, and good for the occasional triathlon, that’s believable. And having ridden them, I’d agree, especially for the price.
If you’re looking for a solid pair of carbon fiber wheels for whatever type of riding your drop bar bikes may take you on, the GMR’s are worth a look.