A founding belief that we at FLO have, is that aerodynamic cycling wheels for road and triathlon can be affordable. Since aerodynamics are part of our roots, one of the first questions we asked when designing the gravel wheels was, “Can gravel wheels be aerodynamic?” We observed gravel events like, the Dirty Kanza 200 and 350 prime, and saw that riders cared about their time and we knew gravel riders would definitely benefit from aerodynamics.
Ideally, for a wheel to be aerodynamic, you want a smooth transition of airflow from the tire to the rim. However, some argue that the aggressive tread patterns of gravel tires makes that smooth transition impossible therefore believing that aerodynamics is useless on a gravel rim.
We wanted to show that aerodynamics do matter and our process started with CFD while taking into account gravel tires.
You can see from the photos below the substantial tread difference when comparing a gravel tire and a road tire.