Cyclocross

Review: Alex Baxter 3.0 Carbon Disc Gravel Wheels – Cyclocross Magazine

Alex Rims, one of the largest OEM wheel producers of Taiwan, has a new lightweight wheelset for CX and gravel, the Baxter 3.0.

We reviewed the wheel maker’s bargain-priced aluminum Boondocks a couple of years ago. We found it to be a reliable wheelset with a reasonable weight of 1700 grams per pair given the price, and they’ve held up well under long-term tests. The biggest problem with the Boondocks? They’ve been hard to find.

The Baxter is carbon rimmed, wider and slightly lighter, but it will cost you for those benefits.

A 35mm-deep carbon rim adds a bit of wind-cheating for your gravel race. The $1100 Alex Rims Baxter 3.0 25mm-wide carbon gravel wheels. © Cyclocross Magazine

AlexRims targets the new Baxter 3.0 wheelset mostly for the OEM segment. It has a 30mm deep tubeless-ready rim with semi-hooked sidewalls. The carbon rim has a 25.2mm internal width and a 30.2mm outside width.

The aluminum hubset is for 24 straight pull spokes with 6 bolt IS rotor mounts, but there is a Centerlock option available. The rear hub is an AlexRims in-house brand called BearPawls.

24 straight-pull spokes, with XD, Shimano and MicroSpline options. The $1100 Alex Rims Baxter 3.0 25mm-wide carbon gravel wheels. © Cyclocross Magazine

Our review sample has a steel XD driver with a 3 pawl, 36-tooth driver yielding 6 degrees of engagement. It is available with a Shimano/SRAM spline or Shimano MicroSpline body as well.

Alex offers IS or Centerlock hub options. The $1100 Alex Rims Baxter 3.0 25mm-wide carbon gravel wheels. © Cyclocross Magazine

The Baxter 3.0 rim is laced to the hub with 24 straight-pull stainless steel double butted (2.0/1.8/2.0) spokes, two-cross with external nipples. The catalog specifications are for bladed spokes, but we have an early production version.

Our review sample came taped with a double layer of sealing tape and valves installed. The wheel weights are without the 8 grams of valve, nut and cap. The complete front wheel with sealing tape and 12mmX100mm thru-axle is 803 grams, the rear 12mmX142mm thru-axle weighs in at 865 grams.

The $1100 Alex Rims Baxter 3.0 25mm-wide carbon gravel wheels come in either IS or Centerlock rotor mounts, and three freehub options. © Cyclocross Magazine

The full wheelset tips the scales at 1668 grams, 18 grams over the advertised weight of 1650g, but easily accounted by the installed sealing tape. We’ve said it before, and it applies here as well, but you can use carbon to save grams or to add durability and withstand alloy rim-denting forces. In this case, Alex opted for the latter option, knowing that many wheelsets will receive offroad bike use.

Two layers of tape obscure a good tubeless rim profile. The $1100 Alex Rims Baxter 3.0 25mm-wide carbon gravel wheels. © Cyclocross Magazine

The rim cross-section has an ideal profile for tubeless, a slightly sloping bead shelf, a gradually sloping deep center channel, and a smooth sidewall with a shallow bump at the lip that serves as a bead retainer. The sloping center channel aids mounting the tire onto the bead shelf, and the outward sloping bead shelf and slight hook help retain the bead with various tire pressures. We certainly had no problem mounting 38mm-42mm gravel oriented tires that the rim was designed for. With a 25mm internal width, a 33mm technically fits, but the tire and rim will have nearly the same profile, and in an off-road situation the rim will have little protection. The 25mm internal width is ideal for the popular 38-45mm width, allowing the tires to reach their full width and ideal profile. We tried a 38mm Terravail Cannonball, 38mm Specialized Tracer 2Bliss, 40mm WTB Nano TCS, and a 42mm WTB Resolute TCS. We had no problem mounting any of these, though the loose-fitting Terravail took longer for the bead to seal than the other tires.

All tires stayed seated when deflated, and passed the pinch test giving good indication of burp resistance. Again, the loose-fitting Terravail Cannonball was the easiest to unseat, but once seated and sealed, it proved to be a reliable fit on the Baxter 3.0. The Specialized Tracer and the WTB tires gained 1mm width over the sidewall markings when they were mounted on the AlexRims Baxter 3.0.

The $1100 Alex Rims Baxter 3.0 25mm-wide carbon gravel wheels come in either IS or Centerlock rotor mounts, and three freehub options. © Cyclocross Magazine

The Baxter 3.0 is a tough set of wheels. They stayed round and true through pounding over rocks, roots and steps. The 24 spokes design is stiff and stout enough for everything we put the wheels through. Our early version has round, double-butted spokes and

The wheels are so new that they just appeared in the 2020 AlexRims catalog, even though they were technically introduced in 2019. AlexRims presently does not have a U.S. distributor, and in the past, we found the bargain aluminum Boondocks hard to find, but Evan Kinzey, the U.S. agent for AlexRims says they are working diligently to change that.

Alex may not be the biggest name in aftermarket wheels, but it aims to be one in the near future thanks to its high-end carbon options. The $1100 Alex Rims Baxter 3.0 25mm-wide carbon gravel wheels. © Cyclocross Magazine

AlexRims launched a direct to customer premium wheel line called Vant (Vantbike.com) utilizing the design aspects from the OEM wheels like the Baxter 3.0, but with more premium components. The closest match for the Baxter is the Vant B25 XC wheelset that uses the same hub with an alloy 36 tooth drive body with 6 pawls for faster engagement, DT Swiss spokes, and a slightly shallower rim profile for a lighter wheelset (1470 grams, a 200 gram or half-pound savings). The upcharge compared to the Baxter is $350 for a lighter package with the AlexRims reliability, and it is available now on the Vant website for $1450.

For the price and weight, these compete the Irwin Kova XC 29 wheels, and both Irwin and Alex are manufacturers trying to build their consumer brands. Easton’s excellent EC70 AX wheels, at nearly 200g lighter, and just $100 more, is another compelling competing option. Stay tuned for our complete review on the EC70 AX soon.

Alex Rims Baxter 3.0 Carbon Gravel Wheel Specs:

Price: $1,100 USD
Weight: 1,650g list, 1,668g actual with tape
Rim: Carbon tubeless-ready carbon clincher
Internal width: 25mm
External width: 30.2mm
Depth: 35mm
Hubs: BearPawls, IS rotor mount, Centerlock optional
Spokes: Double-butted stainless steel, 24 front and rear, 2x
Freehubs: Shimano, SRAM XD or Shimano MicroSpline
Axles: Front: 12mm TA, 15mm TA, QR; Rear: 12x142mm TA, QR; end caps included
More info: Alexrims.com, Bearpawls.com

Alex Rims Baxter 3.0 Carbon Gravel Wheels Photo Gallery: