HED Cycling, the American wheel manufacturer, has just added to its gravel range with the 700c only Emporia GC3 Performance. These carbon hoops are targeting the more affordable end of the spectrum – which has become increasingly competitive in recent years.
Retailing at $1,650, these still don’t quite match the cheapest carbon gravel wheels on price. But then again, the Emporia GC3 Performance wheels are built by hand in Minnesota and the design draws heavily on cues from the premium Emporia GC3 Pro wheels – so you can at least see where your money is going.
Now, onto that rim profile, it is monstrously wide with an internal rim width of 26mm, which makes it one of the widest gravel wheelsets currently on the market. Perhaps surprisingly, despite this huge width, the wheels are still compatible with tyres down to 32mm – so there’s potential for setting them up in more of an all-road guise or dabbling in a bit of CX. Naturally, they are tubeless compatible.
At 30mm deep, these wheels are fairly shallow. There’s a broad consensus at the moment that the external rim width should be a little greater than that of the tyre to achieve optimal aerodynamics, but coming up at 31mm wide externally, there’s no scope for that with the Emporia GC3 Performance.
That said, with the slower speeds of gravel riding compared to on the road, aerodynamic optimisation is of lesser importance. Low weight for the steeper climbs you get off-road and for snappier feeling acceleration is a greater priority, and tipping the scales at a claimed 1,523g for the set, the Emporia GC3 Performance wheels are competitive in that regard.
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Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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