Gravel cycling is as American as apple pie. That is to say, it's not exclusive, and it's hard to say where it originates from, but it's now woven into the culture. Follow the trend and an American race in a small town in Kansas is right in the centre of it all. The town is Emporia, and the race, with its huge presence, is Unbound Gravel.
It only makes sense then that HED cycling, one of the most American wheel companies, has a line of gravel wheels bearing the name of that small town in Kansas. A town where the best gravel racers in the world line up every year to tackle 200 miles of gravel on the world stage. Today the Emporia GC3 line gets a new addition in the form of the Emporia GC3 Performance, a more budget-friendly version of the already existing Emporia GC3 Pro.
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The two wheels share a similar name and almost the same design. In a practical sense, they are nearly identical. They are 30mm deep with carbon rims that use a hookless design optimised for a strong and secure tyre interface, and also allows for a stronger and lighter rim wall that's up for the challenge of hard days on rough gravel. The internal width follows the ever-widening trend, coming in at 26mm while the external width measures 31mm. The sizing means compatible tyre sizes start at 32mm and go up past 55mm.
The hubs on the two wheels are also the same with both using the HED Performance disc hub. It's a four-pawl design with stainless bearings and it's laced to the rims with 24 spokes front and rear. The Emporia GC3 Performance wheel uses the Sapim Race DB spokes in the first departure from the Pro version, which uses Sapim Laser spokes.
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That small change in spoke choice sets the stage for what sets the brand new Emporia GC3 Performance apart from the rest of the HED gravel wheel lineup.
"When Steve and Anne Hed founded HED Cycling in 1984, they did so with a vision to make world-class cycling components that were both built in the U.S.A. and affordable," reads the press release associated with the launch. "With the Emporia GC3 Performance and all its Performance level carbon wheels, HED delivers on that original vision: creating wheels that are top-performing and available to a wide range of riders."
What all that means is you get the performance of the Emporia GC3 Pro for less money at the expense of weight. The heavier spokes lace the hub to slightly heavier rims for a claimed total wheelset weight of 1,545g. It's a small penalty with the Emporia GC3 Performance gaining 45 grams in the front rim and 75 grams in the rear. The added weight comes through the use of 150 GSM carbon instead of 110 GSM. In exchange for the weight penalty, pricing drops by $750, making the Emporia GC3 Performance $1,650 for the set.
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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutia of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Weight: 137 lb.
Rides: Look 795 Blade RS, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Trek Checkpoint, Priority Continuum Onyx
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