Spinergy’s GXC Carbon wheelset uses a radical combination of materials and design to create a good-looking gravel wheelset with a 32mm-deep carbon rim. Intricately machined and turreted hubs, innovative spokes and the very low overall weight of 1490g impress, but the rims are too narrow for the latest wide tyres and the price is high.
The GXC wheel is the top-of-the-line gravel wheel from Spinergy, is made in the US and comes in at £1199. Unusually for a modern gravel wheel, those carbon rim are only 18mm internally (24mm externally). That's a width normally associated with road rims – older road rims, in fact – not gravel wheels.
The suggested tyre widths are 32-40mm, which covers the CX market nicely but misses some of the newest and best 700c gravel tyres. Spinergy aims the GXC at 'offroad racing, gravel and cyclocross', but the limited tyre choice means it won't suit everyone.
Picked out in blue on this set (you have a choice of 10 colours) are the spokes. They're fat and flow around each other as they cross, rather than bend. They aren’t steel or carbon, they're polyphenylene bensobisoxazole – PBO for short – for a claimed strength three times that of steel but half the weight. Spinergy also claims impressive vibration damping.
The low weight means these wheels are keen to respond to every pedal input.
Spinergy says that PBO uses a patented liquid crystal polymer which dampens high-frequency vibrations, but without a team of scientists and a lab, this is always going to be hard to test. Also, simply using larger volume tyres has the same effect – they work efficiently at lower pressures – and that makes the choice of narrow rim seem even odder.
It's hard to say just how much vibration damping these spokes truly add, but considering I dropped down from my preferred 42/43mm sized tyres to a 38mm, it's telling I felt no more fatigued than I would do normally.
In fact, I pulled out the longest, toughest ride I’ve done on these wheels in a seriously hot day, and felt no hand or neck pain – things I suffer from frequently.
These wheels feel lovely. They aren’t soft or flexy, and at 82kg I’m no lightweight. Spinergy has no weight limit for these wheels, unlike many of their competitors, and I’ve hammered them hard through tank tracks, rocky singletracks, rutted 40 mph descents and across the deserted roads and byways of Wiltshire, all without a complaint. They remain as straight and true as when they came out of the box.
Spinergy doesn’t provide specifics about the type of carbon or its layup, other than they use a lightweight expanding foam core as opposed to the more common bladder mold process. This means the rim is actually full of foam, which Spinergy believes makes a better rim and has an added benefit that it doesn’t collect water should you dunk it a lot in streams.
The hubs are beautifully machined with intricate spoke turrets and have a pleasingly sculptured shape. You can choose 15mm, 12mm and QR axles up front, and 12mm or QR out back, and everything spins on Enduro sealed bearings. They can be had with either six bolt or center lock disc mounts.
The rear freehub is made in conjunction with Hadley. The aluminium freehub is a 3-pawl, 24-tooth ratchet ring design. This means 72 points of engagement, which equates to very little movement in the pedal before the hub is engaged – great for technical riding.
Spinergy offers SRAM XD or XDR, Campagnolo, Shimano HG and (soon) Microspline drivers, which should cover everybody. As a guide, even the tandem version is unchanged bar an aluminium hub – that's how tough these rims and spokes are.
Setting them up tubeless is no problem. The wheels are supplied taped but without valves, which is a little tight at this price. Once fitted and inflated I've had no issues with air loss beyond an occasional top up, and they survived many large potholes and roots at speed without losing their guts.
Anything made in the USA is going to carry a premium, and the GXCs are significantly more expensive than the current crop of direct-sale wheels such as Hunt, Parcours and Pacenti, all of whom offer wider-rimmed lightweight gravel sets at around £800.
The Spinergy GXCs compare closely with Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V TLR Disc wheels and Sector's GCi vibration-absorbing wheels, although they're lighter than both. And before anybody shouts what about the spokes cost: £5 is the answer.
With that slim 18mm inner rim and 40mm max tyre size, the GXCs are excellent for racing where speed overrides comfort, or for those with limited frame clearance. Plus if you normally ride a 42, you could well be just as comfortable on a 38 courtesy of those PBO spokes.
But that width means they are not able to take advantage of the benefits that newer, wider frames and tyres offer. With a wider rim they could be an outstanding set of gravel/adventure wheels – and in fact, after this review was complete, Spinergy announced plans to launch a wider rim option. That leaves this GXC wheelset as a sprightly, impressively-built premium choice for a fairly niche audience of narrow-tyre gravel stalwarts. If it's wider rims you want, check out the GXX wheels on their website here, they have a 24mm internal width which will make them compatible with 40mm and wider tyres.
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