There's no two ways about it: this is a really excellent set of wheels. They're light, they're well built from quality components and they're great value. On top of that the ride quality and stiffness are well up there with rival wheelsets – even some considerably more expensive ones – and if you don't like the silver polished ones (we do) you can have them in black instead. There's really not much to moan about here.
Pro-Lite make great play of the fact that all their wheels are hand built without machines, so it wasn't a great surprise to find an evenly tensioned, well trued set in the box. Picking them out the first thing that you notice is that they're light. Really light, for a £349 wheel. Ours didn't quite measure up to the claimed weight of 1482g for a set, but at 1501g (without skewers) they're the lightest sub-£400 wheels we've tested by a good margin.
The 27mm deep rims are mated with stainless flat bladed spokes (24 at the rear, 20 on the front) to some very slight-looking hubs. The front particularly is minimilast to the same point as something like an American Classic: there's enough metal to cover the two bearings but not much more. The rear is a slightly beefier affair that boasts five bearings (four standard and one angular contact) and both hubs, and the quiet freehub, were buttery smooth throughout the test. The one bit of weight saving I could probably do without is the alloy spoke nipples, for the two or three grams they save I'd prefer hardier stainless ones. The alloy freehub body needs a good firm hand too when you're tightening the cassette. It is possible to notch it under load, but it's harder than others I've tested.
Out on the open road the Braccianos are everything you'd want a wheel to be; responsive, comfortable, stiff and quiet. I didn't manage to eke any brake rub out of front or rear; in the workshop testing the 4mm deflection of the rim for a 15kg lateral load is about average for the money, on the tarmac they never felt flexy.
Acceleration is excellent, and you certainly feel the lack of heft on the climbs too. On the descents the bike felt a little more nervous than with the Fulcrum 3s I was running before the test, but I find that's a common side-effect of a light wheelset. You have to take care when sprinting too, as it's easier to throw the bike from side to side. I took the Braccianos out on a couple of long rides sporting the Conti Force/Attack combo tyres I've been riding on other wheelsets, and they certainly weren't any less comfortable than comparably-priced (and more expensive) wheelsets on the same setup, even after four of five hours in the saddle.
Anything not to like? No, not really. You'll have to pay a lot more than £349 to get a similarly light wheelset from the likes of Shimano, Mavic or Fulcrum – nearly twice as much in two of those cases – and there's nothing in the quality of components or construction, or the ride experience, to suggest that these Pro-Lite wheels won't give you comparable performance over time. Effectively you're getting race wheel weight and function for training wheel money. And that has to be a good thing.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Pro-Lite Bracciano wheelset
Size tested: 700c
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Lightweight alloy 700c wheelset aimed at mid-market racers and Sportive riders
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Super light Alloy 6066 material, Flash Welding.
27 mm profile for superior aerodynamic performance.
2 in front hub, 5 in rear hub angular contact bearing (Japanese EZO)
Available for Campagnolo or Shimano freehub bodies
20 Spoke Front, 24 Spoke Rear.
PRO-LITE double butted stainless aero spoke.
Alloy T73 nipple.
100% built by hand.
True both laterally and radially on arrival (and they'd come from another test), smooth hubs and quiet freehub
Can't fault the performance at this price
Not the longest test we've ever done but there were no problems on test and nothing to suggest any flaws in the design
For the money, spot on
Really easy rolling wheels, never felt harsh
For £349 they're a steal. Pro-Lite tell us they've currently run out, and we're not surprised
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent performance all round
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Pretty much everything: the build, the weight, the ride feel
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm not a fan of alloy spoke nipples
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Probably the best bang for buck wheelset we've seen this year.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: Schwinn Moab, urbanised with 700cs My best bike is: Trek 1.5 with upgrades
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.