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Verdict: 
Traditional looking, lightweight rim brake wheelset that offers excellent stiffness and durability
Weight: 
1,414g

Pacenti has delivered an excellent product with its Forza Rim Brake wheelset, marrying an impressive weight with a solid, do-it-all road rim for racing or training – all for a very reasonable price, even against the biggest brands in the marketplace.

  • Pros: Impressive weight for an aluminium alloy wheelset and great stiffness
  • Cons: Don't quite deliver the super-smooth ride quality of the JRA Lark Lights

While it might feel like every wheel brand is pushing its latest disc brake offerings, it can be easy to think that rim brake wheelsets are being left behind, but thanks to brands like Pacenti there are still some quality offerings out there – like the Forza.

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Tyre widths have been increasing in the road genre over the last few years and rims have been getting wider too, to keep the compatibility. Rim brake frames don't have the clearance of disc brake versions, because of them needing to keep the brake bridge for one thing, so the Forza rim isn't the widest we've seen at 24mm externally (20mm internal). Pacenti does say that it works perfectly with a 25mm tyre and I'd concur, as it gives the tyre a nice round profile rather than that lightbulb shape you get when used with a more traditional rim that is 3mm narrower.

Pacenti Forza Rim Brake 700C wheelset - rim bed.jpg

The rim is 25mm deep, or should I say shallow, and lends itself well to what Pacenti describes as an all-rounder road wheel for everything from racing to training. For all-out efforts or cruising at speed you obviously don't get an aero advantage like a deep-section carbon wheel, but the Forza's lack of weight – just 1,414g (780g rear, 634g front, without rim tape or skewers) – makes up for that when you have to fight gravity.

Pacenti Forza Rim Brake 700C wheelset - rim decal.jpg

Being so svelte, acceleration is also impressive, and whenever you bang a load of power through, their lateral stiffness can't be faulted.

Pacenti has chosen Sapim's D-Light spokes for the build with 20 used for the front wheel and 24 at the rear, with radial and two-cross lacing patterns respectively.

Pacenti Forza Rim Brake 700C wheelset - front hub.jpg

Sapim describes the D-Lights as being designed for top quality mountain bike wheel builds, so for road use they definitely bring plenty of durability which could be why the Forzas seem to be happy to take so much abuse for such a light set of wheels.

Pacenti Forza Rim Brake 700C wheelset - rear hub.jpg

Spoke tension remained spot on and I had no issues with trueness throughout the test period – and I never took it easy, flying through rough sections of broken tarmac with the tyres pumped up hard.

Like many other brands, Pacenti has used EZO bearings from Japan in these wheels and the results are very smooth and free rolling. The wheels spin forever in your hand and a look around them after the test period suggests they seem to have kept the grit and water out.

Pacenti Forza Rim Brake 700C wheelset - front hub 2.jpg

The Forzas use an anodised aluminium alloy freehub body with an added bite guard, a strip of stainless steel that's intended to stop the cassette from digging into the freehub body under load, which should prolong its life.

Pacenti Forza Rim Brake 700C wheelset - rear hub 2.jpg

On my first standing start away from some traffic lights in a monster gear, I did feel the cassette move a fraction before engagement, but it was the only time it did it and there was no resulting damage to the freehub.

The Forzas come with standard rim tapes so if you want to run them without tubes you'll need to get hold of a conversion kit, including tubeless tape and some valves. I had some knocking around in the shed and can happily say that both tubeless and tyre/tube combos work fine, fitting snugly to the rim with just a little bit of thumb work.

Pacenti Forza Rim Brake 700C wheelset - logo.jpg

Overall, it's a very good package for whatever your road riding entails and they match some of the best competitors for price too.

Before these came along, my Kinesis T2 had been running the Just Riding Along (JRA) Lark Light wheelset that I tested a while back. They are excellent, and of a very similar build and style to the Forzas.

The Pacentis are a little lighter than the JRA's 1,460g and they are a similar price. I tested the JRAs with a Sapim CX-Ray spoke and tubeless valve upgrade, which pushes the price up to £414.80, but the standard Sapim Laser/D-Light build is a tenner cheaper than the Forzas at £340.

The only thing I would say is that the JRAs had a slightly more comfortable ride than the Pacentis. I'm not saying that the Forzas are harsh, but they don't quite feel as though they cancel out as much road buzz as the JRAs when shod with the same tyres. There is very little in it, mind.

> Buyer's Guide: 34 of the best road bike wheels

Another set of wheels that make the Forzas look to be very well priced are the Fulcrum Racing 3 C17s, which are nearly 200g heavier and £200 dearer, and don't seem to offer anything outstanding over the Pacentis.

Overall, the Pacenti Forza wheelset is an excellent choice for those who place weight, stiffness and durability ahead of aerodynamics and out-and-out speed.

Verdict

Traditional looking, lightweight rim brake wheelset that offers excellent stiffness and durability

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Pacenti Forza Rim Brake 700C wheelset

Size tested: 700c

Tell us what the wheel 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?

Pacenti says, "Taking from the success of our best selling Forza rim we felt it was time we introduced a complete wheel. At Pacenti we have exacting standards we strive for and this wheelset is a great example of that. We have built our hub with EZO sealed bearings for quality and durability. The freehub body has a bite guard to prevent the cassette from embedding in the aluminium and damaging the freehub.

"For spokes we chose Sapim because we felt they offered the best balance of quality and weight. This wheelset we describe as an all-rounder suitable for riding racing and almost all types of road cycling. With its 20mm internal width, it sets up beautifully with a 25mm tyre either tubeless or tubed."

For all-round road use I think the Forzas are an excellent package.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?

From Pacenti:

TYRE TYPE Clincher

TYRE SIZE 700c

TUBELESS READY Yes

RIM CONSTRUCTION Welded

MATERIAL Aluminium

INTERNAL RIM WIDTH 20mm

EXTERNAL RIM WIDTH 24mm

RIM HEIGHT 25mm

MAX TIRE PRESSURE As tyre recommends

FREEHUB BODY 11spd Shimano bite guard

HUB BEARINGS EZO Japan

SPOKES FRONT Sapim D-Light

SPOKES REAR Sapim D-Light

SPOKE DRILLING FRONT 20h

SPOKE DRILLING REAR 24h

LACING PATTERN FRONT Radial

LACING PATTERN REAR 2 cross

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the wheel for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the wheel for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the wheel for weight
 
9/10
Rate the wheel for value:
 
8/10

Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?

The wheels stayed true throughout.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

No issues at all, they were tight but still only required thumb pressure.

How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?

The skewers and rim tapes all fitted fine and were easy to use.

Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose

A true all-rounder for anything the road can throw at you.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

An excellent all-round package.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

There really is nothing to dislike, but pitted against the JRA wheels I'd already tested, the JRAs felt just a little bit more comfortable on the road.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Cheaper than a lot of the big brands but also stand up well to the best out there from the smaller guys.

Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes

Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes

Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

The Forzas are a great wheelset, offering plenty of stiffness and a hugely reliable build at an impressive weight and price.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed

With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!

12 comments

Avatar
othello [422 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes

Looks like the perfect wheleset for youth racing. Light, strong and doesn't cost the earth!

Avatar
IanEdward [355 posts] 6 months ago
2 likes

Hmm... so what's the catch compared to Fulcrum Racing 3s? Slight aero disadvantage? Do the Fulcrums have a steel freehub? The Racing 3s have (easily adjusted) cup and cone bearings, could argue that is a benefit if you're mechanically minded...

Really happy with my Fulcrums but looking at these could definitely be tempted!

Avatar
Miller [300 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

The Forza rim replaces the SL23 which had well-documented issues with cracking round the spoke holes. This is exactly what happened to my SL23 wheelset but I was able to buy Forza rims and simply swap them onto the same hub and spokes as the ERD was near enough the same. The Forza rim is a little heavier than the SL23 was, doubtless to add needed material in the spoke bed. The Forza is also available in an asymmetric version which helps even out spoke tension in the rear wheel.

Summary: it's not quite the lightest alloy rim but is nicely made, looks smart, is available in a variety of drillings, and is easily built into a reliable wheelset.

Avatar
Ogi [175 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

The catch is in the hubs. Do not simply look at stats (weight, price and all). Pacenti uses probably some Novatec or similar unexciting hub. Don't get me wrong, they're not bad but not fantastic either. EZO bearings are just ok compared to say NTN, FAG/INA or SKF, so comparing Fulcrum 3/Zonda hubs with fully servicable cup/cone which last very long. 

I would argue this is where (hub) the most of the money difference has gone in. 

Miller mentioned the rim point as well (SL23 issues).

 

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [452 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes
Quote:

a more traditional rim that is 3mm narrower

Traditional rims are 15 wide internal, right?

Quote:

The only thing I would say is that the JRAs had a slightly more comfortable ride than the Pacentis. I'm not saying that the Forzas are harsh

Ummmmm, no. You are just fooling yourself. The vertical deflection of a wheel under impact is measured in hundredths of a mm.

The Pacenti SL23 v1 had trouble with the spoke holes breaking. Fitting tires was an absolute nightmare. Even with a bead jack.

The Pacenti SL23 v2 was a substantial redesign to address these issues. It had a ridiculously narrow brake track. Fitting tires was still very difficult.

How wide is the brake track on these? It looks like it might be very narrow.

Not sure what hubs they are using, but I don't have a problem with Bitex or Novatec hubs, as long as they use standard size bearings.

I have a very high opinion of Fulcrum 3/Zonda's for the price. They are quite reliable, and I love the sealed rim bed. I just wish they were wider internally, deeper section, and were fully designed to be tubeless.

Boyd Cycling Altamont rims have been good to me, but having a set built up was about twice the price of Fulcrum 3/Zonda, even using Bitex hubs for the build.

Avatar
Miller [300 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

Forza brake track is 9mm wide.

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [3322 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

"Rim brake frames don't have the clearance of disc brake versions"

Are we talking modern road bikes specifically or rim brake in general? How many of the current disc braked road going bikes have 55mm clearance, because that's what one of my rim brake road bikes has, another has 40mm, another with dua pivot calipers has 35mm.

How wide do you actually need for a road bike in any case? Rim brake bikes don't have in some instances as wide a clearance as some disc braked bikes simply  because manufacturers have put all their eggs into disc braked frame development.

As to the wheels, wide rims with hardly any meat on the bone where it counts (braking surfaces) so as to keep wheel weight down isn't a good thing for the type, all in the search for some small aero gain when using wider tyres that you don't actually need on the roads anyways.

As for flex, a 76kg rider isn't really going to test that much IMHO, you might find that's a hell of a lot different when you have 100kg of meat who fancies a lightweight wheel only to discover they're a bit flimsy when out the saddle/going hard into corners.

Does the company state a rider weight limit in any case?

The hubs look very similar to Bitex RAR12/RAF10, these might be 'on trend' but they're no better than ProLite's and for £350 I'd be wanting a bit more bang for my buck

 

Avatar
asmallsol [3 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

Did you guys weigh those? On there website, they list them as 1600 grams.

Avatar
Pacentiadmin [3 posts] 6 months ago
5 likes

Thank you for the comments here. 

I will try and answer as many of your questions or comments here. 

The hubs for this wheelset are  Hubsmith from Taiwan with upgraded bearings, we have put a few thousand winter miles on a set and they have held up well. They are easy to service and bearings are standard size when replacements are needed in future.

The Forza rim at 20mm internal offers a great profile with 25mm tubeless tyres, I can run them at 75psi which makes them a really comfortable ride at 85KG I am not the lightest rider and I have hammered a fair few holes in the road. 

There where many issues with the SL23 rims and there is an amnesty offer available on our website for anyone who owned these rims.  https://pacenticycledesign.co.uk/pages/rim-amnesty This amnesty was instigated by the new owners.

At £350 we feel that getting a hand built in the UK wheelset is good value with the components used. 

We also offer a bespoke build service, as our wheel building is in house we can quote for any hub of your choosing. 

Cup and ball hubs are very serviceable and can give long life span as long as the internal surfaces don't get pitted.  I have had a longer life from Hope hubs with cartridge bearings they had quite small but high-quality bearings. Durability is something we take seriously and test all the hubs we use. We recently rejected a batch of hubs as they did not offer the durability and ease of servicing we expect. 

Pacenti Admin

Avatar
Pacentiadmin [3 posts] 6 months ago
4 likes
asmallsol wrote:

Did you guys weigh those? On there website, they list them as 1600 grams.

 

They weight 1410g the website was incorrect and has been updated.

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [452 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes
Pacentiadmin wrote:

There where many issues with the SL23 rims and there is an amnesty offer available on our website for anyone who owned these rims.

The website says that the amnesty program ended on March 31, 2019.

Avatar
Pacentiadmin [3 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:
Pacentiadmin wrote:

There where many issues with the SL23 rims and there is an amnesty offer available on our website for anyone who owned these rims.

The website says that the amnesty program ended on March 31, 2019.

 

We are happy to extend this and have adjusted it until the end of June.