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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
TYRE TYPE Clincher
TYRE SIZE 700c
TUBELESS READY Yes
RIM CONSTRUCTION Welded
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
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.
About the tester
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!