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Pacenti's Brevet Wheelset offers a classic look with modern features and performance that exceeded my expectations. The weight is good, but this is a wheelset all about comfort and style, both of which Pacenti has got spot on.
Ever since carbon wheelsets rudely made an appearance in Paris-Roubaix, my love of a classic box-section rim has grown ever stronger. These days, Enves are more common on the club run than a classic, handbuilt wheelset and that saddens me. I've owned many shallow section wheels, the best of which were Ambrosio's Excellence rims laced with plain gauge spokes to blissfully silent Ultegra 6800 hubs.
Pacenti markets these wheels as classic style matched with modern features, intending them to be used for a retro bike build that you can take to L'Eroica. What I see is a stylish set of wheels for getting the miles in.
The classic style is the main feature for me, and wow do these look stunning. The chrome box-section alloy rims are just 15mm tall and have 28 spoke holes holding silver Sapim D-Light J-bend spokes. These attach in a two-cross lacing pattern to the high-flange hubs.
It's all very classic then, but look down at the rim from above and you'll be struck by the modern width. These rims are following the trend for going wider and the 19mm internal width is perfect for pairing with 28mm tyres. It seemed fitting to pop some classic looking tyres on and handily I had a set of Bontrager's 28mm R4 Classics tyres with a cotton casing.
The rims are also tubeless-ready, though you'll need a tubeless kit to convert them. The rim tape here is for clincher only. Pacenti does a 10m roll of tubeless tape for £6.99 and 50mm tubeless valves for £11.99. It's not a huge upgrade cost and if you're looking to go tubeless, Pacenti will fit everything with new Continental GP5000 tyres for you. Do this and Pacenti will include the cost of the tubeless tape and valve in the price of the tyres.
As I had a roll of tape and some valves in the shed, I popped some sealant in Hutchinson Fusion 5 tyres and found that it was easy to seat the tyre and get retention of air overnight. Personally, though, I still prefer my cotton sidewalls!
By the way, if you want Pacenti skewers you'll need to buy them separately, or use ones you already have. I used my Shimano Ultegra 6800 skewers which aren't a huge outlay.
Thanks to the classic design, my expectation was of a very comfortable wheelset that would feel a little doughy on harder climbing efforts. My first thought was proved correct. These are very comfortable wheels and will suit an endurance/touring bike perfectly. There's just enough compliance to take the buzz out of surface-dressed roads, though I'm also benefiting from the improved tyre profile.
I was surprised to find, though, that the lateral stiffness is pretty darn good too – there was no brake rub when leaning the bike over, hauling up steep climbs. The spoke count, lacing pattern and high hub flanges certainly help to create a wheelset that performed much better than I was expecting. I'm well aware that this isn't the main purpose of the wheelset, but it's nice to know that they can easily handle a good stomp on the pedals.
These wheels replaced a narrow set of Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels that had been demoted to the role of hard-yard hoops. While they are quite a bit lighter, I much prefer the comfort gains found with the Brevet wheelset. The better support for wider tyres results in more cornering grip and a smoother ride over the broken Somerset B-roads, and I don't feel that this has been traded for too much climbing speed.
The freehub is a bit on the noisy side for me, but going in there to pop a bit more grease on the pawls allowed me to test the serviceability. Removing the freehub is an easy job, though, thanks to the EZO bearings, that's not something you'll need to be doing often.
Rivals for this wheelset are good and in the case of Mavic's Open Pro rims, well-proven. The newer Open Pro has been widened to 19mm internally and also been given the tubeless treatment. Unless you can build wheels, you'll be paying extra for a build, though. Strada wheels, for example, will build them on Aivee SR2 hubs for £440.
H Plus Son makes the TB14 rim which Malcolm Borg of the Cycle Clinic will build up from £262. That has a similar rim profile, but only comes in a 32H drilling and doesn't have tubeless compatibility.
For classic styling with modern comforts, I really can't see past the Pacenti Brevet Wheelset. The looks are absolutely spot on and the performance punches well above what I was expecting.
Super-stylish and brilliant performance – a great upgrade for a retro build or a training bike
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pacenti Brevet Wheel Set 700C Rim Brake Shimano
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?
"Our classically styled brevet wheelset is built for strength and good looks with modern standards.
The wheelset is supplied with a pair of snap-fit rim tapes, tubeless conversion requires a tubeless tape and valve kit.
Perfect for a retro build or restoration ready to ride L'Eroica or Strade Bianchi.
Designed in the USA."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
TIRE TYPE Clincher
TIRE SIZE 700c
TUBELESS READY Yes
RIM CONSTRUCTION Welded
WEIGHT 1665g +/- 15g
INTERNAL RIM WIDTH 19mm
EXTERNAL RIM WIDTH 23mm
RIM HEIGHT 15mm
MAX TIRE PRESSURE As tire recommends
FREEHUB BODY 11spd Shimano bite guard
HUB BEARINGS EZO Japan
SPOKES FRONT Sapim D-Light
SPOKES REAR Sapim D-Light
SPOKE DRILLING FRONT 28h
SPOKE DRILLING REAR 28h
LACING PATTERN FRONT 2 cross
LACING PATTERN REAR 2 cross
Perfectly balanced wheels.
Vertical compliance is good – they feel much more plush to ride than my Mavic Ksyrium SLs with the same 28mm tyres on at the same pressure. Lateral stiffness is surprisingly very good – there was no brake rub when leaning the bike over on steep climbs. Acceleration was never going to be their strong point but they don't feel sluggish at all. There's a lot to love here.
The beautiful silver is easy to clean and the freehub looks un-bitten.
Fine here. The weight might sound a bit hefty but it doesn't hold them back.
Though they cost more than the H Plus Son TB14, I'd say these offer better value because of the tubeless-ready design.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Perfectly true. That's one of the benefits of a hand-built wheelset.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Easy to fit clincher and tubeless tyres.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
The standard rim tape was fine.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. They're comfortable to ride, look brilliant and cope well when you stamp on the pedals.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
The match of style with a modern rim width is just brilliant.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
We've not really reviewed anything like this recently. The price is very good though.
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
A beautiful wheelset to look at and ride. This is the perfect complement to a retro bike.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!