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review

Parcours Ronde Wheelset

9
£1,049.00

VERDICT:

9
10
Very impressive wheels that manage to excel even in a very crowded price bracket
Good price
Light
Stable in crosswinds
Strong
Weight: 
1,410g
Contact: 

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The Parcours Ronde Wheelset is a brilliant pair of carbon wheels at a competitive price, with an impressive weight. They're stiff, responsive and quick to engage, and tough too – they took everything I could throw at them. Uphill they're sprightly, and with rim depths below 40mm they do not suffer from skitters in the wind.

The Rondes are Parcours' do-everything wheels: you can ride them on tarmac and gravel, and to be honest I would probably take them on some downhill mountain bike runs without worrying too much. That they also come in at 1,410g (with rim tape) on the road.cc Scales of Truth is impressive.

> Buy now:: Parcours Ronde wheelset from Parcours for £1,099.00 

Parcours offers these wheels with either EZO steel bearings or Kogel ceramic bearings, with the steel bearing versions on test coming in at £1,049, and the ceramics at £1,329. Having never used Kogel bearings, I can't give an opinion on the differences.

The wheels can be used with tubes or tubeless, and come with tubeless valves. In the box you also get tubeless tape, and that's pretty much it.

2021 Parcours Ronde Wheelset - valve.jpg

They arrived completely true and have stayed that way throughout the review period, despite me using them on the worst road surfaces I could find.

The rims

As well as being different depths – 35mm deep at the front and 39mm at the back – the rims are also different widths. They're 32mm up front and 30.5mm at the back, with an internal width of 22.5mm.

This is very wide, to the extent that I could see the difference straight away, even after replacing my already-wide 29mm wheels.

2021 Parcours Ronde Wheelset - rim bed.jpg

They are designed to seat 28mm tyres as optimum, and I fitted a set of 28mm Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres (in both tubeless and clincher) by hand without too much fuss.

These tyres normally take a bit of elbow grease to get on, so I did have some concerns about seating tubeless tyres. However, although they wouldn't go onto the bead with a track pump alone, they went on with one 200psi blast from a tubeless inflator.

2021 Parcours Ronde Wheelset - rim bed valve.jpg

Once installed, my 28mm tyres sat at 30mm, and I used between 60 and 80psi – depending on the kind of riding.

The ride

As you would expect from wheels this wide and tyres at these pressures, the ride is very smooth, with very little road buzz. Potholes and rough terrain are noticeably less jarring too, and I felt perfectly confident going over tall pavements or rougher roads.

In terms of looks, they're pretty minimalist with the subtle gloss-black-on-matt Parcours logo, black hubs and black nipples. They're pretty low-key then, but I think they look all the better for it.

2021 Parcours Ronde Wheelset - rim detail 2.jpg

Stiffness

There was no noticeable flex when I put power through them on both the flat and hills. I live at the top of a hill that hits 14%, so climbing ability is something I really notice in wheelsets, and these are very, very impressive.

Despite not having quite the same impact on the flat as deeper rims, the aero profile and 35mm front/39mm rear depths still give a bit of that satisfying aero sound. I can't give any particulars about aero gains, but from anecdotal (and audio) evidence, they feel fast. Parcours' own research says these are not as aero as its deeper Strade wheels, but they still feel more than fast enough for all but the fastest races.

2021 Parcours Ronde Wheelset - rim detail 1.jpg

This shouldn't come as a surprise really, given their development as part of the ThinkWider project alongside Nottingham Trent University, where width and aero gains were studied. This is where the 'mismatched' front and rear wheels have come from, for instance.

The optimisation for 28mm tyres even extends to them having different profiles, front and rear. While I have come across wheelsets with differing widths, I can't think of many that change the profiles too.

Weight

Their weight of 1,410g is very good for wheels of this kind of depth, especially at this price. Combined with their high levels of stiffness, it means they're sprightly when the road starts to head skywards.

The similarly-priced Zipp 303S wheels hit our scales at 1,550g, for instance, while the Acros Road-Disc C 28 wheels Stu tested a couple of years ago are 80g heavier despite being £500 more and 7mm shallower.

Even the Edco Brocon Disc Brake Wheels, which cost well over double at £2,900 and have carbon spokes, still weigh 90g more.

Hubs

Parcours has used its own Disc Center Lock hubs, which, with the EZO bearings, are impressively responsive and spin up very well. They are the same hubs used on the Strade wheelset Jack looked at last year, and I found them just as impressive, holding speed well and engaging quickly.

2021 Parcours Ronde Wheelset - rear hub.jpg

The hubs allow for a standard 12mm thru-axle and your standard Center Lock lockring. It is worth noting that unlike some brands, Parcours doesn't provide lockrings with its wheels.

2021 Parcours Ronde Wheelset - front hub.jpg

This isn't really an issue as I am yet to buy a set of rotors that haven't come with them.

> road.cc’s Best Cycling Wheels of the Year 2020/21

As everybody knows, though, the most important question when talking freehubs is the noise they make. These are somewhere in the middle of the pack. They give a reassuring amount of feedback, so people will know you're there, but you aren't likely to scare a horse when passing.

Handling

As well as allowing wider tyres at lower pressures, the extra width also gives you more grip and stability, with more tyre on the road; this means cornering is stable and predictable. With new wheels I generally need a couple of rides before I feel happy to really push them, but on the first ride I felt confident descending quickly or tapping my brakes a little later going into fast corners.

2021 Parcours Ronde Wheelset - spoke nipple.jpg

With this increased stability and the 35/39mm depths, these wheels perform particularly well in crosswinds, with very little jittering or 'grabby' moments. I rode these on a few windy days over Tower Bridge, where the wind can really whip across, and their stability is particularly impressive – a result, perhaps, of the amount of time these wheels spent in wind tunnels.

You can read more about that in a white paper Parcours wrote about its aero development.

Value

The £900-1,100 mark for carbon wheels is arguably the most competitive of any price range, with even some of the traditionally 'premium' brands taking aim. At £1,049 these look very well priced for a set of light, responsive, stable, and high quality wheels.

The closest we've seen on road.cc recently is the Vel 38 RSL Carbon Tubeless Disc wheelset that Iwein tested. They come in at £999, but don't offer the same aero advantages and weigh 80g more.

Zipp's 303S wheels are also cheaper at £985, but hit the scales at 1,550g, a full 140g more. They are also only compatible with tubeless tyres.

Overall

I was very impressed by these Parcours wheels – more so than I was expecting. The more I rode them and the more varied the conditions I tried them in, the more impressed I was.

Whether I was doing sharp climbs, long grinds, or just some rough roads, these wheels genuinely excelled. Given their specs it's no surprise they aren't as aero as deep section options, but in reality I would probably prefer these in most instances – especially on British roads.

Verdict

Very impressive wheels that manage to excel even in a very crowded price bracket

road.cc test report

Make and model: Parcours Ronde Wheelset

Size tested: 700C, 35/39mm

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?

Parcours says: 'A wheelset as capable on lung-busting mountain climbs as it is on bone rattling trails and cobbles, the Ronde is your dream, do-it-all wheelset. It's designed for 28mm tyres and was developed as part of our #thinkwider project."

Sounds fair: they took everything I threw at them without any issues whatsoever.

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

Parcours lists:

Rim depth 35.6mm (front) / 39.3mm (rear)

Max rim width

32.0mm (front) / 30.5mm (rear)

Internal rim width 22.5mm

Weight 1,400g (620g front / 780g rear)

Spokes Sapim CX-Ray (24 front / 24 rear)

Lacing pattern 2-cross (front) / 2-cross (rear DS/NDS)

Hubs Parcours Disc Centerlock

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Very well made; as you may expect from a name synonymous with the toughest Classics races, they're strong enough to cope with even the most bone-rattling surfaces.

Rate the wheel for performance:
 
10/10

Absolutely excel at everything. Okay, they are not as aero as something with a deeper section, but aside from that I can't think of a situation where I would feel the need for another wheelset.

Rate the wheel for durability:
 
9/10

In a month of use I didn't leave a mark on them. They also have a lifetime warranty.

Rate the wheel for weight
 
9/10

At 1,410g and £1,049, they excel. Equally deep wheels costing three times more can still weigh more.

Rate the wheel for value:
 
7/10

The £900-1,100 price bracket is jam-packed with high quality wheels, but these go above and beyond.

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

No issues with spoke tension or the wheels going out of true.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

I used these with clinchers, and it was very easy to roll them on without coming close to needing levers.

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

These only come with rim tape and tubeless valves, which are perfectly functional.

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

Very well: they spin up quickly, are sprightly uphill, stable around corners, and even manage to create the aero whoosh – despite being sub-40mm.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

It's difficult to pick out one thing, but the stability and comfort are very impressive.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

I couldn't find anything.

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

The £900-1,100 mark for carbon wheels is arguably the most competitive of any price range, with even some of the traditionally 'premium' brands taking aim. At £1,049 these look very well priced for a set of light, responsive, stable, and high quality wheels.

The closest we've seen on road.cc recently is the Vel 38 RSL Carbon Tubeless Disc wheelset that Iwein tested. They come in at £999, but don't offer the same aero advantages and weigh 80g more. Zipp's 303S wheels are also cheaper at £985, but hit the scales at 1,550g, a full 140g more. They are also only compatible with tubeless tyres.

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

This is a fantastic set of do-everything wheels that took everything I could throw at them. They spin up very quickly, give you confidence in the corners, and make hours in the saddle as comfortable as if you had suspension.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 33  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: CAAD13  My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

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

George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between. 

Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.

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8 comments

Avatar
gotty | 2 years ago
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Lovely looking set of wheels, but a very hard sell when you have Hunt 34 aero wide lurking in the wing for around the 500 quid mark. Sure there not as wide or "optimised" for 28s though still very fast and a touch heavier. The parcours aren't going to offer anything tangible over them, maybe .5 watts if that and the street cred of carbon. Even hunts 48 limitless are only 1-2 watts faster and that's easily clawed back if your interested in such gains, and in far cheaper ways if sillca is to be believed with just the humble sock costing 20 quid. Id take the hunts all day heck id take 2

Avatar
Scott86 | 2 years ago
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Hi! I'm thinking of buying the Parcours Ronde, but the VAT easily brings it to 1300 euros. Would you still think its good value then? What if you compare it to the FFWD RYOT 44 (able to get it for 1250 with DT Swiss 350 hub), or the Zipp 3S (for 850).

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to Scott86 | 2 years ago
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My personal opinion is that the Parcours doesn't look especially competitively priced if that is the case in Europe, although still not terrible. Wiggle say the RYOTT44 with DT350 hubs weigh 1520g*, so the Parcours is a touch lighter; although I would favour the DT Swiss hubs for reliability. As mentioned in the article, the Zipps are also a bit heavier (1550g) and also have hookless rims, which could be a dealbreaker for some people, especially if your favourite tyres are not compatible (e.g. GP5000). 

I'm not remotely qualified to discuss the relative aerodynamic virtues of the wheels, or the impact of rim and tyre width on speed/performance/comfort, beyond noting that all have moderately wide internal widths (21-23mm) and all fit trend of recommending you use wider tyres (>28mm WAM). 

* FFWD's own website claim 1520g with DT Swiss 240 hubs, and given that a pair of 240 hubs weighs less than a pair of 350 hubs, something is a bit fishy... My guess is Wiggle wrongly applied the DT240 weight to the version with DT350 and so the true weight of the wheelset with DT350 hubs will be a touch higher. 

Avatar
OnYerBike | 2 years ago
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Are these actually any more aero than the Vel 38 RSL as you suggest? At 38mm deep, those are claimed to have some aero advantage too.

I note that the Vel's also have a DT Swiss 240 hub, which I would consider a selling point over the own-branded (Novatec?) hubs. 

Avatar
check12 | 2 years ago
0 likes

Is that correct, wider front wheel than rear wheel? 

Avatar
English Bumpkin replied to check12 | 2 years ago
0 likes

'Tis the case, the logic being - I believe - that the air flows down the side of the smooth rim rather than the turbulent rounded edge of the front tyre (this aerodynamic benefit being less important on the rear wheel). I've just got my Ronde wheelset and first impressions match those in the review: 28-mm tyres ballooning to 30 mm width, very plush ride, not least with all that rubber underneath, and seemingly pretty fast (admittedly only after two shortish rides!). Second-hand Maxxis Padrone TL tyres a total pig to get on, but might have something to do with being a couple of thousand km in them. Will be trying to mount fresh rubber soon.

Avatar
Surreyrider replied to English Bumpkin | 2 years ago
0 likes

Thanks for this Bumpkin. I'm looking at these for upgrade wheels so would really appreciate a proper update on these after a few more rides either on this thread or as a forum post. Thanks. 

Avatar
parcours replied to check12 | 2 years ago
0 likes
check12 wrote:

Is that correct, wider front wheel than rear wheel? 

Absolutely spot on, yes.  The reason being that our research has shown that the front wheel sees a higher yaw angle (on average) than the rear wheel, due to the interaction of the airflow with the frame and rider before it hits the back of the bike.

As a result, we have used differential front/rear rim profiles (and widths) to optimise performance for different airflow conditions.

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