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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: 

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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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 these online here

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

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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 spends his days helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014. 

When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects. 

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