After more than a year of research and development in partnership with Nottingham Trent University's sports engineering department, British wheel brand Parcours have unveiled their brand new Strade wheelset. Weighing in at 1,520g for the set, there are separate depths and rim profiles for the front and rear wheels and they are aerodynamically optimised for use with 28mm tubeless tyres.
Parcours' mantra for the Strade project was 'think wider', setting out to offer a new kind of aero wheelset that wouldn't sacrifice ride quality or comfort for speed; they claim to have achieved this by creating differential profiles for the front and rear wheels, which they believed was necessary after conducting analysis of real-world wind conditions and the impact of yaw angle on wheel design. This means you get a 690g front wheel with a depth of 49mm and a max external rim width of 32mm, while the 830g rear is 54mm deep with a max external width of 30.5mm. To stop things from getting too topsy-turvy, you do at least get 24 spokes a piece on each wheel and they both have the same internal rim width at 22.5mm.
Parcours say data collected in the wind tunnel by placing sensors on the wheels found that airflow at the rear was affected by the front of the bike and rider interaction, and in tests the front wheel was significantly more affected by crosswinds because it moves on its axis when the rider steers. To help solve the problem, they developed a wider, U-shaped rim designed for higher yaw angles at the front, while the rear is deeper and narrower with a V-shaped profile which is better suited to lower yaw angles.
Parcours used Computational Fluid Dynamics for the design process and then tested their prototypes at the A2 Wind Tunnel in North Carolina, and claim the results shown the Strada far outperformed their existing Passista Disc wheelset in terms of both aerodynamics and dealing with crosswinds. They used 28mm Continental GP5000 tubeless tyres as the benchmark throughout the testing, and say the wheels performed best in the wind tunnel with 28's. Parcours claim the Strade still surpassed the Passista with 25mm tyres, although the results were closer and increasing the tyre width will improve aerodynamic performance of the new wheels.
Parcours have fitted the Strade wheels with alloy hubs fitted with EZO cartridge bearings. They're disc brake only and 12mm thru-axle as is the norm for road disc wheels nowadays, but adapter kits are available for other axle standards.
Sapim CX-Ray aero spokes are specced front and rear and arranged in a 2-cross pattern to make them robust enough to handle rough British roads.
Despite the extensive R+D Parcours have still managed to keep the price tempting at a pound under the £1k mark, with each set coming with pre-installed rim tape and a freehub spacer for 8,9 and 10 speed cassettes if you need them - they're available to buy now via the Parcours website.
We're currently on our way to try out these racy wheels for ourselves in a very suitable environment, and will also be delving deeper into Parcours' white paper and grilling them to find out if riding super wide odd-sized hoops really is the way forward... so check back for a first ride report soon.
Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.