Getting your first pair of carbon wheels is likely one of the landmark purchases in any cyclists life. It’s lots additional down the road often than getting clipless pedals or lycra shorts, and for a few of us it’s a kind of purchases that’s simply over the horizon. Perhaps whenever you see the costs for the very best gravel wheelsets it’s not laborious to see why. The Parcours Alta gravel wheels, right here in a brand new iteration in comparison with the 650b set we reviewed lately, characterize a barely extra attainable entry level in comparison with the premium choices from manufacturers like Zipp, Roval, Cadex et al that make up essentially the most a part of our record of the finest gravel wheelsets.
Is extra mid-range carbon a good selection then? Effectively, I’ve been working these wheels with a variety of tyre choices to replace our record of the finest gravel tyres. I’ve accomplished quick summer time gravel miles via to more moderen excursions via slop, and over rocks and roots. Learn on to learn how they’ve held up, and whether or not or not you must half together with your money and purchase a set.
Design and aesthetics
Whereas I’m positive we now have all pretended that efficiency is at all times the primary metric that’s thought of when making a purchase order, I like to start out with aesthetics. Wheels, gravel or in any other case, have visually matured considerably during the last handful of years. Even the brasher branding of Zipp and Hed (to call simply two) has been toned down a smidge from the enormous logos of yesteryear. On the different finish of the spectrum, newer manufacturers with out such a longtime model id have been in a position to mess around with extraordinarily minimalist aesthetics. Hunt and Reserve spring to thoughts right here, as does Parcours.
For those who’re not going to slap massive logos on the rim sidewalls, there’s not a substantial amount of different choices to play with. Parcours opts to make use of a black-on-black scheme, enjoying with texture somewhat than color. The edges themselves are flat, matte black, although devoid of the uncooked carbon look that another matte choices supply, whereas the logos are a excessive gloss, with a slight glitter flake to the gloss coat that you just solely actually discover in direct mild. I’m not a fan of getting large logos in every single place on my bikes, so I’m consequently fairly keen on the aesthetic package deal right here. My solely slight bugbear is that the logos do not align with the valve, however that’s hardly a criticism that’s going to carry you again from a purchase order if the whole lot else is respectable.
One factor I actually like, however no one will ever see until you present them, is the rim tape. It’s a darkish clear orange-brown and places me in thoughts of Nineteen Eighties Mcdonalds’ ashtrays. I’ll admit, it’s an odd factor to reference in a bicycle wheel evaluate, however it’s the place my thoughts goes each tyre swap nonetheless.
Away from quick meals nostalgia, the important statistics are as follows: 36mm deep, 24mm vast internally, 33mm vast externally. A hookless setup reduces tyre compatibility considerably, however not vastly, because it’s turning into as regular as hooked rims. 28 Sapim CX-Ray spokes entrance and rear maintain the stress between the Parcours hubs and the edges, resulting in a complete weight of 1,500g for the pair, 685g of which is up entrance. The edges themselves have a contemporary form too, a large U-shape somewhat than a sharply tapered level. Centrelock discs and 12mm thru-axles preserve compatibility on level, and adapters can be found, as are dynamo builds with an upcharge.
The hookless portion of the rim utilises a extra versatile resin than the principle physique, the speculation being it has no actual influence on wheel stiffness, however within the occasion of a tough influence with a rock, it ought to enable some extra resilient deformation to happen earlier than any failure. There’s a lifetime guarantee with them too, however should you routinely attempt to journey them up units of concrete stairs on flat tyres to attempt to take a look at the IMPACT+ expertise out, chances are you’ll properly end up on the fallacious facet of the small print.
Upon arrival, earlier than even mounting any tyres, and solely a half minute or so after getting nostalgic for ashtrays that I’d by no means even seen in actual life, I observed a average downside with my wheels. It’s purely a high quality management difficulty, and had no materials influence on the wheel itself, however the important thing spoke was within the fallacious place. With out delving into wheel constructing methods too far, this simply implies that the valve on considered one of my rims was within the fallacious place. As an alternative of being betwixt two parallel spokes, permitting easy accessibility with any of the finest bike pumps or the finest CO2 inflators, it was caught between two converging spokes, which means you couldn’t match an in-line CO2 inflator in there for instance, and bigger pump heads have been a tighter squeeze. It’s beauty, and if I didn’t construct wheels myself for enjoyable it in all probability wouldn’t have gotten observed, however I do, and it did.
To reiterate, this doesn’t have any influence on the journey traits, but when it does happen in your wheels, you must ship them again. I put this down as a one-off, however then one night whereas aimlessly doom-scrolling Instagram (as is my proper) I observed 2022 Parcours-sponsored athlete Chris Corridor had the identical difficulty on his set of Altas, additionally on the rear wheel. As soon as, and you may put it all the way down to an error, however twice isn’t an awesome displaying from a QC perspective.
Choosy QC points apart, I’ve loved my time on the Alta wheels. They’re taped properly, and settle for most tyres that I prefer to run fairly simply. The one instances I’ve had sealing points is when the small ceramic beads that include Squirt sealant get clogged on the skin of the bead, resulting in it deflating and unseating. In all different respects, they’re fairly dreamy to arrange. The tape has began to carry a little bit on the finish, however I put that all the way down to consistently being sloshed with what I think about are comparatively abrasive beads.
Mounted up with some rubber they undoubtedly felt like a step up in velocity and aerodynamics in comparison with the inventory 650b wheelset on my Fairlight Secan. Naturally, the added rollover of a much bigger wheel dimension may have come into play, however regardless of not being top-end carbon wheels they’re nonetheless svelte by way of weight and may have that desired transformative impact over what we’d all consider as a ‘normal’ set of alloy wheels.
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I’m not a very heavy rider, however I do run my tyres fairly low on stress and my typical gravel trails alongside the Cornish coast are incessantly beset by rocky sections. I haven’t gone out with the intention of breaking the edges as a result of that will be dumb, however the rims have change into overly accustomed to terra firma on a number of events with no in poor health results, both to the rim or to the trueness of the wheel.
They’re stiff sufficient, with out being harsh. A point of compliance is fascinating for a wheel that may see a wide range of lumpy surfaces, however they don’t really feel fairly as snappy because the Black Inc 34 wheels on the Issue Ostro Gravel I’ve additionally been utilizing recently. In precise truth they felt like a wonderful pairing for the Fairlight, which additionally gives extra flex than you’d get on one thing race-focussed; horses for programs, if you’ll, however don’t go pondering of the Altas as a ‘workhorse’ wheelset. The hub engagement is not the quickest, however it’s additionally not one thing that has pressured its means into my consciousness whereas driving.
That is the place the Parcours Alta come into their very own a little bit; they’re noticeably extra reasonably priced than many carbon wheelsets, particularly these across the 35mm depth. They arrive in at a hair beneath £900, and I feel they characterize actually fairly good worth. They don’t come inventory on any bikes that I do know of, so that they’re properly and actually an ‘improve’ wheelset, and so they actually make for a extra reasonably priced improve in comparison with the larger names. Sufficient to make the bike really feel completely different (higher), with out breaking the financial institution.
Right here’s the factor; diminishing returns is an actual factor. For those who take a look at our wind tunnel take a look at of the very best street wheelsets the variations between them by way of wattage are minimal. With a set of Altas, you may get your self an enormous bounce in efficiency, a dependable package deal, and higher aerodynamics, and all at lower than half the price of a set of one thing just like the Roval Terra CLX, or only a hair greater than my automobile’s newest restore invoice (I am high-quality, truthfully).
On paper, they’re not ‘higher’ from a efficiency standpoint than extra premium wheels, however for almost all of riders, these will in all probability be a greater use of your money. Hell, if we’re speaking purely hypothetically from the standpoint of a motorcycle with fundamental alloy wheels and a rider seeking to go as quick as attainable then a set of those, with the change spent on a private coach, coach, nutritionist and many others would in all probability see a quicker finish end result than simply slapping some Zipp 303 Firecrests on and hoping for the very best.
|Design and aesthetics||Not brash, however an aesthetic trying set of hoops||9/10|
|Efficiency||Stable performers that characterize a noticable improve over inventory alloy wheelsets. Misplaced marks for QC points||7/10|
|Worth||A sub-£900 price ticket could be very interesting contemplating the efficiency||9/10|
|Weight||1,500g is not loopy mild, however they don’t seem to be leaden by any stretch||8/10|
|Hubs||They do not have the moment engagement of premium hubs, however they’re completely acceptable for this value level and are easy rolling||8/10|
|Total ranking||Row 5 – Cell 1||82%|