Quick to engage, quick to accelerate, and quick to put a smile on your face
- Contrasting front/rear rim profiling for aero performance
- Smooth ride feel
- Responsive handling
- Beautiful stealthy design
- Lifetime warranty
- Tricky tubeless setup
British brand Parcours launched the Ronde back in March of this year, hailing it as a “dream do-it-all wheelset” that’s capable of everything from mountainous climbs to the bone-rattling cobbles found in their namesake, the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
According to Parcours, they’re designed for the rider who enjoys a wide variety of surfaces, and optimised for 28mm tyres, while being compatible with rubber ranging from 25-50mm.
We spent a couple of months riding them across a variety of terrains in the South West and Peak District, took them on a team Everesting challenge to check out their climbing capabilities, and subjected them to some of the rougher tracks around the Mendip Hills. Here’s what we thought of them.
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Design and aesthetics
The Ronde’s design builds upon the brand’s #thinkwider project, the result of a collaborative study with Nottingham Trent University’s sports engineering department, which found wind conditions differently affect front and rear wheels, with a slightly higher yaw angle at the front. From this, Parcours developed its contrasting front and rear rim profiles, using a U-shaped rim up front and a V-shaped rim at the back.
In terms of looks, the Parcours Ronde wheels are undeniably beautiful and stealthy, with their subtle black-on-black aesthetic and gloss-on-matte decals. Of course, if you prefer something a little louder, then Parcours offers lots of customisation options, including custom graphics, custom hubs, and an upgrade from the EXO steel bearings to Kogel ceramic ones.
As the market continues to move towards wider internal rim widths for road wheels, the Parcours Ronde wheels are bang on trend. With their 22.5mm internal width, they’re optimised for use with 28mm tyres, which when installed offer a much more rounded and solid profile over the more traditional ‘bulbous’ profile that comes with narrower rims. This in turn promises more stability, as well as the ability to run lower tyre pressures for a more comfortable ride feel.
Other design features to note include the mullet-style 35.6mm front and 39.3mm rear rim depths, which sit quite comfortably in the middle of the spectrum, offering enough material to slice through the air without providing too much fodder for the crosswinds to mess around with.
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Build and specification
On arrival, the Rondes have pre-installed rim tape and valves, and come with a freehub spacer for 8, 9 and 10-speed cassettes.
Compared to the Parcours Strade wheelset, the brand’s tarmac-specialist offering, the Ronde sports a shallower rim depth (by about 14-15mm) and is 97g lighter in total. The Rondes tip the scales at 1,423g for the pair (630g front and 793g rear). The rims themselves are really well-made, with the overall wheelset feeling super sturdy and stiff, yet incredibly lightweight. Alongside the launch of the Ronde wheelset, Parcours published a white paper, stating that they were wind tunnel-tested against its major competitors, including the Zipp 303S and the Enve SES 3.4AR, coming up ahead of both to set what the brand deemed ‘a new benchmark’ for an all-road disc-brake wheelset.
Unlike those competitors, the Parcours Ronde doesn’t feature hookless rims, namely because the brand wanted to give its customers more choice. While hookless rim technology helps to shave weight from the overall wheelset, it does limit the choice for tyres, especially considering the fact the popular Continental GP5000 Tubeless tyres aren’t compatible with hookless rims, neither are clincher tyres and inner tubes.
At the centre of the wheel you’ll find Parcours Disc Centerlock hubs with machined aluminium 12mm thru-axles and steel EZO cartridge bearings (though there’s an option to upgrade to ceramic if you wish). The freehub body contains a four-pawl, three-degree engagement system, and is compatible with Shimano and SRAM cassettes. Campagnolo and SRAM XDR freehubs are available if you request them during the ordering process. Meanwhile, 24 Sapim CX-Ray spokes are laced 2-cross at the front and rear, and as the hub name suggests, they employ the Centerlock disc rotor standard.
First things first, getting our 28mm Maxxis High Road tubeless tyres to seat was a bit of an ordeal, however, this is something that you can’t always predict when putting together a brand new rim and tyre combo. After several failed attempts at inflating them, it proved to be a matter of perseverance and we got there eventually. Having access to a compressor made it a lot easier the second time around (having swapped wheels due to an unexpected fault with the first sample). We used about 60g, or one US cup of Halo sealant and ran the tyres at around 80psi.
The Parcours Ronde wheels do an excellent job of hitting that sweet spot between stiffness and comfort. Power transfer is incredibly responsive, seeing them accelerate and pick up a lot of speed very quickly.
Meanwhile, they feel exceptionally comfortable and deliver a very smooth ride feel, while seemingly slicing through the air with ease. Even when riding into headwinds, I still reached greater average speeds than usual without tiring out, and during my rides with the Rondes I picked up several personal bests even towards the end of the rides, demonstrating well their ability to efficiently gain and maintain high velocity.
During the testing period, I took them along to a team Everesting effort in the Peak District, where we spent a day as a group ascending Mam Tor 46 times. As a climb, Mam Tor has an average gradient of 10 per cent and reaches up to 16 per cent at certain points.
The Rondes proved to be really efficient climbers, engaging and accelerating very quickly from the get-go. This was when I really noticed their lightness, as it truly felt like my bike was flying up the hill at several points. The stiffness they offer allowed me to keep digging when I’d normally run out of steam, and reserve some energy in the tank for later.
On descents they really pick up a lot of speed, and shine when they exceed 40kph, slicing through any wind resistance while maintaining a smooth ride feel. It’s at this point that their wide internal rim width, combined with 28mm tubeless tyres really excelled, offering enough stability to really lean into corners with confidence.
Of course, being an all-road wheelset we’d be remiss to not comment on its performance away from the smooth tarmac. Due to time constraints and some really gnarly weather, we didn’t have the opportunity to try them out with some wider, dedicated gravel tyres, but we did still take them over some of the rougher country lanes and several local byways to see how they fared.
As we mentioned earlier, the Rondes are somehow able to smooth out rough surfaces without wasting your power output. They do a stellar job of absorbing some of the chatter, and really hold their own against the odd ‘dink’, thanks to their solid and sturdy build.
Having had a taste of them in various scenarios we definitely agree that they’re a solid all-rounder for riders who like to mix things up a bit. We also reckon that paired with some 50mm wide tyres they’d be a boon to ride on singletrack, if that’s your thing, running a lower tyre pressure to mitigate some of the stiffness and create comfort and compliance where it’s needed.
The Parcours Ronde wheels hit that sweet spot between comfort, handling and all-out speed, thanks to the solid build and stiffness-to-weight ratio.
Ideal for flat sprints, steep climbs and long, sweeping descents, plus their ability to work with clincher and tubeless tyres ranging from 25-50mm in width, makes them super versatile all-rounders for anyone looking to shake up their local haunts and add a bit of spice to their rides. Plus they come with a lifetime warranty and a really good customer service team.
Tech spec: Parcours Ronde disc wheelset
- Price: £1,049.00 (EZO steel bearings) / £1,329.00 (Kogel ceramic bearings)
- Material: Carbon
- Brake: Disc
- Tyre format: Tubeless and clincher (optimised for 28mm tyres)
- Rim width (internal): 22.5mm front/rear
- Rim width (external): 32mm front / 30.5mm rear
- Rim depth: 35.6mm front / 39.3mm rear
- Spokes: Sapim CX-Ray
- Spoke count: 24 front/rear
- Lacing pattern: 2-cross front/rear
- Hubs: Parcours Disc Centerlock
- Weight: 1,423g (630g front / 793g rear)
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