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Parcours Passista wheelset review

20 Aug 2018

Good all-rounder if you're looking for 'free speed', also able to perform well in windy conditions and respond well on hilly courses

Cyclist Rating: 
• Comfortable • Easy to get used to • Good performance in cross-winds
• Fitting tyres can be difficult, especially narrower width tyres

So you want to upgrade your wheelset for a 'faster' one... but you don’t want to break the bank. We’ve all been here. The problem? When you start digging around the web for the ultimate fast wheel at a reasonable price, things get hard.

At this point, a few brave ones out there will say'“forget the research, I’m going to build my own wheels'.

Luckily for the industry – and for those not brave enough to start their own wheel company – Dov Tate, owner of Parcours, was one such soul.

Buy the Passista wheelset from Parcours here

After the 2012 Olympics, Dov started to cycle and race in triathlons. After one race he wanted to buy a fast wheelset that wouldn’t cost the earth – and he couldn’t find it.

'It was during a race when I punctured a tubular tyre that I decided I wanted a new set of wheels, but I was pretty shocked by what they cost,' he says.

'Having spent some time working in aerospace (and also studied engineering), I decided to go out to provide an alternative option for riders who wanted a wheel that is proven fast (i.e. numbers), but also didn’t require a second mortgage.'

And that was the beginning of Parcours. The company – the name reflects the different challenges and terrains the wheelsets can cover – is based in the London neighborhood of Clapham. Though it now sells worldwide, the UK is still its core market (for now).

Parcours's design work is made in partnership between the company in the UK and its rim manufacturer in China. At first, Parcours started by using an open mould rim design, but the choice wasn’t random as it was driven by CFD - Computational Fluid Dynamics, essentially computer simulation that is now increasingly accessible and popular - and wind tunnel tests to provide the fastest rim profile available.

Since then, Parcours has begun to introduce more bespoke design features to its wheels, such as an internal rim profile convertible to tubeless and an updated moulding process that uses solid foam rather than the 'classic' inflatable bladder.

The brand is able to further tailor its wheels in a couple of ways that make the feature unique.

'A good analogy for this is buying a suit,' explains Tate. 'At one end of the spectrum you can go into a department store and buy a suit off the peg. At the other end, you can go to a tailor for a completely bespoke fitting.

'Then, in between, you can take a pre-determined suit pattern and have it tailored to your own sizing. This is where Parcours now sits.'

On top of the designing process, quality control and warranty protection are done in the UK: the first stage of the check takes place before the wheels leave the factory in China and the wheel reports are shared with the company in the UK.

The second step is carried out when the wheels physically arrive in the UK and the products are tested in Parcours’s workshop before being dispatched to the customer.

All the wheels are tested for radial and lateral true, as well as for their spoke tension, and the whole fleet goes through the full UCI approval process.

'It’s something of a myth that companies are still producing out in Asia for cost reasons,' explains Tate. 'With carbon fibre technology in particular, it’s also down to the expertise that has been built up there over the years versus what is available in the UK.

'So whilst it would be a longer-term goal to bring more of the production steps back to the UK, in the short term there are realistically very few options where we could ensure the same level of quality that we currently have.'

Ride testing

I had heard a lot of good rumours about Parcours in the last couple of years and this summer I finally tested the Passista, the company’s 56mm depth wheelset.

As you’d expect, this kind of rim depth is conceived to cover you in most scenarios – which is perfect if you have a limited budget and want to find an 'all-rounder' able to perform in a variety of terrain (or parcours).

If you’re coming from a set-up with a lower rim surface, of course the 56mm of the Passista will feel like a huge improvement in terms of 'free speed' gained.

The first feeling I had when testing was of a very smooth and comfortable ride. They did not seem like the fastest wheels I have ever tested (based on feeling alone), but they were more or less in line with other wheels of the same rim width I rode with in the past.

When I used them with a 23mm tyre I had a few problems fitting the tyre on the wheel. But when I decided to use a 25mm tyre I had no more mounting problems. The ride also became much smoother.

Although this fitting problem mainly stems from the specific tyre choice rather than size (though even the hardest one will eventually loosen with time), I still found it harder to fit a 23mm on the Passista in the first place.

The best feature of the wheels was that even after only half-an-hour of riding, I totally forgot I was using a new pair of wheels. I got used to them super quickly, thanks to how they were responding naturally and very well on different terrains.

On short hills and on the pedals they were stiff and responsive, while with cross winds they didn’t give me any problems and I felt confident even when the gusts got a bit heavier.

The longest test I gave the Passista was a 120km time trial (read: bike leg of a triathlon) along some very windy Danish roads in July.

During this ride not only did they feel really stable, comfortable and stiff, but they minimised the effect of the wind. Other riders who were using discs didn't look as comfortable as I felt with the Passista.

Final recommendation: make sure you use Parcours’s specific brake pads and don’t forget these wheels also come tubeless ready; in case you’re ready to try out the new market trend.

Where to buy: (pre-order; delivery end of August)
Weight: 1,525g


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