Parcours Ronde: 'new benchmark all-road wheelset' is lightweight, aerodynamic and tough

Innovative British brand launches 1,400g wind tunnel-tested wheelset that it claims outperforms the leading US wheels in the all-road category

Parcours Ronde

Parcours has launched the Ronde, a new all-road disc-brake wheelset optimised for a 28mm tyre and weighing 1,400g.

The Ronde name of course recalls the Ronde van Vlaanderen, giving a clue as to its intended use: Parcours describes it as “an all-road wheelset ensuring high speeds on the asphalt, with confident and reliable performance when the going gets rough,” and says it's aimed at the rider “who wants to mix things up with one wheelset for a wide variety of experiences.”

The Ronde has a shallower rim depth than the Parcours Strade, launched last year, but like the Strade it uses front and rear rims that have different profiles. Parcours arrived at its rim design following a study with Nottingham Trent University, in which it found wind conditions vary between front and rear wheels, with the yaw angle at the front wheel on average 1.5 degrees higher than at the rear wheel. As a result, the Ronde uses a blunter U-shaped rim to optimise for higher yaw on the front wheel with a sharper, deeper V shape for the lower yaw at the rear.

Parcours Ronde

According to the British brand, the Ronde has been tested in the wind tunnel against its competitors – namely the Zipp 303S and the Enve SES 3.4AR and claims it sets a new benchmark for an all-road disc-brake wheelset. Parcours has published a white paper with its wind tunnel data here.

Unlike the Zipp and Enve wheels the Parcours Ronde rims are not hookless. Parcours made the decision to stick with tubeless ready in order, it says, to give the customer more choice – the Continental Grand Prix 5000TL, for example, is a popular tyre that is not compatible with hookless rims – and also because the ETRTO maximum recommended pressure for hookless rims is 72psi, possibly not high enough for some road riders. In addition, hookless rims are not compatible with clincher tyres and tubes, whereas the Parcours Ronde is perfectly at home with the set-up.

While the Ronde is optimised for a 28mm tyre and has a wide 22.5mm internal rim width, it is also at home with anything down to 25mm: For my first ride I set them up with the new Pirelli P Zero Race 26mm clinchers, which looked and felt perfect.

At the other end, based on upcoming ETRTO guidelines, Parcours says it would be feasible to run the Rondes with tyres up to 50mm.

Parcours Ronde hub

As you’d expect of a rim with this spec, there’s no rim-brake version. The machined aluminium 12mm thru-axle hubs use EZO cartridge bearings and there are 24 Sapim CX-Ray spokes front and rear. They use the Centerlock disc standard.

A prototype Parocours Ronde wheelset was ridden by endurance cyclist Chris Hall for his ‘trenching’ challenge on Box Hill in which he completed 91 descents and 450km in 25 hours. In Parcours’ press release, Hall said: “When I set out to complete my ‘91 Descents’ challenge on Box Hill, I knew it would push my body to the limits, so equipment choice was key. Riding on the new Ronde wheelset was ideal as I could run a nice wide tyre without compromising on aerodynamics.  Having a lightweight wheel was invaluable for all of the climbing too.”

Chris Hall rides the Parcours Ronde during his Box Hill 'trenching' challenge (Picture: Andrew Richardson)

The Parcours Ronde will cost £1,049 (US $1,399.99 and EU €1,049), a price which founder Dov Tate says is lower than those competitor wheels from the market leaders.

Parcours Ronde: first (road) ride

I took the Parcours Ronde for a ride in the Surrey Hills with Parcours founder Dov Tate so that I could quiz him about the design process – he is an Oxford engineering graduate – as well as find out what the Rondes were like.

I also took the opportunity to take a pair of new 26mm Pirelli P Zero Race clinchers tyres for a first ride, designed as they are for a wider rim compared to the original P Zeros.

Clinchers can be a devil to get onto tubeless-ready wheels but the Pirellis went onto the Ronde rims very easily with thumbs only, and the beads popped into place at a very reasonable pressure of around 100psi leaving no low spots. I then ran them at 90psi (I am 69kg).

Both cassette and rotors were simplicity itself to set up and the wheels went straight into the bike, a Specialized Tarmac SL7, with no adjustment of anything necessary.

The Tarmac SL7 is an awesomely stiff bike, as we know, but I found the Rondes were every bit its match. Tate had planned a short route with some tricky little Surrey Hills climbs with generous sprinklings of gravel and potholes – Hoe Lane, Barhatch and the long one out of Peaslake if you know the area – and the Rondes felt both incredibly responsive and super stable. Pickup from the hub felt crisp – they just felt fast. Mostly in the trees, we didn't get the gusting wind that would have tested the differential rim profiles, but that's all to come.

For me the Rondes are hitting a sweetspot with their low weight, wind tunnel data and big rim width that works perfectly with larger-volume, fast-rolling tyres. It’s early days but I’m thinking already that I could happily ride these all year round on any terrain and be totally confident in their performance. Full review to follow.

Parcours Ronde: specification

  • Rim depth: front 35.6mm/rear 39.3mm
  • Rim width: front 32.0mm/rear: 30.5mm
  • Internal rim width: 22.5mm
  • Weight: 1,400g (wheelset)
  • RRP: £1,049 (US $1,399.99/EU €1,049)

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Simon Smythe

Simon Smythe is a hugely experienced cycling tech writer, who has been writing for Cycling Weekly since 2003. Until recently he was our senior tech writer. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.