I've owned many shallow section wheels, the best of which were Ambrosio's Excellence rims laced with plain gauge spokes to blissfully silent Ultegra hubs. Pacenti markets these wheels as classic style matched with modern features, intending them to be used for a retro bike build that you can take to L'Eroica. What I see is a stylish set of wheels for getting the miles in. The classic style is the main feature for me, and wow do these look stunning.
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The polished box-section alloy rims are just 15mm tall and have 28 spoke holes holding silver Sapim D-Light J-bend spokes. These attach in a two-cross lacing pattern to the high-flange hubs. Read our review of the Pacenti Brevet Wheels. Swiss Side's Hadron Ultimate s take the fight to the bigger players in the industry with a compelling blend of aerodynamics, exemplary build quality and a competitive price.
The trademark "whoosh" sound is no more, however. Today's range of Hadron wheels might look similar to those we tested previously, but in fact no components have been carried across — they are completely different. Swiss Side offers two flavours of its Hadron aero wheelset — the Ultimate and the Classic. What's changed since we tested the Hadron s in is that both ranges now use full-carbon rims.
In fact, Swiss Side is quite open about the fact that the current-gen Hadron Ultimate and Hadron Classic use exactly the same rims in a range of depths and with rim- and disc-brake options. You might look at the pictures and assume that these are effectively the same wheels as the last lot of Hadron Ultimates we tested, but stay with me here — you couldn't be more wrong.
There is an immediate and quite obvious difference when you first start riding.
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All of the first-generation Swiss Side Hadron wheels made a rather noticeable whooshing sound, like a toned-down version of a disc wheel. This was because of the way the rim was constructed — the deep section was non-structural and so thin that you could flex it between finger and thumb, and this would amplify the vibrations from the road to make a noise.
I quite liked it, actually, and I lost count of how many times someone commented on what a good noise they made. The new Hadron rim is made as a one piece with the deep section thicker than previously, adding a claimed 20 per cent more lateral stiffness to the wheels. This is a welcome move — I found the old full-carbon Hadron Ultimates were less laterally stiff than I would have liked — and the new wheels are better in this respect, allowing me to set the brake pads closer to the rim.
A side-effect of this change is that the resonant sound is gone. Rim weight has also increased slightly as a consequence, by approximately 30g per set. We weighed these The combination of Swiss Side's aerodynamics expertise and DT Swiss's production quality yields good results here, and for less than the almost identical wheelset that DT Swiss sells. They are very easy to live with and stable on windier days, so if you're still using rim brakes you could do a lot worse than these.
And if you're already on disc brakes, well, you're in luck too. Think carbon fibre wheels and it's highly likely Enve is one of the first brand names that springs to mind. The US company knows carbon wheels and has put all its expertise into its first dedicated gravel design, these G23 wheels.
They provide phenomenal performance, low weight and impressive durability, but you'll max out your credit card to purchase them. Enve has built its reputation on carbon fibre wheels since it first launched in when it was called Edge Composites and with the new G Series, it's bringing this experience to the growing gravel and adventure bike market. It is offering the G27 B and G23 C using a rim profile optimised for wide tyres and a unique hookless profile intended to minimise pinch flats. Despite the obvious vibration-damping qualities of a low pressure 40mm tyre, the Enve rims appeared to provide a bit more 'give' when barrelling along boulder and gravel-strewn paths and gulleys compared with many other wheels I've tested.
They just seem to help take the edge off the hits, whether it's riding along washboard surfaces, hard gravel tracks or taking on bigger impacts from rocks or roots. It is possible to make a carbon fibre rim too stiff, but Enve gets it right with these.
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Build a really stiff rim and it'll give a harsh ride feel that can result in less control and more fatigue. The ride quality on offer here is exceptionally good, the rim helping to dissipate energy to generate a smoother ride with more control and less fatigue. Read our review of the Enve G23 Find an Enve dealer. They are light and very tough wide-profile carbon rims ideal for big volume gravel tyres, and they are reasonably priced with a good warranty and no weight limit.
Bontrager has considerable experience in the carbon fibre wheel market. The V stands for volume; these wheels are designed for big volume tyres. How are they designed for wider tyres? Internal width is the key; these measure 25mm internally, up from We're seeing the internal width of most road and gravel wheels increasing over traditional measurements to better suit wider tyres that are fashionable these days.
A wider rim provides a better foundation for a wider tyre, providing more stability than a wide tyre on a narrow rim.
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One of the reasons you might want to buy carbon wheels for your gravel bike is the durability and strength they offer. These are mightily strong wheels and have stood up to some punishing riding, including on rock-strewn tracks better suited to mountain bikes. Hearing the rim clatter against the rocks does make you wince but the wheels have stood up to it all just fine, with no punctures or damaged rims. I've dented aluminium rims on these same trails but the Bontragers coped with it all just fine. The wheels display the sort of stiffness you'd expect from a carbon wheel, but assessing stiffness through a low-pressure 40mm tyre is tricky.
There is more stiffness detectable when coming from aluminium wheels, though, a generally snappier ride experience especially noticeable when riding singletrack trails with lots of sudden turns. The high-quality carbon fibre Aeolus Pro 3V wheels are perfectly suited to wide road and gravel tyres, with top-notch performance and durability, backed up by a two-year no-cost replacement or repair warranty.
The Pacenti Forza-C 30mm Disc Clincher wheels are a new design from the ground up and they are absolutely lovely. You can feel the quality of the build as soon as you start riding, and their stiffness is impressive considering their very svelte 1,g weight. Pacenti hasn't even stung you on the price either.
Pacenti builds these wheels by hand in the UK and it shows — not necessarily the UK bit, but definitely the handbuilt part. The wheels feel tight and stiff, but the spoke tension allows enough comfort through to take out any harshness. Read our review of the Pacenti Forza-C. The latest Parcours Grimpeur Disc wheels are light enough to excel on the tarmac while being so tough that you can smash them over rocks and tree roots with little concern for their wellbeing. They won't break the bank either.srezidatalke.cf
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We've been seeing some brilliant, lightweight carbon fibre disc wheels coming through the office lately, and these Grimpeur Discs are some of the best. Read our review of the Parcours Grimpeur Disc. Prime's BlackEdition 50 Carbon wheels vastly outperform their price-tag, with stable rims, great braking, smooth hubs and easy tubeless setup.
The rims are designed to work best with wider tyres. The 19mm internal width allows the tyre to be nice and fat and our tester was very happy running these at around 55psi, especially with 28mm tyres. The Until we get a wind tunnel, all we can say is that these didn't hold us back. On the flat, they hold speed easily and glide over poor surfaces. Read our review of the Prime BlackEdition 50 Carbon wheels.
They're very responsive and JRA hasn't sacrificed durability to save the grams either. It's the perfect package for the rider who wants a classically styled, lightweight set of wheels for racing or training. Losing g from a wheelset always seems to make much more of a difference to how the weight of the bike feels compared with dropping the same amount elsewhere, so swapping to the Larks from a set of winter rims made impressive differences to acceleration and climbing.
The JRA Light Road hubs run very, very smoothly on their stainless bearings and the pick-up on the freewheel is fast and precise, which all adds to effortless rolling whether on the flat or rolling terrain.
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Pacenti has delivered an excellent product with its Forza Rim Brake wheelset, marrying an impressive weight with a solid, do-it-all road rim for racing or training — all for a very reasonable price, even against the biggest brands in the marketplace. While it might feel like every wheel brand is pushing its latest disc brake offerings, it can be easy to think that rim brake wheelsets are being left behind, but thanks to brands like Pacenti there are still some quality offerings out there — like the Forza.
Read our review of the Pacenti Forza.