The Bortolas are new to Pro-Lite's range for 2015 keeping the light weight and stiffness of the well-received Bracciano but adding tubeless capability and wider rims.
The 1540g weight is impressive for an aluminium wheelset even if that is about 65g over the claimed weight. With the Bortolas Pro-Lite haven't sacrificed strength or durability to achieve it, it's more of a by-product of well chosen, proven components.
The 6061 alloy rim is actually wider than it is deep, 23.2mm from braking surface to braking surface in relation to a depth of just 21mm. Internal width is 17mm up from the traditional 13mm that you see on the Braccianos for instance.
|You can find the Pro-Lite Bortola A21 wheels online at Wiggle.|
If you are using 25 or 28mm tyres the wider rim gives the tyre a better profile when fitted. A more rounded shape than the lightbulb effect you'll get with the standard rim. You can run lower pressures too thanks to the larger tyres increasing comfort.
Prices are still pretty steep for tubeless tyres but if it's a route you fancy going down the Bortolas are ready for it. All you'll need is tubeless valve kit.
Pro-Lite build their wheels by hand in their own facility and as with the rest of the range the Bartolas use Sandvik stainless steel spokes which are in a straight pull design here with a butted, flat 'aero' body. Lacing is 20 radial up front with a 2-cross pattern for the rear 24 spokes.
The hubs are Pro-Lite's own and use Japanese EZO bearings, highly regarded by many wheel builders and if they remain as good as they feel now you're in for a lot of smooth rolling miles. My own Braccianos using a similar design and setup are currently on 20,000 miles with no issues.
So, how do they ride?
Well, very well. I've had them on my Aithien for the majority of the testing and they've suited the light weight raciness of the frame thanks to sharp acceleration and lateral stiffness. The Bartolas pick up speed quickly thanks to a svelte rim and make climbing a joy especially giving a little out of the saddle dig on a steep section.
Aero spokes can often make a set of wheels feel harsh but that isn't the case here as the Pro-Lites feel smooth on the road and comfortable when running 23mm tyres at a decent pressure.
Swapping to larger tyres and putting them on the commuter gives you a very dependable, comfortable, long distance wheelset that'd be great for credit card touring or a spot of audax while still offering a bit of speed when you want it. The only downside from using them on a year round machine could be the alloy nipples. They don't like the salty roads so brass would have been a better option for this type of wheel.
The braking surface has been machined so you don't get any little bumps at the join when the pads are applied.
Overall the Bortolas are perfect all rounder wheels that only really lose out in terms of aerodynamics due to that shallow rim. For all but really high speeds though that is irrelevant. With an rrp of £349 there is a lot of stiff competition out there but I'd take the Pro-Lite's over the likes of Mavic's Ksyriums or Fulcrum 3s purely down to the complete package of durability, light weight and stiffness.
They're available for Shimano/SRAM 9, 10, and 11-speed and Campagnolo 9, 10, 11-speed sprockets plus the freehub is swappable so you can chop and change.
Solid all rounders that'll stand up to the daily commute while being stiff and light enough to race on
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Make and model: Pro-Lite Bortola A21 wheelset
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Bortola wheelset is an all rounder type wheelset with its wide and shallow rim but offers the same performance as a lot of race wheels.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
*21mm rim depth
*21mm external, 17mm internal rim width
*Sandvik SS aero spokes - 20F radial, 24R two cross
*Japanese EZO bearings
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A really nice wheelset that has many applications.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
A great all round package
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Alloy nipples could be an issue for four season riding.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A great all round wheelset that is just at home on your summer bike as the winter commuter. Being capable of entry level racing as well as all day cruising is a big plus if you only want one set of wheels.
Age: 36 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!