The Strade is the first wheelset from Parcours that has been designed fully in-house, and it's a very impressive one. They handle well in all conditions, the aero data seems to stack up, and they're bang on trend by being disc brake only, tubeless-ready and optimised for 28mm tyres. For their sub-£1,000 price tag, I couldn't really have asked for more from them over the test period.
While many carbon wheels you'll find for under a grand will use a rim profile that is widely available for any company to use and badge up as their own (known as open mould), the Strade was the result of a year-long research and development project in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, involving CFD analysis and extensive wind tunnel testing.
Parcours set out to offer an aero wheelset that would offer plenty of comfort as well as speed, and led by its analysis of real-world conditions and the impact of yaw angles on the ride, it arrived at a front and rear wheel that are different depths and rim profiles.
Parcours found it's the front wheel that takes most of the impact from crosswinds that can affect handling, therefore it made the rim U-shaped to deal with the higher yaw angles, with a conservative depth of 49mm. As the rear wheel is less exposed, this allowed for a deeper 54mm rim with a more old school, sharp V-shaped profile, which is better suited to low yaw angles.
Parcours tested the Strade in the wind tunnel against its existing 56mm deep Passista Disc wheelset, using a set of Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels as a baseline, and found the Strade outperformed the Passista across the board: over a distance of 40km, Parcours claims the Strade will make a 58-second saving against the baseline with 28mm tubeless tyres, compared to a 37-second saving for the Passista. The Strade even outperformed the Passista with 25mm tyres by a couple of seconds, and analysis of the handling performance showed the Strade's front wheel had a 15% reduction in sideforce impact compared to the Passista.
While it would have been nice to see a test against a similar aero wheelset from a competitor, Parcours insists that this would always be open to criticism because testing procedures differ between brands. Even so, it's so confident that the Strade is the real deal it felt it was no longer possible to recommend the Passista Disc wheelset in any circumstance, so discontinued it straight away when the Strade went on sale.
If you want to see Parcours' testing for yourself, it's published the full details of the Strade's development along with wind tunnel results here.
The other main objective was to make the Strade as wide as possible, while staying within current guidelines laid out by the European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation on maximum width for running a 25mm tyre. This, says Parcours, is because some riders may still run 25s out of habit, so it wouldn't currently make sense to make a wheelset that couldn't run 25mm tyres safely when they're still the most common road bike tyre width. (You can't run 23s, if you wanted any more evidence that skinny rubber has been consigned to history.)
This maximum allowable width turned out to be 22.5mm internally for both wheels, with a 32mm outer rim width on the front and 30.5mm on the rear. The Strade is optimised for a 28mm tyre, and Parcours says that a 28mm Continental GP5000TL (its base tyre for all its aero testing) will have an 'implied' measured width of 30.3mm on the rim.
The wheels arrived with rim tape provided and a freehub spacer for 8, 9 or 10-speed cassettes. They weighed in at 1,520g for the pair, so not the lightest set of wheels on the market around this depth, but certainly not heavy either. Parcours promises smooth running in all weathers from the machined alloy hubs with EZO cartridge bearings and a Centerlock disc fitment, and, as with pretty much all road disc brake wheelsets nowadays, they're fitted for 12mm thru-axles out of the box (adapter kits are available for other axle standards).
Parcours has selected tried and tested Sapim CX-Ray aero spokes front and rear, in a 24-spoke 2-cross pattern to ensure strength and longevity as well as speed. The blacked out decals look stealthy and cool in my opinion, and will match with anything, but Parcours offers customised options if you want a flash of colour.
Should you encounter any problems, Parcours doesn't really go wildly above and beyond when it comes to warranty and crash replacement, but it's all fair and square. The Strade wheelset comes with the standard-fare full two-year manufacturer's warranty should anything be faulty, and in the event of a crash, it offers a 'substantial discount' on any replacement rims, and wholesale pricing for replacement parts.
I used Continental GP5000TL tyres set up tubeless throughout the test period. As this was Parcours' tyre of choice for its development phase I expected fitting to be pretty fuss-free... which was mostly the case, with a lever only required to get the last little bit of tyre snapped onto the rim for each wheel.
I wasn't able to blow them up first time with a regular track pump (which might be possible with some tyre combos), so used an air blaster initially. I started my rides with the pressure between 70-80psi throughout the test period.
Out on the road, the stability was evident straight away and I was really impressed with their performance in crosswinds. It seems like we've had a particularly blustery spring and summer this year, and I felt completely confident running the Strade wheels no matter what the weather was doing, not once sensing that handling was compromised.
They're also impressively stiff with little to no flex evident on my bumpy regular training routes, even out of the saddle. The 28mm tyres that blow up to around 30mm on the wide rims will help greatly of course, but the wheels seemed to offer plenty of comfort to take the edge off dodgy road surfaces too. This became even more apparent when I sadly had to give them back, and swapped to another similarly priced mid-depth carbon wheelset with 25mm tyres on my Specialized Tarmac test bike; the difference in comfort was evident straight away, and the Strade also felt much smoother in my opinion.
I was pleased to find that the freehub has a nice whooshing sound, not too intimidating but folk will definitely know you're there. The EZO bearings engage quickly and proved durable and smooth throughout my lengthy test period. Parcours offers a Kogel ceramic bearing upgrade for £275, but for me and 99 per cent of Parcours' customers, this luxury probably isn't going to be necessary.
I can't prove anything with regards to Parcours' aero claims through my own testing on the road, but I can confidently report that my average speeds went up compared with my training wheels. Of all the race wheels I've tried over the years, the Strades are probably the most balanced I've used to date; they offer plenty of free speed compared with bog standard wheels, plus enough comfort, strength and crosswind stability that would make me consider ditching training wheels altogether. I'd rather use these year-round for a faster commute!
In terms of value, the Strade wheels are among the most affordable aero wheels out there unless you buy direct from the Far East, but there are some highly recommended options that are even more wallet-friendly.
Hunt's 4050 Carbon Aero Disc wheelset received a glowing road.cc review back in July, and they're considerably cheaper at £819 and a bit lighter (1,472g a pair), though the depth is 40mm on the front and 50mm rear, so the Strade's deeper profile could potentially offer more aero benefit.
Zipp also now offers a carbon wheelset, the 303S, at a surprising £985, but they are shallower still, and only compatible with tubeless-ready tyres.
At the other end of the scale, Vision's Metron 55 SL Discs are £1,699.95.
I was really pleased with how the Strade wheels performed, and the R+D that has gone into them is impressive for a relatively new brand. The only reason the score isn't perfect is because there are similar carbon wheelsets from competitors that are more affordable still, although it could be argued that Parcours' Strade project is more exhaustive than any that have come before it for a sub-£1,000 carbon wheelset; and it shows in the performance on the road.
Impressively fast, cutting-edge carbon wheels at a very impressive price point
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Parcours Strade wheelset
Size tested: 700C
Tell us what the wheel 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?
Parcours says: "The Strade is our newest all-road wheelset. Aerodynamically-optimised around a 28mm tyre, it features a differential front/rear rim profile to deliver stable handling and outright speed."
I found this description to be bang on the money: they worked best with a 28mm tubeless tyre, they're impressively fast and handled perfectly over my test period.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Weight front: 690g
Weight rear: 830g
Sapim CX-Ray spokes, 24 front and 24 rear
Depth front: 49mm
Depth rear: 54mm
Rim width front: 32mm
Rim width rear: 30.5mm
Internal rim width (both wheels): 22.5mm
Rim tape fitted
Freehub spacer for 8/9/10 speed cassettes supplied
They've got all the parts that add up to a smooth-running, fast, modern carbon wheelset, including EZO bearings, quality Sapim CX-Ray spokes and 12mm thru-axles front and rear. The differing profiles of the front and rear show Parcours has thought carefully about optimising the construction, and the results are impressive.
They're just the right depth to handle very well in crosswinds, and I can't say I found them any more difficult to handle than training wheels. They also felt impressively stiff and the acceleration is on a par with many high-end wheelsets I've tried.
No issues with spokes etc over the test period; no signs that they're not durable.
There are lighter carbon race wheels out there, but not many for under £1k.
More affordable than most carbon race wheels – Vision's Metron 55 SL Discs are £1,699.95 – although Hunt's 4050 Carbon Aero Disc wheelset are less at £819.... Under £1,000 for wheels that offer this much performance is impressive.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
They stayed true, and no spoke tension issues over the test period.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
No tubeless tyre installation is completely plain sailing, but I didn't really encounter any problems.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Almost ideal: they're fast, stable and work best with 28mm tubeless tyres as described.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
The stability, the smoothness and the pleasing sound from the freehub... not too deafening but it makes your presence known.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
There's nothing really to dislike.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
More affordable than most carbon race wheels, although Hunt's 4050 Carbon Aero Disc wheelset are less at £819. There's also now a pair of Zipp wheels that come in at £985 – the 303S – although these are only compatible with tubeless-ready tyres.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I was impressed with the Strade wheels; plenty of work has gone into Parcours' first ground-up wheel project. There are some wheelsets around scored highly by road.cc reviewers that are even more affordable, so the score isn't quite 10/10.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike (currently Specialized Tarmac) My best bike is: Ridley Chronus TT bike
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Triathlon races
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining road.cc in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the road.cc live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.