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Parcours Paniagua first ride review: carbon wheels that pack in plenty of performance for the price

Parcours brings carbon-fibre performance to a more accessible price point with its new Paniagua wheelset

The global cost of living crisis has tightened its grip on all industries and the cycling world has been hit pretty hard, too. Consumers are holding back from spending during this uncertain period and looking for ways to upgrade their bikes without breaking the bank. While 2023 has been referred to as the ‘year of the micro-upgrade’ - we’re talking new tyres, saddles and shoes here - several manufacturers have attempted to address the soaring prices by cutting production costs and sharing parts across platforms. 

We’ve seen this rhetoric employed by SRAM with its new Apex XPLR AXS groupset and the idea is proving to be a winner. Parcours is following a similar blueprint with its new Paniagua wheelset, an affordable carbon wheel option designed to appeal to a whole new demographic based purely on the performance-to-pricing ratio.

2023 Parcours Paniagua wheels - 10.jpeg

We were handed a pair of the new £759 Parcours Paniagua wheels ahead of the launch and managed to put in some decent mileage testing their performance over a one-month period.

A unified approach

For 2023, Parcours has reincarnated the entry-level Paniagua moniker but this time the company has eschewed alloy for carbon fibre. The wheels, however, are anything but entry-level - particularly when it comes to their perceived and aesthetical qualities, which will go a long way in attracting new customers.

Visually, the Paniagua fits in well with the broader Parcours range adopting the black-on-black visual treatment that has become synonymous with the brand. It’s a refined identity that makes it easy to pair with any bike regardless of the colourway. However, for those who want to take colour matching to the next level, the wheels can be optioned with custom graphics (£75 per colour or £150 for a full-rim design).

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Our Paniagua test wheels came fitted with 30mm Continental GrandPrix 5000S TR tyres. While the all-black tyre looks good in terms of the black-on-black theme, a tan-wall option would do wonders to lift the overall visual drama.

Technical details

The Paniagua wheels employ the ‘think wider’ rim architecture of Parcours’ current wheel portfolio. As a result, they use an internal rim profile of 21mm (29mm external) but, unlike its Strada, Ronde and Chrono stablemates that have a differential rim depth and profile, the Paniaguas adopt a symmetrical front/rear rim design. The 42.1mm deep rim profile provides a good balance between aerodynamics and climbing efficiency and while there’s no aero data available, real feel suggests they’re fast enough to please the speed requirements of most riders.

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The wheels use Parcours-branded alloy hubs - complete with Center Lock disc threading - laced in a 24 front/rear, two-cross pattern with bladed Pillar spokes. Hub-wise, the drive mechanism at the rear uses a six-pawl freehub with three pairs of offset pawls, effectively providing a 5.6-degree engagement system. The hub shell is heavier than its higher-end stablemates due to less machining work and different alloy but it does the job.

A complete Paniagua wheelset tips the scales at 1,600g (745g front, 855g rear) without rim tape and valves. While not the lightest wheelset around, it isn’t the heaviest either and fills the middle ground in the entry-level carbon wheelset space. Besides, the extra speed and compliance they provide more than makes up for the added grams which shouldn't really be a factor at this price point.

Performance

Billed as ‘all-road’ wheels, the Parcours Paniaguas can be used on myriad surfaces including light gravel. While our time was spent testing the wheels almost exclusively on tarmac, there were some sections of broken-up road that proved handy to put these claims to the test. Fitted with 30mm Continental GrandPrix 5000S TR tyres pumped to 55psi front/rear, the wheels did well to quell vibrations and promote traction. The T700 carbon lay-up helps absorb road chatter but also provides a good balance between response and compliance.

2023 Parcours Paniagua wheels - 8.jpeg

The wheels have been designed to play nicely with tyre widths ranging from 28-30mm. While this philosophy can seem counter-intuitive, wider tyres on wider rims have proved to be more aerodynamic than narrower options, especially considering tyre/wheel interface and how both operate as a complete wheel system rather than individual parts.

Having tested these wheels over a month and accumulating upwards of 500km, I was surprised at how they performed and the speeds achieved during testing. On flat, open roads, the Paniaguas feel fast and maintain momentum rather effectively. This also holds true on rolling terrain where momentum can be carried over the top. Crosswinds don’t seem to bother the rim profile either, and the 42.1mm rim depth appears to represent a happy medium between climbing ability and out-and-out speed.

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They are a little heavier than some of the other wheels I’m currently testing but this can be overlooked given their price point and positioning within the market. A standout feature on these wheels is without a doubt the rear hub. Often, on entry-level wheels of this nature, there’s a noticeable delay between pedal input and the engagement of the hub mechanism but the Paniaguas respond almost immediately and emit a pleasing and addictive buzz when coming off the power.

Value and summing up

For riders looking to graduate from alloy to carbon wheels, the Parcours Paniaguas represent an affordable option. The brand has established itself as a reliable company and created a wheelset portfolio built on aerodynamics, speed and compliance. The Paniaguas are superb and feel more premium than their entry-level label suggests. They’re fast, stiff and responsive, and do whatever is asked of them - over and over again. 

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Looking at some of its rivals, the Paniaguas will likely go head-to-head against the Vel 38 RSL Carbon wheels which are nearly £100 dearer and shallower in profile but 110g lighter. While they represent an affordable carbon wheel upgrade, they don’t possess the same brand cachet as Parcours and, in the current economic climate, this is likely to be a deal breaker for many. Then there’s the Hunt 40 Carbon Aero wheels, which are £20 pricier at £779. Here you get a 184g lighter wheel at a similar depth and also the Hunt name which, like Parcours, has become a respected brand in the UK.

Early verdict

Parcours has nailed the brief here. For riders looking to level up, the Paniaguas offer similar performance to a premium carbon wheelset but cost a whole lot less.

Yes, they might not be the lightest wheels around but the all-round performance delivered by these wheels is the real kicker here and the Paniaguas provide this in spades.

Tech specs: Parcours Paniagua wheels

Price £759 / $999 / €989
Material T700 Carbon 
Depth 42.1mm front/rear
Brake type Disc
Tyre format Tubeless and clincher (optimised for 28-30mm tyres)
Rim width (internal) 21mm front/rear
Rim width (external) 29mm front/rear
Spoke count 24 front/rear
Weight 1,600g (745g front, 855g rear)

Aaron is the editor of off-road.cc. He completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. As the former tech editor of Cyclingnews and Bike Perfect, digital editor of Bicycling magazine and associate editor of TopCar, he's travelled the world writing about bikes and anything with wheels for the past 17 years. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, raced nearly every mountain bike stage race in South Africa and completed the Haute Route Alps. He's also a national-level time triallist and eSports racer, too - having captained South Africa at both the 2022 and 2023 UCI Cycling eSports World Championships. 

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2 comments

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jn46 | 9 months ago
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The VEL 38 RSL have DT 240 hubs. The Vel 38 RL is probably a better comparison with similar hubs, and are currently under £500. Rims are marginally narrower.

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Surreyrider | 4 months ago
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I got the Parcours Ronde wheels, which are the next level up at £300 more. They weigh about 200g less but have slightly shallower rims (all but 40 rear and 36 front). They're great wheels and work really well but I would have been very tempted to buy these instead if they had been available, although the rim width is slightly narrower.

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