Review – Parcours Alta Gravel / CX Carbon Wheel Set

Parcours Alta Wheel Set Review - Tim Wiggins
The idea and attraction behind a gravel bike is that it can go anywhere, and ride anything. That robustness and versatility does not have to mean performance sacrifice though; fitting a carbon wheelset like the Parcours Alta wheels to your gravel bike will provide a lightweight but incredibly versatile upgrade.

My Kona Private Jake has over 27,000 kilometres on its frameset to date and has eaten through multiple wheelsets and drivetrains in its lifetime. Yet, fitting the Parcours Alta wheels to its go-anywhere chassis has been one of the most dramatic upgrades I have experience.

The Alta wheelset is named after the most northern town in Norway — alluding to the claim that if you need a wheelset to take you far out into the back of beyond, then these should be your chosen hoops. My riding certainly pushes the boundaries of 'Gravel' — I often ride off-road trails on my gravel bike that are firmly in the mountain biking category, as well as riding my gravel bike fully loaded with bikepacking bags. I set out to test the Alta wheels to their limit…

The Alta is built around a strong carbon rim, with a depth of 35 millimetres, and a wide external rim width of 29 millimetres — perfect for 35 to 40c gravel tyres. The rim is laced up with a 28 spoke 2-cross pattern on the front and rear, to provide a strong and rigid wheel. The spokes feed into an alloy hub that uses EZO cartridge bearings to deliver a smooth rolling and durable heart to the wheels. As a complete package, these specs are exactly what I would look for in a gravel wheelset.

I set the Alta wheels up tubeless, using a Parcours Tubeless Kits; the tyres mounted up easily on the tubeless specific rims. I fitted a set of SwissStop center-lock disc rotors to the hubs; again, this is an easy set-up, and far faster than the older six-bolt disc rotors. Once on the bike, I rode out to put the Alta wheelset through its paces.

The immediate benefit of the Alta wheels shone through in their weight saving. The wheelset weighs in at a mere 1460 grams — a weight comparable to many road bike performance wheel sets. The weight reduction was 400 grams compared to my previous Kona Private Jake wheels; that level of rotating weight saving is immediately obvious and translates into far more rapid acceleration and much improved climbing capabilities. Carbon really does show its merits on a wide deep-section rim.

Set up tubeless, I could run the Alta at a much lower pressure than with a tubed tyre — 30 PSI front and 35 PSI rear. The lower pressure helps with traction and comfort, but I also noted that the carbon rims further improved vibration dampening compared to alloy tubeless set-ups. For gravel riding this is a significant bonus, because the rigid forks and stiff rear stays of a gravel bike can be unforgiving on longer off-road rides.

Most importantly for an 'adventure' wheelset, the Alta wheels have also proven to be impressively durable. A wheelset is only as good as the builder; as it is the consistency of spoke tensions and accurate balancing that determine whether a wheel remains true after rough terrain riding. I have clocked over 2000 kilometres on the Alta wheelset, and have yet to need to re-tune the wheels — that is an impressive performance and suggests the Sapim CX Ray bladed spokes have been accurately and carefully laced.

As a complete package, the Parcours Alta Wheelset is undeniably exceptional. Fast, strong, robust, and well-built; they offer a superb upgrade to your gravel bike. Priced at £849 (including shipping) they are also reasonably priced, and excellent value for a carbon rim wheelset. It seems that the UK-based company has built a winner with these wheels; a set of hoops that will take you on any adventure, with speed, comfort, and reliability.

>> View the Parcours Alta Wheel Set at <<

Parcours Alta Wheel Set Review - Tim Wiggins

Parcours Velo provided with this product for testing and review


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