The Alta wheels from Parcours are a very lightweight full carbon wheelset, weighing just 1360g for the pair. The freehub design is basic, but a good quality rim creates an agile ride and overall package that makes for a good value wheelset.
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Parcours Alta 650B wheelset – technical details
Parcours’ Alta full carbon rims are the only 650b option within the Parcours wheel range and feature a 35mm depth and 25mm internal rim measurement as opposed to the 700’s 21.5mm. This internal width allows for larger 45mm+ tyres to be fitted to the wheels and ensures they have a broader base than you'd get with a narrow rim which makes them more suitable for rougher riding on more rutted trails. The rims are a hookless design and Parcours list that they must be fitted with tubeless tyres, although you could run a tube within a tubeless-ready tyre.
The wheels are built up with Sapim CX-Ray spokes, which are excellent, high quality, and lightweight for the price point with a 24-spoke build and two-cross pattern front and rear. The overall build is strong to give an impressively stiff wheelset. The hubs are fitted with EZO bearings, which remained smooth from unboxing throughout the test period.
Our test wheelset was fitted with a Shimano freehub, but Campagnolo and SRAM XDR options are also available. The disc fitments are centre-lock, but I found the fitment quite loose and although the majority of this movement went away after installing the lockring, there was still a small amount of rocking possible.
Parcours supply the wheels fitted with tubeless-ready tape fitted, and tubeless valves are now included as standard with the Alta wheelset. I tried the wheels with both Halo GXR and GXC tyres during testing, and both fitted well with no problems. The tyres needed minimal help with a tyre lever to get onto the rim, and a standard track pump inflation was quick.
Parcours Alta 650B – How they ride
In use, the stiffness of the wheels is very evident, further highlighting some of the benefits of using the smaller 650b wheel size. They provide a more agile ride at an impressively low weight of just 1,360g for the pair and this low weight means the Alta wheels can be quite playful, easy to lift and move around.
To put that weight into context the Specialized Roval CLX 650b, that weighed an equally impressive 1,350g but costs a whopping £1,850!
The rear hub features a 4 pawl system with a single spring clip that is more basic than some competitor wheels and features a lower point of engagement. This is an updated review of a replacement set as we had problems with the initial set’s freehub while testing which including some clicking and clunks, especially under load which we reported back to Parcours.
They suggested that the grease may have been affected by the cold temperatures which is possible. However, given the wheels were brand new and stored indoors, you would hope not. Back in January 2020 (winter again) Dave Arthur had a similar issue at the end of testing his 700c Alta version, so there are some possible concerns here with the freehub.
The good news is that Parcours replaced the wheelset swiftly and the problem we had was something that would be covered under their lifetime warranty offered with the wheelset. Our replacement wheelset has performed as expected with no noise or slipping, so we can only summarise that we have been super unlucky here.
Problems aside, the design of the hub with a 26T ratchet ring, giving a 13.8° angle of engagement, is not as quick to engage as some other types. Riding off-road in particular I find a smaller angle of engagement helps when tackling technical climbs and, compared against the VEL 30 GRL wheels tested recently which have a 102 tooth engagement ring, the difference is stark.
In terms of value for money, the Alta's are up against some serious competition with other brands using different freehub systems. For example, the VEL's 30 GRL carbon tubeless wheelset at £700 with its rapid 102 tooth engagement ring. The Scribe's 5star reviewed Carbon Gravel wheelset at £870 uses a ratchet drive, and Just Riding Along's Mahi Mahi or Gecko carbon wheels both retail at £850 using Bitex hubs and a 6-pawl individually sprung mechanism.
The rims and general build of the Parcours wheels are fine with a rim at a depth and width that is ideal for gravel riding. They are agile, light and strong, with a lifetime warranty to back up on any potential issues.