As a keen cyclist that regularly clocks up 300-400km a week, with a full time office job, the thought of splashing out on a pair of carbon Parcours wheels was never something I'd planned. Now, having tried them out for a week, everything has changed.
I think everyone has experienced the moment of rolling up to a group of other cyclists, and having the 'head to toe' analysis of what you're riding, what finishing kit, groupset and what tyres you're using. The caricature of the MAMIL is one that competes with his colleagues to have the highest spec. That's what my initial thoughts played to, that a set of Parcours Passista wheels played to this stereotype, that they were too much money, too much “gear”, too flashy and too unnecessary.
There's no denying it; Any carbon wheels are expensive. My bike was expensive, I have expensive kit, I spend most of my disposable income on food and bike ‘stuff’. So why do I feel like this is too much extravagance?
I think it is something that society has instilled in us, especially women, that spending £800+ on a set of wheels isn’t acceptable. Especially when you hit a certain age. Given the difficulty getting on the property ladder these days in London, there's no chance of saving for a deposit, so what the hell am I saving money for? A rainy day? I’d rather spend money on my hobby whatever the weather. Life is too short, money is for spending, but still it just seemed too much.
Everyone wants a pretty bike, so why shouldn’t that include wheels that complement the hours I spend polishing the frame so it glistens in the sunshine! There is no denying how good a pair of Parcours wheels look. I think my worry was people would think it looked too much. However in the 10 days I had the Passista wheelset on my bike, no one said to me “those wheels look ridiculous”. Even my non-cycling colleagues said “nice wheels” or made positive comments about them.
So, they look great. But how much difference can a set of wheels make?
Call me naïve but I honestly didn’t know and this is where trying them out for a couple of weeks really made a difference, and the answer, is A LOT. Light aero wheels mean less effort in getting up to speed, and as soon as I rolled out on the Passistas, it made cycling seem easier, faster, and more fun. Even the smoothness of the ride is enhanced and steering felt more controlled. An added bonus was the beautiful sound they made when braking or going full pelt!
Ultimately the difference blew me away and made me question why I had been so resistant for so long.
My resistance in hindsight stemmed from a lack of confidence in my ability and how people judged my bike. Pretty unfounded really. But unfortunately something I see all the time in myself and in my female cycling friends in all aspects of cycling. Time to change that…starting with my wheels.
All photos with kind permission of Attacus CC