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Parcours FKT Gravel Wheels Are Most Aero with 40mm Panaracer Gravel King X1 Tires

Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel bike race wheels, pair
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New aero carbon Parcours FKT gravel wheels hope to set new Fastest Known Times both on your local gravel tracks and at the big gravel races, thanks to unique knobby tire aerodynamics. With a bulging shape quite different than what we see in most aero road wheels, Parcours says the FKT is fastest out on gravel roads with a 40mm tire. And that fastest tire is the latest Gravel King from Panaracer…

Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel bike race wheels

Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel bike race wheels
(Photos/Cory Benson)

It’s a rare feat to design a real aero gravel-specific wheelset. The few brands that have done so have opted for really wide rims at the bead to get as close to the width of the narrowest, most minimal tread gravel tires you’d expect for someone obsessed with optimizing their CdA. And then, they kind of admit that wider, kobbier tires will likely mean noticeably more drag. And building wider wheels inevitably means heavier, too.

But Parcours seem to take a slightly different approach.

Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel bike race wheels, in the NC wind tunnel

They identified the new 40mm Panaracer Gravel King X1 tire as knobby-enough and wide enough that it would be a versatile all-rounder gravel tire you’d expect to show up at amateur and pro races alike. And then, they created what they call the optimal aero gravel bike race wheel for that tire. Interestingly, what likely makes that new Gravel King the ideal aero gravel tire are its low-height shoulder knobs.

Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel bike race wheels, in CFD
(Image/Parcours)

In fact, surprisingly, Parcours CFD and then wind tunnel data, shows that even slightly narrower versions of this same gravel tire, are indeed slightly slower.

Unique aero gravel rim shape

Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel bike race wheels, rim shape detail

But the real secret sauce seems to be the combination of an ideal gravel tire with a slightly unconventional aero profile. And the result, a virtual airfoil profile that smooths airflow from both sides.

Parcours isn’t sharing the FKT rim shape explicitly, a bit to protect the time and effort refining this aero gravel shape. But it’s pretty apparent that this is something quite different than most aero wheels, even if it’s just a few millimeters here or there.

The 47mm deep tubeless rim is wide at 27mm hookless internal. But it’s not exceptionally wide outside, measuring just 32mm external at the top of the tire bead.The widest point of the rim is 40mm wide (like the ideal tire) but that’s almost exactly in the middle of the overall rim depth.

Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel bike race wheels, rim tire interface detail

The Parcours description seems to me to suggest that this narrower ‘waist’ where the tire meets the rim just goes along to support some ‘good turbulence’ that keeps airflow attached to the wheel in the wind. Also, since the rim+tire shape combination is quite similar from either side, both the front half of the wheel with the tire cutting into the wind and the rear half of the wheel led by the rim, both have similarly good aerodynamic performance.

Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel bike race wheels, tire widt wind tunnel comparison
(Image/Parcours)

Parcours data shows pretty consistent performance for a 35mm up to a 45mm tire. So it looks like you won’t suffer big penalties if you stray a bit from their fast 40mm tire setup. Read more about the Parcours aero development and read explanatory white papers at their Aerodynamics Lab info page.

Tech details

  • Internal width: 27mm hookless
  • Outer dimensions: 47mm deep x 40mm max width… 32mm external at the tire
  • Tire sizes; ETRTO tubeless tire compatibility from 35mm tires and wider
  • Spokes: 24 Sapim CX-Ray straight-pull bladed aero, with external alloy nipples
  • Hubs: Road Centerlock Disc, 6-pawl with 2 points of offset engagement per pawl on a 44T ring for 88 POE at 4° engagement
  • Weight, wheelset only: 1500g (claimed)
  • Weight, ready to mount tires: 1561g (actual) on our scale with rotor lockrings, tape & tubeless valves installed
Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel bike race wheels, 1561g wheelset with tubeless tape, tubeless valves, and centerlock rotor lockrings

Parcours FKT – Pricing & availability

Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel bike race wheels, set
(Photo/Parcours)

The all-new Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel race wheels are available to pre-order starting today through the end of July, with delivery slated for next month – August 2024. Wheelsets sell for £1200 / $1600 / 1560€. And all wheels bought in the pre-order period will include a free set of 40mm Panaracer Gravel King X1 tires, saving you $130.

Parcours FKT aero carbon gravel bike race wheels, riding
(Photo/Parcours)

We just got a set of the wheels in to test. And we plan to get out in the coming weeks to see how fast they feel!

Parcours.cc

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Oliver
Oliver
4 days ago

27mm wide internal with only 32mm wide external, and hookless … nooo thank you.

Greg
Greg
4 days ago
Reply to  Oliver

Hookless isn’t an issue with gravel. It only makes no sense on road, where higher pressures and narrower tires exist.
That said, I’ve been running some Nextie rims that are 29mm internal and bulge to 40mm external for maybe two years now. They’re available in hooked or hookless. They’ve been fast, reasonably light, 100% trouble free.

Victor
Victor
4 days ago
Reply to  Greg

I’m really interested in those agx wheels but for road. Extra volume on gravel is not an issue, but will be helpful on road bike.
I wish those were hooked, but with 40c I’m not concerned

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
4 days ago
Reply to  Greg

Hookless is plenty good for road bikes too. I’d really have no interest in running a tire narrower than 30mm unless I’m on a velodrome. And every tire I’d want on a modern road bike is hookless compatible.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
4 days ago

Kinda weird to optimize this wheel for 40mm tires when few people want tires that narrow anymore.

Thomas
Thomas
3 days ago
Reply to  Veganpotter

I think this is super regional. Unbound racers may not want that anymore. That doesn’t mean everybody around the world ditched their 40 or 42mm tires. For a start a lot of gravel bikes do not have much more clearances and people will not sell their perfectly working gravel bike for another one just because US fashion says 50mm and more are better.

Most gravel bikes are still mostly ridden on the road in most parts of the world.

Zee
Zee
2 days ago
Reply to  Thomas

Definitely very regional. 38s are my ideal size for my area of gravel. Nothing is chunky around here unless you get on the rare B road that is rocky. Even for our local single track (when riding my gravel bike) I like 38s. They’re more than enough for my riding and where I live.

threeringcircus
threeringcircus
3 days ago
Reply to  Veganpotter

Since this is an “aero” wheel, I think +/-40mm is about right since the target audience is presumably racers.

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