Proof that a lightweight upgrade wheelset needn't cost the earth
We would all like to spend mega-money on a set of new wheels, but the chances are that most of us need to keep things in perspective when upgrading. With that in mind, the Pro-Lite Bortolas present a compelling case to keep your investment below the £400 mark.
The A21Ws make the point of being particularly stiff and responsive– a design arrived at via a shallow 21mm rim depth along with a wide 23.2mm external rim width, following the now-common pattern of designing wider rims to allow the wheels to support wider tyres.
Instead of paying no attention to the aero properties of the rim surface, Pro-Lite have also tapered them smoothly to make the most of what they can offer.
No, they’re not even mid-depth by any stretch of the imagination, but the profile allows the rim to shed attached air more easily and steadily than a sharper, more old-school rim.
The wheels come in at a claimed 630g for the front and 795g for the rear, for a total weight of 1,425g, so they certainly won’t be weighing you down the next time you encounter a punchy climb. They’re tubeless-ready, too, so there’s the opportunity to reduce your susceptibility to punctures, while increasing comfort thanks to the lower pressures you can achieve.
Around the rim we find an aluminium brake track and straight-pull double-butted aero spokes laced to the hubs, which feature sealed Japanese EZO bearings known for their smooth operation and reliability. The freehub (available in Shimano/SRAM and Campag varieties) is also smooth and boasts a quality sound (depending on your ear, that is).
As we found during our review you get a really refined ride all round, from the braking performance offered by aluminium, to the responsiveness and efficiency of the hoops – just what you want from a wide, lightweight upgrade wheelset that offers high quality parts in package that doesn’t cost the earth.
Most importantly, though, as we concluded in our test of these Bortola A21W wheels, it’s the fact that they tick all the latest-generation boxes in a package that’s accessible to most riders that really sets them apart.
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