Getting dirty with the new Pacenti SL 25

The downside of running tubeless tyres, if there has to be one, is the hassle involved in swapping tyres frequently, combined with the cost of sealant fluid wasted in the process. Realistically, if you want to run a set of commuting tyres for monday to friday and something knobbly and tubeless or something fast and tubeless for the weekend, then you need two (if not three) sets of wheels.

So when Mark from Evolution Imports sent me a pair of the newest Pacenti SL 25 rims to build and review, I took it as a sign that I needed a cyclocross specific set of wheels. They stock 24, 28 and 32 holes. I asked for 32 holes, as the plan was to build them with the very thin Sapim D-Light spokes, which weigh only just in excess of Sapim Laser and DT Revolution, but they have a stronger 1.65 mm mid-section. I also used the super reliable Novatec disc hubs, the 771/772 with the new 4 pawls freehub, which I have to say is not an improvement over the previous 3 pawled one fitted on the 712, except for the fact that it is fitted with one anti bite spline by default.

Back to the rims: at 440 grams each on my scale and U shaped, they have a very modern aero profile and being 25 mm wide, with 20 mm internal, they have to be compared to the disc specific HED Belgium plus (which I also have) and the Velocity Aileron, all rims that happily mount a wide range of tyres, from 23 mm to whatever your frame and fork clearance can take. The real disc brake all rounders.

The rims build well and very little extra work at the jig is needed to make them vertically and laterally true within 0.2 mm. The directional holes are well drilled, so no awkard nipple exit angles, like it’s the case for some cheaper imports. Once built with the above components and 12 mm brass nipples, they come at a feather over 1600 grams and feel very stiff. Marginally lighter sets can be built with lower spoke count of course and if you are really light, you should be able to get away with DT revolution spokes front and rear and get to the crucial 1500 grams figure even using brass nipples. Needless to say, I don’t recommend using alloy nipples on wheels that should and hopefully will mess with mud.

Tyre fit: I am pleased to say I have mounted both Schwalbe One 25 and the CX specific Vittoria XG PRO TNT 32 mm and they both go up easily enough and seal in seconds with 30 ml of Stans fluid.

I have now ran them for a couple of weeks and clocked give or take a dozen hours of mainly off road riding in Surrey and yesterday around the Chiltern Hills after an inch of rain fell overnight. Running the tyres at just under 30 PSI, I have never lost pressure, the tyre did not burp even when it bottomed on stones and tree roots and the traction was good enough to propel me forward in sections of deep bog (if you are familiar with the Chilterns, you know what I mean) and partially make up for my pitiful lack of technique.

Coming from an equally sized set of HED +, I felt the Pacenti offer an identical ride experience for nearly half the money (or no money in my case :-). The price point is actually very attractive for these rims, which are way cheaper than the road specific SL 23 in the UK.

To round things: thumbs up for the Pacenti, excellent rims with no obvious drawback. If one wants to be picky, the stickers are way too many (3 per side) and not the prettiest out there, but of course there will plenty of folks who love the graphics too. They are easy to peel off if you hate them. As always, my advice is to buy tubeless rims if you want to run tubeless tyres. There are plenty of much cheaper non tubeless rims out there. For off road riding, tubeless is almost a given these days, if you want to lower the pressure and increase traction.

And now to that sponge and bucket…


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