Pete Matthews Pianni 700 wheels £299

Quality wheels for medium weight touring

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

With 36 spokes, mountain bike hubs and Pete Matthews’ own rims, these retro wheels are tough enough for the long haul, but still fairly light.

We’ve put in plenty of miles on these retro-looking medium weight touring wheels, including office commutes and a six day dirt road tour in Wales with plenty of rock strewn descents. No problems to report, bar the front wheel that needed a little de-stressing during the first ride.

Since then, neither has dropped a fraction out of true; even if they do take a knock, they’re easy enough to tweak, thanks to the traditional three-cross style build, with Matthews’ own brand of double butted spokes.

In terms of versatility, the low weight of 880g up front and 1080g at the back means they’re light enough to feel perky unladen yet are really strong too.

Matthews has a stock of these unusual wheels at the ready. They’re a real treat, so we expect they won’t be around for long.

Construction details: well-thought-out for versatility

The rims are from Matthews’ distinctive Pianni range and are sourced in Italy. The Paris Roubaix Piccolo model is particularly tough for its weight (480g), and we’ve used it in everything from cyclocross races to fixed wheel commuting.

Quite aside from the great looks and snazzy finish, it’s good to see it in a 36-hole incarnation for laden touring, rather than the standard 32.

Being deeper in profile than most rims means that Matthews can true them up a little tighter than normal. There’s still enough room for a standard valve end to poke through, which makes it easier to source thicker replacement inner tubes for touring, rather than the skimpy road ones.

With a 19.5mm rim width, we managed to fit tyres ranging from 23mm right up to 45mm, or 1.8in.

The hubs themselves are also something of a rarity. Although these old school cartridge bearing Hope models are no longer made, their slender shell is far more elegant than many of today’s hubs. Coming from a mountain bike background, they’ve always had a great reputation for seals and reliability.

Ours came spaced for a 130m dropout (road size width), perfect for touring on a cyclocross bike, though you could always get them specced as a 135mm, which will suit many 700c tourers.

Matthews doesn't have a website as such, so interested riders shold call him on +44 (0)151 924 9311.

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