Pro-Lite Bortola A21W wheelset

Pro-Lite Bortola A21W wheelset

 

Pro-Lite Bortola A21W wheelset

 

Paul Horta-Hopkins

 

Pro-Lite’s Bortola A21W tubeless ready wheels are ready for review

 

Light, fast and strong could they be the do it all wheels you’ve been looking for? Pro-Lite are a Taiwanese brand and the largest builder of hand built wheels in the world. With all their rims and hubs produced in-house and stringent quality control, they keep a close eye on their wheels final build.

 

Out of the box and the Bortola A21W is a smart looking wheel, with some very neat black and white graphics. Onto the scales and they weigh in at 679g for the front and 840g for the rear, pretty good considering their price: that’s 1519g for £314.99 at Wiggle.

 

Pro-Lite's Bortola A21W wheelset waits for the tubeless treatment
Pro-Lite’s Bortola A21W wheelset waits for the tubeless treatment

 

The Bortola A21W uses a flash welded, 21mm deep rim with an overall width of 23.2mm; quite different from the deeper section rims that are the norm nowadays. The rim is tubeless ready and I’ll be using them as such – my first entry into the world of tubeless. I did try one of the DIY methods for running tubeless for cyclo-cross; it will be interesting to see if using tubeless specific rims and tyres is any easier.

 

The rim bed is drilled which, as a tubeless neophyte, was confusing. Surely the rim bed should be solid? But no, you’ll need some tubeless rim tape if you’re going to run the Bortolas tubeless. Being drilled does make accessing the spoke heads easier, if you need to.

 

The rim bed is drilled, so you will need tape to make it fully tubeless
The rim bed is drilled, so you will need tape to make it fully tubeless

 

The hubs for the Bortolas are taken from Pro-Lite’s Bracciano wheels and are pleasingly slim. Japanese Ezo bearings are used: two in the front and four in the rear. When spun in the hand, they feel like the quality items they are reputed to be. The freehub comes in Shimano/SRAM or Campagnolo flavours and emits a lovely “tik-tik” sound when spun – no good for sneaking up on people but I love it!

 

They are laced with black 2.2mm flat bladed, straight pull, double butted Sandvik aero spokes. The front uses twenty spokes, in a radial pattern, while the rear uses twenty four in a traditional two cross, lacing pattern.

 

The Bortola's hubs are simple looking and spin effortlessly on their Ezo bearings
The Bortola’s hubs are simple looking and spin effortlessly on their Ezo bearings

 

By the time this goes live I will have set them up and ridden for the first time on Wiggle’s Ups & Downs sportive. They’ll then get a good thrashing and hopefully tackle a road race or two. I’ll report back with how they fare. Check out Pro-Lite’s video below to see the kind of care that goes into their wheel building process.

 

 

Pro-Lite Website

 

Pro-Lite Bortola A21W wheelset

 

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