Cole wheels for heavy riders

Posted by SuperClydesdale on September 30, 2010 under Wheels | Be the First to Comment

Cole is an uncommon name to many cyclists, but the wheels look rock solid (for what that’s worth).   Their spoke system, called DSA for Dynamic Spoke Alignment, allows for very high spoke tension.  The high tension wheels are supposed to offer a high degree of wheel stiffness, resulting in “crisper acceleration” and durability.  While high spoke tension sounds like a faster way to busted spokes, Cole wheels also have a very large spoke head at the hub (called the Fat Head), to allow for this high degree of tension to be spread over a large area, which they claim results in much fewer spoke breaking, which should certainly be of interest to Clydesdales, who break more spokes than Tiger Woods does wedding vows.

The hub of the C50 Lite wheel from Cole shows the DSA spoke system with the cylindrical spoke ends at the hub.

The DSA spoke system, however, appears to be pretty durable, although I am suspicious that they might lead to spoke creaking on the drive side of the rear wheel (like my Spinergy Stealth PBO), when ridden hard by big strong watt machines (aka “Clydesdales”).  My Spinergy wheels croaked like frogs with every pedal stroke when climbing.  I had to crank up the tension on the spokes to quiet them, so perhaps this will be less of an issue with the Coles.  Also, since Cole spokes are metal throughout, and the hub flange is metal, they could always be lubricated should creaking begin (unlike Spinergy wheels).

Cole has no weight limit, which is a big red flag.  While these wheels look solid, and the DSA system sounds terrific, Cole has no wheel replacement program, which to me puts the veracity of their durability claims in doubt.  They also only test their wheels to 230 pounds, and anything above that they say “call us.”   I heard that a lot from girls in college.  I hope Cole works out better.

Since they claim no weight limit, technically all of the wheels in their catalog should be Clydesdale-ready.

But, after talking to the Cole representative at their booth, we focused on two wheelsets:

  • The Rollen eLite (aluminum)
  • C50 Lite (solid carbon)

The Cole C50 Lite wheel. Tested to 230 but with no formal weight limit. $2,195 for the set. Pair weighs 1720 grams.

The Cole Rollen eLite wheelset. Tested to 230 pounds, no formal weight limit. $595 for the set. 1650 grams for the pair.

Crash replacement

A big downside for the Cole wheelsets is that there is no official crash replacement policy.  Every crash will be handled on a case-by-case basis.  That concerns me, because after my disastrous experience with Mavic wheels – and Mavic’s response, I want to know up front what the policy is.  I can’t imagine spending $2,000 on a wheelset without knowing what the crash replacement policy is.   One pothole away from a big expense.

Cassette compatibility

Cole only lists SRAM and Shimano compatibility on their price sheet (no Campy).

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