Cole Wheels are a new brand for Evans Cycles, and Bert has already given us a good overview in his recent post. So the first thing we decided to do when all the samples arrrived is test them!
Now, I’m your typical guy who has just got into road riding from MTB – bought a road bike last year that came with bog standard £80 job Shimano wheels, done a few sportives and plenty of commuting, and now wondering what parts on my bike need a little upgrade to make things a bit lighter and more responsive. So the first place to look is the wheels.
Bert gave me a set of C24 Lites to try out – described as the workhorse of the range, these are low profile aluminium clincher wheels. What’s in the bag:

The details: DSA technology with a low-profile aluminium clincher rim, the C24 Lite features a 24mm ARAYA rim, made in Japan, laced to swiss-made, cold-drawn butted spoke. £274.99srp (pair) / 1650g per pair / Campag freehub option

The feature that most stands out is the way the spokes are attached to the hub via a small cylinder, rather than the usual J bend. This is to improve tension, and certainly looks different:

On the first ride I immediately noticed the difference when climbing – my bike felt lighter, and just not so much effort required to push up. I then began to notice the difference in the way it handled in the corners – it felt a lot more nimble, like I could chuck it about a bit more, which I did. So far so good.

We then thought a very good test for these wheels would be to ride them over 50 miles of farms tracks, fields, potholes, streams, cattlegrids and fire road. This was the Rapha Hell of the North ride a few weeks back, paying homage to probably the ultimate wheel test – Paris Roubaix. My main mission here was to see if the wheels would break when ridden hard into rough stuff. I am pleased to report that they did not and stayed stiff and true. No punctures either, awesome! On occasion some of the other riders probably thought I was some sort of kamikaze pilot, sorry chaps.

Image credit: Gavin Campbell — spinwell.co.uk

So after a few more social rides and mega commutes the wheels have done about 400 miles now and have stayed true, despite me hitting the potholes harder than I ought. I am definitely more confident turning, leaning the bike, and generally feeling quicker!

In conclusion I’ve really enjoyed riding these wheels, and whilst not falling into the trap of thinking upgrading the bike and NOT the riders general level of fitness and skill is the path to being faster :) , I can definitely see the benefit of looking at your wheels as the first thing to upgrade once you start putting the miles in. Sure. there are lighter, more expensive wheels out there, but the weight saving vs. cost on these is hard to beat. To give you an idea, Shimano Ultegra wheels are £100 more, but are the same weight. So if you want a sensible upgrade to your £1000 sportive bike, coming in at a lower price point (£274 RRP), then these should be on your consideration list.  Due in stores end of May, early June.