Cole C85 Lite road wheelset £1299

SRAM/Shimano compatible carbon clinchers

BikeRadar score 4/5

With striking looks, a whopping rim depth of 85mm and the noisiest freewheel we’ve heard in ages, Cole’s C85 Lite carbon clinchers are seriously loud, in many ways. 

Put these on any bike, whether it’s worthy of a £1,300 wheel upgrade or not, and it'll be transformed into a spectacular-looking, head-turning speed machine. Which is another reason we like noisy freewheels – as they get you noticed when filtering through traffic. The flipside is that you won’t be able to take it easy in people’s slipstreams without giving yourself away…

We’d imagine most would want to use a deep carbon wheelset like this as a special occasion or race wheelset. But those who do want – and can afford – to wear out the Coles with day-in-day-out use won’t be disappointed with their versatility. They’re well-built, tough, stiff, and the clincher compatibility means you can run inner tubes and ‘normal’ tyres and mend punctures in the usual way.

In terms of construction, the handmade C85s feature a high-compression carbon fibre rim laced with aero bladed straight-pull spokes – 16 on the front, 20 rear – to Cole’s own clever hub design. This avoids the need for weaker ‘J’ bend spokes and allows fewer higher tensioned straight ones to be used which, Cole claim, improves strength, durability and wheel alignment as it lets the spokes self-align in the hub flange. We certainly have no complaints on any of these issues.

Braking is excellent with Cole’s own brake blocks, which are included along with valve extenders, quick-release skewers, rim tape, cartridge pad carriers and padded wheel bag. Handling is surefooted and confidence-inspiring too. Acceleration is immediate, and there’s no discernible flex or brake rub when powering up climbs. 

If you’re used to a conventional depth lightweights you'll notice a few differences: a little extra weight to accelerate up to speed (1,865g), but an ability to hold that speed more easily due to improved aerodynamics, and a slight vulnerability to crosswind gusts. This can make you veer slightly, though it was nowhere near as big a problem as we’d anticipated, even in fairly breezy conditions. 

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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