These new 29er wheels ride well. Some of this we put down to a stiff rim extrusion, but most of it we think is down to the unique way in which Cole spoke their wheels.
The pattern is a non-traditional two-cross design, which is ideal for light, stiff, durable builds, but instead of employing regular J-bend-style spokes, Cole use straight spokes threaded into rotating brass carriers. These slot into holes in the hub ﬂanges, which incidentally are designed for splined rotors.
Each spoke under tension rotates the carrier until it’s pulling in exactly the right direction, allowing Cole to place the spokes under a really high, even tension. They were and remain the tightest factory wheels we’ve ridden. This tight build helps make the wheels feel sprightlier than the scales suggest and make them ping off rocky, rooty hits rather than ﬂexing around them. While not a tubeless rim, it is convertible using a Stan’s kit and we'd recommend you do so, to minimise rotating weight and maximise the feeling and responsiveness.
Cole claim 1,790g per pair but ours are a rather more dense 1,862g, near the upper end of the 29er cross-country wheel weight chart. Not so heavy that you’ll be cursing, not so light that’ll you’ll stop looking at lighter wheels. That said most riders looking to upgrade from their stock entry-level 29er wheels, typically nearer to 2,100g a pair, the 200g-plus difference will be felt as soon as you turn the pedals. They won’t (and don’t) turn the bike into a rocket ship; you’ll need to shed another 250g and spend three times more for that feeling.
The Cole wheels are a bit heavier than other wheelsets we've tested recently but they're also a full set of tyres and sealant kit less cash than the next most expensive. You can make that choice for yourself. Would we buy the Coles? For general riding it’s a yes, the ride feel/cost matrix makes it a no-brainer.