Welcome to my “Mid-Term” write up on the Cole Wheels “29er Lite” wheelset that I have been riding now through the Fall and into Winter. For the First Impressions posting, please click here. In that post, I mentioned that I would be getting a tubeless kit to convert the Cole Wheels to a tubeless set up, and that has been done.

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Setting The “29er Lite” Up Tubeless: Astute readers will remember that I mentioned the tubeless kit would be a CaffeLatex kit, and it was sent out. However; I found the tape to be quite problematic in combination with the Cole wheels inner rim contour. This rim has a slightly concave inner rim bed which the “packing tape-like” Caffelatex tubeless tape did not want to conform to. I did use an inner tube mounted with a tire for a 24 hour period to try and seat the tape, but to no avail. There simply was far too much leakage to even consider this kit for use with the Cole wheels. So, how did I get them to set up tubeless, you might ask? 😉

I used Bontrager’s TLR plastic rim strip meant for a Rhythm wheel which snapped right into the Cole wheel like it was meant to be. then I mounted the Geax AKA TNT tire, and aired up the tires with a bad floor pump! While Cole and Bontrager may not give their blessings to this union, I find no reason what so ever to suspect it won’t work, and in fact, I have had the wheels set up this way for several weeks now with no ill effects at all. I must say that it took far less time to deal with the Bontrager strip as well. Okay, enough about that.

spearfishride 004Performance Notes: My first ride with just the front set up tubeless, (I didn’t have time to get the back set up in time to go on this trip! :)), was a trip to some fantastic trails in the Twin Cities area which I mention in the last Geax AKA post, here. The Cole wheels showed me again how they are very stiff laterally and how they helped me hold a line in some fast bermed trail which also featured many embedded rocks. The Cole wheels felt as though they were a great match for the fast, rough surfaces of the trail system there. Solid, sure footed, and they did not hold me back at all.

Once back in my own neck of the woods, I got the rear tire set up tubeless and have had several rides again with similar results. The Cole wheels have had no issues at all with being set up tubeless with the Bontrager rim strip and I have had pressures down into the 20’s with no ill effects shown. Tubed or tubeless, the Cole wheels just seem solid and the added stiffness over the stock wheels of the Stumpjumper have made the bike a lot more fun to go faster into turns on. (Of course, I have to also give credit to the great Geax AKA tires here as well.) colewheelsfinal 006
The wheels have let me really take more chances going into corners to push the AKA’s into some semblance of slippage, (more on that in my final review of those tires), and unlike some other wheels I have ridden, I do not feel any strange flexing after a certain point which might put me off trying any such antics. Other rims in pre-built and even hand made wheels have not been as confidence inspiring to me in turns like these Cole wheels have been. This also translates to a nicer, more controlled feel over rough trail. You know the wheels will go where they are pointed, well, to a certain extent, that is.

It is somewhat strange, but in some respects, a stiff wheel will not be very forgiving of lateral bouncing around. I’m thinking of ruts in line with the wheel travel, or grazing rocks, for instance. A stiff wheel just sends the whole bike sideways, where a somewhat flexy wheel will give way, then snap back, keeping the whole bike going forward. This is not a big deal, but I mention it as it seems to me to be one of the only downsides to having a really stiff wheel build. And these Cole wheels are pretty stiff.

I will be taking the Cole wheels for some final rides, (hopefully- if the weather holds out here!), and then will be back with a Final Review. Stay tuned!

Note: Cole Wheels sent these wheels out for test and review at no charge. We are not being paid, nor bribed for this review. We will strive to give our honest opinions throughout.