The Cole Rollen Lites are marketed as an 'all purpose wheels for racing and training' and occupy the lowest price rung in Cole's extensive wheel range. At a portly 1920g for the wheelset, the racing claim may be a tad optimistic, but they perform just fine for everyday duties.
Both wheels use identical 20mm wide and 19mm deep rims, laced with 28 straight gauge spokes (radial in front and 2 cross at rear) to the hubs. Pretty standard stuff. The hubs themselves run on sealed cartridge bearings with Shimano and Campagnolo compatible freehubs available.
Out of the box, the Rollens were true and tension has remained high and even throughout the test (with one exception, see below). Sometimes, wheels can take a while to 'bed in' so to speak, as the spoke tension rebalances under the load of riding. This is more commonly a problem with factory built wheels where each spoke is brought to tension individually, instead of all together as you would do on a hand build. This wasn't the case here which indicates a good quality build was involved.
The braking surface is standard aluminium so there shouldn't be any surprises here for anyone. Power is nice and progressive with a distinct, but expected, drop in power in the wet. The upshot is that you have a pretty much unlimited choice of pads that you can use (the wheels don't come with their own pads).
Out on the road, the Rollens are quite lively for a wheelset of this weight, making them easy to get up to speed. Out of the saddle efforts did lead to a small amount of flex, with my rear derailleur grazing the spokes in the biggest sprocket. This is more of a minor annoyance than a hindrance, and you couldn't say that this affected forward speed in any way. The unusually high flanges are probably to blame for this as they place the spokes closer to the rear mech. The benefit though, is that the increased bracing angle should make for a stiffer wheel, all else being equal.
40 days into the test period, the rear freehub started to make some ominous grinding sounds after a particular nasty ride. This was unexpected and a bit of a let down for a wheelset which had seemed durable. Granted, the conditions this 'summer' haven't been kind to equipment, but one would expect more from a wheelset that is likely to be used day in and day out.
Getting the hub stripped down and lubricated is an easy process once you have the correct tools. You'll need a couple of 17mm cone wrenches to do this which I suspect most people won't have -something to bear in mind if you're planning to pull the trigger on a set. The front, meanwhile, is still going strong.
Having previously said that the wheels have stayed true throughout, I did experience a broken spoke on the rear wheel. As is typical of j-bend spokes, the spoke broke right at the hub eyelet knocking the wheel slightly out of true, but not enough to end the ride. With only a flick of the brake quick release, I was able to spin home where the spoke could be replaced easily. Given that this has only happened once, I'll chalk it up as a freak accident and not some inherent design flaw.
I was pleasantly surprised with the included skewers. Normally, I'd only ever touch internal cam skewers but the extra long levers on these Cole numbers means that you can get a good clamp with the external cam. And whilst the freehub has needed re-greasing, the skewers have remained maintenance free and are still as smooth as the day they were first used.
Decent training wheels that ride better than the stats might suggest.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cole Rollen Lite wheelset
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
According to Cole, the Rollen Lites are an "all purpose wheels for racing and training"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
WEIGHT: 1920 Grams (1900 claimed)
RIM:Alloy Clincher, Profile: 20mm, CNC Sidewall
SPOKE:Round Type PG 2.0mm
HUB: F/R 28H, sealed cartridge bearings, Alloy axle, Campagnolo and Shimano / SRAM systems are available
QR:COLE® Design Forged Alloy Ends, Chromo Shaft.
A nice even tension right out of the box. Broken spoke notwithstanding, the Rollens have stayed that way for the duration of the test
Any wheelset weight 1920g isn't going to set the world alight, but the Rollens are surprisingly lively and fun to ride.
The hubs have needed re-greasing after a relatively short time on the road and one has to question their resistance to water ingress.
You won't find many wheelsets heavier than this.
Ok for a factory built wheelset.
For £220, you expect something a bit more. Performance is similar to Shimano's R500 which retails for considerably less.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Rollen Lites are decent for training but definitely too heavy for any serious racing.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
High and even tension straight out of the box.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Questionable hub reliability.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No.
About the tester
Age: 20 Height: 190cm Weight: 70kg
I usually ride: Giant TCR Advanced 2 My best bike is: Canyon Ultimate CF7
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, sportives, mtb,
For 5 years, racing was my life and I went all the way from a newbie bonking after 40 miles, to a full-timer plying my trade on the Belgian kermesse scene. Unfortunately, the pro dream wasn't meant to be and these days, you're more likely to find me bimbling about country lanes and sleeping in a bush on the side of the road.