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Road Gear

Wrenched & Ridden: Cole T20 Ventoux wheelset

Light carbon climbing wheels at a good price

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Wrenched & Ridden: Cole Ventoux wheel review
Cole's Ventoux wheels are designed purely for climbing, with a 20x20mm cross section. Photo: Caley Fretz

Cole’s Ventoux wheelset comes in at just 1,217 grams on our scale, making it one of the lightest sets available at its relatively low (for a carbon tubular) $1,400 price. We were impressed with the ride quality, too.

The Ventoux’s tubular rims are narrow all around, just 20mm tall and 20mm wide. Both front and rear hubs take traditional J-bend spokes, unlike most of Cole’s wheels, and the rear freehub can be easily swapped from SRAM/Shimano to Campagnolo. Build quality is good — our set showed up straight as an arrow with nice even spoke tension all around.

The hubs are branded Cole, and quality seems high. Sealed cartridge bearings roll smoothly and we never had any issues with play or binding. The rear freehub is quiet, with average engagement speed. We didn’t disassemble the wheelset, of course, but it’s safe to assume the hubs don’t quite match the lightest available, meaning that many of those 1,217 grams are coming from the center of the wheels. That’s actually good news for acceleration.

Ride quality is excellent. We mounted up a pair of 23mm Vittoria EVO CX tubulars and hit the mountains and were pleased with the snappy acceleration and rock-solid handling on descents. Coming off a few weeks on deeper carbon tubulars, the low profile was much appreciated (even confidence inspiring) on the fast downhills outside Boulder, which are often buffeted with wind.

That low profile also contributed (along with the Vittoria tubulars) to a supremely comfortable ride. Coming off a pair of the new ENVE 6.7 tubulars, 60mm deep up front and 70mm for the rear, the difference was immediately obvious.

Cole Ventoux

MSRP: $1,395
Weight: 1,217 grams
Rim: 20mm carbon tubular,
Spokes: 20f/24r
The scoop: light carbon climbing wheel at a reasonable price

The Ventouxs are a true climbing wheel. Their only concessions to the wind are the 44 bladed spokes, which really don’t do much to improve aerodynamics. That means they’re wonderful in the mountains, but coming off the fantastically fast ENVE’s made them feel sluggish on the flats.

The braking surface was initially a source of worry, but turned out to be quite effective. The track is slightly rough, but not uniformly. Upon close inspection it looks unintentionally imperfect, with tiny pockmarks all along its surface, almost like the carbon layup process went wrong somewhere. It seemed likely the surface would degrade rather quickly. But, thankfully, that surface is deliberate, and adds a bit of overall power to the brakes. Modulation is still fine, and we never experienced any of the pulsing so common with carbon rims. Using the supplied blue carbon-specific pads, overall braking performance ranked among the best carbon tubulars available.

The verdict
If a pure climbing wheel is what you’re after, a pair of Ventouxs for $1,395 is tough to beat. A set of light aluminum wheels will likely have lighter hubs and heavier rims than the Ventouxs and won’t be as stiff, so they won’t accelerate quite as well. They won’t be all that much cheaper, either. That said, if you want something more versatile (read: aerodynamic), look elsewhere.