I've had a couple of pair of Cane Creek Volos wheels on my road bikes for several years now, really like them, lots of hard use and not a bit of trouble.
So just when I was feeling all good about them, a mechanic at my favorite local bike shop (FLBS) told me "Yeah, they're okay unitl the pawls break!"
Yikes! Now I'm really starting to worry. So I talked to the Cane Creek Tech guy at the Interbike Show and he admitted, yes, that was a problem. I asked him if there was any "on the road" fix in case they broke while I was out on a ride. "No." was all he said.
So I'm asking you experienced bike mechanics,
1. Is this broken pawl with Volos an extremely rare thing, or fairly common?
2. If it does happen on the road, and given that it's unfixable in that context, will the wheel still be rideable, i.e. will I get a functional "fixed gear" out of it? Or . . .
3. Will it freewheel in both directions and I'll be dead in the water (or, really . . . the road).
2003 Specialized Hardrock, 2004 LOOK KG386i, 2005 Iron Horse Warrior Expert, 2009 Pedal Force CX1
Broken freehub pawls typically make the wheel unridable. You'll be freewheeling in both directions. In the tips and tricks thread or some other freehub thread, someone posted a tip about using some metal wire to tie the spokes to the cassette as a limp-home mode for a failed freewheel. This would have to be a last ditch effort as you'd lose the ability to freewheel among other things.
If you are that concerned about it, look into replacement freehub options. Hopefully they didn't use some proprietary design (though they likely did) and you can replace it with something with a better track record. That said, if you aren't having problems and have used several wheelsets, I wouldn't lose sleep over the issue.
I won't lose any sleep over it, I guess, but I will continue to try to contact other Volos owners to see if this is a real problem or one that only hits (for example) .0005% of all Volos freehubs.
The guy from Cane Creek told me that it was more of a problem with generation one, whereas one set of mine are generation two and the other set is generation three (the last generation before they were discontinued).
Thanks for the metal wire tip too. Hopefully I'll never need it!
Still, I ride these Volos wheels on double centuries and I could be far from any rescue if/when the pawls fail.