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Elitewheels Wants to Change The Way We Think About Carbon Wheels

By doing the bulk of their R&D in-house and maximizing efficiency, Elitewheels brings you top performance at a friendlier price.

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Carbon wheels have increasingly become the standard in all disciplines of cycling. Lighter and stiffer than aluminum, carbon fiber wheels optimize power transfer for quicker acceleration that’s especially noticeable in sprints and sudden bursts of speed.

Vibration damping properties also result in better overall bike handling; a smoother ride and a more nimble feel makes it easy to maneuver the bike. The only downside? Cost. 

If you’re going to make any upgrade to your bike, a carbon wheelset is typically one of the first things a mechanic will recommend. Conveniently, it’s also the second priciest piece of your bike, after the frame (sometimes more). It’s not unheard of to spend well over $1,000 per wheel for a quality set of carbon wheels. 

But what if carbon wheels didn’t have to break the bank? Xiamen-based Elitewheels is proving that you don’t have to sacrifice performance for a lower price on carbon wheels. 

Carbon-fiber wheelsets from Elitewheels’ Drive Series; (photo/Elitewheels)

Ten years ago, carbon wheel manufacturing was still fairly new to China. Other countries in Asia had largely cornered the market on carbon wheel production, and it wasn’t until the late 2000s that Chinese factories started operations.

Riding that wave, Tony Tong and Jack Chen founded Elitewheels in 2015, initially manufacturing wheels for other brands. Two years later, they realized they could design and manufacture their own wheels, building a higher quality product at a more accessible price point. Many North American brands manufacture their wheels in China, but very few brands are actually based there.

Elitewheels is one of the few brands in the world that center the entire production process in-house, from design to manufacturing. This allows them to implement an exhaustive R&D process in-house, which results in a higher quality product through a more efficient process. Cutting out the middleman and selling wheels direct to the consumer means the customer gets a higher value at a lower price. A win-win for everyone. 

(Photo/Elitewheels)

The Drive Series

But affordability doesn’t mean a drop in performance. The Drive series is a great example of that, raced by five UCI Continental teams.

Drive wheelsets, available in three different gravel models and eight different road wheelsets, utilize the brand’s in-house UNI carbon fiber as well as aero bladed carbon spokes, resulting in a stiff, light, and strong wheelset. Drive series wheels are some of the lightest in their category, and what stands out to most people first is the weight; the Drive 50D weighs only 1300 grams for the pair, while the 40V rim brake and 40D disc brake wheelsets weigh 1255 grams and 1260 grams respectively. 

“In order to cut costs, most [manufacturers] use carbon fiber from mainland China rather than from Japan,” says Elitwheels Brand Manager, Patrick Clark. “We use genuine Japanese T700 and T800 carbon fiber, which provides a higher strength to weight ratio.”

Aero-bladed carbon spokes make for a responsive, light ride; (photo/Elitewheels)

Clark adds that Drive series wheels manage to be stiffer than similar depth wheels because of the in-house manufactured carbon fiber prepreg, carbon spokes, and high hub flanges. “It’s especially noticeable when sprinting,” he continues. “While no wheel can be the best in every aspect, our aim is to create something that has the best balance for not only our sponsored pro riders, but also amateurs.”

Clark, who was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, now lives in Xiamen, China where Elitewheels is based. As a passionate cyclist and native English speaker working directly with the team in China, Clark has been able to help bring Elitewheels’ technology to the international market. 

“Our goal is to have the wheels raced at the highest level in WorldTour races — to not just match, but to drive innovation in wheel tech — and to offer excellent service to those riding the wheels around the world,” he says.

(Photo/Elitewheels)

Building wheels for the pros, but providing access to the masses, is no easy feat — but it’s one that Elitewheels is dedicated to proving possible. 

Shop Black Friday Sale

If you’re curious about carbon wheels but have yet to pull the trigger, Black Friday sales this fall could be a good time to test the waters. From November 20th through the 30th, they’ll be offering a significant discount, at 16-18% off. Each wheelset comes with free shipping, a 3-year warranty, and crash replacement.


This post is sponsored by Elitewheels. Learn more about the Drive Series at Elite-wheels.com.

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Mr. De Facto
Mr. De Facto
6 months ago

While this is an ad… the wheels look cool at a fair price.

Billyshoo
Billyshoo
6 months ago
Reply to  Mr. De Facto

Agreed. But no mention of freehub or bearing details?

Jaws
Jaws
6 months ago
Reply to  Billyshoo

I’ve had a couple sets. The freehub on my first set failed, the springs wore out at 20k miles (sooner than I expected), but I was able to buy another freehub from EW for like $20 shipped, so no concerns there. The wheels were actually pretty good. I sold that bike

My new wheelset has a different hub design, hoping the freehub holds up better, but not terribly worried since the customer service seems to be pretty good. The new wheels look and perform great, but I don’t know anything about the bearings.

Roz
Roz
6 months ago

I got a pair of their ENT series 2 years ago. I’m not a lightweight at 95kg and no issues so far. Even used them on a bike packing trip, pushing to the recommended weight limit.

Mike
Mike
6 months ago

After my $7,000 top of the line, full carbon bike broke in half in a 5 mph turn and, 2 surgeries later, left me maimed for life, you could not give me a set of carbon wheels for free.

Seraph
Seraph
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Sounds like there was some other issues going on. Many people are riding bikes that are mostly carbon, myself included. Frame, fork, handlebars, seatpost, brake levers, cranks, rims, seat rails, all carbon. And I rail my bike on singletrack sometimes. I’ve taken it on some trails that a lot of people would second guess on a mountain bike. I have yet to see any carbon component on my bikes fail for no reason.

That said, I have seen some pretty weird carbon failures from time to time. Nothing so bad that it maimed someone though.

Jaws
Jaws
6 months ago
Reply to  Seraph

Yeah, I used to work at a shop, and we presented our share of carbon issues to brand reps for warranty assessment, and I never saw any catastrophic failures like what was described above. Mainly cracks, sometimes broken tubes, but those were caused by hard impacts during crashes (not the fault of the carbon).

I broke a Roval carbon rim last month after a hard impact on a sharp rock while rubbing too low of pressure, and that wasn’t catastrophic either, just slow pressure loss and I had to walk the bike out.

SteveT
SteveT
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Me thinks you tell nice stories of fiction. 🙂

Mike
Mike
5 months ago
Reply to  SteveT

Absolutely no fiction. I have photos, witnesses, documents, whatever you want. Ask Robin.

Robin
Robin
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Like drummers for Spinal Tap, sometimes carbon frames and components just spontaneously explode, maiming people nearby. That’s why fearmongering is good: you have to scare people into protecting themselves. Polished metal frames are a threat to safety too. I heard that terrorists are blinding people with powerful UV lasers by reflecting them off polished metal bikes and bikes with Cromovelato finishes.

It’s a dangerous world with threats to health and safety around every corner!

Mike
Mike
5 months ago
Reply to  Robin

Robin,
You again? I thought you learned your lesson last time when I ridiculous fool out of you by proving you so wrong. Some people never learn…

Robin
Robin
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike

You did? You’ve got an odd memory, but you are the one with the extraordinary claim, what with that bike exploding at 5 mph and “maiming” you. You do dig your fearmongering.

Mike
Mike
5 months ago
Reply to  Robin

Robin,

If an item is unsafe, why do you call the person who reports it, the person who does not want serious injury to happen to others, a fear mongerer??

BTW, it is not a claim. It is a fact. I proved that to you last time with photos.

Joe Osborne
Joe Osborne
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Would you stop wearing leather shoes if you tripped in a pair, or simply let statistics persuade you? My 2012 Acura has a carbon fiber drive shaft. Only you know your fear threshold, just ride aluminum wheels to continue cycling. I am two years new to carbon bike wheels and I plan to stay with them on all of our bikes. None of our bikes cost more than $3,600. You all or nothing “top of the line” guys are easily disappointed. Good luck, Mike

Andrew
Andrew
6 months ago

The wheels look interesting, but oddly the coupon code it asks for doesn’t seem to be listed on the site?

Patrick
Patrick
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

There are instructions on their website’s product pages for Black Friday. After you add a wheelset to your shopping cart, view your shopping cart and then press the pink “Apply Coupon” button. It is not a code you have to enter manually.

SRC
SRC
6 months ago

I’ve had a set of Drive 50V Ultralights on my Allez Race for over a year and ~3,000 miles. Trouble free so far set up with GP5000 28 tubeless. I had to increase my psi slightly because of the inherent flex in the rims vs the Hunt Alloy rims I had before, but these ride Cadillac smooth over the rough Cape Cod roads I frequent. I got mine with black logos but they can also do no logos or whatever color you want if you give their factory lead time.

L Watt
L Watt
6 months ago

fantastic wheels. uses you in competition with great performances

IMG_3073.jpeg
yogibimbi
yogibimbi
6 months ago

So, what’s the win-win on warranty fullfilment? How much of a warranty do I get? 1 years, 2 years (as a European, I feel sort of cuddled by the Europe-wide 2 years, and I would hate to go back to the dark ages of one or everyone’s guess. And what about shipping, customs? I just had three small metal parts sent to me from Italy to Morocco. I paid 20€ on the parts, 79 on shipment, and now DHL Morocco was informing me, that once the stuff is in their greedy little mitts, they would also require 75€ + 20% tax just for moving their butts, on top of the normal custom taxes, then their fees for engagement of import, another 20, then authorization of some ministry, which is another 60+20% tax, the authorization of weight and measurement, another 64+20% and then there is another grey area which I am sure costs another f…load of money, aka all said a base estimate of 220€ + 20% for something that costs less than 20€ to buy, which is also already outrageous, but those are spares, which are like ink cartridges. Somehow, and based on my recent experiences with AliBaba’s shipments of screws and little things where the EU had a field day making up taxes for so that I ended up returning everything, I don’t think it will be any easier for some big-ass wheels that have a significantly higher price to start with.

Bre Rue
Bre Rue
6 months ago

This is pretty cool! I’ve known Jack for years, from when we worked together on projects for a little company called Planet X. He’s been in the cycling industry for a long time and is a really sweet, honest, and knowledgeable guy! I remember when he left the carbon frame business and started his wheel company and am super happy to see them doing well! Good on ya Jack!

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