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High performance, low cost: Elitewheels’ pro-level Drive series road wheelsets are the perfect upgrade

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23 Nov 2022
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Upgrading your wheels often comes with the compromise of a hefty price tag but it doesn’t have to. With the Elitewheels Drive series of carbon-fibre wheelsets, you’re getting high-performance road tech at a cost that’s much more palatable.

How does the company do this? Elitewheels makes its own products, in its own factory, eliminating the cost of outsourcing production, with the additional benefit of keeping the closest eye on quality control.

Founded in 2013, the brand has been continually investing heavily in research and development ever since in order to deliver premium UCI-certified products at radically fair prices. Seen on the race bikes of six UCI Continental teams – including China Glory Cycling, whose wheels saw action at the Tour of Turkey and Tour of Slovenia – this is pro-standard equipment without the top-level price tag. See more at www.elite-wheels.com.

Drive to succeed

The Drive series of carbon wheelsets offers a comprehensive choice for a range of road bike applications. If aero performance is your goal, look no further than the disc-braked 40D (1,260g, from $1,189), 50D (1,300g, from $1,189) and 65D (1,460g, from $1,189). Their names denote their rim depth, they’re tubeless-ready, and they feature a 21mm internal rim width for wider tyre fitments.

Additionally, there is the rim-braked, climbing-focused 40V (available in 1,255g Ultralight or 1,325g Team version; from $1,169 and $1,069) and the all-rounder 50V (1,315g Ultralight, from $1,169; 1,400g Team, from $1,069). The Team versions feature Toray T700 carbon-fibre for added stiffness.

Beyond the rim

It’s the details that make the difference. The Elitewheels Drive series features aero bladed carbon spokes that are 7% stiffer and three times more fatigue-resistant than equivalent steel spokes. The spokes can also be easily replaced, just like their metal counterparts, and spares are included with each set of wheels. The spoke holes are drilled at an angle to reduce stress on the spokes and reduce the likelihood of breakages.

High-quality hubs, featuring 6803 and 6903 hybrid ceramic bearings, are made in-house on five-axis CNC machines, resulting in tolerances of 0.02mm. Not only does this reduce rolling resistance but it also increases the life of the bearings.

Smooth operators

Elitewheels’ years of R&D expertise have led the company to construct its rims with smooth inner sidewalls for better balance and strength. This finish is achieved by a unique manufacturing process using air bladders to prevent resin from leaking inside. These smooth sidewalls also allow for more equal spoke tension which makes the wheels more stable.

Kings of carbon

Elitewheels has the edge as it makes all of its products at its factories in Xiamen, China – the same location as the company’s headquarters. The brand manufacturers its own pre-preg carbon-fibre, rims and hubs, and builds its own wheels on-site. The outermost layer of all Elitewheels wheelsets is unidirectional carbon-fibre –stiffer and stronger at a lower weight – with an inner layer constructed from both 3k and unidirectional fibres. The carbon rim profile of the Drive series is a U/V shape to achieve a balance between crosswind stability and aerodynamic performance, while the brake track on Elitewheels’ rim-braked products is laser-etched to improve performance in the wet (a valid concern if most of your riding is going to be in the UK).

Assured performance

No stone is left unturned in the quality control process either. Each wheel undergoes 13 tests, including to assess the lateral and radial stiffness of both rim and wheel, plus the lateral and radial runout of the rim, 20-degree and vertical rim impact tests, a 20,000km loaded wheel fatigue test, a 150psi high-pressure tyre inflation test, and a wheel torque fatigue test.

Further reassurance comes with the fact that Drive series wheels are thoroughly inspected before being sent out, have a three-year warranty, and fall under the protection of Elitewheels’ crash replacement policy. The fact that all wheels are subject to free shipping through DPD also means there is no need to pay customs duties in the UK and Europe, so there are no hidden charges.

Not the end of the road

The Drive series offers a wheelset for any all-round rider who’s serious about getting the best from their bike on flat, rolling and hilly roads, but the Elitewheels range doesn’t end there. Beyond the Drive wheelsets, the same high quality and affordable prices can be found in the entry-level Marvel wheels, as well as the company’s Velo TT wheels and mountain bike products.