Something that has become almost a cliché in bike reviews is the idea of upgrading wheels. Statements similar to, “If only this bike had a better set of hoops, it would really come alive”, can be found in bike tests across price points and disciplines over decades. But just because it’s an idea that has become overly familiar, it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
The fact is that many off-the-shelf bikes do come with wheels that might be good enough to get them rolling out of the cycle dealer’s door, but they don’t offer enough performance when your cycling improves and your demands start to increase. It’s also true that improving your wheels is probably the simplest yet most effective upgrade you can make – new carbon wheels can make your bike perform unlike you could ever imagine. But negotiating the various hurdles between you and a new wheels is not necessarily easy – until now.
The most important thing you need to do when going to the trouble of upgrading is making sure the wheels you buy truly are the best you can find for your budget. Elitewheels all but guarantees this, offering some of the most heavily research-and-design-infused carbon wheelsets at prices that put other equivalent brands to shame.
With almost a decade dedicated solely to the production of carbon-fibre bike wheels, Elitewheels has become one of the most respected names in after-market upgrades. Part of the reason for this is that Elitewheels manufactures its wheels in its very own factory, meaning it has complete control over production. Elitewheels’ quality testing control is one of the most intensive in the industry with lateral and radial stiffness, trueness, rim impact and 20,000km loaded wheel testing. But having its own factory also allows the brand to adapt to new technological innovation, much of which stems from its own dynamic in-house design team.
The proof of Elitewheels’ quality is easy to see. Not only are happy Elitewheels riders to be found across the world – with Elitewheels having a truly global reach across the US, Europe and Asia – but the brand’s elite-level endorsements keep on coming. The China Glory Continental Cycling Team and the Farto-BTC Women’s Continental Team, as well as several other top-level squads, all compete on Elitewheels.
It’s all very well that high-demand pro riders use Elitewheels, but what does that actually mean for you? You don’t have to be vying for international race wins to benefit from Elitewheels – in fact, such is the brand’s extensive range, you can improve your bike’s performance whatever kind of rider you are. And you don’t even need to be a typical road cyclist: Elitewheels has some fantastic 29er or 650B carbon wheels for mountain bikes, or there’s Elitewheels’ dedicated time trial/triathlon range.
But let’s stick with more typical road bike cyclists. For riders looking for their first wheel upgrades there is Elitewheels’ awesome Marvel range, starting at $599 and available for rim brake bikes or disc brake bikes, with rim depths ranging from 38-82mm. There’s also a dedicated Marvel series gravel bike wheel starting at $659.
For riders looking for even more performance and advanced aerodynamic design, Elitewheels’ BWT range starts at $799 and, again, comes in either rim or disc brake flavours.
And for road riders wanting the absolute top-performance from their wheels, there’s one name to look for: Drive. We’ll focus on the Drive range in a moment, but first, some important consumer advice…
So how do you go about making sure the new wheels you order are actually suitable for the bike you own? Here are five simple questions you need to be able to answer:
Elitewheels’ Drive series offers the peak of carbon wheel performance aims to provide the optimal balance of ultra-lightweight with superb overall on-road ability. Thanks to Elitewheels’ improved aerodynamics, innovative rim profiles and UNI carbon-fibre technology – which is a special blend of genuine T800 and T1000 Toray carbon-fibre from Japan – these unique wheels can provide all riders with the tools to reach their ultimate potential.
For riders who want to have professional-level road bike carbon wheelsets that are fully compatible with disc brakes, the Drive D series range is the perfect solution. Ideally suited to flat roads and climbs – and especially descents – these wheelsets feature light and stiff UNI carbon-fibre construction, and high-precision, ceramic bearing hubs. One particular highlight is the choice of 3.3mm aero-bladed carbon spokes, which offer 7% more lateral response compared to equivalent steel spokes. Clincher or tubeless ready, a Drive D wheelset will turn any road bike into a true speed machine.
Similar in design to the Drive D Series, Elitewheels’ Drive V series is aimed even more at reduced weight and maximised potential, and is specifically designed for use with rim brakes. As with the D series there are carbon spokes, UNI carbon-fibre and ceramic bearing hubs. But to offer Elitewheels’ customers even more choice, there is both the standard ‘Team’ version and also a pared down ‘Ultralight’ option which, in the case of the 40V Ultralight, results in a staggeringly low 1,255g total wheelset weight.
OK, so you don’t want to stick to ‘just’ asphalt; your adventure cycling instincts demand more, but surely there are no carbon wheels that can fulfil this yearning? Wrong: Elitewheels’ G45 is not just a stiff, all-around wheelset for gravel riding, it is the first gravel wheelset available on the market that uses carbon spokes, which means greater responsiveness, improved power transfer and enhanced braking, cornering, and acceleration. And thanks to the light weight of Elitewheels’ UNI technology, it results in a gravel wheelset with a 45mm rim depth and an all-up weight of just 1300g.
And now for something just a little bit different. All the Elitewheels wheelsets we’ve looked at so far have been based around innovative but ultimately traditional wheel builds with threaded spokes – but there is another way. The Drive Six has unique looks and enhanced aerodynamic ability thanks its one-piece, six carbon spokes design, while its gravel-specific freehub is made of 7075 aluminium and comes as standard with a Center Lock braking system compatibility.