This article answers whether Chinese carbon wheels are good and safe to ride.
I’ve been watching the Chinese carbon wheels scene for multiple years already. I also have hands-on experience with various brands and their wheels.
I will debunk some common myths surrounding Chinese carbon wheels and provide you with some tips to consider before buying a wheelset from China.
Let’s dive in!
Are Chinese Carbon Wheels Any Good?
If we define ‘good’ as wheels that are well-made (true, without effects, etc.), stiff, aerodynamic, and durable, then yes, Chinese carbon wheels are good.
Of course, this does not apply to every manufacturer to the same extent. Even wheels from the same manufacturer can vary in quality (usually depending on the wheelset price).
Based on info from insiders, many western brands outsource manufacturing of carbon wheels to China (eventually Taiwan) to one city in particular – Xiamen.
Chinese brands gained a lot of expertise throughout the years. As a result, their wheelsets become competitive and comparable with mainstream brands.
They often provide the same (sometimes even better) quality as the more expensive wheelsets.
However, as I noted above, this doesn’t apply to every wheelset from China, and you should do the research.
Continue reading to find out more, or:
Are Chinese Carbon Wheels Safe to Ride?
If you did some research on Chinese carbon already, I guess you found some horror stories of wheelset failures.
Yes, it’s true. Wheels (hubs, spokes, rims) can fail. But this happens even to wheels from mainstream brands.
The question is:
How to Find Quality Chinese Carbon Wheels?
Below, I summarize a few helpful tips you should consider before buying Chinese carbon wheels and how to maximize the chance you purchase a quality wheelset you can rely on.
One of the first things I consider when looking for Chinese carbon wheels is if they have a 3rd party certification or have passed other safety standards.
What if the wheels have no certification or are not UCI-approved?
If the wheels don’t have any 3rd party certification or UCI approval, then try to find out more about the testing process of a given manufacturer. A wheelset without these certifications may still be safe to ride, but I recommend you do more research.
Warranty & Crash Replacement
When buying Chinese wheels, you usually get at least a 2-year warranty. Some Chinese manufacturers may offer a more extended warranty period.
However, it’s not just about the length of the warranty but also about how the manufacturer will react to a possible complaint.
I recommend reading the reviews of other customers. Keep in mind that Chinese manufacturers sometimes still have problems with English, so you have to be patient and write in simple English.
A great benefit is if a brand offers a crash replacement policy, so if you crash with your wheelset, you get a discount on your next pair.
This is handy, especially when the wheels are expensive, so you don’t have to be afraid to use them in races, for example.
Reviews of other customers are also an important decision factor for me. I try to approach them objectively and unbiased. Even if the reviewer is affiliated with a given brand, it doesn’t mean his review is useless and doesn’t bring me any value.
A red flag can be ‘positive only’ reviews. Every product has its flaws. Sometimes it’s just hard to find them.
Why not Buy Chinese Carbon Wheels?
When talking to friends about Chinese carbon wheels and why not buy them, I mostly encounter the following arguments:
“What will you do when they break or fail?”
This is a valid argument and probably the biggest downside of Chinese carbon wheels. If the brand doesn’t have a distributor in your country, you will need to discuss eventual claims over email.
“Why should I buy wheels from an unknown Chinese brand when I can buy wheels from a mainstream brand?”
Here it depends on what type of person you are. If you care about your social status among peers, go and buy wheels from a mainstream brand. I don’t care too much about having “the latest and greatest,” so I don’t mind having a product that is the same (but often a better) quality and cheaper but doesn’t bring me the social status.
“The delivery time takes too long.”
Yes, unless you have a local distributor, you will have to wait a few weeks, and you won’t get them by the next day. But some things are worth the wait.
Chinese Carbon Wheels FAQ
Chinese carbon wheels from established and reliable manufacturers who test their products and have strict quality control processes are worth it.
They usually provide a better price/quality ratio than wheels from mainstream brands. The only issue you may encounter is claiming a refund if the wheel or its part breaks or fail.
It depends from case to case on what steps the brand takes. It’s often cheaper for the brands to either provide you with a discount on your next order or send replacement parts, eventually the entire wheelset.
What is your take on Chinese carbon wheels? Let me know in the comments below.
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