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This is my Elitewheels DRIVE wheels review. They surprised me with their affordable price but high-end specs like the super-low weight below 1300g (45mm rim depth), in-house designed hubs, and carbon spokes.
I checked their lateral & radial trueness, spoke tension, difficulty to put a tire on, and compared their riding characteristics with other Chinese wheelsets.
After reading this review, you get a better idea of whether they are suitable for you and what to expect from them.
Spoiler alert: I think these wheels get much lower attention than they deserve.
Continue reading to learn why and claim a 15% discount.
Elitewheels has been developing and manufacturing carbon wheels since 2013. This brand was mainly known for entry-level wheels. However, they invested heavily in R&D and recently introduced a premium wheel line called DRIVE.
Elitewheels don’t focus only on road bike wheelsets but also produce MTB, gravel, and triathlon wheels.
Main Features & Specs
The DRIVE series is the highest-end wheel line Elitewheels offers. It comes with in-house designed hubs and carbon spokes. It belongs among the best Chinese road wheels.
The more affordable KING series is heavier and comes with Sapim CX-Ray spokes and DT Swiss hubs. And finally, the BWT series differs mainly thanks to the wave-like rim design to optimize aerodynamic gains.
But, back to the DRIVE series that I tested. Here are the specs of Elitewheels DRIVE 45mm Disc.
- Clincher (tubeless-ready)
- In-house designed hubs and carbon spokes
- Ceramic bearings
- Unique, raw carbon rim finish
- Tubeless rim tape included
- 2 Tire levers included
- Socks as a gift included
- Tubeless valves and valve extenders are not included
- Free spare spokes included (2 or rim brake wheelsets, 4 for disc brake wheelsets)
- 1000-day warranty
- 60-day return policy
- Brake Type: Disc (also available for rim brakes)
- Measured Weight
- Front Wheel: 562g
- Rear Wheel: 718g
- Pair: 1280g
- Rim width: 21.4mm (internal), 28.8mm (external)
- Rim depth: 45mm
- Spokes: Elitewheels carbon spokes
- Hubs: Elitewheels with ceramic bearings
- Rider’s weight limit: 125kg (275lb)
First Impressions and Unboxing
It was scratch-free, and the wheels were packed safely to avoid any potential damage.
The box included wheels, rim tape, tire levers, through-axles, and socks. I asked Elitewheels if this is standard package content.
They replied that they wouldn’t supply through-axles in future orders due to compatibility issues. The socks are a gift.
NOTE: Elitewheels improved the packing, and the wheels now come with preinstalled rim tape.
Spare spokes (and tubeless valves) were not included. However, Elitewheels adjusted the packing contents since my review, so you get 2 spokes with rim brake wheels and 4 spokes with disc brake wheels.
These tests give us a better idea of the wheels’ assembly quality. So, did the DRIVE wheels pass my tests?
Lateral and Radial Trueness
Both the lateral and radial trueness of DRIVE wheels were ok. I mean, they were not perfect. I found some deviations here and there, but they shouldn’t affect the riding characteristics. And if so, I won’t notice them anyway.
One thing I want to highlight is the spoke holes design. As you can see in the following picture, they are not centered (as they are on Lún HYPER and Farsports Ventoux S).
I asked Elitewheels why they decided to design the spoke holes like this. They replied the following:
The installation of carbon spokes requires very precise angular requirements. The holes are slightly offset from the center, alternately left and right. Installing carbon spokes also requires professional tools, and we must ensure that the holes are concentric. So none of the holes are in the middle.
I also asked the same question in a wheel builders group on Facebook to double-check this claim. The members confirmed that the offset holes allow aligned access to the nipples and strengthen the wheel construction.
Rim Centering (Dishing)
The hub was well-centered. There was no gap between the end cap and the middle piece of the dishing tool.
Difficulty to Put the Tire On
To test how difficult it is to put the tire on the rims, I always use the same tubeless tire – Tufo Comtura 4 TR 28mm.
I installed the supplied rim tape and tried to mount the tires. It was a bit more difficult (maybe also because of the wider rims) than with YOELEO SAT PROs or Lún HYPER. Anyway, tire levers helped me with it.
Then, I tried to inflate them with a compressor but with no luck. So, I used soapy water and tire sealant to help the seating process. After these two ‘hacks,’ they seated nicely.
Lún HYPER were easier in properly seating a tubeless tire because they didn’t require these additional steps.
NOTE: Elitewheels DRIVE have about 3mm wider rims than other wheels I tested. This means they are more suitable for increasingly popular 28mm and 30mm tires.
The table below shows all wheels I tested.
|Reviewed Wheelset||Tire On*||Lateral Trueness||Radial Trueness||Spoke Tension||Rim Centering||Average||Buy||Rim depth||Weight (F | R | Pair)||Rim Width (I)||Rim Width (E)|
|YOELEO C50|50 SAT DB PRO||4||5||5||5||5||4.8||Check Price (yoeleobike.com)|
Check Price (yoeleoeurope.com)
|50mm||705g, 830g, 1535g||18.5mm||25.5mm|
|Lún HYPER 50mm||4||4||4||4||4||4||Check Price|
Use code CYCLISTSHUB10 to get 10% OFF
|50mm||650g, 779g, 1429g||19mm||26mm|
|Elitewheels DRIVE 45mm Disc||3||4||4||4||5||4||Check Price|
Use code CYCLISTSHUB to get 15% OFF
|45mm||562g, 718g, 1280g||21.4mm||28.8mm|
|Farsports Ventoux S||3||4||4||4||4||3.8||Check Price|
Use code CYCLISTSHUB150 to get 150 USD OFF
|45mm||637g, 755g, 1392g||19.2mm||25.5mm|
|YOELEO C50|50 SAT DB PRO 2022||4||5||5||4||5||4.6||Check Price (yoeleobike.com)|
Check Price (yoeleoeurope.com)
|50mm||705g, 830g, 1535g||18.5mm||25.5mm|
|Trifox WT11||5||4||4||3||3||3.8||Check Price|
Use code CYCLISTSHUB to get 8 % OFF
|50mm||769g, 874g, 1643g||18.4mm||25.1mm|
The scale for each feature is 1-5 points, where 5 is the best. The rating can be retrospectively adjusted based on the comparison with other wheelsets.
*How difficult it is to put a Tufo Comtura 4 TR 28mm tubeless tire on and properly seat it.
UPDATE: I hit a deep pothole while descending at around 60 km/h (37.3 mph) and got a puncture. The rims are scratch-free.
In short – these wheels are fun to ride. They are like sports cars. They are super responsive, thanks to their low weight and high stiffness. I enjoy them, especially on steep climbs or when we attack each other on group rides.
They are also easier to control in technical descents because of the lower inertia than heavier wheels like HYPER or YOELEO SAT PRO. I couldn’t feel much difference from Farsports Ventoux S. They behave similarly.
I was also surprised by their crosswinds’ stability. I am not sure if it is because of their shallower depth (45 mm), design, or both, but they feel more stable than 50 mm Lún HYPER.
But, their performance on flats is not as good as HYPERs or YOELEO SAT PRO. They don’t maintain their speed as well because of the lower inertia.
So, if you consider buying them, make sure to also think about how and where you ride most often. For example, I wouldn’t think a minute about taking them to high mountains. I think these are great climbing wheels, even when they are 45 mm deep.
Speaking of rim depth, Elitewheels decided to discontinue the 45 mm option. So, you can choose 40 mm, 50 mm, or 65mm. Naturally, the 40 mm are even better for climbing due to their lower weight.
I don’t have the opportunity to ride criteriums, but I believe crit races who need to accelerate quickly would appreciate their responsiveness.
On the other hand, if you like long, steady efforts, you may benefit from heavier wheels that maintain speed better, like the YOELEO SAT PRO.
Honestly, I am not the biggest fan of the glossy, raw carbon rim finish, but it is unique, and you will stand out. So, if you like to differentiate yourself from the bunch, DRIVE wheels are your opportunity.
Elitewheels DRIVE Alternatives
There are a few Elitewheels DRIVE alternatives:
- Lún (Winspace) HYPER are more expensive, have different rim finish, but also come with in-house designed hubs and carbon spokes They are about 150g heavier. Based on multiple independent reviews online, they pretty much set a new standard for Chinese carbon wheels. Use the ‘cyclistshub10‘ discount code at www.winspace.cc to get 10% off your purchase or read my HYPER wheels review.
- YOELEO SAT PRO are more affordable because they come with DT Swiss 350 hubs and steel Sapim CX-Ray spokes. They are better for steady efforts on flats because they can maintain speed well. Use the ‘cyclistshub‘ discount code at www.yoeleobike.com or www.yoeleoeurope.com at the checkout page to get 2 % off your purchase or read my YOELEO wheels review.
- Farsports Ventoux S are more expensive and about 50g heavier. They also come with in-house designed hubs and carbon spokes. Ride-wise, they provide a very similar experience. Use the ‘cyclistshub150‘ discount code at www.farsports.com at the checkout page to get 150 USD off your purchase or read my Farsports Ventoux S review.
If these wheels are too expensive for you, I recommend you browse my selection of other Chinese carbon road bike wheels that also include more affordable wheelsets.
Elitewheels DRIVE FAQ
Are you a rider who wants lightweight, stiff, responsive, and relatively stable carbon wheels that won’t ruin your budget? Then DRIVE wheels are for you.
But, if you prefer long steady efforts on flats, you should probably consider heavier wheels. DRIVE don’t maintain their speed on flats as well as heavier wheels.
However, based on my testing and riding experience with multiple Chinese carbon wheels, I believe Elitewheels DRIVE are a worthy challenger of more established wheels like Lún HYPER or Farsports Ventoux series.
In case of any questions, feel free to comment below or contact me. You can also support my website by using the discount code below.
The product for this review was kindly provided by the manufacturer. This did not influence my overall verdict or my opinion about the product.