Carbon wheels are lighter than alloy and can be made more aero, which will make you faster on the bike on any terrain. Plus, they are comfortable to ride on. The only problem is, they are not cheap – that’s why most low to mid-end road bikes come equipped with alloy wheels.
If you want to get the benefits of carbon wheels but don’t want to spend a fortune, consider buying directly from China. If you buy from the right place, you can get high-quality carbon wheels for fractions of the price of some of the top brands.
Are Chinese carbon wheels safe?
Yes. Unless you buy unbranded wheels made by unknown manufacturers.
Many top-brand wheels are in fact made in China and Taiwan. For example, Roval (Specialized), Hunt, DT Swiss, Reynolds, Black Inc, and Mavic make all or some of their wheels in East Asia. I’m sure you’re already familiar with these names.
So, there is no reason to fear buying carbon wheels made in China because they certainly have the technology.
But do be careful if you buy from unknown Chinese manufacturers/resellers on AliExpress. Always buy carbon wheels from known and reputable manufacturers such as the ones we listed below, they are all well-known for their high quality, reliable products at an affordable price point that won’t break your bank account!
How We Choose the Best Chinese Carbon Wheels
Let’s be real, you probably are looking to buy carbon wheels from China because you want to save money. But money-saving shouldn’t come at the cost of durability and safety. You should never buy $300 wheels that will break in a year of riding if there are $500 wheels that still feel like new in five years.
So, money and durability are the two most important criteria.
There is another thing to consider when choosing the best carbon wheels: performance. Even if you’re not a racer, you still want new wheels that are faster than your current ones. Otherwise, why bother spending money
Wheel performance is affected by several factors:
- Hubs: Not all hubs are the same. Good wheel hubs will absorb less watts and will give you more speed for the same power. The wheelset we include in this review either gives you the option to use the best third-party hubs on the market or have exceptional hubs.
- Rim shape: Just like the depth, rim shape also matters in aerodynamics. We can’t really review aerodynamics here, but it’s been known that U-shape rims are better than V-shape in terms of stability in the even of crosswinds.
- Weight: Lighter wheels are faster when climbing. So, they are better, at least up to a point until they sacrifice stiffness and power transfer. We make sure the brands we choose are lightweight but still stiff enough.
- Stiffness: The wheels’ overall stiffness is affected by the carbon lay up, spokes (number and material), and the hubs’ own stiffness. Stiff wheels are good for power transfer, but you don’t want them too stiff that they are uncomfortable and have a poor disc braking performance. Some wheels use carbon spokes to keep stiffness high while keeping the weight low.
Our Pick for The Best Chinese Wheelset
If you are looking for the best carbon wheels under $1000, Farsports is definitely your go-to brand. They make all kinds of carbon wheels and provide you with a huge selection of wheel components to choose from.
Their wheels are separated into four different categories: Feder, Kaze, and Ventoux. We have an in-depth explanation about the different Farsports wheels, but in short, Feder is the lightweight rim, Kaze is the aero/stiff rim, and Ventoux is their highest-end rim with carbon spokes and bespoke hubs.
Farsports makes great carbon wheels and you can’t go wrong with any of their products. But personally, Feder is my favorite because it is one of the lightest carbon wheels on the market.
- Wide range of rim selections from lightweight to deep-aero rims
- Also a wide range of high-quality third-party hubs
- Fantastic value for what they’re offering
- None, really
Which Farsports wheels to choose from:
The best Farsports wheels configuration for an all-rounder in value, performance, and weight is the Farsports Feder rim with 28mm external width, 45mm rim depth, CX-Ray spokes, alloy nipples, and Carbon-Ti hubs.
The best part of Farsports wheels is how customizable they are. If you’re looking for deeper or stiffer wheels and don’t mind the weight penalty, you can go with Farsports Kaze. And if you’re looking for hubs that are more durable, you can use DT Swiss 240 or 350 on them. You can also ask them to use different hubs on the front and back if you want.
What about the Ventoux series?
Ventoux is Farsports’ attempt on creating fully bespoke wheels without using any third-party components. There are multiple price levels of Ventoux wheels from the cheaper regular C and S series to the highest level EVO C and EVO S series.
In our opinion, the regular C and S series are not worth it and you might as well get the Feder or Kaze for better value. The Ventoux EVO S is not a budget option at all but is worth considering if you want a superlight wheelset with carbon spokes and CeramicSpeed bearings.
2. Light Bicycle
Light Bicycle also makes great carbon wheels for budget-conscious cyclists. They have a pretty wide range of rim selections as well, even more than Farsports. Plus, it’s way easier to customize your wheel selection on their user-friendly website.
Light Bicycle has a warehouse in North America and Europe, so if the wheel configuration you want is available in one of their NA/EU warehouses, you don’t have to wait too long for your wheels to arrive at your doorstep.
- Large selection of carbon rims in a wide range of prices
- They have warehouses in North America and Europe so shipping is pretty fast compared to shipping directly from China
- Easy-to-use custom wheel builder
- Lots of finishing options
- Slightly more expensive than Farsports wheels with a similar setup, but still very affordable for what you get
Which Light Bicycle wheels to buy:
Light Bicycle road bike rims are available in two tiers: Falcon and Falcon Pro. As the name suggests, Pro is the higher tier. The difference between both is not too big, but the main advantage of the Falcon Pro series is the increased strength without the extra weight thanks to its more sophisticated carbon layup.
There’s also the X-Flow profile which is only available in the Pro series. The X-Flow has an undulating rim profile just like Zipp NSW or Princeton wheels which they claim makes it stiffer, stronger, and more aero. We can’t test that and I’m personally not sold on that. It definitely looks unique, though.
If you’re a lighter rider, you can choose the flyweight version for 100gr less rim weight and a small price increase.
Winspace offers two types of wheels at different price points: Hyper and Lún. If you want a lightweight carbon rim with carbon spokes and a distinct look, Winspace Hyper is the one you want. If you have a limited budget but still want light carbon wheels from one of the most popular bicycle brands in China, then take a look at Winspace Lún.
Unlike Farsports and Light Bicycle, all Winspace wheels are UCI-approved. So if you’re planning on racing UCI-sanctioned races, you might want to consider Winspace wheels.
The Hyper wheels are more expensive than most of Farsports and Light Bicycle’s offerings, but if you live in a country with a Winspace distributor, you might be able to get Hyper wheels for cheaper than even Farsports’ highest configuration.
- All of their wheels are UCI-approved
- Super stiff wheels thanks to its carbon spokes
- The distinct “butterfly” pattern on Hyper wheels
- Ceramic bearings at a very affordable price
- Has been tested in the wind tunnel by independent testers. The Hyper performs comparably or better than most carbon wheels out there.
- Carbon spokes might make a creaking sound with the way they cross the spokes, although this has been solved in the newer version
- The butterfly pattern might not be your liking
- The ceramic bearings that they use might not be very durable
- You can’t choose your own wheel configuration unlike the other two brands
Which Winspace wheels to buy?
The best thing about Winspace Hyper wheels is also its worst. The carbon spokes and ceramic bearings will make your wheels stiffer and roll smoother at the cost of comfort, durability, and ease of repair. Many people are also turned off by its butterfly pattern, though they do have a painted Black Edition that covers the pattern.
I personally don’t think the Hyper is for everyone, even though so many people have sworn by its build quality and performance.
Considering the price, though, what you get with Hyper is amazing. Winspace Hyper is one of the best wheels on the market at any price range. Just make sure you understand what you’ll get before you buy it.
Other, also good Chinese carbon wheels
There are other good quality Chinese carbon wheels, but the top three above are just too good that there are currently no better choices among the rest of the wheels we reviewed.
Not that these wheels below are bad by themselves, not at all, they are still very good wheels coming from reputable manufacturers.
If the top three options aren’t available to you, consider these wheels too:
Yoeleo: These carbon wheels from one of the top Chinese bike companies perform great in the wind tunnel as tested by independent reviewers. If you’re looking for UCI-approved wheels that are not Winspace Hyper, these are your best option.
ICAN: Super cheap carbon wheels with respectable weight from a well-known manufacturer. They use Sapim spokes on their wheels, which is great, but you’re still stuck with their own hubs. Another downside is the 16 mm internal width, that’s too narrow for a modern wheel.
Super Team: Good value wheels with DT240 hubs. Not as good as Farsports or Light Bicycle in terms of overall value, but if you live in North America you can order their wheels from Amazon.
Elite Wheels: Their top-tier Elite Drive wheelset is a 40/50/65mm rim with carbon spokes and ceramic bearings that weighs from 1255 gr and costs lower than Winspace Hyper, making it one of the best lightweight wheels on the market, at least on paper. Their old and outgoing wheels have a good track record in terms of build quality, but we can’t recommend the Elite Drive just yet because some people are experiencing problems with the hubs. The good news is that Elite’s customer service seems to be responding fast with replacements.