Do People get Disqualified for Unapproved Chinese Carbon Wheels?

I hope this post provokes a chuckle from some of you, at least. But after asking about spare wheels the yesterday, I have been reading about cheap Chinese carbon wheels and am wondering if people actually get turned away from races for racing on wheels that haven’t been approved by the UCI? I have been looking at these incredibly cheap wheels (and to be fair, at this point this is a fairly hypothetical question).

Because I anticipate a wave of concerned replies, let’s stick to the above question and maybe your own n=1 on safety. I am not so interested in broad statements about Chinese manufacturing quality.

Anyway, how are those UCI rules enforced? Note that I am not interested in any wheels that come with fake decals of established brand names, etc.

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I’d rather get aluminum wheels from a trusted brand, I wouldn’t want to risk my life here. These carbon parts are cheaper because of laxer quality control. I have heard persistent rumors that sometimes the same factory manufacturers for a name brand, copies the design but skimps on quality control. I just wouldn’t want to do that.


I’ve heard people say that too, but the company I bought mine from has videos of them performing their stress tests on their rims. My last pair of carbon hoops though were not chinese carbon, I did purchase a pair of stans as now the price point is not a whole lot different than the light-bicycle branded ones.

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Quality control ≠ stress test.

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It is a part of quality control… then they also provide warranty, and then there are user reviews which is an indirect aspect of quality control. Funny thing is there are plenty of horror stories out there from well-established manufacturers and their parts failing.

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The question then is - do they test everything that comes off their assembly line or just a random sampling? Not to say these types of rims are awful - I’ve ridden them as have others and I haven’t had any direct experience with failures. Just pointing out that videos and reviews are essentially anecdotes, not data.

You can buy any product and get a lemon - it happens. There is definitely a higher % chance of that with a less controlled, less established brand, but the % is not 100% there nor is it 0% with the established US and EU based companies.

To answer the original question…

First - if you’re asking this I highly doubt you are racing UCI races. Second - it would be unheard of to get turned away from a non-UCI race for racing on these wheels.

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Correct. :slight_smile: And in USACycling it appears UCI equipment approval rules only apply for Nationals. But this isn’t the case everywhere. The German cycling federation, for example, says that at all events UCI-equipment rules and approval have to be followed.

In that same vein, what data do we have from all of our manufacturers? Honest question.

You don’t typically test everything on the line unless you’re doing a non-destructive test. I personally wouldn’t want to buy a carbon product which had been put through the ringer. As a business also don’t typically have a sophisticated piece of equipment at your manufacturing site and then just not use it.

I think we’re really splitting hairs here though, my main point was to try and do a little research about your product, if it’s made shoddy you bet there will be people up in arms about their failed carbon and posting about everywhere. What would the internet be without angry people telling the world why they’re so angry?

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You will be fine unless it’s a national level event (and maybe only even a tt where equipment is checked )

Light Bicycle is the sweet spot for me - not the cheapest, but as I’ve now built 5 sets (and friends have multiple sets as well), I trust the quality. Plus when you call the Canadian warehouse, you talk to our national cyclocross champion. :+1:

@Bioteknik…I would say most people have never been in a Chinese factory of any kind. More specifically, most have never, ever been in a Chinese carbon bike manufacturing facility. So when you hear talk about ‘putting your life on the line’ it’s mostly just folks parroting what other folks have told them.

BUT IT CAN BE TRUE!! :rofl::rofl: Some Chinese factories are dicey.

I gotta tell you, though, I’ve reviewed many cut up carbon frames from major manufacturers. I’ve cut up a few Chinese carbon frames. I’ve cut up several Chinese handlebars. I’ve cut up seatposts & forks. My findings are that generally the frames are pretty good, handlebars can be very sketchy, seatposts are generally pertty good. Definitely I’ve seen name-brand carbon frames that looked much worse than the Chinese frames I’ve cut up.

I think the reason is that there aren’t as many frame making shops as their are handlebar/seatpost/other accessory making shops. The capital required for making frames is maybe a little bit more so it’s harder to get financed at that level. So a lot of the hacks get filtered out. Handlebars? Pfft…anybody can make those in their garage…same with seatposts but handlebars require some technical expertise to get it correct.

Wheels? I don’t know for sure. Haven’t been in any wheel shops. Cut up a Chinese rim once but I’m not sure I know enough about wheels to say anything about it. No obvious defects but who knows? One thing we can say for certain sure, though, if Chinese wheels were super dangerous there would be legion dead cyclists! Ha! There are thousands of those things out there on the road.


Local races not likely. I don’t know these wheels, but, the Farsports are good and inexpensive. Mercury are basically farsports w/ a warranty.

I have two sets of eBay carbon wheel I use for cross. I have abused them. One tubular and one Tubeless. Flawless so far. I have ridden most of a lap on a flat a few times and still okay. Three years in and still true.

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With regards being turned away - the race you entered will be aligned with a relevant governing body and you should familiarise yourself with that before starting. For wheels/frames the UCI approval process is for safety so using unsanctioned equipment when those rules are valid could land you in trouble.

From a wheel selection point of view, if you’re racing you want to choose the wheels that give you the best performance improvement relative to the event. So, for most, that will be aerodynamic. Carbon wheels do look nice, but if they don’t roll well, perform poorly in cross-winds, don’t provide any aerodynamic advantage, etc - what’s the point using them in a race?

I’ve raced in UCI amateur road races, they’ve never checked wheels or frames before the race. They’ve checked for other things like tri-bars, but not for UCI compliance. Maybe they check the top finishers, but have never had that problem since I’m nowhere near the winners :smile:

If they really wanted to enforce this, they could check a random sample of people in the race. I haven’t heard of them ever doing this.

While I think they could technically disqualify you for using non approved wheels, reading their regulations it seems that they are concerned more about safety than performance gains. If you look at the tests required to pass, they are mostly to do with the ability to withstand impact. My guess is they would issue a warning or fine rather than disqualify someone.

The process for getting the UCI approval is not difficult or expensive and there are quite a few Chinese/Taiwanese manufacturers that have it