If I were to pin-point the single most often asked question that people have about my bikes, it would be questions about the wheels? What wheels are those? Do you like them? How much were they? Usually, when I respond that they are Yoeleo carbon clinchers from China, the immediate reaction is shock. “Oh no, Chinese Carbon! Won’t they explode?” “OH! How could you ride those dangerous wheels?”
Admittedly, this reaction is not totally off-base. If you spend 5 minutes online and google “chinese carbon bike wheels”, you’ll find no shortage of horror stories about people that had wheels fail on them and when I was initially shopping for carbon wheels, it was these stories that gave me cause to really investigate and be aware of what I was purchasing. It is this reason, combined with the fact that I’ve just taken delivery of some new wheels from Yoeleo that I’ve decided to do a full review and accounting of my experience and hopefully I can dispel some rumors.
Decision to Buy
I first heard about Yoeleo in May of 2014. I was researching carbon wheels and scouring chinese carbon review threads on RoadBikeReview.com. I saw Yoeleo mentioned over and over again from posters that had legitimate profiles and all of them were happy with the wheels. In late May, I was at the Tour of Somerville in Somerville, NJ and I met someone that was there cheering on his girlfriend in the women’s pro race. I noticed that he had some non-branded carbon wheels on his bike and when I asked him about them, he said they were Yoeleo’s and he had just come home from a trip to Italy where they had performed perfectly. The biggest question at the time for most Chinese rims was the brake track and with this guy’s account of his trip from Italy, it seemed that the Yoeleo’s were ok. Additionally, this wasn’t a huge concern of mine because I was buying disc brake carbon wheels for a disc brake road bike. I was also somewhat comforted by the fact that Yoeleo was very transparent about all of the parts they were using. Some of the no-name Chinese carbon wheels had unspecified hubs and spokes, but Yoeleo was very clear about the brand of spokes and hubs. It was clear what you were paying for and replacement parts could be easily sourced as opposed to most of the Chinese carbon wheels you find on Ebay and Alibaba that often leave that stuff as somewhat of a mystery. I also liked the fact that they had their own website and were establishing themselves on Facebook and other social media outlets. They seemed interested in actually establishing themselves as a brand, not just some company that could sell a few wheels on eBay and then disappear.
My First Three Wheelsets
When I took delivery of the wheels in June of 2014, my concerns disappeared. I was very impressed with the quality. After I had put a few hundred miles on them, some of my friends decided to take the jump and order rim brake wheels. They too were impressed. Ultimately, I put 4000+ miles on those wheels. They were hard miles on NJ roads with quite a few pot-holes, bumps, etc. I did not take it easy on them. They never went out of true and I had no issues with them. None of my friends with rim brake models had issues either (I think it was 3 or 4 of my direct riding buddies that ordered them). Below is a picture of my Tricross with that first set of wheels. I sold that bike in February of 2015 with the wheels and the current owner is still using them and they’re going strong.
In October of 2014, I bought my Venge frame and proceeded to build that up. I bought a set of 50x25mm SAT Superlight wheels from Yoeleo this time. As soon as I opened the box, I was impressed. They were light, and when I put them on a scale, they were within 3 grams of what Yoeleo said they would weigh. Yoeleo’s SAT technology means that there are no spoke holes drilled in the rim bed. This has a number of advantages. The biggest advantage is that the carbon is preserved and there are no holes drilled in it, which strengthens the wheel. It also means that you don’t have to use rim tape because there are no nipples or drill hole edges to damage the tube or cause punctures. The solid rim bed also allows for increased tire pressures and inflation capacity. I ordered them with the Yoeleo SL-Pro hubs which include ceramic bearings. These things just spin and spin and spin.
Below are some pics of my 50mm rims with no tires mounted. You can see the SAT technology with no spoke holes drilled in the rim bed.
Yoeleo uses a basalt brake track and I grabbed a photo of what that looks like, as well as the 3k carbon weave and matte finish.
In March of 2015, I bought my Allez and ordered a set of 60x25mm SAT Superlight wheels. I put the 60’s on the Venge and moved the 50’s to the Allez. The 60’s were built to the exact same spec as the 50’s and performed just as well. They are slightly heavier, which isn’t the best on some of the climbs I do, but there’s definitely a little bit of an advantage on the flats and on descents. Over the past year and a bit, I’ve put over 4000 miles on both sets of wheels, again without issue.
As a testament to their strength and build quality, in Oct. 2015, I was involved in a tangle with a friend of mine. His rear quick release ended up getting hooked with right side if my front fork on the Venge at nearly 30 mph. Somehow we managed to stay upright and not crash, but the spokes on the right side of my front wheel took a lot of damage as they smashed against his left side chain stay and the bikes continued to roll to a stop. Of the 10 spokes on the right side of the front wheel, 5 were completely broken in half and the other 5 were badly bent. I brought the wheel to my shop and my mechanic was impressed. None of the spokes had pulled out of the carbon or damaged the carbon hoop. The spokes themselves had broken first. There were a few spoke holes on the hub that he thought might have stretched and tweaked a bit and he wasn’t positive that new spokes would reseat properly so I ordered a new hub from Yoeleo. I had it in less than a week. It actually took the shop longer to get the spokes than it did for me to get the hub. This aspect of my experience in dealing with Yoeleo is of particular interest to me because one of the areas that people often cite as a downfall of buying Chinese carbon wheels or frames is a lack of customer support. When my mechanic saw the new hub, he was further impressed. He could see several areas where they had modified and improved their design and he was impressed that a so-called “non-name brand” wheel company would be investing the time and money to refine their design and make it better. As he re-built the wheel, he was even more impressed with just how much stress they had gone through without failing. He said he’s seen wheels from many name brand companies that hadn’t fared as well during similar crashes or accidents. I continue to ride both sets of 50 and 60mm wheels without issue.
The biggest issue I have had, is that at slow speeds, there is a slight amount of brake pulse that comes back through the levers. Its not excessive and its never caused me to crash or caused me any issues, but I can feel it, particularly at slow speeds as I’m coming to a final stop at a stoplight, maybe under 10 mph. At high speeds, I don’t seem to feel it at all. It also seems to be more noticeable if the bike is dirty. My mechanic said that its most likely some build up of brake pad material in the brake track and not related to the wheels. He suggested that I clean the wheels more often and I’ve noticed that when the bike is freshly cleaned the problem is almost all gone. My mechanic also said that this is a problem with many carbon wheels at almost all price points.
The New Wheel Set
So all of that was to establish my experience over the last 2 years with Yoeleo wheels and set up my review of my newest set of a wheels, Yoeleo SAT C88 carbon clinchers. This season, I’ve been doing my state’s TT Cup, a season long series of Time Trial races and I’ve been racing in the Non-TT class. The rules of the class are pretty simple: No TT bikes, standard road bikes only, No clip on bars, No disc wheels, No Tri-spoke wheels. The goal of the class is to provide an easy entry point into time trials without having to invest in all of the expensive aero equipment normally needed to be competitive in standard time trial races. I’ve been using my Venge with the 60mm wheels and have seen some success, consistently finishing in 2nd or 3rd in most of the races and I’m currently sitting in 2nd place for the overall cup. One of the few areas where I can improve the aerodynamics of my set up would be a set of deeper wheels and so I decided to make the jump up to the Yoeleo C88’s.
When the wheels arrived, I took quite a few pictures of the packaging to give an indication of how they pack the wheels for their journey half way around the world. Below, is the box as it arrived to me. I immediately noticed that they have improved their shipping box since I last ordered a set of wheels more than a year ago. The previous boxes were adequate and the new box is even more sturdy, with thicker cardboard and a built in handle which should make it easier for handling during the shipping process.
Above, you can see the accessories that come with every set of Yoeleo wheels. They include (2) sets of brake pads, a spacer to convert the 11 speed hub down to 10 speed, valve extenders, a set of quick release skewers and an extra spoke of the length required for the wheels. The valve extenders are the simple tube style, but I’ve had good luck using them by applying a liberal amount of teflon tape to the threads of the valve before screwing the extensions into place.
With the tires, tubes and a new rear cassette mounted on to the Yoeleo 88’s, I took them out for a 40 mile test ride. These things are fast! I’ll be using them strictly for time trial races, so I mounted an 11-23 rear cassette for a nice, tight transition between gears. It should allow me to fine tune my cadence and power output during races and I won’t feel forced to decide between a gear that’s slightly too easy or slightly too hard. On my first ride, I did a couple of 4-5 mile time trial like efforts and while I wasn’t going at 100%, I was still seeing speeds that were equivalent to my race speeds and that was without the aid of a skin suit or aero helmet. In terms of the weight, I can definitely feel the extra weight when I’m trying to accelerate from a stop, but once they get up to speed, they want to just keep moving. I didn’t feel like I was being blown around any more than usual, but it wasn’t especially windy, so it probably wasn’t a true test in that regard. One thing that I did notice was that the bike didn’t want to handle as well as usual. It was more difficult to initiate turn-in and I felt almost like I was trying to fight a little bit of gyroscope action. When these things get going in a straight line, they want to keep going in a straight line.
I’ve used them in 2 separate time trial events now, one 7.5 miles in length and one 15.5 miles in length and I’m seeing a bump of about 1 mph for the same level of effort. The 7.5 mile TT had some cross winds and I could definitely feel the bike wanting to move. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t control, but I weigh 165 pounds. If you’re lighter, cross-winds might play a more significant role.
Below are some detail shots of the 88’s.
In conclusion, I’m completely satisfied with the Yoeleo wheels that I’ve purchased and have no concerns with their durability and quality. I’ve put thousands of miles on both the 50mm and 60mm wheels in all sorts of weather and road conditions. New Jersey can get a fair bit of snow in the winter and its not uncommon to find potholes and poor road conditions in the early spring as snow thaws and re-freezes at night. These wheels have taken their fair share of hits and have remained true and strong. I’ve used the 50mm wheels in the Tour of the Battenkill Race, which is known for having quite a bit of gravel and dirt roads that can be rough on equipment. I also rode the 50mm wheels when I was out in Colorado and they had no problem dealing with the long descents.
*Disclosure* After purchasing the first 3 sets of Yoeleo’s and promoting them on various social media outlets, Yoeleo offered me an athlete sponsorship and sent me the 88’s in this article to use in my time trial events. They have not dictated or censored any of my review or comments.