There are many different factories in China who produce carbon bikes, some of which sell genuine bikes and others who construct counterfeit models. It is important to be able to tell the difference between a counterfeit bike and a genuine one, not only will you get your money’s worth, but counterfeit bikes can also be very dangerous with the potential to result in a nasty, and even fatal crash.
We have gathered together a list of tests to ensure you are purchasing a genuine Chinese bike, preventing any avoidable crashes and keeping you cycling happy!
Remember, not all Chinese carbon bike manufacturers are counterfeit, but it is important to be able to know the difference for your own safety.
Table of Contents
# Why you shouldn’t buy counterfeit carbon frames
Although the Chinese carbon frames may look the real deal and be a lot cheaper than the original, they are definitely something to avoid! Counterfeit frames are more likely to crack or even shatter, especially during a high impact crash. Unlike genuine carbon fiber frames, counterfeit frames cannot take as much impact, with even the smallest of crashes to be life-threatening.
Here you can read this thorough test from Velonews, they analysis a real Specialized frame and a counterfeit one. You may have a deeper idea that why you shouldn’t buy these frames,
# Carbon bike test standard
In order to test Chinese carbon fiber bikes, we have gathered together many different tests to ensure you are able to identify a genuine carbon fiber bike from a counterfeit.
In order to test the stiffness of a counterfeit Chinese carbon fiber bike, Microbac performed several tests. One of these tests consisted of loading both the carbon frame and the fork with 300 pounds of external force through the seat post. These results were measured in terms of compression. Microbac concluded the counterfeit cycle to be over 11% less stiff than the genuine carbon cycle.
20,000 times Brute Force Test
Tests conducted by velo news using a tarmac branded bike revealed that the original tarmac branded bike was engineered to ride on the toughest terrains whereas the counterfeit model was simply designed to look like the brand itself. Therefore, the tensile strength of the counterfeit was much, much weaker and definitely marked as dangerous.
Quality control standard
When looking at a carbon cycle, it is important to assess the quality of the bike. Look for stiffness in the frame, tensile strength, weight of the carbon frames and any unusual markings of paintwork which may give the signal towards being counterfeit.
Below is in-house our test standard based on UCI/EN.
|1.H/T Stiffness||90N-m/deg above|
|2.BB Stiffness||170N/mm above|
|3.Rear Triangle Stiffness (single side)||18N/mm above|
|4.Rear Triangle Stiffness (both side)||38N/mm above|
|5.Frame / Fork assembly- impact test (falling mass)||Racing Height: 212mm||No damage a/f testing|
|MTB Height: 360mm|
|6.Fore shock||ROAD:ST:70KG,BB:0 kg,HT:0 kg||No damage a/f testing|
|7.LCF(Frame-fatique test with horizontal forces||ROAD:100000 no damage|
|MTB:500000 no damage|
|8.CSF(Frame-fatique tset with pulling forces)||100000 w/ no damage|
|9.CSF(Frame-fatique tset with pulling forces)||ROAD：Left & Right force: 230kg||100000 w/ no damage|
|MTB：Left & Right force: 230kg|
|10.Frame Fatique test with Vertical forces||50000 w/ no damage|
|11.Vibration fatigue||ROAD:ST:70KG,BB:0 kg,HT:0 kg||30000 w/ no damage|
|12.Disc brake fatigue||Force: 60kgf, Frequency: 3Hz||30000 w/ no damage|
|13.H/T Strength||300kgf above|
|14.S/T Strength||350kgf above|
# Bike paint job
Looking at the paint job of a cycle can often be a simple way of identifying a counterfeit bike. Often, the paint jobs are not remotely similar or of much lower quality. In some cases, counterfeit brands have even used completely different colors, making it that little bit easier to spot.
# Frame geometry
One key difference between a genuine carbon fiber cycle and a counterfeit is actually the frame geometry, specifically the length of the frame. Measuring up an authentic frame against a counterfeit will often see a difference between sizes, most commonly being the counterfeit being much smaller.
# Carbon Bike weight
With many different components making up a bike, it can be difficult to identify what is real and what is fake. The weight of carbon bikes should be light, especially if the majority of the parts are genuine carbon fiber. Counterfeit carbon fiber cycles will often be much heavier, as the materials used may not even be carbon fiber, just disguised as it.
Carbon Frame weight
Counterfeit carbon fibre frame generally weighs considerably more than genuine carbon fiber. This is due to low-quality headsets and seat collars, often constructed out of much cheaper, less durable and heavier materials.
Meanwhile, if you want to choose a Chinese carbon frame, you can also compare the weight with different sellers. Of course it could be heavier than top brands like Trek, Specialized, Cervevo or other brands, but keep in mind tips as below:
- Aerodynamic frames are heavier than superlight frame
- Disc brake frames are a little heavier than normal rim brake frames.
- Lightweight frame is focusing especially on the weight, usually between 750-850g.
- Always ask yourself, what’s the purpose of your riding? Climbing? Speedy?
- Find the right bike frame size. Some cyclists prefer to choose a smaller size to get a lighter bike, but wrong size bike may hurt you in long term way.
Carbon fiber rims are specifically designed to withstand additional force placed by the rider during tough climbs and descents whilst managing high speeds and sharp corners. Counterfeit brands are unsafe as the rims may be unable to withstand the force provided through the bike, resulting in a horrible and potentially fatal crash.
When looking at the individual components in which make up a carbon bike, the total weight should be much less than that of counterfeit parts. Counterfeit parts are often much heavier due to the non-carbon fiber being used, these materials are much more dangerous and not worth your money. When purchasing a Chinese bike online, be sure to check the weight classification of the bike in the specifications section, followed by matching this up to the brand and or cycle to check the authenticity.
# Chinese carbon wheels
It is a common fact that the wheels on any cycle need to be strong enough to withstand the force placed through the bike. Counterfeit wheels are a recipe for disaster. Below we will go into further detail into what to look for, allowing you to identify the difference between proper carbon fiber and counterfeit, dangerous materials.
Chinese Carbon Rims
When it comes to rims, as long as they are made of genuine carbon fiber and assembled correctly you should have nothing to worry about. The quality of the rims should be tested and felt whilst riding, with low-quality rims easy to spot.
The hub of a counterfeit cycle will often be heavier. Ensure to check the hub shell as well as axles and bearings to be fitted correctly, therefore, preventing any future crashes and improving your safety on the road. A faulty hub may result in spokes not fitting into place with the potential for them to snap, increasing the chances of you taking a tumble as well as damaging your bike.
In terms of spare parts, ensure these are of high-quality. There is nothing worse than breaking down whilst ill-prepared, never mind breaking down with counterfeit materials which may be even more dangerous than before. Check spares such as inner tubes for any punctures or faulty marks alongside brakes and tool kits so they all work in conjunction.
The assembly of the carbon wheels is essential to the safety of the cycle. In terms of looking for a counterfeit based on the carbon wheels, one thing to look for are any unusual markings, poor assembly or difference in weight between genuine carbon wheels.
# The FAQ of Chinese Carbon bike
1. How to buy Chinese wholesales bike online?
There are a few famous B2B/B2C wholesale platform in China which you could find plenty of Chinese suppliers/trading companies. Like Alibaba, AliExpress, DHgate and so on. If you want to buy bikes in bulk order, you can check our guide for buying Chinese wholesale bikes.
2. Where are Specialized bikes made
Most of the Specialized bikes are made in Taiwan and China, while their headquarter in USA is focused on R&D, testing and so on. There is nothing wrong about the fact that most of the top brands (like Trek, Specialized, Giant, and so on) are made in China.
The reality why people don’t trust “General” brands made in China, is that without proper test and QC, they could sell at an unbelievable low price without a quality guarantee.
You can also check more detailed answers from Quora.
3. DHgate carbon fiber bikes
Our suggestion is that you shouldn’t buy your carbon bike components (frame, rim, handlebar, and components) from DHgate.
As a manufacturer in China, we know the tricks that people are playing on DHgate. DHgate is the platform offering the lowest price you can ever imagine.
Think twice about the price: Do you really believe a USD300 carbon road bike frames could be good and safe to ride? If you don’t have enough budget for carbon frames, you shouldn’t buy. Try an aluminum frame instead or go to Decathlon.
4. Aliexpress carbon fiber bikes
The truth is you can find reasonable carbon road bike frames on Aliexpress. Most of bike manufacturers are selling on Aliexpress (The Top 3 Aliexpress markets are Russian, France and Brazil)
Before buying your bike components on Aliexpress, keep these tips on hand
- Always check the warranty policy, especially about the return and refund part
- Read reviews carefully, especially ONE STAR reviews
- The shipping method. You need to pay Customs tax and maybe VAT in your own country if you choose EMS( which is cheaper but takes 15-20 days to deliver generally).
- Check their package details (Will the frame been packed carefully to avoid damaging or scratching during delivery?)
- Don’t ask for a big discount, or you will receive the bike with “discount” quality. USD20 might be nothing for you, but it’s a 1-day salary for a Chinese worker. Be respectful of hand-made products.
5. eBay carbon fiber bikes
The simple truth of bikes on eBay is, they are sellers from Aliexpress. The difference is as below
1.You pay more on eBay for the same products
2.You get more rights if you receive low-quality products
3.You may find some good quality 2nd hand bikes at a reasonable price.
Our advice is, if only you want to buy 2n-hand branded bikes, check them on eBay is a good option.
6. Amazon carbon fiber bikes
Similar to eBay, there is a big chance you will find the same seller from Aliexpress. But it’s not a good option to choose carbon road bike frames on Amazon.
The answer is simply, Amazon charges more commission fees from sellers, and they offer 100% warranty for buyers, that’s why not so many sellers on Amazon. Admit that all people are equal when you meet these clients who just want a carbon bike without paying the money, you will not trust Amazon.
7. Rinasclta Chinese Carbon Aero Bike
Now over to you
Did you buy any carbon bike components from Aliexpress?
How do you think about Chinese carbon fiber bike?
Or you may want to buy lightweight frame from Amazon?
Either way, let us know your experiences on Chinese bikes by commenting below.