The origin of Elves is not totally clear. Some of their literature suggests Taiwan, other markings and those on the bike frame suggest China and Hong Kong. This frame was purchased by a viewer of the Hambini YouTube channel and sent for assessment.
This frame was a rim brake model with a single caliper mounting point. The size was 54cm. The retail price of the frame was $1000 USD. An interesting feature of the frame is the claimed one piece molding for manufacture, indicating the frame has no joints.
Frame manufacturing and quality
Elves supply the frame with a headset, ceramic thread together bottom bracket, seat post and forks. The measured weight was 970g.
The bottom bracket on this bike frame was quite irregular, there were visible gouges in the seats, the aperture was slightly undersized, there was some distortion around the circumference.
The geometry accuracy across the frame between datum and accessory points was very good. There was little angular deviation or distortion.
There were some areas where the attention to detail and final execution were lacking. The rear gear hanger fit was poor
An area of real concern was around the headset. The fit on the upper bearing was quite slack to the point where it’s likely the rider would feel a click under some cornering loads. This would need correcting or an increase in preload to account for this would be required. The seats did have some surface defects (voids)
In addition, the lower bearing seat had a very thin sidewall to locate the bearing. The location on the other side was comparatively much thicker.
The seatpost is a standard affair. It has a round profile and is made of carbon fibre. An internal inspection of the frames showed no visible defects. The seatpost mount is infinitely adjustable from approximately +/- 30 degrees. The fasteners are of reasonable quality, the fastener markings indicate they are of Chinese origin. The seat clamp is round profile metal compatible, for carbon rails, you will likely need an alternative clamp. One bolt is effectively fixed, micro adjustment is performed on the other. The access mechanism is from beneath so no specialist tools or hacksawed off hex keys are required.
The front fork on this bike is carbon. It has a tapered headset arrangement, the bearings for this are included. The bottom bearing is approximately 1.5″ whilst the top is 1.1/4″. Both bearing seats are tapered do fit into the frame. The steerer tube has plenty of excess and will require cutting for all applications. The fork is set up for single caliper rim brakes, the hole alignment was good in comparison to the dropout datum.
There were no defects in the fork.
Internally, the frame exhibited signs of tenting, displacement voids and there were large areas where excess resin had been forced out. There was nothing in in the frame that jumped out as an immediate failure point but from a manufacturing exercise, there are better frames out there.
Overall, the frame is nothing more than average and possibly slightly below. The final execution of the manufacturing has some good points but is let down in some areas. It should be noted that at the price point, the frame does represent good value for money. Manufacturing quality is on a par with the likes of Cannondale, Giant etc whose frames cost significantly more.
Elves would probably do better by dropping the price of the frame slightly, removing the ceramic bottom bracket and including handlebars. Trifox and Ican have adopted similar approaches and done quite well as a result.
Watch on YouTube
A video presentation covering the frame, accessories and the technical aspects is available below.