Verdict: 
Well-built, wide-rim, tubeless-compatible wheels for your winter or sub-£1,000 road bike
Weight: 
2,036g

Although 30 is the depth of the rim in millimetres, 20 (or Twenty) would have been a better name: that's the width of the rim, internally. It's remarkably wide for a road rim, where 13mm or 14mm is normal. This widens the profile of any tyre you fit to it and will offer better support to a tubeless tyre, which you don't want squirming and burping air. Given that the Novatec 30s are well tensioned, not too heavy, and not expensive, there's little not to like.

I fitted these wheels to my Pinnacle Dolomite 3, swapping over a pair of Michelin Pro4 Endurance tyres. On my old wheels, with Alex Race 24 rims, these nominally 25mm wide tyres measured 26mm high and 26.7mm wide. On the Novatec 30 rims, they measured about 27mm high and 29mm wide. It was like going up a tyre size.

> Find your nearest dealer here

> Buy these online here

Fortunately, the Dolomite has 57mm-drop brakes and will take 28mm tyres and mudguards. Owners of closer-clearance bikes will need to choose between these wheels and mudguards. For while you could fit a narrower tyre than 25mm, it wouldn't be a great idea: you'd stretch it flatter from bead to bead, and it would probably give a harsh ride. A 25mm tyre is a realistic minimum, and 28mm would probably give a better ride feel. Having said that, my concerns that a 25mm tyre would feel harsh on this wide rim proved unfounded. It was fine.

Novatec 30 Alu Clincher wheelset - rim bed

The extra rim width must improve lateral stiffness. I didn't get any brake rub regardless of how hard I stamped on the pedals. Weighing 64kg, wheel flex isn't a big concern for me, but I have experienced it on insufficiently tensioned factory wheelsets.

Here the build is pretty good. The J-bend, bladed spokes are quite highly and uniformly tensioned. I checked them at the start and end of the test with a spoke tension meter. I'd consider less than 10% deviation in tension fair and less than 5% good. Only the rear drive-side spokes (8% deviation) were out by more than 5%, and the spokes didn't unwind; tension was as good at the end of the test as at the start. Both wheels remained concentrically and laterally true to within 0.5mm – the accuracy limit of my wheel jig.

Novatec 30 Alu Clincher wheelset - Spokes

All the rear wheel spokes have more or less the same tension, as there are twice as many (16) on the drive side as the non-drive side (8) instead. Only the drive side spokes are tangential; the non-drive side uses radial spoking, like the 20-spoke front wheel.

Spoke counts of 20 and 24 are not unusual for road wheels these days. I was happy enough with these numbers, because I'm skinny and because the wheels are built well enough. But what if you're 80kg, or 90kg, or 100kg?

An extra eight spokes per wheel would reduce the likelihood of spoke breakage when ridden by big riders. These spokes weigh 8g each, including the nipple, so that would be an extra 64g per wheel – less any weight saved by having extra holes in the rims and hubs! For training or general purpose wheels, it's a trivial addition. It's not like the wheels are super-light now. At 2,036g per pair, they're about par for the course for £150 wheels.

> Don't know which wheels you need? Check out our guide here

The hubs spin nicely enough and seem well sealed; I've not had any problems despite some very soggy rides. The rear wheel has a Shimano 11-speed compatible cassette body. My hunch is that anyone on 11-speed will be buying wheels with a bit more bling, but there's no harm in having the option. A spacer is included so you can easily fit Shimano-pattern 10-speed or 9-speed cassettes.

Novatec 30 Alu Clincher wheelset - BackHub
Novatec 30 Alu Clincher wheelset - FrontHub

Overall, these are decent, relatively inexpensive wheels for training, club rides, commuting, and so on. Bigger tyre volumes and tubeless compatibility are two reasons I'd choose these ahead of another workhorse wheelset: Fulcrum's Racing 7.

Verdict

Well-built, wide-rim, tubeless-compatible wheels for your winter or sub-£1,000 road bike

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Novatec 30 aluminium clincher wheelset

Size tested: 24mm External, 20mm Internal rim width

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Novatec says: "Ideal for a replacement set of wheels or an upgrade these Novatec 30's feature sealed bearings and wide rim so are ideal for fitting tyres 700x25mm+.

"The perfect wheel for a training or winter bike, or riders looking for outstanding value for money."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Novatec says:

Full 30mm deep alloy rims with machined braking surface

24mm External, 20mm Internal rim width

Tubeless Ready rim technology

20 spokes front, 24 spokes rear

Stainless J-Bend Spokes

Fitted with Shimano 11sp compatible cassette body. Campag cassette bodies available separately

Alloy nipples

1,900 grams/pair

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Some wheelsets have pretty dismal spoke tension. These are good.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

As true and well tensioned now as when I started using them.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
6/10

Par for the course.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
7/10

Big tyre volume is a bonus.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

They're good £150 wheels.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

I like bigger tyres. These rims sort of provide that, without the weight penalty of extra actual rubber. Plus they can be used tubeless, which I look forward to trying.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Spoke count is a bit stingy for workhorse wheels.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

I don't think bladed spokes or a 30mm rim depth are a big deal on wheels like these. I'd rather that small amount of extra weight be used for extra spokes and thus long-term reliability. But it's a minor point: they're very good wheels.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 46  Height: 1.78m  Weight: 64kg

I usually ride: Genesis Longitude  My best bike is: Planet X Pro Carbon Track

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

6 comments

Avatar
Chris James [449 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

These look like they could be quite good as a budget cyclocross wheel - wide internal rim and the ability to run tuebless if you fancy it. 

I guess it depends on how good the hub seals really are. Are they cup and cone or cartridge bearings?

Avatar
tailwind10 [49 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Novatec will be cartridge bearings for sure

 

Avatar
Chris James [449 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Perhaps not for cross then. I've googled novatec sealing and it seems a mixed bag at best, and that is before you introduce a hosepipe or pressure washer!

Avatar
Cumisky [29 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes

Well-built, wide-rim, tubeless-compatible wheels for your winter or sub-£1,000 road bike

There seems to be an assumption there that we all have funds to own bicycles above and below that magical figure, the kind of snobbery that does make me uncomfortable about certain aspects of the cycling world.
Sadly, I, and probably many others, can't afford such luxuries, hell, I can't even afford the price of this wheelset.
I ride every day, all weathers on my 1980 Dawes Galaxy, bought for the princely sum of £70 from a local charity shop, and even then I had to think long and hard about the purchase.
I get as much enjoyment from it as the next guy, and allmost daily do long distance, very hilly rides in an effort to get back the fitness of my youth and prepare me for 2016 and what I hope will be my first sportives.
Sadly, a couple of days ago I was pushed into a kerb by a bus which means I now need a new tyre, something I can't afford for a week or so.
Sure, I would love a more modern bike, but realistically it will be some time before I can get one, so for now I will just make do and mend.

Enough of the whining, the point I'm trying to make is that there really was no need for that verdict byline, it just smacks of elitism, why not just end that sentence on the word "wheels", it still says it all.

Avatar
matthewn5 [1231 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

For that money get a pair of the 2014 or later Fulcrum Racing 5s. Superb stiff wheels and a miserly 1720g (as measured on my kitchen scales). Cup and cone hubs that will last years with a minimum of maintenance. I paid £138 new for mine.

Avatar
Exup [56 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

20mm internal width and a 25mm tyre!  

I have a set of 19mm internal width Mavic Crossone 29ers (700c) which I was about to fit 28mm tyres, for my CX bike on the road. All recommendations I can find say 19mm internal needs a minimum of 28mm tyre. I would consider 25mm Tyres if this was a safe and sensible option.