Tech Review: Novatec Speedy Wheelset
Are you in the market for a strong set of wheels - both from a budget and durability perspective? We've had the Novatec Speedy wheel offering for a long term test so read on to find out if they're the right wheelset for you.
I was initiallly worried about all the popping sounds emanating from my recently received Novatec Speedys' when I set out on my first test ride. Nonetheless I settled in to make sure I could report back on how they performed. I haven't been dissapointed.
It's completely normal for a new set of wheels to have a 'bedding in' period while the spoke tension evens itself out - thus was certainly the case with our new training and long term test wheels.
Novatec graphics have held up well and the brake track remains consistent
The brand Novatec represents the high performance division of Joy Industrial. To offer some idea of scope, Joy Industrial has 3 factories, more than 1,300 employees, and produce about 19 million hubs per year . . . Novatec was established in 1989 when their parent company saw a huge opportunity to supply high quality, top end bicycle hubs, OEM to companies all over the world.
Speaking to Novatec representatives, it's clear they are focused on quality "our most important job is quality, 365 days a year" says one employee. Evidence of this dedication to quality and innovation has resulted in an iF design award for the W999 Wheelset as welll as a reddot design award 2010 Wheelset Craft W999. During 2000, 2004 and 2005, Novatec hubs and carbon fiber wheel sets were awarded with the SOE (the symbol of excellence honors products from Taiwan that are world-class in excellence and quality) award.
Our front hub continues to roll smooth with no maintenance to date
First impressions count for a lot when I'm testing a new product and the Novatec Speedy wasn't any different from other products. The first thing I noticed was how smooth the bearings (sealed bearings, 2 front, 4 rear) were, and how easily they rolled. The smoothness makes the wheels feel a lot lighter than they actually are, however these wheels are meant for all-round use. If you're looking for a 'superlight' wheelset there are other, more expensive options available.
The wheels use pillar double butted spokes (front wheel: 20 spokes, 2X. Rear wheel: 24 spokes, 2X). The hubs are Alloy and the axles are Aluminium.
The hub is designed to remove stress from spokes by eliminating the stress caused by a bend in the spoke
I added a set of Kenda Kadence tires to the Speedy's - our aim was a solid set of training wheels - and the result was ideal. Going from my old training wheels to the new Speedy's showed results immediately - I shaved 18 seconds off my test loop after a good warmup.
Other impressions of the wheels were good. They felt relatively stiff, although if ultimate stiffness is your goal there may be other options which would achieve this better.
Our Velo Vie test bike sporting the Novatec wheels
Being more critical, I raced the wheels at the Holy Brother Look Shimano Cup as one of the first real tests of the wheels. While the wheels held during the race, immediately afterwards I noticed a great deal (approximately 1cm) of side-to-side play in the rear wheel. This was caused by the hub internals which had come loose. In a great example of a strong commitment to service, Novatec immediately took the wheels back and replaced the bearings for me. I had my wheels back in 3 days. To date, the front wheel still 'pulses' a small amount when braking however this is very minimal and continues to decrease with time. We swapped brake pads however this didn't alleviate the problem.
Swap to any freehub body for your Novatec's
The bottom line
If you're looking for a relatively light, tough and easily serviceable set of wheels the Novatec Speedy may be for you. They lasted through rain, races, cold, and some pretty intense heat and I haven't had to service them (other than the rear wheel issue) at all. They may not be the most well known brand on the market however we can see that starting to change very soon.
About the Author: Robert Lamb has been riding bikes in some form since he was knee high to a grasshopper. He's had the good fortune to ride at a high level in a variety of disciplines in North America, the UK and Europe, and Asia Pacific. He's a certified cycling coach in two countries with a self confessed weakness for the 'dark side' (dark chocolate, dark espresso, dark beer and sometimes, yes that's right . . . dark socks . . .), and all things tech related to bikes. He now lives in Hong Kong but doesn't want you to move there.