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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
Well-built, wide-rim, tubeless-compatible wheels for your winter or sub-£1,000 road bike
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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?
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
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Some wheelsets have pretty dismal spoke tension. These are good.
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
As true and well tensioned now as when I started using them.
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
Big tyre volume is a bonus.
Rate the product for value:
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.
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
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