Novatec Diablo XL Wheelset - First Look

Oct 2, 2017
by Mike Kazimer  
Novatec Diablo wheels

Carbon wheelsets have been hogging the spotlight lately, with more and more companies rolling out rims made of the magic plastic, but that doesn't mean that the demand for reliable, durable aluminum wheels has diminished. After all, there's something to be said for a set of wheels that can be purchased without depleting your entire savings account or selling an organ.

Novatec's new Diablo XL wheels are designed to be able to withstand everything from World Cup DH racing to the slightly slower paced, but no less abusive riding that 'regular' riders dish out on a daily basis. They're not wildly light, but that wasn't Novatec's primary goal – in this instance, they chose to prioritize durability over shaving grams.
Novatec Diablo XL Wheelset

• Intended use: enduro, downhill
• Welded 6069 aluminum rims
• Sizes: 27.5'', 29"
• Internal width: 30mm
• External width: 35mm
• 6-pawl freehub body
• 3x, 32 hole lacing
• Claimed weight: 2040 grams (27.5" Boost version)
• MSRP: $850 USD (Factor hubs), $700-$750 (Novatec hubs)
www.novatecusa.net


Novatec Diablo wheels
The Diablo XL rim is constructed from 6069 aluminum, and has an internal width of 30mm.

Rims

The wheels are available in either 27.5” or 29” sizes, and use a new 6069 aluminum rim that Novatec designed in-house, with a 30mm internal width that should help them play well with modern tire designs. The rim seam is welded, a step that Novatec said helps to ensure that the seam doesn't separate and let air escape from a tubeless setup. On the topic of tubeless, the wheels come pre-taped and include tubeless valve stems. The classic 3-cross lacing pattern is used for the wheelset's 32 stainless steel spokes, and no proprietary tools are required when it comes time to true or tension them.


Novatec Diablo wheels
Novatec Diablo wheels
Six pawls plus a 60-tooth drive ring adds up to a quick 3-degrees between engagement points.


Hubs

There are two different hub options for the Diablo XL wheelset – riders can choose either a Novatec hub with a 42-tooth drive ring, or a Factor hub with a 60-tooth drive ring. The freehub body has two sets of three pawls, which creates a very quick 3-degrees between engagement points when paired with that 60-tooth ring.

Looking to add a little extra flair to your wheels? For a small fee, Novatec can laser etch a custom design on the hub shell. That step is possible thanks to a partnership Novatec has with a company near their California headquarters; while the individual components of the wheelset are made overseas, the actual wheelbuilding takes place in California, which makes it easier to put together customized wheelsets.


Novatec Diablo wheels
Novatec Diablo wheels
The Diablo XL wheels can be purchased with either Novatec or Factor hubs, with multiple hub spacing options available.



69 Comments

  • + 62
 Is the drive ring replaceable?

Also whats the RDSWT number on these? (riding down stairs without tires)
  • + 21
 ASTM F2927.5 - 26(2017): "Standard Test for Tireless Bicycle Wheels"

aka, the Stairs Without Tires (SWOT) test.

"Bro, check out my new wheels. They're rated for 87 SWOTs!"
  • + 3
 Swiggity swooty
  • + 1
 Has anybody ever replaced their drive ring?
That is a non feature.
  • + 36
 Seems expensive if you consider :
1. they're heavy AF
2. Novatec has a crappy reputation
3. Novatec hubs are Formula hubs (the same you see with Superstar Components, Giant Wheelsets)

They look nice, I'll give them that; but so do the Spank
  • + 2
 Wow the truth gets ya downvotes!
  • + 8
 I've used Novatec hubs for years, still got a pair on a AM bike.They are not the lightest but never had any issues.
  • + 3
 Very expensive compared to halo vapour 35 which has 120poe hubs as well, same internal width and is lighter
  • + 3
 could be a fake MSRP, some brands list high MSRPs and then permantently put them on sale for 30%+ off to make it look like youre getting a good deal
  • + 10
 Novatec and Formula are not the same company. Novatec is the same as Joytec. Neither are related to Formula (the Taiwan version of Formula in any way)
  • + 4
 I won't disagree on weight but my demons have been bombproof, I run them on both my bikes
  • + 0
 I'd go spank all the way...
  • + 4
 @OTBSteve: truth Steve
  • + 0
 @OTBSteve: My mistake, It's Joytech like you said
  • + 1
 @ctd07: yeah the vapour 35 is a awesome wheelset for the money.
  • + 3
 Got set of Novatec Demon DH wheels. Absolutely no complaints what so ever. Staying true for a season. Hub sounds wicked! Not like my ID9's I used to have but for literally 1/4 the price!!
  • + 1
 My Novatec hub ate itself within the first year, and replacement parts/customer service were non-existent. No thanks.
  • + 4
 @Whipperman

In these days of fake news, you really have to do better than uncorroborated opinion. By all means add "I think" to your suggestions.

"Novatec Hubs are Formula Hubs". Where di you glean that little nugget from? As @OTBSteve said, Novatec is the sales name for the Joy Industrial company, novatec.imb2b.com/sell/index.php?typeid=4833 who make hubs for everything from department store bikes to high-end OEM parts. They have nothing whatsoever to do with Formula Hubs.

"Novatec has a crappy reputation". Really? Where did you decide that from? Not here for a start: www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/category/components/wheel-sets/product/review-novatec-jetfly-14-48293 Notice how the reviewer there says, and I quote, "Novatec has been producing high quality, reliable wheels for numerous prestigious brands for a long time."

"They are heavy AF". Sure, although the reviewer says it in a different way "They're not wildly light", but did you notice that they added "...but that wasn't Novatec's primary goal – in this instance, they chose to prioritize durability over shaving grams."

Disclosure: I have been using Novatec and Hope hubs for a decade; both have been excellent.
  • + 17
 +1 for using J Spokes
  • + 1
 I have J spokes Novatec hubs, I was thinking of straight pull for my next wheels. What are the advantages of J spokes? Is it only the availibility of spokes?
  • + 2
 @IluvRIDING: well, if you have round straightpull spokes, you need to grab them with pliers to stop them from turning when you true them, so there's that. Some suuuuuper aggressive bladed spokes fit well into DT Swiss's bladed spoke holder, but most fit super loose. Go jbend, they're an item that your LBS stocks in case one breaks
  • + 0
 @mnorris122: plus they are a lot easier to clean. You just hold a sponge on the hub flange and spin the wheel. The turrets on straight pull hubs are a pain to clean. You need a toothbrush, bottle brush, everything, and it takes ages! Just get J bend
  • + 10
 We use Novatec wheels on our entire demo fleet! They're tough, straight and durable. We've used them for 3 years now and have had 0 issues! We can't wait to try the Diablo XL!
  • + 0
 "withstand everything from World Cup DH racing" really? ? ?
  • + 12
 I didn't see where they ran the wheel set through the Danny MacAskill stress test?
  • + 5
 Nice engagement. Same mechanism/design as i9 if i'm not mistaken. 60 tooth ring with two sets of offset pawls for 120 POE at 3 degrees each. I've been wondering why that design isn't more common.
  • + 1
 I was looking at getting factor hubs last year after hearing the angry hornet factor wheels on my mates bike. A couple of guys I know who work in bikes told me not to, because basically the more POE you have, the smaller the teeth and the more chance there is of slipping or failure. You can't tell any difference when you ride, and it only sounds better for the five seconds before you come to a stop. I just went hope because I know they are still going to be working in ten years.
  • - 1
 @jaame: everyone loves the sound of a hope hub eh?
  • + 2
 @jaame: POE is definitely a noticeable thing that changes the performance of the bike. I worked in a shop and have never seen any problems with failures due to POE. Hopes are decent hubs though, and a great company at that.
  • + 3
 @jaame: I too have never seen problems with high engagement hubs being more likely to slip a pawl or fail. People theorized about problems when it was new technology. But the problems never actually happened.

I have both hope and i9 hubs in my fleet. Both are well made products. However the difference in pedaling response is quite noticeable and I prefer the higher engagement. When starting to pedal, there isn't a moment of play before the drive train engages. Higher engagement also decreases the impact upon engagement. Cassettes chew into driver splines more on lower engagement hubs. With this in mind, I would guess that even though pawls on higher engagement hubs have smaller teeth, they are also subject to less impact. Perhaps that is why they aren't more prone to failure.
  • + 3
 yeah i'm good i'll just stick with some flow MK3s on pro4s even if they are bit narrower, but still they are a fair whack cheaper.
  • + 3
 And lighter.
  • + 2
 $850 for a pair of fricken HEAVY Novatec wheels?
Seems like every week PB shows a new pair of wheels that adds absolutely nothing to the market, yet every week they come.
I must be in the wrong business
  • + 3
 Or you can buy the novatec hubs online for $150 and rhen have them built to some nice wtb, velocity or notubes alloy wide rims for under $400 complete.
  • + 6
 They look reliable
  • + 0
 Don't want to get all naysayie here (though it is PB after all) but US$700 on a pair of Novatec 812 hubs (US$150), Alex rims (US$150), Sapim spokes (US$70) and a build (US$120) and I'm thinking that's about $200 over priced...

My pricing is clearly guesstimated but I reckon I could get that component list custom built for around AU$550.
  • + 3
 You could argue same about DT Swiss' entire range.

Someone told me it was so they can offer them OEM at a hugely discounted rate over the fake RRP, drumming up more business. They only care about OEM anyway... it's 90% of their business.
  • + 1
 XL with a 30mm internal doesn't seem very XL but maybe the XL is in reference to the their weight or to the people that should be riding them or to the amount of money it takes to buy them. I'm left pondering
  • + 4
 So if I get these wheels I'll be able to ride like hell?
  • + 4
 I'll stick with outlaws... jeezuz $$$$$$
  • + 1
 These wheels seam like a good bang for your buck! I'd like to see a long term review of how the rims hold up to the low pressures of tubeless tires!!!
  • + 1
 Check the website: "boost only front and rear hubs"... nice omission to avoid the hate there PB
  • + 2
 Seems legit.
  • + 1
 Not seeing the value there.
  • - 1
 What? Doesn't cost an arm and a leg?!
Bad PB!!!
  • + 13
 When did more than 1000$CAD started being affordable?
  • + 8
 @mollow: First big jump was 08/09, but things settled for while before trending up heavily again in 2014.

www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=USD&to=CAD&view=10Y
  • + 5
 @ski-or-die: you're on the wrong site mate, must be?! Factual info and the name are the big giveaway's!

The factual info was the most important though. Please don't let fact spoil peoples unbridled anger at inflation! Especially when backed with puns and a stick to wave :-D
  • + 1
 @mollow: no shit, 1000cdn and 2000g is nfg.
  • + 5
 @mollow: When $3000 USD became an option.
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