We've been impressed with the performance and value of Novatec wheelsets over the past few years. The X-Perti W350 is the company’s top-of-the-range offering, featuring a 50mm deep section carbon rim – tubular tyres only – which is aimed at the competitive time triallist, road or criterium racer.
Hubs are Novatec’s own and feature an aluminium body with carbon wrap ﬁnish. Inside they spin on sealed steel bearings – ceramic bearings would be good on a top end wheelset and would help the wheels spin even more smoothly. The hub and rim are bound together via top quality CX-Ray bladed stainless black spokes. The rear wheel has eight radially laced spokes on the non-drive side and 16 cross laced on the drive side. The front has 20 radially laced spokes.
A nice touch is that the spokes either side of the valve hole are silver, which helps when locating the valve in a hurry! The Sapim brass nipples are adjusted from inside the rim, which Novatec claim provides the best aerodynamic advantage. Overall weight for each wheel falls at a very respectable 818g for the rear and 660g for the front, which compares well with a pro peloton favourite, the Zipp 404 (front 568g, rear 682g).
The W350s were our race wheels during the hillclimb season, then through a whole winter and spring of training/commuting and a summer of time trials. Overall, they’ve performed extremely well, they’re stiff and haven’t needed any maintenance. They’ve been ridden by various testers, ranging in weight from 60 to 95kg, and have proven robust throughout. Art ed Warren used the W350's predecessor, the ‘W1’ (15g heavier), on a daily basis for a couple of years and only the rear wheel needed a small amount of retensioning.
Along with a great performing set of wheels you get both Shimano and Campagnolo compatible freehub bodies, lightweight carbon quick-release skewers (90g per pair), two sets of brake pads of differing compounds and four spare spokes with nipples, all housed in a durable, padded, double wheel bag. The one thing that wasn’t supplied with our set, which you might need if you have tubs with short valves, is a valve extender.
Overall, we’ve been really impressed by the W350s' performance. They’ve felt fast and smooth, and have been maintenance-free throughout a year of testing. They’re also good value for money when compared to similar wheelsets.