Novatec FlowTrail wheels review£350.00

Old school trail hoops

BikeRadar score3/5

Taiwanese firm Novatec are the top-end product division of massive hub and wheel Olbuilder Joytech, and their wheels are impressively smooth and tight. The FlowTrail wheels are DIY tubeless only, though, and rear axle versatility is limited.

Rebranded Novatec hubs are at the centre of a lot of top-quality wheels, and the well-sealed Japanese cartridge bearings of our FlowTrails are still silky smooth after more than a year on test. 

Even with a steel reinforcing spline, the alloy freehub body needs a tight torque of the lock ring and a spider mounted cassette to stop it notching over time. While the front can be switched between quick-release or 15mm axles, the rear axle is a fixed 135mm quick-release.

The refreshingly old school but super durable and still tight laced three-cross pattern of 32 Sapim Laser J bend spokes each end proves why it’s the most popular build layup of most custom MTB wheel builders that we know of. 

The D-section 20mm wide rims have proved impressively sturdy too, with enough width for a stable footing of tyres up to 2.35in. Freehub engagement is average at 15 degrees but a reasonable 1,720g (803g front, 914g rear) weight means they’re not slow to accelerate once you’re locked in.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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