Light Bicycle Wheelset - Good luck with rims, bad luck with Novatec hubs- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Light Bicycle Wheelset - Good luck with rims, bad luck with Novatec hubs

    All, just wanted to put my experience out there for others to consider. I bought the Light Bicycle 29er hookless wheelset and received in February/March this year (2014). Build quality has been great, rim quality is excellent (I regularly ride rough rocky stuff and they've held up no problem), but the Novatec hubs suck.

    REAR HUB: The tolerances on the rear hubs XD driver for XX1 cogsets are terrible. Doesn't align right, you end up stripping the threads on the cogset just to get it on, and it mars the splines/notches on both the XD driver and the cogset. Pretty much trashed a $400 cogset. And before you think it was my poor installing technique, it wasn't. I started to thread it on and it felt too snug so I took it to a very reputable shop and they just figured it needed some reasonable pressure/torque to get on there. Once it was on and we took it back off to inspect, we found the messed up threads and splines.

    FRONT HUB: The end caps are terrible by design. They are a strange two piece design that fall out every time I remove my wheel and several times when trying to put it back on the fork. Just recently at the end of the annual Appetite Seminar, the little rubber O-Ring that (sort of) holds it place fell apart and the two piece end caps were just rattling around.

    Moral of the story, buy these rims but with better hubs. Perhaps the Hope options are better. I've gone to Project 321 Hubs from Welcome to PROJECT 321 - Manufacturer of High-Quality Aftermarket Accessories for Your Bicycle, Automobile, Motocross Bike and Quad. These are handmade in the USA by an awesome guy named Jake Liles. He uses I9 internals with 120pts of engagement. I've got a new ISO front hub from Project 321 (already have their rear on) on its way and will have a shop rebuild my wheel with the P321 hub.

    Best of luck, rims seem great, but spend the extra money saved on some quality hubs.

  2. #2
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    Good feedback. Thanks.

    Also, from my reading of the thread about rims on the 29er forum, it's best to buy the rims and then have a trusted wheel builder build them for you.

    Hope hubs are a very solid choice that are less expensive than I9/King/Hadley/321.

  3. #3
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    Similar experience here. My rear hub exploded after 3 months. The ratchet ring broke into pieces. Multiple contact attempts to lb and novatec were met with silence.

    I always thought it would be really hard to build a bad front hub, but novatec succeeded. As you said, the design of the end caps is just not good. You're almost guaranteed to lose them at some point. You can tighten them up a bit by wrapping Teflon tape around them, but it's a temporary solution to a bad design.

    So bad design, low durability and complete lack of support has been my experience.

  4. #4
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    Sorry to hear about your experiences. I have 9 riding months on 771/772 Novatech hubs and they are doing well. I go about 180 lbs naked, run a 28t front with a 42t rear on 29" LB rims and grind up 20% climbs on my local rides (thats what the 28t is for). The LB thread in the 29er component forum has a lot of happy user, a few unhappy ones.

    I will admit the XD driver is tricky on the hubs, you have to pre-align it before tighting the lockring down. It wants to spin on you and not go down straight. i use a screw driver on the back side to keep things aligned. Also the cassette is eating the crap out of the splines on the freehub, sort of like how alloy splines get chewed up with regular cassette.

  5. #5
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    Re: Light Bicycle Wheelset - Good luck with rims, bad luck with Novatec hubs

    I didn't have any issue with the xd driver fitting the cassette. I did have an issue where the freehub started dragging on a ride, then got progressively worse, until it finally just stopped working all together. I pulled the freehub and this is what was left of the ratchet ring.



    The design on this hub doesn't thread in like some of the other novatec designs I've seen online, and I've been unable to locate any replacement.

    I'm ~165lbs and don't have a history of breaking stuff. Lucky, the spoke lengths match what you need for Hope, so it was an easy swap to a reliable hub after I gave up on a response from novatec.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal View Post
    I didn't have any issue with the xd driver fitting the cassette. I did have an issue where the freehub started dragging on a ride, then got progressively worse, until it finally just stopped working all together. I pulled the freehub and this is what was left of the ratchet ring.



    The design on this hub doesn't thread in like some of the other novatec designs I've seen online, and I've been unable to locate any replacement.

    I'm ~165lbs and don't have a history of breaking stuff. Lucky, the spoke lengths match what you need for Hope, so it was an easy swap to a reliable hub after I gave up on a response from novatec.
    Ya i saw your pic on another thread and was bummed that it didn't have the threaded ratchet ring like the 882s but it is a 4 pawl hub. Like i noted I am putting heavy torque on them eating the crap out of the spline. I probably only have 8 months 1k mi riding time on them, the bike/me been down a lot. Fork sent back twice and I broke a couple of ribs earlier in the year, I do have a history of breaking things.

  7. #7
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    Novatec is trying hard to clear their image, by spec-ing their hubs/wheels with Intense Cycles....using Brian Lopes, to endorse them. Don't drink the hyped Kool-Aid fellas.....
    "This is a male-dominated forum... there will be lots of Testosterone sword-shaming here" ~ Kenfucius

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    Novatec is trying hard to clear their image, by spec-ing their hubs/wheels with Intense Cycles....using Brian Lopes, to endorse them. Don't drink the hyped Kool-Aid fellas.....
    $100/set hubs, no amount hype can over come that they are cheap alternatives. None of us playing with the 'cheap' chinese carbon rims/wheelsets are expecting the $2k Envie experience.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    Novatec is trying hard to clear their image, by spec-ing their hubs/wheels with Intense Cycles....using Brian Lopes, to endorse them. Don't drink the hyped Kool-Aid fellas.....
    They do have higher-end hubs, and they may even be high engagement. I think that they are heavy'ish though. I'm sticking to the proven names. If and when Novatec join that group, so much the better.

    This just reminded me, there is an inexpensive (~$100) high-engagement, XD compatible rear hub that seems to have a good reputation,
    MTB270 Rear Disc / MTB Hub - 28/32h - QR or 12mm Thru Axle
    It gets high praise on a MTBR thread this year about affordable high-engagement hubs

    http://forums.mtbr.com/wheels-tires/...bs-914186.html

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    Novatec is trying hard to clear their image, by spec-ing their hubs/wheels with Intense Cycles....using Brian Lopes, to endorse them. Don't drink the hyped Kool-Aid fellas.....
    D7xx and D8xx have their (bad) history, but it seems that with D5xx/6xx they address most of these issues:
    D8xx: 0 issues with front hub, still rock solid and bearing like new after a winter season. But lot of cracked freehub (alloy). Note that D8xx is 20mm front compatible, not like D7xx, that may explain why adapters fit is ok with them (and in fact quite hard to remove)

    D5xx freehub is much more massive than D8xx, I hope it will clear freehub issues. But they do not come cheap like D7/D8xx...

  11. #11
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    I've been told before that the cost to the oems for these hubs is less than $10 a set. A hair more if you want your own logo on them. They are what they are... as they say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 92gli View Post
    I've been told before that the cost to the oems for these hubs is less than $10 a set. A hair more if you want your own logo on them. They are what they are... as they say.
    True that... the old phrase "buy nice or buy twice" has never been more true. At this point, for right around $1200 you can order these rims, whatever premium hubs you like (Project 321, Chris King, DT 240s etc), and have them built by a LBS with DT Swiss Comp spokes and brass nipples. Yes its double the price but you are getting the best of both worlds, a high performing carbon rim, the absolute best hubs and half the price of Enves.

  13. #13
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    I don't understand why after so much advice to the contrary people are still going with prebuilt from LB with Novatec hubs all to save about $150 over Hope's and a real wheelbuilder. How much is going to cost to rebuild the wheel with proper hubs now?

    So now you have what $400 on Hope hubs, most likely spokes (not sure if the lengths are the same)~$80 and labor.

    You could have taken that money and stepped up to even better hubs such as Kings or I9s from the beginning.
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  14. #14
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    I had them ALL

    The only hubs I find worth lacing to LB hoops...is DT Swiss/Hadley/True Precision/Industry Nine. Forget the rest, guys....
    "This is a male-dominated forum... there will be lots of Testosterone sword-shaming here" ~ Kenfucius

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    For me, I checked spoke lengths prior to ordering for the rear wheel to make sure I wasn't setting myself up to throw them away, and I can build myself, so it was a calculated risk. I didn't check the front hubs as I figured it would be basically impossible to screw that up, but I was wrong, and the spoke lengths don't match Hope - so wasted money there whenever I end up losing the stupid end caps.

    I've had good luck with other 'cheap' hubs. The stock Stan's hubs held up for years and thousands of miles for me, as did the old Shimano ones prior to their move to higher engagement designs. I figured Novatec would be comparable.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    The only hubs I find worth lacing to LB hoops...is DT Swiss/Hadley/True Precision/Industry Nine. Forget the rest, guys....
    I'd say it depends, I'll still take Kings over any of those- reason being I have a deep creek crossing on my daily ride- depending on the time of year and rain, its a crossing that submerges the hubs and I've found in my experience kings have the best seals.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    The only hubs I find worth lacing to LB hoops...is DT Swiss/Hadley/True Precision/King. Forget the rest, guys....
    Fixed for you

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    real wheelbuilder.
    I'm thinking LB does ok as long as you spec the right hubs

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by natrat View Post
    I'm thinking LB does ok as long as you spec the right hubs
    You think that? I'll disagree, again, most pictures I've seen, there is no evidence they even use spoke prep/lube.

    I went with a real builder for the extra $100 or so.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    You think that? I'll disagree, again, most pictures I've seen, there is no evidence they even use spoke prep/lube.

    I went with a real builder for the extra $100 or so.
    Ive had Excellent luck with my LB Wheel build. I have the 29er AM rim wheelset on my Ripley for a season and its been the most durable build I have had in years. I absolutely ride the Ripley inappropriately as well. One of my riding buddies has 2 builds from LB that have held up great also. We both race, and ride very aggressively on terrain that is harsh on wheels. I would not hesitate to get one of their builds again.
    The Novatec hubs on the other had are total garbage. My friend has blown up 2 rear hubs running xo1. I have mine set up with a 1x10 36T on the 772 hub and its hanging in there, but Ill admit that I'm just waiting for it to blow up at the wrong time. Ill most likely just switch it out for a hope over the winter. I wish they would just offer that Bitex hub for the budget build instead of the Novatec as I'm itching to order the wider hookless versions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    I don't understand why after so much advice to the contrary people are still going with prebuilt from LB with Novatec hubs all to save about $150 over Hope's and a real wheelbuilder. How much is going to cost to rebuild the wheel with proper hubs now?

    So now you have what $400 on Hope hubs, most likely spokes (not sure if the lengths are the same)~$80 and labor.

    You could have taken that money and stepped up to even better hubs such as Kings or I9s from the beginning.
    Thats the point of this thread, I admitted that this is true and am hoping to save others from the hassle. But I'll take the custom Project 321 hubs over Chris Kringles, more engagement (I9 internals) and I actually can talk to the owner and have yet to see a better built high end hub.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elsinore View Post
    I wish they would just offer that Bitex hub for the budget build instead of the Novatec as I'm itching to order the wider hookless versions.
    They should. I got the hopes as they had nothing better unless you send them what you want mounted but that's sounds like a hassle. Hopes are ok as parts and maint are ez. Now I'm glad they didn't have the higher end novatecs

  23. #23
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    Further Novatec fail-age

    Felt my freehub was a bit sticky too, what did I see when I went in to take a look?

    This is the 2nd freehub body in this wheel. Same part, same failure, same place.

    This weekends failure:
    Light Bicycle Wheelset - Good luck with rims, bad luck with Novatec hubs-img_20141207_freehubfail2.jpg

    And the one from the summer:
    Light Bicycle Wheelset - Good luck with rims, bad luck with Novatec hubs-13-4.jpg

  24. #24
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    I have a set of LB AM 27.5 wheels built with Hope hubs and love them. I'm a pretty big guy (6'2", 200lb) riding a 5" trail bike in Enduro races, so these things get abused. And I have only had 2 small issues with broken nipples. Great rims, but definitely go with the Hopes. Their builds were cheap enough and good enough for me, but you can never go wrong with a better wheel build if you have the $.

  25. #25
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    Just for the record.

    I've exactly the same experience with Q2Cycling - A professional carbon rim, frames, wheels and bicycle manufacturer and Novatec rear hub.
    Hub and ratchet rings cracked after few months and Q2 doesn't respond.
    Novatec EU replied and accused me of buying a fake hub. Also they said that the 3-paws versions was brittle indeed and their next 4-paws version fixed all problems.

    Before going to cheap Novatec hubs I have had Hope hubs. And they crack after few months too, but warranty is honored.
    Hope hubs are still few times more expensive then Taiwanese. Will try Bitex or Koozer hub now.
    Light Bicycle Wheelset - Good luck with rims, bad luck with Novatec hubs-img_20160215_160613.jpgLight Bicycle Wheelset - Good luck with rims, bad luck with Novatec hubs-img_20160215_161606.jpg
    I discovered this cracks while preparing for an epic ride. Was disappointed first but then just removed the paw where the crack started and was able to finish the ride. 120km and 4000m or climbing.

  26. #26
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    My 4-pawl replacement also failed. All told thats 4 freehub bodies in 3 years (including the one that came with the wheel). The failure was exactly the same, and the same as what's shown in ya29er's example. (Specifically: a crack/tear at the low point of the machined out well at the base of the pawl.) Surprisingly my ratchet ring is still original and intact, though I did have to replace the alloy axle with the chromoly model as one of the failures took the axle with it.

  27. #27
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    Novatec turned to be a crap at all levels.
    As I bought my wheelset complete from Q2Cycling and they were dealing with Novatec but according to Q2 Novatec simply doesn't respond.
    So I've been asked for a solution. I asked for a partial refund of $40 which is the 50% of new Novatec rear hub price. Q2 agreed and refunded. Probably I could ask for more but Q2 were good for me so far.

    I've tried to contact Novatec Europe directly and they simply acused me of buying a counterfeit hub and refused warranty.

    I've decided to finish on Novatec and ordered a Bitex MTR12 XD 54POE hub from a strange Czech company biketone.cz who for some reason sells them cheaper then Chinese sellers on ebay and aliexpress.

  28. #28
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    Wow, that's much worse than I got. In (partial) defense of the Novatec folks in the US they did, slowly, respond to my inquiries and did warranty replace one of the failures. Nothing speedy about it, but they did the right thing.

    That said, there'a a clear materials/design issue with these hubs, and they are too fragile for me to risk continued use.

  29. #29
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    CS is part of what you lose when trying to save with these types of Companies.

    I bought a used 2011 Felt Compulsion in 2011. Front bearings in the XT front wheel were toast. Called Shimano, had a new one in a week. Had an issue with a Chris King headset, called, sent in pictures and had a return label the same day.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by ya29er View Post
    Just for the record.

    I've exactly the same experience with Q2Cycling - A professional carbon rim, frames, wheels and bicycle manufacturer and Novatec rear hub.
    Hub and ratchet rings cracked after few months and Q2 doesn't respond.
    Novatec EU replied and accused me of buying a fake hub. Also they said that the 3-paws versions was brittle indeed and their next 4-paws version fixed all problems.

    Before going to cheap Novatec hubs I have had Hope hubs. And they crack after few months too, but warranty is honored.
    Hope hubs are still few times more expensive then Taiwanese. Will try Bitex or Koozer hub now.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Holy crap, that freehub is cast. Could be MIM... but either way, that is total garbage. I bet the ratchet ring is MIM.

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