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Novatec rear hubs = complete garbage

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Novatec rear hubs = complete garbage

Old 10-28-18, 12:23 PM
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Novatec rear hubs = complete garbage

I have purchased three complete bikes over the last two years with Novatec hubs. These bikes have ranged in price from $1,600 to $3,300. On ALL THREE bikes, the Novatec rear hub has had serious problems or complete failure within ~750 miles. I weigh 155 lbs, I'm not putting ridiculous watts through these things. I have other bikes with hubs from Shimano, Campy and Formula... all of which have been problem free. For example, I have ~27K miles on a set of 6700 Ultegra hubs (which are hardly super expensive, boutique hubs) with no issues whatsoever.

Meanwhile, my experience with the Novatecs:
- a Boost rear hub blew up completely within 500 miles (!) of singletrack usage. Looking online, the wheels specced on this bike are rife with similar failures. This necessitated replacing the entire rear wheel in the first season of owning the bike. Unacceptable.
- a 197 fatbike hub has repeatedly failed requiring the replacement of the internal pawls and ratchet ring. These parts are difficult to get your hands on and a pain to install (the ratchet ring is press fit on my hub). The first slipping/snapping/clunking began within 200 miles (!). Ridiculous. To this day, the hub "unscrews" itself as you pedal, requiring Loctite to stay together. Slow as hell engagement on this hub as well, just a piece of garbage.
- a 142 rear hub on a gravel bike is started clicking, snapping, unscrewing, etc at ~700 miles. I had to Loctite both the rear AND the front hubs on this bike as both were falling apart after a few hundred miles. Still rolling for now, but I'll be replacing with a good set of Mavics soon.

So yeah, Novatec OEM stuff is complete garbage. What really annoys me is that these were hardly cheap bikes. Manufacturers need to stop speccing this crap. I'd gladly pay a couple hundred more for a nice, reliable rear hub. In that regard, I'm definitely in the minority. The problem is that:
1. on cheaper bikes, manufacturers know that no one shops on the basis of the rear hub, so they spec something cheap.
2. on expensive bikes, manufacturers know that enthusiasts are going to replace the stock wheels quickly anyway, so again they spec something cheap.

Both mean that you need to include to cost of better wheels in any bike buying decision if you plan to put more than a couple thousand miles a year into a bike. Buyer beware: watch out for Novatec. It's a sign of cost cutting.

Last edited by Hiro11; 10-28-18 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 10-28-18, 12:38 PM
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I have one set with over 12,000 miles and never had one issue.
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Old 10-28-18, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass
I have one set with over 12,000 miles and never had one issue.
That's great. Good contribution. A quick Google search will reveal that you are in the minority.
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Old 10-28-18, 12:55 PM
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Classy
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Old 10-28-18, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
That's great. Good contribution. A quick Google search will reveal that you are in the minority.
A quick google search, oh my God You actually got triggered that I posted that? If you're too sensitive to handle people posting experiences different than yours then don't start a thread.
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Old 10-28-18, 02:58 PM
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It sucks to have hubs, or really wheels in general, fail.

especially frustrating when its on a bike that isnt cheap.
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Old 10-28-18, 03:26 PM
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Is the ring letting go of the hub body? I had an old Nashbar hub do that many years ago, when I was a lot lighter and not as strong. The threading was too shallow where the ring was spun into the aluminum body which allowed it to fatigue out. Aluminum metalurgy is a sensitive thing in manufacturing that we take for granted sometimes. That said, engineering fail...
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Old 10-28-18, 03:26 PM
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I've got 40,000 miles over 6 years on 3 different pairs of novatecs with no issues. All mine have been QR and 130/135 so perhaps it's a thru axle design accommodation issue.
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Old 10-28-18, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
That's great. Good contribution. A quick Google search will reveal that you are in the minority.


My quick Google search turned up a couple of negative reports, and a couple questioning if there were problems, spanning 2013 to 2017.

Given what I assume are a very large number of parts in use, that's not a ringing condemnation.

I believe I have a couple of sets, with no problems.
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Old 10-28-18, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot
I've got 40,000 miles over 6 years on 3 different pairs of novatecs with no issues. All mine have been QR and 130/135 so perhaps it's a thru axle design accommodation issue.
That pretty much mirrors my experience. Many miles and years on several wheelsets using Novatech hubs, with no problems. One wheelset is going on 15 years old. Novatech hubs are the 'economy' brand for a lot of builders, so I've actually gotten better reliability than I paid for. If OP doesn't like them, he should get a more expensive hub next time.
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Old 10-28-18, 05:45 PM
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I prefer to use White Industries, they make a reasonably priced hub right here in 'Merica that is excellent quality and can be had in many configurations and even colors. If you are into low spoke counts Rolf Prima uses WI hubs for all their builds. Or do what I do and have them built by a competent wheel builder and you are all set. Plus the staff at WI is super friendly and easy to work with.
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Old 10-28-18, 06:01 PM
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All hail Formula brand hubs!
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Old 10-29-18, 05:42 AM
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While I certainly can fathom and empathize with the OP's frustration with what is basically the experience of a 100% failure rate, "=" is a bit of a generalization. I too have thousands of miles on a set of NovaTech hubs on my XC bike, although I built my own wheels and serviced the hubs prior to riding them. I also service my hubs at least once a year (twice this year). OEM anything is generally under lubricated and is not going to be the same as even the least expensive aftermarket. I would suggest making sure your hubs, bottom bracket and headset are completely serviced and adjusted properly prior to riding a new bike. Most shops assemble and sell. Warranties are dealt with later and don't come out of the shop's pocket. That said, I've toasted both Shimano and Campy hubs in my lifetime of riding. Also, just because your 155lbs (Elia Viviani, the pro sprinter for Quick-Step is 154lbs btw) and not a "wattage bazooka" doesn't mean your riding level is not outclassing OEM level stuff. Consider the wheels on a mid-level bike to be sub-par for an experienced rider. That may not be what buyers want to hear, but it's pretty much on point.
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Old 10-29-18, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass
I have one set with over 12,000 miles and never had one issue.
Originally Posted by Hiro11
That's great. Good contribution. A quick Google search will reveal that you are in the minority.
The original poster's experience is with three hubsets, or about .00001% of the hubs Novatech has produced. Lazyass's experience is with one of their hubsets, so let's see, that would be .0000033% of their hubs.

I'm willing to call that a draw.
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Old 10-29-18, 01:05 PM
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If it bothers you I'm sure you could spec out a different hub. If they don't offer a different hub, just order the hoops and the right hubs for you. Measure up the spokes, order right length. Have a competent local shop build them up.

Or, if you're buying stuff in the spec range of coming with Novatec hubs.......consider buying a used set of wheels like some used Giants or Bontragers with a more standard hub.

The Giants used to come with DT Swiss 240's.

Just wait for after a major Ironman in your area, or after Kona nationally and used wheelsets will litter Craigslist and Ebay for a while. Not necessarily from people dumping wheels, but shops who rent for the events dumping the old stock of rentals.
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Old 10-29-18, 01:41 PM
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It's great that some here have had a good experience. After three hubs, I'm frustrated with this brand and stand by my opinion. This is especially true given that I have never had an issue with any other brand of rear hub.

Also, as someone above pointed out: note that all of my wheels are 142/148/197 thru-axles. Most of you seem to be referring to QR road wheels. Others above seem to be referring to aftermarket hubs or wheels. Perhaps these have different engineering, I have no idea.

Yes, better hubs exist and I can always go buy a White Industries/Hope/DT/Chris King hub. Yes, I can go buy new wheels. In most cases here, I've already done just that (at considerable expense). Not really the point here.

Also, no: you can't tell a brand to "change the spec" on a complete bike. You get what you get. Also, note that Joytech/Novatec seems to be the largest hub maker in the world. Their hubs are used by almost every OEM, including high end brands.
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Old 10-29-18, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
Also, no: you can't tell a brand to "change the spec" on a complete bike. You get what you get. Also, note that Joytech/Novatec seems to be the largest hub maker in the world. Their hubs are used by almost every OEM, including high end brands.
I haven't had any bad experience with them, but that doesn't mean your objections are invalid. If you were buying a new bike and told the sales person, "I love the bike but the wheels are ****. What can you do for me there?" I think they'd offer something. Most shops do that sort of stuff all the time. A good shop will offer at least a discount on the replacements, either at-cost or with an allowance for the take-offs.
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Old 10-30-18, 05:42 AM
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I had to replace my Novatec on my fatbike after maybe 1000 miles. I'm still on my original chain (0.25% elongation so far). So with novatec hubs you have a chain change timer, just replace chain every two hubs
And no, I'm no clyde or hard rider.

But I knew right away the rear hub is a weak spot on my fatbike. all users have the same problem, so i budgeted for that when buying the bike. It was $1,100 fatbike, which is dirt cheap and everything else is great. but I also learned all the fat bike rear hubs used by LBS brands (they relabel cheap hubs as their own) have similar problems. You basically have to get a rear hub from a real brand. I would put Novatec in the same category as a Bontrager/Giant/Specialized hub. You need to go to DT Swiss et all to get good hubs.

BTW, I also had to replace my giant Toughroad hybrid giant hub because the hub started to kame the cassette wiggle a bit. I just re-built a new wheel. For that bike that also was the only repair. So rear hubs in general seem weak spots.

For the 197mm fatbike I got a bitex hub, for the 135mm hybrid hub I got a shimano. Nothing exciting, but won't break. Life is too short to use Novatec hubs. There is a reason the novatec fatbike hub cost $80 and the Bitex $140 and the DT Swiss $190. You also need to add cost of new spokes etc.
In either case a quality hub is cheaper than the damage you do when the pawls skip and your balls land on the top tube.
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Old 10-30-18, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass
I have one set with over 12,000 miles and never had one issue.
Same here.

I'm about 95kg as well.

*edit - road bikes, custom wheel builds
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Old 10-30-18, 03:30 PM
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You bought a 3k+ bike and it came with novatec hubs?
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Old 10-30-18, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by seamuis
You bought a 3k+ bike and it came with novatec hubs?

$3K typically gets you a 105 level bike these days. Wheels are a classic place to cheap out.
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Old 11-01-18, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by seamuis
You bought a 3k+ bike and it came with novatec hubs?
Look at the $3K Trek, Giant etc. bikes. they all have no-name hubs. and no, slapping a Giant or Trek logo on a no-name hub doesn't make it a CK, DT etc. It is very rare to get an actual name brand hub on an OEM bike.

It seems the theme here is on road bikes the Novatec will be OK but on MTB bikes they fail. The load on a hub for MTB is just too high. MTB shift much more (more often engaging pawls), run on more torque (stading going uphill etc.).
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Old 11-01-18, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
Also, no: you can't tell a brand to "change the spec" on a complete bike. You get what you get. Also, note that Joytech/Novatec seems to be the largest hub maker in the world. Their hubs are used by almost every OEM, including high end brands.
They might have contracts with a lot of manufacturers dictating their hubs be sold on a certain percentage of models. Simultaneously, the bike brands are always seeking ways to minimize costs to preserve margins. Offering cheaper wheels which are still technically safe is one way to do this. It's no surprise why the main advertising points for a bike are typically its frame, fork, and drivetrain. Wheels are usually left out as a main selling point unless the brand is advertising a high end model.
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Old 11-01-18, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun
Look at the $3K Trek, Giant etc. bikes. they all have no-name hubs. and no, slapping a Giant or Trek logo on a no-name hub doesn't make it a CK, DT etc. It is very rare to get an actual name brand hub on an OEM bike.

It seems the theme here is on road bikes the Novatec will be OK but on MTB bikes they fail. The load on a hub for MTB is just too high. MTB shift much more (more often engaging pawls), run on more torque (stading going uphill etc.).
I know how the industry works. It’s why I don’t personally buy any bikes from these big companies. I build my own bikes, and I’d rather drop that 3k on a custom built frame and go from there, than a complete bike built using trash components. I think it’s absurd to willingly give some company 3k dollars and get a set of hubs worth less than a hundred bucks. To do it multiple times and expect different results? There’s an old saying, something about fools and their money. I mean, even if you wanted to spend that kind of money on a complete bike, for just a few hundred extra dollars you could get a decent shimano 105 or XT wheelset online, any day of the week and rid yourself of cheap hubs that you already know are going to prematurely fail. Like, what are we even doing here?
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