I have been using the light Novatec D711/712 SB disc hubs for a few years now with excellent results. My set has survived the past three horrible winters and I have just replaced the rear bearings being a bit overzealous. They have recently been replaced by an 11 speed ready version, named 771/772. The free hub is different in that it has 4 small pawls, which supposedly increase the contact points and make the engagement faster. I have a pair and have not noticed any difference with the older model.
Novatec disc hubs with different end caps.
Over the years I have developed some sort of loyalty to the brand and when I felt like a spring upgrade, the obvious alternatives offered by Shimano XTR and Hope PRO 2 didn’t seem to represent value for money, being essentially the same thing with a hefty price tag. I came across the Novatec D 541/542 SB last year, when they came disguised as “Factor” in their top end hard core MTB carbon wheels and somehow decided that’s what I wanted. It’s been a bit of a journey to land them here in the UK, but thanks to Novatec EU based in Slovakia and Anton in particular, they are finally here. One set fitted with QR end caps for my cross bike.
So, why did I want these? Certainly not because they are light, infact they are probably 100 grams or more heavier than my D 711/712 SB. I wanted them because they did appear to pack up quite a lot of new technology and they seem to be designed to withstand the rigour of mountain bike abuse. The flanges are massive, 58 mm for the front hub and 62/69 for the rear, which combined with a rather large width (56 mm) should build a super stiff rear wheel without the need for beefy spokes. The freehub has 6 solid pawls, each engaging with two teeth, a Novatec patent pending called Synergy Cantilever. The result is almost zero delay in pickup, which is not an issue for road cycling, but it becomes an issue off-road, as I discussed in a previous article
The freehub pawls engage with a 42 teeth ratchet ring, increased from Novatec’s usual 27 and sits behind a huge outboard bearing (58x45x7 mm), which should provide bags of stiffness. The all system is protected by a tight rubber seal, very much like the one fitted in Hope PRO 2 rear hubs. The hub disassembly is very easy, only requiring 2 x 17 mm cone spanners, or one cone spanner and a bench vise. The freehub body is alloy, but fitted with Novatec’s Anti Bite Guard, which in essence means one of the splines is made of steel and prevents cassettes from chewing too deep into the alloy body.
On paper there is a lot to like about these hubs and I can’t wait to get them built and on the road, ehm trail… will update on the build and first riding impressions.
UPDATE: I have used these hubs for 12 months now, roughly 6,000 miles on and off road and they have been nothing short of superb. All the bearings still run smooth and the free hub fast engagement has been very useful over technical off-road sections. The only downside of these is that they don’t come with an 11 speed free hub, so their market is narrowed to mountain bikes and folks like myself who refuse to upgrade their gears.