Novatec R5 50mm carbon clincher wheels tested, rated and reviewed
These deep section wheels from hub-maker Novatec use a wide 24mm rim profile combined with a 50mm depth. This means that when gusting crosswinds threaten, the R5s deal with them well – wandering slightly off course in sudden blasts of air, but never wobbling out of control and always quick to recover with steering input. Though they’re not as wind-defying as the likes of Zipp’s 404 Firecrests, the RRP is nearly £600 cheaper.
As you’d expect from Novatec, the red anodised hubs roll very smoothly which, along with the impressively stiff rims and aero, radial pattern spokes, makes conjuring up speed an easy task. The R5s also hold selfishly onto high velocities and whether powering along on the flat or throwing everything at a steep climb, they stayed free from flex with no hint of brake rub.
At of 711g (front) and 895g (rear), they’re not too chunky to weigh you down on climbs – in fact, the good stiffness made them feel quite nimble and responsive when the road winds upwards.
On downhills, the wheels themselves are stable and assured, but despite the Protex braking surface and the supplied blue carbon-specific pads, braking was woefully soft making twisting descents a scary proposition. Novatec recommend sticking with the blue pads, but swapping out to Swisstop Black Prince pads made a world of difference, so you may want to factor this into the price.