A set of cyclocross wheels, or disc-specific road wheels, will likely go through a lot in their lifetime. Mud, wet roads, rocks, and constant bike washing; it will take their toll on any set of hoops. So, when you find a good pair of robust and durable wheels, like the Novatec CXD Disc Brake Wheelset, then they are worth shouting about...
The heart of the wheelset
Any set of wheels is only as good as the hubs that they are laced to; it is these that have the biggest impact on strength, friction and durability. The Novatec CXD Wheelset uses the well-reputed Novatec XD611SB (front) and XD622SB (rear) hubs; which are known for their quality looks, but most importantly their reliable and easily serviced cartridge bearings. The good seals, long running life, and ease of maintenance, make these a superb choice of hub for cyclocross and 'adventure road' bikes.
It is also worth noting that Novatec has made a real effort with these hubs, to make them as universally compatible as possible. The wheels come with a collection of axles and end-caps, for front and rear wheel; which should mean that whether you're running standard quick-release skewers, or one of the now numerous bolt-thru standards, the Novatec CXD should fit.
Strong, stable and tubeless ready rims
The Novatec hubs are laced to Novatec's own brand rims; these have a depth of 23.4mm, and an external width of 21.3mm; which places them mid-pack in both categories. The result, is that they provide tyre width compatibility to suit most CX or even 29er tyres; as well as a rim depth that aids wheel strength and stiffness (by shortening spoke length), but doesn't add too much weight (the Novatec CXD wheelset weighs in at 1,521 grams).
Another good feature on the rims is that they are supplied ready to roll tubeless; a change that many cyclocross riders are adopting; to allow lower tyre pressures, and reduce the puncture risk. The wheels come fitted with a tubeless rim tape, as well as supplied with good quality tubeless valves; this makes it a doddle to set them up with your favourite sealant and tubeless specific tyres (I'm running Schwalbe G-One Tyres on my set).
Used, abused and rated
I've tested the Novatec CXD wheelset of my Kona Private Jake, for the last six months. The long-term test has seen them put through endless use and abuse; both for daily commuting, with 'gravel' tyres fitted; right through to weekend CX blasts, on the rocky South Downs.
The wheelset has performed admirably. I haven't had to touch the silky smooth bearings in either of the wheels; despite some horrendous testing conditions, and numerous bike washes. I set the wheels up tubeless straight from the off, with the littlest of fuss - they sealed perfectly first time.
The only slight tweak that I have had to make, is to pop the rear wheel in the truing stand, once; to dial out a small wobble that emerged after I hit a crater of a pothole, with a fully laden pannier. It was an easy task though, due mainly to the quality of the lace-up of the spokes; but also due to the easily accessible external spoke nipples.
As a complete package, these are a great set of wheels. Built to last, and lasting well. They might not be the lightest or fanciest set of CX wheels on the market; but they are exactly what most people want from a set of go-anywhere disc wheels; durability, practicality and minimal maintenance, all in a great value package.