Monday, October 14, 2013

Novatec A551SB 74mm Front Hub + LitePro 20" Rims

After getting the Chris King R45 11 speed rear hub, my initial idea was to rebuild the rear wheel, using the new Chris King hub and the current Wheelsport rear rim. However, I figured that it would be much easier to build a complete set of front and rear wheels, and I will be able to sell the Wheelsport wheelset. It also allows me to compare the complete Wheelsport wheelset with the new wheelset.

With that in mind, it means that I have to get a new front hub and also a new pair of rims. Getting a good quality front hub is not so easy, as a narrow 74mm front hub for Dahon / Tern bikes is required. To make it even harder, a gold coloured 74mm front hub is desired.

After trawling Taobao, it seems that the only good 74mm front hub that comes in gold is made by Novatec.

Novatec Gold Front Hub in 74mm. Model number is A551SB, made in Taiwan.

This hub is inexpensive at less than SGD 30, which is quite amazing. It is super smooth, and feels just as good as sealed ceramic bearings. It is also a lot cheaper than the Chris King hub!

With my itchy hands, I always like to take things apart (provided that I have the confidence to put it back together)!

Removing the two axle inserts is easy, just stick in two M5 Allen keys and turn in the opposite direction.

The sealed bearing can be seen once the axle inserts are removed. 20 spoke holes.

Axle inserts are threaded onto the hub axle, instead of just inserted like the Wheelsport / Kinetix Comp front hubs.

As for the 20" rims, there are a few more choices available. However, gold coloured rims are not so widely available. The most popular rims are LitePro rims, and they are available in different number of spoke holes, which means compatibility with many different hubs. Also, LitePro claims that their rims are made in the same factory as the highly rated Kinetix Pro rims, which means at least a decent quality.

I selected a 20 hole rim for the front wheel, and a 24 hole rim for the rear wheel. These rims have the same number of spokes as the current Wheelsport wheelset.

Shiny new gold rims!

The joint where the ends of the rim are spot welded together.

Double walled rims

Rim is about 25mm tall, slightly lower than the 30mm of the Wheelsport rims.

LitePro sticker on the rims.

Weight of the Novatec front hub. Quite a bit heavier as most 74mm front hubs are around 50 grams.

The pair of LitePro rims (20H and 24H). Not the lightest pair around.

After some effort gathering all these parts, I now have:

1 x Chris King R45 11 Speed Rear Hub
1 x Novatec A551SB 74mm Front Hub
1 x 20H 20" Rim
1 x 24H 24" Rim
all in gold colour, of course.

The hubs! Sharing a quiet time together before being laced into individual wheels.

Rough spoke lengths calculated. Radial lacing for the front wheel, and 2-cross lacing for the rear wheel.

I don't have any wheelbuilding skill or experience, therefore it is best to let the professionals do it. With the hubs and rim, I can then bring it to the bike shop, and they will build the wheels with the necessary spoke lengths and spoke nipples.

The next part of this wheelbuilding adventure will be up soon! There will be a detailed comparison between the Wheelsport wheelset and the new custom Chris King + Novatec wheelset.


  1. hi, would like to know where did you purchase the rim tape?

  2. I got it from Kian Hong Cycle at Vertex

  3. Enjoying your site! Can you tell me who you bought the wheels from, Taobao? Good quality? Which seller may I ask?
    Also any reason why not buy the wheel ready built? So many sellers selling seemingly similar hubs (hey that rhymes!!) So which ones are fakes.....or are they all are? 2 bearing, 4 bearings, hmmmmm

  4. The hubs are rims are of good quality. Except for the Chris King rear hub, the front hub and rims are from Taobao. Just search for the model name and you will see a list of sellers.

    I wanted to choose the hubs, which is why I got the wheels custom built. There are no fakes, just wheels of different quality. Usually it is 2 bearings for front hub and 4 bearings for the rear hub.

  5. Hi,
    For wheelset, would you prefer wheelsport or novatec? how is your review for both? Thanks

    1. I haven't used a Novatec wheelset so I can't do a comparison. But the Wheelsport wheelset is a good wheelset, can't really find any flaws with it.

    2. Hi, but with the litepro rims and novatec hub, do you reckon it to be better than the wheelsport?

  6. but for the litepro wheelset that you use with novatec hubs, what's your opinion when in comparison with wheelsport.

    1. I haven't had any problems with either wheelsets, so both are really good wheels.

  7. Hi, I have a Dahon Route 6 speed with a damaged front rim, can I upgrade by getting the wheelset and hubs as shown. Thanks

    1. Yes, this wheelset can be used on your Route 6

  8. For the spokes where do you buy from and also the nipple

    1. I asked the bike shop to lace the wheels for me, so I didn't have to buy the spokes or spoke nipples.

  9. Hi Steve

    Thank you for the details write-up. I've purchased a Dahon Falco 451.
    I want to change a better rolling wheel Hub, front 20H/rear 28H. In your opinion. Is the Dahon BalcFoot rim worth to keep or more cost effective to change the wheelset?

    Lastly, possible to change a rear hub to fit 11sp cassette? Thank you. Best Regards, Jay

    1. What is a Balcfoot rim?

      If you want to upgrade the wheels, just get a new wheelset and sell off the old one. Don't bother with keeping the rims or hubs, unless you are a competent wheel building who can build the wheel yourself.

      If you want a 11 speed compatible rear hub, just get a new wheelset. Wheelsport wheels are quite good value.

    2. Thank you for replying. I can't build the wheel. Will need to get shop to do it. But not sure is this cost effective to change the Hub on the existing rims or buy a new wheelset.

      The rims should be Dahon BlacFoot 451/Black. I got the spec from Dahon Japan webite.

      The Front Hub is 74mm. Any idea what about the rear Hub? . Is all rear Hub standard 130mm? I can't find this information online.

      I'll look out for the Wheelsport wheels.

    3. The rear hub is 130mm, same standard as road bikes. It is much easier to get a new wheelset and sell off the original wheelset, rather than trying to save the rim or hub.

    4. Thank you :) Will look out for new wheel :)

  10. What are the sizes of the the sealed cartridge bearings for the front and rear hubs of Litepro K fun 406 wheelset? Thanks in advance.

  11. Hi! Where do you buy the novatec hubs 74mm? Hard to find here in philippines that kind of front hub :( I'm looking for 74mm Front 130mm Rear hub 20/24 holes. Can you give me a bike shop in SG can ship to PH? Thanks! :)