The Nove Race is a nice handling bike and you’ve got the option to customise colours to suit your tastes and the spec to suit your needs. But there are some important elements like tyre choice that are not alterable, there’s limited tyre clearance and the Nove Race’s price tag looks high.
Fully customisable spec and colours, so you can have a one-of-a-kind machine
Quality component choice
Lively ride and competitively light weight
Expensive compared to the competition
Extra £118 to have the bike built for you
By Paul Norman
Nove Bikes is an Australian brand that has ex-pro and 'Worst Retirement Ever' Strava star Phil Gaimon as a brand ambassador and is now expanding into the rest of the world. Based in Perth, its unique selling point is a fully customisable colour scheme and spec.
Its roadgoing bikes are the lightweight Race, tested here, and the Aero X, both of which are available with either rim or disc brakes. The brand also offers a gravel/cyclocross bike and a time trial/triathlon machine.
You order your Nove bike on line via the brand’s 3D configurator. That allows you to zoom in and out and spin your bike to see it from any angle. You can save your design, sleep on it and come back to adjust it at a later date or start all over again. You can also share your colour scheme, if you want the critics’ view of your handiwork.
There are 16 steps to the design and spec process, so there’s a huge number of options you can play with. That starts with the frame colour: you can select from 54 different colours for the frame and apply different ones to different parts.
So you can have different colours, for example, for the inside and the outside of the fork legs and the stays, or make the seat tube a different colour from the rest of the frame. Plus you can have a matt or a gloss finish, different logo colours and add personalisation to the top tube. So if you’re of a creative bent, the possibilities are more-or-less limitless. Or you can just go for naked carbon.
Having said that, the test Nove Race has come in a run-of-the-mill gloss black.
Nove Race frame
Nove quotes a weight of 875g for the Race frameset in either rim or disc brake version. That builds up into a complete bike that we’ve weighed at just under 7.5kg, including a couple of bottle cages. With disc brakes, that’s a very creditable figure that matches or betters many other brands’ machines at this price point or above.
Nove says that the Race is its lightweight endurance machine. It’s made of high modulus Toray carbon fibre and comes with an all-carbon fork with a crown that mates with an extension of the front of the down tube, leading to a nice, seamless look.
The down tube is wide and flat bottomed, so it’s unlikely to give you any aero benefits, but the seat tube has a curved leading edge and a flat rear, so it should help the bike cut through the air better than a round profile. That shape is continued into the carbon seatpost, without being so elongated that it transmits any excess vibration to the saddle.
Nove has a unique design for its seatpost clamp, which tightens from one side of the top tube to the other. It’s unobtrusive, out of the wind and gives an effective hold to the seatpost. There’s a rubber cover over the seatpost – seat tube junction to help keep muck out.
Geometry-wise, the Nove Race is quite a long frame, with the short head tube and a 120mm stem on our test bike enhancing the effect. There’s enough clearance for 25mm tyres, even on wider rims, but a 28mm would be a tight fit both at the fork crown and the seatstay bridge.
Nove Race spec
Right, you’ve chosen your colour scheme. But Nove also lets you customise your spec to suit. So you can choose from any Shimano groupset between 105 and Dura-Ace Di2, with the exception of Dura-Ace mechanical. We’ve got Ultegra with hydraulic disc brakes, a 53/39 chainset (an option that I’ve not had on a test bike in ages) and an 11-28 cassette.
Nove lets you choose from an extensive range of wheels. That spreads from Shimano’s basic RS11 alloys at £172 up to a selection of Nove own brand carbon hoops on its own hubs or DT Swiss 240s, with prices ranging from £682 to £1,025.
We’ve got the Nove 33mm deep wheelset on DT Swiss hubs – a £946 option, although you can chop that down to £682 by choosing Nove’s own-brand hubs instead. The wheels are deep enough to look the part, are fashionably wide and are tubeless ready although they come with standard rim tape, so you’d need to buy tubeless tape and valves separately.
Likewise, the 25mm Clement Strada LGG tyres need to be run with tubes. With Nove charging £22 for the pair they’re reasonably priced, although they are the only option offered.
There’s a quality Pro Vibe bar and stem on the test bike, Pro being Shimano’s component brand. There’s the option to choose a Nove carbon integrated bar/stem combo for an extra £131. Both look a bit weird in the image on the configurator, but the Pro set-up looks much nicer in reality.
The configurator shows a range of Pro saddle options, but the test bike comes with a Fabric Scoop. You can select your preferred bar width, stem length, crank length and saddle width.
Finally, the configurator lets you choose between having the bike shipped unassembled free of charge or for an extra £118, Nove will ship the bike to a fitter. There are four outlets shown in the UK: one in London, a couple in the Midlands and one in Scotland.
Riding the Nove Race
The Nove Race feels lively and responsive to ride, with a nicely balanced frame that’s fast on the flat. Handling is precise and confidence inspiring through corners and twisty downhills and with its low weight the bike accelerates fast.
The combination of a standard 53/39 chainset and 11-28 cassette give you a significantly higher ratio gear range than you get on most bikes sold in the UK. I’ve tested a £10,000 Colnago C64, for example, with lower gearing from a compact chainset – although that did feel faintly ridiculous on a bike of its spec.
Depending on how strong you are and where you ride, the Nove Race’s ratios may or may not work for you. I didn’t find them impossible to live with, even in the hilly Chilterns, with the Nove Race’s light weight and stiffness a big help. But it was noticeably more of an effort to crest longer, steeper pitches than on most bikes I test. That did mean some faster ascents, as there was no choice but to get out of the saddle and give it the gas to get to the top.
Nove says that the majority of buyers spec a 52/36 semi-compact chainset with an 11-28 cassette, which would give a set of ratios more suitable for all-round riding.
Like the Nove Race’s gearing (and its name), its geometry too sends out rather mixed messages. Although billed as an endurance bike, it seems to be aimed at the more performance-oriented distance rider rather than the sportiviste or casual cyclist. The ride position is stretched compared to most endurance bikes. Although you can get around this to some extent by speccing a shorter stem (there are options down to 80mm), it’s still a bike that promotes a more flat-backed riding position.
Nove Race value
Go for the most basic Shimano 105 spec and Shimano alloy wheels and the Nove Race will set you back £2,872, if you’re prepared to build it yourself. That doesn’t look like astounding value compared to the mainstream competition, where a comparable spec should come in around £2,000.
It’s the same with the £3,800 spec tested, although the classy wheels go some way to justifying the extra outlay.
Whether the Nove Race is worth that premium rather depends on how important it is to you to have something that looks different and how keen you are to specify your own unique colour scheme. It’s worth considering too that many other brands will offer you a more limited custom colour range at a small premium or in some cases free of charge.
Nove gives you the option to finance your purchase via ZipMoney in Australia, Affirm in the US or Swedish bank Klarna in Europe. All offer an online credit application process and quick acceptance.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Cycling world reacts to Denmark's team pursuit 'aero' leg tape
The tape has sparked controversy on social media with mixed reaction
By Tim Bonville-Ginn •
Kit, temperatures, and practice - How records fell on the opening day of Tokyo 2020 Olympics track cycling
With team pursuit world records falling in the first session, we asked Aerocoach expert Xavier Disley why
By Alex Ballinger •
Vuelta a España 2021 route: No Madrid finish and a ‘historic new climb’ on the menu
The route for the third and final Grand Tour of the season is set to test the legs with nine uphill finishes
By Tim Bonville-Ginn •