neuvation m 28 aero 3 wheel

After four years of mediocre to pathetic performance, the Bontrager Select wheels that adorned my Trek 1500 finally gave out. I had put up with the sloppy hubs and flimsy rims for a couple years, but when the rear rim started to crack in multiple locations, I knew it was time for some new hoops!

Time was of the essence though, as I had a race in two weeks! So when I wondered “where can I get a set of quality wheels for a decent price?” I immediately went to the Neuvation Cycling website and browsed the options. (And I ordered a set that night.)

Neuvation Cycling was just ingrained in my mind as the best bang for your buck in wheels, and without time to do more research, I jumped on the deal. I did check a few reviews, just to make sure I wasn’t confusing Neuvation with someone else, but that was it. Most of the reviews were overwhelmingly positive, although quite a few people on RoadBikeReview.com complained about hub flange failures.

But since a lot of the reviews were from 2005, I figured the third revision for 2008 (i.e. Aero3) had that fixed, so I wasn’t worried.

Since I was putting money down for new wheels, I went ahead and upgraded to ceramic bearings, too. At just $20 per wheel, it was the best deal on ceramic bearings I had ever seen, so I couldn’t pass that up.

neuvation m28 aero3 wheels

Out of the box: First impressions

The wheels came packaged very nicely in separate boxes. Upon lifting these boxes, the UPS man and I both questioned whether or not there was anything within the boxes. They were that light!

Each wheel came with a little bag for the quick release and spare spokes. There were two spares up front and four for the rear (two for each side, as the drive-side and non-drive-side spokes are slightly different.) That was awesome, because searching for replacement spokes can be a royal pain.

All wheels should come with spare spokes, including wheels that come on complete bikes. It would be so much easier and really ease my mind to just have a spare spoke in my toolbox, especially when you have these nice bladed spokes.

As for the graphics, they are big, shiny silver stickers. They might even be brighter than reflectors! I think they look good (especially on my silver bike,) but if you don’t like flashy graphics, just peel them off. They are big, one-piece stickers, so it should be easy. (I ended up peeling one off. It was easy to remove but did leave a sticky residue.)

These wheels were also totally true and round. So far, so good.

neuvation m28 aero3 hubs spokes

Preparing to install and ride

While the wheels are beautiful, the black spokes are very dusty. My hands turned black in no time after carrying these around. So… I took some rubbing alcohol and wiped them down. That took off all the extra black dust, and once the spokes dried, they looked just as good as before.

Spinning the wheels was a new experience. The freehub was nearly silent! You could really sneak up on people with these wheels.

The rim braking surface was definitely high quality – it’s nice and rough for better braking; very well machined for the task at hand. The rim has a center groove as a rim wear indicator, which is easy to read and should be accurate since it spans the entire rim.

A little problem was that the braking surface had very limited space though – the rim wall was very short. My brake pads are much taller than the braking surface, so they end up hanging down and hitting the stickers. (Which isn’t great, but I had to adjust it like that so the pads didn’t rub the tires!) Look for some narrow Dura Ace brake pads if you need new ones, as brake pad overhang is annoying and dangerous.

Before mounting the tires, I had to tape the rim. John Neugent recommends Velox 16mm cloth rim tape. It’s probably a good fit, but I used 17mm Forte cloth rim tape and it fit fine, although it did take up A LOT of space in the rim bed.

Which leads me to…

Mounting the tires was very hard! I tried to mount my tires with my hands only (which I usually do,) but it didn’t work, and my thumbs were sore for days afterward! It wasn’t that difficult with a tire lever, so you’ll probably want to go ahead and use one and spare your hands the pain.

Or… use the 16mm rim tape, which could make a tiny difference, and give you just enough extra space in the rim bed.

neuvation m28 aero3 rear

On the bike

My very first thought – get narrower brake pads! There is a very annoying braking sound when the pad hangs over and hits the rim.

Otherwise, these wheels were awesome! For starters, they roll super fast. I always got dropped on descents and I thought it might be my crappy wheels. Thankfully, now I know it was the wheels! With the M28 Aero3 wheels I can’t believe how fast I descend. They are fast on straight descents, but they’re even faster through sharp downhill turns.

I think the great stability stems mainly from the wheel’s stiffness. When I pedal, I can feel the bike go forward with each stroke. It’s way better than my previous Bontrager Select wheels which flopped side to side as I rode!

Another new feeling I had was during a 50 mph descent in heavy crosswinds… these felt a bit different than my previous wheels, as this rim is deeper and has bladed spokes (presenting a greater surface area for the wind to catch,) but it didn’t feel hazardous. Rather, it was just a bit different, and I got used to it after a couple rides.

(With my regular wheels, the wind would blow my body to the side. With these, the wind will start to take my bike out from under me right before it tries to topple me over. That might sound bad, but it’s not a big deal as long as you can handle a bike.)

Durability?

I’ve only been using these for a month, so I can’t be too certain about their long-term durability just yet. They are pretty strong, though.

On my first two rides, I babied these wheels. I avoided rough roads and dodged small cracks – and the wheels stayed true. The third ride, though, I hit a rough patch… This little rough spot caused the rear wheel to go slightly out of true laterally.

I would expect that with cheap machine-built wheels, but after hearing so much praise about these wheels staying true for years without service, I’m disappointed that one patch of rough pavement (not quite a pot hole) did the damage. On my third ride!

After that incident, especially when leaning into corners, I could feel the rim hitting the brake pads slightly. And I’m only 165 pounds – surely Neuvation’s strongest wheel can hold up to a 165 pounder!

On a more positive note, there was no serious damage to speak of after a month of use on various road surfaces.

Installing the Ceramic Bearings

Neuvation wheels don’t come with the ceramic bearings installed; the bearings are actually shipped separately and you install them yourself.

Installation is pretty simple, though. You knock out the old bearings with a rubber mallet, then press in the new ones with the pressure of the quick release skewer. No big deal, although it does take some time.

Warning: Be careful with the included instructions. The details and pictures are a little vague, and I noticed one of the pictures actually shows an incorrect rear hub configuration.

If you are not experienced with hub overhauls, take it slow, and put everything back together the exact same way it came apart!

Once the overhaul was complete, the ceramic bearings were very, very smooth. Spinning the wheel in my hand went from clunky to silky smooth!

When I put the bike on the rollers, I think I noticed a small increase in casual cruising speed. However, that could have been psychological. (Regardless, the ceramic bearings were a nice touch.)

neuvation m28 aero wheels on cannondale
White bike + (black wheels – gaudy silver decals) = Sweetness

Removing Neuvation Decals

Eventually I got sick of the gaudy Neuvation decals, so I decided to ditch them. Neuvation actually gives you instructions to remove the decals, so they must know how ugly they are.

It’s a simple job – just use a hair dryer to heat the decal and then peel it off. The process takes about a minute per decal. At eight decals per wheel, plus some buffer time, expect to take 20-30 minutes to do this well. (Don’t rush it.)

I would heat the decal for about 10 seconds, then concentrate the heat at one end and moved the blow dryer along the decal as I slowly pulled it off. Most came off perfectly. A few glue spots were left behind, but I could rub those off with my finger tip.

The stealthy look is sweet! Also, this saves weight! It’s not a huge weight savings, but it’s very cost-effective.

Neuvation M28 Aero3 Wheels – The Long Term Test Results

At first, I really liked the performance of the wheels, but the durability seemed questionable.

I’ve been riding these wheels well over a year now; let’s see how things are going…

Durability and Wheel Truing

I want to start with this point because it was my biggest concern with the wheels. After putting maybe 300-500 miles on these wheels (probably more like 250-350) in a month or so, both wheels were out of true. I had only hit one rough patch of pavement in that time.

It could have been worse, but I was expecting better from hand-built wheels.

After truing the wheels, I did a road race on my local roads (July 13, 2008.) We were really putting the hammer down for a while, but the roads were smooth.

Unfortunately, on the last stretch, I did hit a small pothole. It was big enough to notice it, but small enough my wheels just bounced over – something that the cheapest wheel should have held up to.

Well, after the race, the rear wheel was really out of true. I had to dial out the back brake pads quite a bit to keep it from rubbing while I rode home to true it yet again.

And that cycle continued. I was pretty pissed these needed trued so soon and so frequently.

I mean, I wasn’t putting that many miles on these, and the miles I put on were fairly smooth roads. I weighed roughly 159lb at the time, so that was definitely not an issue. I’m also a very smooth rider with a good pedal stroke, smoothly riding over or around obstacles such as pot holes and railroad tracks.

The good news after all this: After truing the wheels monthly for nearly a full year, I think the spokes have finally decided to stay put. The wheels are nearly true and they have been like that for the 2009 season so far.

Stiffness, Speed, and Performance

Thankfully, the wheels always impressed me with their speed and performance. They were stiff and reasonably light, making for a fast ride (that was still plush enough) even while climbing and sprinting.

Compared to cheap stock wheels, they felt magical!

After a year, they still feel great.

The only disappointment was in December when I checked the wheels for a possible overhaul – the bearings were sticky and clunky. I was taken by surprise, considering how smooth the wheels rolled all summer. (Fortunately, I had those ceramic bearings to install.)

What I hated about these Neuvation Wheels

Just my luck… I bought the M28 Aero3 at full price, passing up a chance to get the Aero2 as a substantial discount. (Like I said, I didn’t want an older version that might have those hub flange failures.) Since the Aero2 was being discounted, I thought the Aero3 wheels were pretty new.

Well, a couple weeks later the Aero4 came out and the Aero3 was on sale for about $250 a pair. That sure beats the $350 I paid! (Shortly after the Aero3’s dropped to $199.)

I could have bought practically the same wheels at Performance Bike (the Titan) and used them until the Aero3 went on sale, and ended up with two pairs of wheels for about what I paid for one set!

But you can’t change the past, so I’ll just make the most of what I have. 🙂

A Couple Things I’m Still Wondering About

When I switched to ceramic bearings in the front hub, everything went smoothly. The hub was very clean inside, and it contained the black bearing cartridges.

But when I pulled apart the rear hub, it was pretty dirty, and contained some white grease, green grease, and some red sticky stuff. And… red bearing cartridges, which would indicate ceramic bearings!

Somehow the rear hub already had ceramic bearings installed, despite my set of four ceramic bearings arriving separately. It seems a bit fishy, especially since the rear wheel is the one that was really bothering me with the constant truing.

Could my new rear wheel have been built with a refurbished hub? Did the regular bearings happen to get a red seal? That’s just me guessing, but it was odd.

And there’s one other thing I’m left wondering… When will we see Neuvation mountain bike wheels?! Perhaps something along the lines of Stan’s Olympic rims, but half the price?? That would be sweet!

neuvation m28 aero3 rear closeup

My final verdict is…

For the first two rides, I loved these wheels – great performance for a decent price. Supposedly they are on par with $1000 Mavic wheels, although I can’t verify that as I haven’t used top of the line wheels like that. But the Neuvation’s felt great compared to my old $250 Bontrager Select wheels.

But my Neuvation wheels needed trued after three rides, and then trued multiple times after that, so that’s not saying much for these “hand-built” wheels. I’d be half-tempted to get the cheap Titan wheels on sale at Performance Bike, or spend a little bit more and try the Williams s30 wheels.

On the other hand, if the Aero3’s are on sale, it might be a good time to grab a set. They’re still pretty darn good no matter how you look at it.

I still feel that these wheels get a little too much praise (like in the RoadBikeReview.com reviews,) but I’m glad I bought them to try out. The ride quality and performance are very good, and nothing has broken after over one year of use, so I can’t really complain.

What really matters is that most other wheels at $500 or below are nothing compared to these wheels. For the price, these are great. I’m positive these are the best wheels out there for under $300. And whether you choose the M28 Aero3, M28 SL, R28 Aero4, etc., they are all a great value.

If you can afford $1000+ wheels, great. But if not, Neuvation is a great value and superb wheel. I actually considered getting a second set when I realized they were on sale for $199.

Official website: www.NeuvationCycling.com

Product Review Details
Company: Neuvation
Product: Neuvation M28 Aero3 Wheelset
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Date first published: 2008-06-26
Date last updated: 2009-07-07
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

Click here if you would like to get your product reviewed on CoachLevi.com.
8 Comments
  1. shiny! i would buy some!

  2. It is a common misconception that the Performance Titans are the same wheels as the Neuvation M28 Aeros. This may have been true a few years back–although even then John from Neuvation said they used different rims, spokes and bearings–but the Neuvation wheels have gone through a couple models since then while the Titans have remained the same. If you look at the Performance wheels’ specs the rims are 13 mm wide and the hubs are clearly not the same. The M28 Aero3 wheels’ rims are 19 mm wide and the spokes are 2mm wider–making for a stronger wheel. The reviews on the Neuvation wheels are also much better than for the Titans.

    Anyway, sorry for rambling, just wanted to let you know that you shouldn’t feel bad for spending more on the Neuvation wheels since they really are a superior product.

  3. Thanks for the info!

    It’s not that I’d rather have the Performance Titans, it’s more that I wish I had gotten the Neuvation M28 Aero3 wheels for $209 instead of $299…

    Now, had my M28 Aero3 wheels stayed true for more than three rides, I wouldn’t complain about the price at all. In the end I’m just annoyed at having to true these so soon.

  4. I would highly recommend Easton Circuit’s
    3000 miles only trued rear wheel once and easy to repair ie: change bearings. Hub is silent and they spin forever.
    However, save your money scrimp and save break the piggy bank to buy a set of Reynolds Carbon DV46UL’s
    or any high quality carbon Tubular, not clincher.
    In a word your world becomes a smooth fast ride.

  5. Where can I find narrow brake pads for these wheels?

  6. Not to resurrect an old thread, Just read your early review and this longer term review. I also purchased the now defunct Neuvation M28 Aero3 wheel set back in Feb 2009 for $249. I have never had a bit of problem with them and currently have 11k miles on these wheels. The only time I have ever had to true the wheels was 1.) when I broke a DR hanger and wrapped the DR thru the wheel braking spokes, and 2.) after a serious slide out crash in loose gravel. I have abused these wheels … bunny hoping train tracks, holes, even off road shenanigans. Basically been bomb proof for me. Always true.

    I was reading these blogs because I am now considering a new wheel set, but questioning … Why? I am looking at the Fulcrum Racing 3s 2017. Weight would drop by about 6.5 oz from the Neuvations. I also think they might be more laterally stiff. But I do not know. But after 11k on the M28s … Would the Racing 3s be an up grade at $351?

    • @Mike

      Awesome that they have held up for you! Since the M28’s have been working so well, it makes it hard to say that the Fulcrum Racing 3 would be an upgrade. Depends why you’re drawn to them.

      I haven’t ridden the Fulcrums so I can’t say either way. But I’d only lean toward recommending them if you want to have two sets of wheels. You could build up the Fulcrum Racing 3’s as a lightweight set, and keep the M28’s for all the abuse and off road shenanigans!

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