ENVE MTB Wheel Review

After extensive training and racing on the their 29er all-mountain rims, it's clear that ENVE stands well above the competition

After training and racing this season on their 29er all-mountain rims, it’s clear that ENVE stands well above the competition

ENVE composites makes some of the most sought after carbon road and mountain bike wheels and components in the bike industry. Unlike their competitors, who predominantly outsource manufacturing to China, all ENVE carbon rims are made in the USA at their headquarters in Ogden, UT. Renowned for quality, dependability and innovation, their products help triathletes and cyclists of all persuasions continually push performance boundaries. Knowing all this, I was floored when I won the  2013 XTERRA ENVE Performer of the Year award.

The only prize I've won that I use on a daily basis!

The only racing prize I’ve won that I use on a daily basis!

I was too sick with GI parasites in September 2013 to make the trip to Ogden to race nationals and receive the award in front of the XTERRA tribe. It was uplifting however, to have so many great friends I’ve met through XTERRA reach out and congratulate me from afar. When I got the glass trophy in the mail, I also found a certificate in the box, good for any ENVE wheelset of my choosing. Since I predominately ride and race on trails, it was a no-brainer to go with MTB rims. The only choice then was the lighter cross-country rims or the burly all-mountain rims.

Nothing like a pair of bomb-proof wheels for an all-day adventure on 33-mile single track laps in Patapsco State Park

Nothing like a pair of bomb-proof wheels for an all-day adventure on 33-mile single track laps in Patapsco State Park

A pair of cross-country (XC) 29 rims are 120 grams lighter than the all-mountain (AM) 29 rims. For weight weenies, this ends the conversation. The all-important internal rim width of the AM rims are 33% wider than the old-school 18 mm XC rims. The lay-up of the AM rims are also more robust to endure the rigors of daily riding on technical trails. Since the vast majority of my riding at the time was on the notoriously rocky and technical trails in Gambrill State Park and the Frederick Watershed, I opted for the AM rims. They were still lighter than my narrow race-oriented aluminum rims, plenty light enough for racing.

The "heavier" AM rims didn't slow me down on my way to a pro podium finish at the XTERRA Mountain Championships

The “heavier” AM rims didn’t slow me down on my way to a pro podium finish at the XTERRA Mountain Championships

The super-wide internal rim width of the AM rims helps my tire beads properly spread out when seated. My 2.0 Specialized Fast Tracks ballooned out to nearly 2.15 on the ENVE’s and my 2.25 Schwalbe Racing Ralphs increased from 2.2 to nearly 2.35 in. This allows me to use more narrow (and lighter) tires and safely run lower tire pressures to increase control and tracking. For the full-picture on why wider rims are better, especially in tubeless applications, check out this great article from Pinkbike.

When swapping tires from my old, trusty DT Swiss 470 aluminum rims onto the ENVE’s, I noticed dozens of small dents in my old rims from two years of hard use. Despite my concern over bombing descents on carbon rims, one year in the rims remain true and perform like new. Other than a few character-adding superficial scratches, they even look pretty new.

The wider contact patch and incredible stiffness gives a much more stable platform for plowing through technical bits. Perfect for a point-and-shoot riding style. It’s similar to the extra stability gained by widening your stance when standing up on a bumpy bus or train ride. The added width and incredible stiffness is very confidence inspiring in corners. At 145 lbs, I don’t experience much wheel flex even on cheap aluminum rims, but I immediately felt the difference switching to ENVE’s. No more freak outs due to tire burping and folding under heavy cornering at low pressures.

Light, stiff, wide, and durable. When racing down blood rock in Oak Mountain State Park, I can worry about my line, not equipment failures.

Light, stiff, wide, and durable. When racing down blood rock in Oak Mountain State Park, I can worry about my line, not equipment failures.

The only downside to ENVE wheels is the price. Keith Bontrager’s famous aphorism explains the issue: “Strong. Light. Cheap. Pick two.” If budget is of little concern, thank your lucky stars and buy a pair of ENVE wheels, it’s a great investment. If you’re cash strapped, buy the strongest, widest, and cheapest pair of aluminum rims you can find and ride hard and often to get fitter than the competition. Save money without going broke by going tubeless and carefully selecting your tires.

Lastly, if you’re in the market for ENVE wheels and you can’t decide between weight and rim width, you don’t have to anymore. All of the options in ENVE’s new 2o14 mountain line-up are ridiculously light and have the perfect width for their intended application.

No matter what you ride, make sure to stop and appreciate all the sights and sounds you'll invariable find out on the trails

No matter what you ride, make sure to stop and appreciate all the sights and sounds you find out on the trails

 

 

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Gear Reviews, Mountain Biking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to ENVE MTB Wheel Review

  1. Oshri says:

    “No matter what you ride, make sure to stop and appreciate all the sights and sounds you find out on the trails.” – A great lesson for all of us, Alex. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s