For the last few weeks we have been out and about testing some ENVE wheels. The MTB model we tested is the 29 AM with DT 240 hubs (the other option is Chris King hubs). These wheels are aimed at the trail/enduro market, and would suit bikes such as a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 29 or Rocky Mountain Instinct. However, due to their light weight we wanted to test their XC prowess, as they are only ~200 grams heavier than the XC race version!
There is a lot of technology that goes in to Enve wheels, but this is a test of how the wheels ride, not a summary of their features. So if you are interested in the details of how Enve build their wheels, head on over to their website for a gander.
As soon as we got the 29 AM wheels we bolted them straight onto our team racer Dave Nairn’s S-Works Stumpjumper Hardtail. Dave is the current State XCO champion, State XCO series champion and State XCM champion, so we couldn’t think of anyone better to put a set of wheels through their paces. ‘Straightline Dave’ as he is affectionately known around the store is also renowned for being ruthless on wheels, so if they were not up to scratch strength wise we would soon know about it…
Dave took the wheels straight down South and rode trails including Dunsbrough, Middle Earth and the Margaret River pines. Straight from the horses mouth; “They are stiff as! They spin up nicely and seem pretty strong, I was pinging rims on rocks quite a bit and they held up fine”. So they passed Dave’s test, on to the next tester…
Once they came back from Dave they went onto Rex’s Stumpjumper Comp Carbon Hardtail. Rex is an elite downhill racer, so this test was predominately about stiffness and stress testing. Rex took them out to the Kalamunda trails and headed for the black diamond lines. His thoughts? “Soooooooo stiff! Ridiculous changing direction through corners and tracking through rough, rocky turns. They just feel really solid. I smashed the **** out of the back one and it was perfectly fine, no cracked carbon, no wobbles and not even a loss of spoke tension”. Strength, tick.
Overall, the main thing we noticed was how insanely stiff these wheels are. There was no deflection through corners and rough terrain, which made it easy to hold a line and carry speed. They also seem to hold up very well in the strength stakes, which is often a concern with carbon rims. Our thoughts were that perhaps because Enve have built the rim so stiff it deflects impacts instead of denting/pushing upwards as an alloy rim would. We wouldn’t hesitate to put these wheels on a big travel 29er trail bike and take them off anything at Luvin Shovels or through ugly rock gardens. At the same time, if you are a bigger XC racer, a bit rough on wheels or want to run wide tyres, these would be a good choice.
So the outcome then? Should you rush out and buy a set of these straight away? Well, there is no getting around the fact that at $3199 RRP these are not the cheapest set of wheels on the market. Our $0.02 is that if you want value and performance, buy some Mavic wheels at half the price. But if you want the best wheels that are out there, you have just found them. To liken it to the car world, these are a Ferrari. Sure, you can get something for less that will perform nearly as well, but if you appreciate that high end quality you will love these wheels.
The bottom line; awesome wheels, but you pay to play!
Stay tuned, next up is our thoughts on the SES 3.4 and SES 6.7 clincher road wheels!