by Dave Anderson
July 6, 2012
It’s impossible to review the Enve XC rims built into these wheels without first considering the price. ￡700 is what some people consider expensive for a bike and the ￡2000 price tag of the wheelset is firmly in decent full susser territory. But while ￡2000 to some will seem an extravagance for a pair of […]
It’s impossible to review the Enve XC rims built into these wheels without first considering the price. ￡700 is what some people consider expensive for a bike and the ￡2000 price tag of the wheelset is firmly in decent full susser territory. But while ￡2000 to some will seem an extravagance for a pair of wheels, to others out there willing to spend to get the best performance from every component, it’ll be a price worth paying. So what do you get for your money?
Enve rims are hand built in Utah to create a stiff and strong carbon composite product, featuring a moulded valve stem and spoke holes to allow for high tensioning during wheel build without the risk of failure associated with drilled rims. Weighing in at a claimed 350g apiece, the 24mm-wide, 31mm-deep rim is tubeless compatible and there’s a tubular version available for serious racers. Our pair came built up with Chris King hubs using bladed spokes to create an impressively light wheel set that screamed out BLING! Now bling is all well and good on a bike, but it’s performance that matters.
There’s a certain pressure to perform that comes when you strap a set of wheels like this to your bike. They’re not the sort of thing that people miss. With this in mind I popped them into the Cannondale Rush and took them for their initial spin on my local loop to get a feel for them, before riding them, and risking embarrassing myself, in company. Previous to this test I’d been running Mavic SLRs which, while in no way feeling like slouches, had been overwhelmed a bit in rock gardens on a couple of local trails, combining with the low weight of the Rush to result in a bit of a pinballing, ricochet style.
First ride on the Enves and it was impossible not to pick up on just how accurate the steering was, they felt stiff from the very start. On the second ride I deliberately included every section of rock garden I could think of and the improvement in sticking to the line I’d chosen was impressive. They weren’t just slightly better, the bike went where I wanted it to, rather than pinging off every obstacle it could find.
Throughout the test period it’s fair to say they haven’t let me down once; always taking the line I’ve chosen rather than where the trail dictated. Spinning up to speed feels quicker and whether the change is psychological or physical, the end result is the same: you’re quicker and in racing, this matters.
Are they worth it? If you’re building the ultimate super bike or want to squeeze every last drop of advantage out for racing, you’ll probably answer yes. If you’ve ridden a pair long enough to get used to them, you’ll find giving up that assured handling and steering when you have to return them is hard. After six months riding I really don’t want to give them back, and I’m going to have to readjust to the slightly skittish handling of my ‘before’ bike.
Overall: A stiff, strong and responsive, top performing pair of wheels. Expensive? Yes, but if I had a kidney worth selling I’d be getting Enve rims for my 29er.