Friday, May 11, 2012

Wheels: Enve 29er XC

This is a review/ramble of the wheelset I finally have rolling on the Mosaic. It's been quite a saga to get these rolling.

DT 240/Crest
Since the Mosaic uses disc brakes I'm essentially using a 29er mountain bike wheelset. Last Fall I picked up a set of Crest Rims laced to DT Swiss 240 hubs. I'm a big fan of the DT hubs, and this was a great deal, albeit a little overbuilt for my needs. They're laced with 32 single butted spokes. That is, at 1620 g they could be a bit lighter.

The Grail
Several weeks months ago I found won a killer deal on a set of wheels on a popular auction site (ahem). These were 2010 Enve 29er XC rims laced to Tune King and Kong hubs. Enve makes amazing stuff and rims are their signature product.

Some of you may know that there has been a bit of an evolution in these rims and the name of the company. Enve was once called Edge. Legal name disputes caused the change. These rims were originally designed and branded as Edge rims, and the original design was not UST tubeless ready, but you could still set them up tubeless. In fact I have a single Edge 29erXC rim laced to a 240 front hub, which I purchased from a guy selling his 69er. When the company changed names, the rim stayed the same.

The single Edge/DT 240 I have.
In 2011, Enve revised their design to be UST approved and eliminated the older design. The difference is primarily in the center channel groove and slightly more shallow depth of the bead hook. The wheels I purchased were the 2010 Enve rims (i.e. they were not the UST version). No matter, I could still use tubes and/or do a ghetto tubeless setup.
  • 2009 - Edge
  • 1 September 2010 - Enve (same non-UST design)
  • 2011 - Enve (new UST design)

The first ride on this wheelset was the Swiss Recon ride with Adam. Everything went fine, but at the end of the ride the wheel felt slightly out of round. Because of the very deep channel in the design of these rims I had noticed that the slightly out of round condition on my Edge rim as well; however, I had never felt this while riding.

When I inspected this after the ride I noticed something rather shocking. The out of round feeling I noticed was caused by a cut in the sidewall, just above the bead hook, that was causing the outer casing to come off the tire! A blowout here would have been catastrophic rolling down one of our canyons at 40 mph. Closer inspection revealed that the bead hook was rather thin and sharp and actually caused the cut. This was exacerbated by the depth of the channel which mean that the bead hook contacted the the sidewall of the tire several millimeters above the actual bead (above where there is a slightly thicker more protective layer).

After contacting several shops and Enve, I learned that this was very rare, but had happened on a couple production runs from this era. My options were to send them in for inspection, or use some fine sandpaper to smooth the edge. I tried the sandpaper first, but quickly saw that I would not be able to fix the problem. The bead hook on this wheelset was 0.6-0.8mm thick compared to ~1.2-1.9mm thick on my Edge rim. Eighty dollars later and the wheels were on their way to Enve with an RA number. Three weeks later a box arrives from Enve with the same Tune hubs laced to brand new 2012 Enve XC 29er rims (the UST version).

Good things come in black boxes.

These folks at Enve were awesome! They didn't ask where I got the wheels or even if I was the original owner. The wheels only had one ride on them before I took possession, but they didn't know that. The wheels probably would have come back in a week, but for the fact that the original build used silver Sapim CX-Ray spokes, which Enve does not stock. Not only did they hand me a brand new set of their amazing wheels, but went out of their way to get these spokes. I can't imagine better customer service or how they could stand behind their products better. If/when I'm in the market for another wheelset of this caliber, I guarantee you I'll be reaching out to the Enve folks again for awesome hand built wheels (oh and the rims are made in USA).

Ok, but how do they roll?
Amazing! These hoops are damn light. Stripped (no rim tape or valve) the front came in at 625g and the rear at 725g. I don't know what else you could get for a 29er wheelset that's 1350g! After adding the Kenda Small Block 8 tires, 11-28 Ultegra cassette, a pair of KCNC rotors and Ti skewers the final weights were 380g less than the 240/Crest/Ritchey wheelset. The difference was easily noticeable. There were sections of local mellow singletrack that I was able to roll up much easier than I had ever in the past. I guarantee you that you'll notice the weight difference on the century + rides.

They're also stiff in the right ways. The Enve rims are laterally stiff so you don't really get any noodle wobbliness, but they also don't feel ridiculously stiff or harsh rolling down miles and miles of gravel and dirt. It's true that the noodle isn't something you feel too much on gravel - it's much more of an issue on my 29er - however, I've logged about 500 miles on these already and part of that has been on B roads or less (Switzerland Trail, Monument Gulch) where you would be able to at least notice this. I'm happy to report I never did.

It's not a rolling issue, but tire interaction is another consideration. Besides the weight of the Crest/240 wheels I'm scared to change a tire on them. It's just damn hard to get the tires on! It takes about 45 minutes of screaming and cursing, using a lever to pry them on, and half giving up twice before I succeed. I really don't want to go through that out on a long ride somewhere. I've had no issues at all with the Edge or Enve rims; the Kenda Small Block 8 tires and the Ritchey Speedmax both went on just fine. I did have one blow out (story for another day) that I was able to repair trailside in no time at all. What a relief. (FWIW - On the Pawnee Grasslands ride I had three flats and I was relieved that they were all in the front on the Edge rim.) Being UST the Edge rims are also relatively easy to set-up tubeless. You'll probably need an air compressor but with that it's a snap.

Tuning In
I don't personally know anyone else rolling Tune Hubs. The set I have is their King (front) and Kong (rear) in white. The white hubs look slick with the colors of the bike and the Enve logos on the rims. Tune uses a standard pawl system for it's engagement, so there's nothing fancy there. The engagement is not extremely fast like you would get with Chris King, Industry 9, but to be honest for these primarily road rides I don't miss it.

These hubs are fully in the weight weenie category, but should be more than adequate for my use on the gravel racer. Only time will tell how well they stand up to the muck and bumps. I do appreciate the ability to convert the front to a 15mm Thru-axle, which would allow me to use these on the 29er. On the other hand, Tune is a boutique brand and not something you can find at your local shop/ Unless that is, Fairwheel Bikes in AZ (the only US importer) is your local shop.

The wheels are amazing! They're super light. They are both compliant and stiff in the ways I want them to be and they are made by a company that really backs their products.

No comments:

Post a Comment