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The ENVE AM30 rim was introduced last year with the goal of offering that same ENVE quality at a slightly more affordable price point. So far, riders have been stoked on the new AM30 wheels and in this review, our customer Bret will be sharing his thoughts. Read on for more!
I have been a wheel builder for 14 years now. When carbon became available as a rim material, I was a little leery of its use in mountain bike rims at first. But because of how stiff and light it is compared to aluminum, I opened up to its use even though it is more expensive. You can purchase a good aluminum rim for around $100 whereas a good carbon rim costs six times that much. But from a physics standpoint, the outermost rotational mass is equivalent to twice that amount of mass on a non-rotating part of the bike as far as acceleration goes. Carbon allows manufacturers to make wide rims that are quite a bit lighter than aluminum, and wide rims are where it’s at for running lower tire pressures.
Because the price was so much cheaper, when I first began building with carbon, I mostly used rims made and designed in China. After a lot of building and research, though, I am convinced that USA-designed rims are superior. When it comes to how well thought out a rim is designed, there is nothing that touches ENVE’s products. And to top it off, they are hand-built in the USA. When you compare them to other USA-designed rims, they are all manufactured in Asia except ENVE (as far as I know) and this makes the price you pay for an ENVE rim much more worth it.
There are two attributes to the AM30 rim (and all ENVE rims) that set it apart from all the competition. First is the nipple beds. They are not drilled but are formed during the manufacturing process. The thickness of the carbon can be less there than other rims for that reason. That has two benefits – less mass and less obstruction of the nipple. The first goes without saying. Less obstruction means that the rim does not interfere with the spoke angle and there is less stress on the end of the spoke which means a lot less likelihood of spoke failure at the first thread. That is by far the most likely part of any spoke to break. So, ENVE rims make a much more durable wheel. The second attribute that sets them apart from all other rims is a wider shoulder to reduce the likelihood of pinch flatting the tire. The rim shoulder design of the AM30 uses this fact to create a rim where the strength is in the shoulders and so reduces mass in other parts of the rim (look at the cross-sectional photo). I believe ENVE claims it is a 50% less likelihood of getting a pinch flat with these rims than conventional rim designs. I hate flats, so this is huge for me. The AM30 rim is a little heavier than other rims in its class, but that assurance is well worth the extra mass.
I used this rim to build the rear wheel of my enduro bike. Building the wheel was a breeze because of the nipple beds, and it trued up really easily making the build time very short and painless. I have done two long rides in the NC Pisgah National Forest on very gnarly trails, and the rim lived up to its promise. It is stiff in all the right ways and protects the tire when air pressure is on the low side.
Overall, I’m super pleased and plan on buying another for my XC race bike. Even with the extra mass, being able to run lower pressures will more than makeup in efficiency on the kinds of rougher courses I love. Attached is a photo of my endure bike after a really long gnarly AF ride down Black Mountain Trail in the Pisgah. I descended with total confidence with the AM30 rim in the rear…definitely worth the money!!!
Note: The rim comes with 34mm rim tape and 2 ENVE valve stems. The stems are awesome, but the tape is crap IMPO, so I will be using my own 33mm tape next time.