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Hands down one of the most noticeable upgrade on a Mountain bike is the wheels. The stiffness and rotational mass can make or break a wheelset for someone. Enve came out with the AM30 in response to carbon wheels being too stiff. Our friend, Larry has been running them. See what they think!!
I’ve been sitting on this review for a bit as I really wanted to put these wheels through it and see how things came out. My experience with carbon wheels previously began and ended with a set of Reynolds Blacklabels that came on a Pivot Switchblade. I tried to convince myself that I liked them but those things would let you know if you ran over a pebble they were so stiff. After that I stuck to aluminum for a few years as they were more affordable and offered more comfort.
Due to parts shortage, some decisions were based on availability rather than preference. I had started a Yeti Sb130 build about a year and a half ago and when shopping for wheels, there were not many options. The ENVE AM30’s sat in my cart for about a week as I dug around on the web for some reviews and thoughts on these as I wasn’t all that excited about my previous experience with carbon wheel. However, these were available and reasonably priced compared to high end aluminum setups. Everything I could find on these noted that they were very much on the compliant side when compared to other wheels and robust in their build. All this plus them being a hand built wheel in the US helped push me to purchase this wheelset.
The wheels arrived and have a very nice, subtle appearance. No huge decals and the finish is very well done. No issues were encountered during tire installation. I’ve run several different tire brands with the same ease of installation. My complaints begin and end with the hubs and really it’s more of a preference than an issue. I don’t particularly like center lock hubs. Installation does go slightly faster, however I’ve had multiple discs prematurely develop play at the interface and when traveling, I remove my discs. This requires me to take an additional tool and a large one at that. Also, the free hub is loud. Again this is a preference. I tried using the recommended grease with good results for about 3 rides and then the hubs were back to noisy. I have a set of Hydras on another build and the grease is effective a quieting the free hub for at least a couple months.
On the trail the wheels have a noticeable ride improvement over previous wheels and significantly better ride than my other carbon wheel experience. They strike a great balance between soaking up small chatter, maintaining traction, and still feeling poppy and responsive when mashing on the pedals. I’ve switched to another high end set of aluminum wheels in the same width just to verify my feelings a few time and the ENVE’s track better as well as transmit less to my hands. I’ve also experimented a bit with air pressure on some different tire sizes and smashed the rims pretty good on some rocks and roots inadvertently when the air pressure was low.
The wheels showed no damage and remained true.
I actually haven’t had to true these wheels once since mounting them. Typically I have to true my aluminum wheels about once a month.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these wheels. They have been low on maintenance and excellent on the trail. I’m actually currently rebuilding them with a set of Hydra hubs to make them exactly what I want!