ENVE have had their M-Series rims available for a while now and most recently released the new HV option. The HV stands for "High Volume" and these rims have followed the current industry trend of going to a wider rim width, but ENVE have a different take on it than most. They spent a lot of time figuring out how wide was too wide and looked at exactly when the rim width no longer brought gains as far as ride feel, performance, and traction go. They eventually settled on a 31mm inner width with hookless beads. The profile of the rim is also slightly lower than the standard M70 model. I have been testing these wheels on my current setup, which is a Yeti SB 5.5c with a WTB Vigilante 2.3 on the front and a WTB Trail boss 2.2 on the rear. I find the rims give the tires a full size without flattening them out too much. Obviously the numbers after the $ associated with these rims is nothing to shake a stick at, so be prepared to part with a fair amount of your hard earned cash. On the other hand though, the saying, “you get what you pay for” comes to mind and I really feel that is the case with these rims.
Sure it would be nice if they were $1k less expensive, but let’s just face that reality and get on to how they are made and how well they perform.
ENVE does a couple of things that few, if any, other brands are doing. The rims are made in the USA and they mold the outer spoke holes rather than drilling them, which makes for a stronger, lighter rim. It is a hookless bead rim and they have somehow found a way to remove all bladders from the rim, which makes for a lighter rim that has a more uniform weight distribution. Most hollow carbon products use an internal bladder to form the inner surfaces, but ENVE has found a way to remove the bladder after they are done with it, which is no small feat. I'm sure there are all kinds of carbon wizardry that goes into ENVE rims that many of us will never know about, and ENVE has years of experience behind them, so I'm pretty confident they know all of the trade secrets.
It would be nice to see some other hub options available from ENVE. Personally, I’m a fan of Industry Nine hubs since they’re lighter than Chris Kings and they have better engagement than DT Swiss but if you want a complete wheel set from ENVE you'll need to choose DT Swiss or Chris King, for now. I do have a bit of a bone to pick with Chris King hubs. Although the front wheel has been fine and feels amazing, the rear hub continues to loosen up after a few rides and needs a good re-tightening of the bearing caps, which is an annoyance to say the least. Even with the better engagement of the King hubs, I'd probably opt for the lighter DT Swiss 240 option.
ENVE wheels ship with their own rim tape, which is essentially Gorilla Tape cut to size. I have found that if I take some regular Gorilla Tape and split it so that it’s slightly narrower than the ENVE tape, you get just as good of a seal, but it seems to be easier to get the tire on and off the rim. This might not be an issue for most depending on what tires you run on these rims, but the WTB's I mentioned above are a really snug fit and can be a bit of a pain to mount and dismount. It should also be noted that your spare tube will need to have a pretty long valve stem to work with these rims because of the deep rim profile. I know it would not be pleasant if you came to fix a puncture on the trail and found that your valve stem was too short to make its way through the rim. Then there are the spoke holes and their frustrating internal nipples. Thankfully these rims stay true for a long time, which is rarely the case with aluminum wheel sets. I have not yet needed to retention the spokes on these wheels since I got them as a fresh build. I did, however, have a spoke come loose on me on a different set of ENVE M60 wheels belonging to a buddy’s bike. I remedied the situation by pulling the tire off, poking a hole through the Gorilla Tape right at the loose spoke, tightening the nipple, and then throwing a small piece of Gorilla Tape back on to seal it up. I replaced the tire and it sealed up no worries! This was definitely way better than removing all the tape off and re-taping an entire wheel just to snug up one spoke.
I would like to point out that if you are a weight weenie looking at carbon wheels to save you some grams, you might wanna start elsewhere on your bike. Aluminum wheels are often very close in weight to carbon ones, especially on mountain bikes. One selling point for carbon wheels should be the unprecedented performance as the stiffness provided by this material is unparalleled by anything else. Now, be aware that too stiff can have its downsides, but with 29" wheels on a 5-6" travel bike this stiffness is welcomed. The wheels hold a line unlike anything I have ever ridden and I feel more confident pushing through high speed corners. Yes, there is still some flex but it’s significantly less than it would be on a comparable 29" aluminum wheel.
As for durability, ENVE stands behind their products. ENVE offers a 5 year warranty and lifetime crash replacement on their wheels, giving you plenty of confidence when you ask yourself if you want to lay down this kind of cash on something that is going to see the most abuse on your bike. I am 210lb, 6’3” rider with a DH background and these are holding up well so far. I have put a few decent scrapes on them from grazing rocks and I have heard myself slamming the rim a few times, but on inspection they are still perfect and running true! Another great aspect of carbon wheels is they never bend out of shape and very rarely need truing up. On the bad scrapes you will inevitably put on the rim, you will want to throw on a light layer of clear nail varnish. Otherwise, moisture can get in and upset the carbon layup.
The ENVE M70 HV is pretty much the best wheel that money can buy right now, in my humble opinion. Yes, I can complain about the internal nipples, how I’d like to have some different hub options, and the fact that they are some of the most expensive wheels on the market, but none of those complaints really affect my ultimate conclusion that these things are really wicked wheels. It’s worth noting that for all around trail riding, I’d personally go for the M60 HV as they’re a bit lighter and still quite stiff. But for people that are slightly bigger framed or simply demand a lot from their wheels, the M70 HV sits at the top of the heap. Plus, as an added bonus, with all the custom decal options out there you can get your bike looking fresh to death.
If you are interested in purchasing a set of ENVE wheels, just give us a call at 1-805-375-4525 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!