ENVE Composites 29er XC Tubeless Rims – Unboxed & Weighed

ENVE Composites XC 29er Tubeless carbon fiber rims details and weights

ENVE Composites’ carbon fiber rims are a lust worthy item. Light, sure, but also proving to be pretty strong out in the real world.

The latter point is something ENVE wants to drive home, so we approached them with a project that will put them through their paces in some unexpected ways. Our test rims are the 29″ XC Tubeless Clincher models, which retail for $899 a piece. For the money, there are lighter rims out there (but not by much as you’ll see further down). So there must be something more to them.

Jake Pantone, ENVE’s marketing manager, says it’s the strength and durability that really set them apart. In the real world, we’re hoping that translates to wheels that stay true and stiffness that keeps us on point. Feedback on that will come in time. For now, let’s check out the weight and specs…

ENVE Composites XC 29er Tubeless carbon fiber rims details and weights

Our test rims came in at 378g and 383g. Claimed weight is 385g. So far, so good.

ENVE Composites XC 29er Tubeless carbon fiber rims details and weights

Rims come with valve stems, Gorilla Tape and nipples, wheels include it all except the nipples.

The Gorilla tape can be a bit tough to get off and it’ll likely leave a little residue, but Pantone says it’s the best solution they found for something that was strong enough to handle air pressures well and be easy to install by molding to the shape the the rim well. “We tested just about every type of tape under the sun, including a lot of popular ones,” Pantone said. “At the end of the day the Gorilla Tape worked best.”

“And it’s not that sticky…it’s highly unlikely it’ll pull up any of the carbon. We pull tape on and off all day for testing. We don’t even see carbon or resin, including the patch (see below), coming up even with tubular glue.”

After talking with ENVE, we’ll be running the wheels with cheap tape and tubes for the first couple of rides until they settle in. Because they’re trued from inside the rim bed, this will let us re-true and fine tune them before laying down the Gorilla Tape and adding sealant to the mix. After that, they’ll be tubeless only.

The valve stems have removable cores so you can insert sealant through the valves rather than unmount the tire, and Pantone says this also lets you push more air in with a compressor to help seat difficult tires. It is a UST rim, so they should inflate with a floor pump when using UST tires, but this helps with running non-UST or tubeless-ready tires.

ENVE Composites XC 29er Tubeless carbon fiber rims details and weights

ENVE provides Pillar barrel-style internal nipples – shown here in silver compared to a black Wheelsmith alloy one. ENVE designed the inside of the rim to interface specifically with this design. Why? Pantone says it lets them use a smaller hole in the rim, which makes it stronger and puts less stress on the surface. Spoke tensions can be higher and you’ll see less binding on the nipple and spokes. The claimed result is a wheel that shouldn’t change as much on the first few rides, and you won’t hear as many pops and pings as things settle in. Lastly, Pantone says the design lets the nipple articulate better, which keeps the spokes from having any weird kinks or bends.

The design requires spokes that are about 6mm longer than using normal nipples, but ENVE provides a spoke length calculator on their website to make it easy.

ENVE Composites XC 29er Tubeless carbon fiber rims details and weights

Our rims are 32 hole drillings (28 is the other option). Pillar nipples come in at 14g for 32 and 27g for 64 (rounding). Valve stems with caps are 15g. All told, this still puts a “complete” rim weight at about 400g. Still pretty dang good.

Side note: ENVE recommends a minimum 120kg spoke tension on the drive side rear / disc side front.

CONSTRUCTION AND DIMENSIONS

ENVE Composites XC 29er Tubeless carbon fiber rims details and weights

On the right, there’s an obvious recessed rectangle 180º from the valve stem hole. This is a patch to cover the hole where the bladders are removed; it’s glued on with epoxy. While it’s designed to counter balance the weight of the valve stem, Pantone says that’s more noticeable on road wheels but still helps.

ENVE Composites XC 29er Tubeless carbon fiber rims details and weights

Different focus points. Click to enlarge.

ENVE Composites XC 29er Tubeless carbon fiber rims details and weights

Claimed dimensions are 18mm internal and 24mm external. We measured right at 17mm at the top of the hook, but Pantone says the claimed measurement is inside the hook bead and actually sits around 18.5 to 19mm. From an eyeball, that seems about right.

ENVE Composites XC 29er Tubeless carbon fiber rims details and weights

At the top of the rim, it’s spot on at 24mm.

ENVE Composites XC 29er Tubeless carbon fiber rims details and weights

At the widest point further down, it’s just a hair shy of 26mm. The bead hook profile is rounded from the outside, which should help prevent pinch flats a bit if you’re running tubes.

So, what’s in store for these rims? Look for a killer project bike to be announced soon…

Comments

Kovas - 11/30/11 - 1:00pm

Cool rims I guess… but I got a PAIR for a whollatta less and they’ve got this cool weave look to em…

http://www.ebay.com/itm/110782041553?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

Dustin - 11/30/11 - 1:40pm

I do product development and have worked with plenty of wheels and tapes, i prefer tubeless and will always change over friends rims to tubeless for them. I can say that i have worked with a few different types of tape as well and will attest to anyone that the Gorilla Tape is very good. It has very thick/sticky glue and the tape itself is strong compared to some other thin tapes, the only down side is its weight in comparison to something like cafe latex or stan’s tape. Just figured i would give a little positive feedback.

These rims look great btw, i would love to get my hands on a set!

Nate - 11/30/11 - 2:16pm

Excuse my ignorance, as I’ve never used carbon rims on any bike, road or mountain.

If you were to build up two sets of wheels, one with these rims and one with Stan’s crest, and everything else was the same (hubs, spokes) they would weight pretty much exactly the same. But would the ride quality of the ENVE wheels REALLY be noticably better than the crests? Would they REALLY be more durable? The marketing departments are great as telling us that carbon rims are better, but I’m curious if any real people ride these things and notice a REAL difference in ride quality and/or durability.

Greg - 11/30/11 - 2:30pm

@Nate

I’d say “yes” not because I have any experience on carbon rims, but b/c I have quite a bit on Crests.
The Crests, while light, are not very robust or stiff. Some builds are better than others at working with the “stiffness” aspect, but the tension maximum on a Crest is not particularly high. Having ridden other 29er wheels that are stiffer (and aren’t even carbon) I think its a given to expect a stronger wheel at the same weight with a carbon rim.

Dustin - 11/30/11 - 2:55pm

Yes, exactly like Greg said, you could first compare apples to apples, like two different alum. rims and ignore weight. The stiffer wheel will usually be the heavier one. So comparing a light alum. wheel like Crests (what i ride on), vs. lets say an Arch for a simple comparison, the Arch is going to be a stiffer wheel. Now use the advantages of carbon and you will have something stiffer and down to the weight of a light weight alum. wheel.

So how would you notice this ? On your front wheel you would notice less flex than your Crest when handling or standing up and pedaling hard. On the rear wheel you would likely feel a great difference pedaling. I usually compare things of extreme measures to make it simpler, like pedaling on a full suspension bike vs. a hardtail. You will feel your power go straight to the ground instead of be absorbed partially thru the frame, or in this case a “softer” wheel. This is all applicable between any stiffer and softer alum. wheel, this doesn’t include the benefits you would feel from the carbon like absorbing small vibrations that would resonate thru alum. Just like on a carbon vs. alum. road bike frame, the ride will be stiff and smooth on carbon.

Marc - 11/30/11 - 3:28pm

I have been riding these rims(Acros Hubs and Sapim XRAY) for a year now (not the UST though) and I am so super happy with these. I weigh 94kgs and was riding my originally spec’ed wheels at the limit (Mavic alloy rims, DT Comp Spokes and DT Hubs). The wheels felt super soft cornering and descending in rocky sections I was to counter steer all the time as the wheels would follow the lines between the rocks. I was not only feeling that but also had some spokes broken.
With the Enves I am riding in a different cycling world. They are super stiff very light and super durable. I switched to a Sultan with 34 Fox in the front which means rougher terrain and faster runs. Eventough the bike is heavier a lot the acceleration remains the same. I only had to put more profiled tires to match the capabilities of the Sultan and Fox – the wheels however remained totally unimpressed by the new use. from XC to AM.
The only sad thing about the wheels besides the price is the change in colors on some parts of the rim – there have become white stripes visible – which obviously do not affect the durability of the rim.

Besides the Geometry of a bike the wheels are the most important part to increase fun on a ride. These wheels are worth every penny.

Fred - 11/30/11 - 3:32pm

Nate: my experience is yes… carbon wheels are awesome. I’ve ridden the Reynolds Carbon MTN clincher (33mm deep) and it is quite stiff, stiffer than a heavier set of stans Arch wheels built with more spokes. Now I’m riding 26″ Specialized carbon Roval Control SL wheels at 1200g. They are noticeably stiffer and more robust than the alloy rim Roval Control which is built the same but weighs 1/2 pound more, all in the rims I think. The Reynolds were somewhat stiffer than the Specialized. I weigh 180lbs riding and have had no problems riding the carbon Roval Control SL all the time. The alloy version needed truing more frequently and had noticeable flex (didn’t feel as secure corning hard).

MissedThePoint - 11/30/11 - 3:42pm

Not surprising for a lightweight single wall rim like the Stan’s Crest. I hear that rim getting recommended left and right, yet Greg’s one of the few to admit points like flimsiness and a low tension max (don’t try to lace them up with DT Aerolight spokes). It’s strong for its weight, but it doesn’t come without compromises.

Waiting for the price of carbon rims to drop is gonna test my patience. Maybe by then, carbon ti will become popular and workable enough to make a rim. I’m better off looking to get a better job, so I can adequately deposit funds for my retirement savings and still be able to play with carbon rims on one of my favorite hobbies.

Tyler (Editor) - 11/30/11 - 4:28pm

Nate – that’s pretty much what we plan to test. We won’t have identical builds, but I have a set of Stan’s rims built on Industry Nine hubs and spokes that I’ve been running for quite a while and the ENVE wheels will go on the same bike for a little back to back. It’s a long term test as you’ll see as the story develops, but we’ll get some answers.

Nate - 11/30/11 - 4:37pm

Thanks for the input guys. I’m anxious to hear Tyler’s long term review as well.

wv cycling - 11/30/11 - 4:51pm

The inner wall shape looks like it would take a hell of a load of patience to tape up correctly.

Does the ammonia in Stan’s rubber sealant eat at the organic chemicals that are used for the adhesive?

maple leafs - 11/30/11 - 7:31pm

prowheelbuilder.com has relative strengths of different rims.

Stans:
Olympic/Alpine: 1 out of 5
Crest: 2 out of 5

Enve: 3 out of 5

I don’t know how they tested them.
But, $900 for a enve rim versus $100 stans rim? No brainer for me, Crest.

Brandon - 11/30/11 - 8:06pm

@MissedThePoint: Crest rims are most certainly not single wall.

Mateo - 11/30/11 - 8:14pm

Enve doesn’t have smoke and mirrors marketing. They report how there products ride!

Yes, an Enve rim is going to stiffer, stronger, and more durable than any aluminum counterpart. I have Enve wheels and ride them daily. I get a little sad when I ride aluminum rims.

CCH - 11/30/11 - 8:50pm

I have been riding these Enve 29er XC rims since July. They are noticeably stiffer than the Mavic Crossmax wheels I had been using, but close to a pound lighter. I even broke a spoke 15 miles into a 60 mile race and was able to continue with no issues. When I replaced the spoke, the wheel was back in true without touching any other spokes–that is the sign of a strong rim.

My only complaint has been the tubeless valves. Despite tightening them as much as I dared, mine did not seat well in the rim, and leaked a bit, spilling sealant around the valve hole. It took a couple of rides to really be airtight once enough sealant built up.

They are pricey, but, unlike my carbon road wheels, I don’t feel like I need to save them for race day, so the cost per mile is more agreeable.

sambo - 11/30/11 - 10:12pm

i dont think you can call it a tubeless rim if you have to add tape/rim strip and sealant.

Brandon - 11/30/11 - 10:53pm

@sambo: why not? The vast majority of tubeless rims need tape and sealant….

Marcus - 11/30/11 - 11:23pm

I have the non UST 29er rims built up on DT190s (yes I know)
Been riding them for 2 years, 1000s of miles on there.

- light, very very perceptable upgrade over ZTR 355s.
- strong, ride them every day, raced at downieville, etc, still perfectly straight (170lb rider, hardtail)
- ***feel great over choppy stuff, this is something I don’t hear much talk about, these hoops feel pleasantly ‘musical’ over rough terrain.

I own a few stans hoops and they are unbeatable for the money, but these costly rims are not just a vanity purchase they are markedly better.

- climb like a goat
- enjoy bouncing over rocks on your hardtail :D

Matt Holland - 12/01/11 - 9:47am

Just in regard to the gorilla tape, is it a special width? Just had a quick look and it seems their narrowest is 1″ wide and the internal width is 18mm?

logic - 12/01/11 - 11:27am

@Sambo — Show me a list of tubeless wheels that don’t require tape and/or sealant to make it tubeless. You don’t run sealant in your tubeless tires in your MTB?…what, you don’t get flats, or ever burp a tire, or ever cut a sidewall?

PalmertMTB - 12/01/11 - 2:52pm

@ Matt Holland, I’ve been using Gorrila tape for over two years now. Everybody elses tuebless tape is rediculously expensive and not as robust as Gorilla.
Anyway, I buy the 1″ inch tape which is too wide for my Stan’s Arches at 19mm. Therefore, I rip my tape down to 21mm. Notice I said rip not cut.
It’s really easy to do. All you have to do is measure the tape width you need and use a knife or scissors to mark the width you need by cutting the end of the tape about 1/4″. Then you just start ripping the tape by hand. It will rip perfectly along until you stop.
I actually rip the tape as I am installing it on the rim. It’s a little cumbersome but it works just fine for me.

Gorilla tape works so well that I actually ran out of tape once after wrapping 3/4 of the wheel. I didn’t want to waste the tape I had already installed so I patched the last 1/4 of the wheel with a new strip of Gorilla Tape. It’s held air just fine for two months.

I was pleasantly surprised to read the ENVE also endorses the use of Gorilla Tape.

Jake - 12/01/11 - 5:12pm

Although I don’t have the money to get these, I’m excited to see what you guys do with them. Keep up the good work.

Jinxtown - 12/01/11 - 11:51pm

I have a set of Enves and Crests built on DT240s. The Crests have revolution spokes while the Enves have aerolites. Weight is similar and I have not noticed any difference in rottional weight or acceleration. Where I have noticed a huge difference is riding though rock gardens and on off camber sections. The Enves simply don’t flex or deflect. I especially notice this on off camber sections or when your wheel is on an object with an angled surface -like a rock. I never noticed wheel flex until i went to a 29er. Flex is gone with the Enves.

It should be noted that I’m a 165 lb xc country guy and not particularly hard on gear. I would ventue to say that bigger and / or more agressive dudes would notice the stiffness benefit even more. I’ve had nothing be great experiences with both sets of wheels, honestly. If you want something stiffer it is definitely noticeable. If not, Crests are an awesome choice.

Btw. I used Stan’s tape on my Enves and haven’t had any problems.

alloycowboy - 12/02/11 - 12:01am

And exactly how many Stan’s rims can you get for the price of one Enve rim? You can get 10!

Matt M. - 12/02/11 - 4:01pm

I think many of you are missing a huge benefit here. Crest’s have a maximum rider weight limit, these do not. Compare them to Arch’s or Flow’s if you want a more realistic evaluation.

I’m a 200lb xc racer who constantly has wheel flex. I hit turns, rock gardens and small trail drops at full speed. I break spokes from wheel flex more often than I’d prefer and am very hard on my gear. Without these, there are no practical lightweight wheels for guys like me! Are they expensive? Hell yes, but with Enve’s reputation and warranty make these a long term investment. I can’t say that about any other wheelset I’ve ridden lately.

I look forward to finally riding a wheelset that is laterally stiff under my weight. ENVE 29er rims, DT240s hubs and Alpine spokes here I come.

Larry - 02/28/12 - 9:41am

Currently lacing up one of these rims on a Chub 15mm front hub with DT Revolution spokes, cross 2 for use as an xc wheel. Don’t have it up to full tension yet but so far its laced up straight and round.

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