Enve started producing carbon rims back in 2009, and by 2010 had produced the first carbon wheelsets to be ridden to victory in a UCI World Cup DH race, under the Santa Cruz Syndicate. Since then, they have been continually improving their products while still manufacturing in the USA. These M735E wheels are their eMTB specific enduro wheels from the latest M-ranges that use the new patented and 'un-pinchable' Protective Rim Strip (PRS).
Like all Enve products, these wheels are about as far from cheap as you can get, but the Utah-based brand prides itself on in-house development and production from the start to finish of the product cycle. They are also proud of the fact that their wheelsets essentially cost the same as they did 10-years ago when they started. The 29" x 35mm internal rim-width wheelset isn't particularly light at 2087g (Enve's website quotes 2,218g) for the pair and the whopping price tag of $3,080 USD.
Enve M735E Wheel Details
• 27.5" or 29" (tested) options
• Carbon rims, 35mm internal width
• Protective Rim Strip
• 32 spokes / 2 cross lace pattern
• Chris King hubs
• Sapim CX-Ray bladed J-bend spokes
• Made in Utah, USA
• Weight: 966g front, 1121g rear, 2087g pair (29", Chris King hubs, Protective Rim Strip and valves, actual
• MSRP: $3,080 USD
The hookless carbon rims have an internal width of 35mm, and arrive with the protective rim strip and tubeless valve stems included.
Chris King's hubs give that distinctive buzz and use 72 points of engagement.
Judging the on-trail performance of these wheels was tough, as the following saga unfolded throughout the testing period. Initially, I started by using the front wheel on my hybrid setup on the Specialized Turbo Kenevo, I had great success and liked the more accurate feel of the stiffer front wheel and smaller volume tire combined with the softer rear wheel and fatter plus-tire, which gave great cornering characteristics.
I completed two runs of the classic Ingenere trail in Finale Ligure, which is about 6km in total, marked as a blue run on Trailforks, but still has a few brutal rock sections that can eat a wheel or shred a tire quickly – these rides that totalled about 30km with the climbing, and a couple of other short trail sections may have damaged the rim and I had not noticed. The third ride was under a secondary test pilot and local pinner, Federico Greppi, who hit a small fly off for a photo shoot
, he was greeted upon landing with a complete front wheel failure: the rim snapped, the front tire lost all its air and he crashed before he could stop – thankfully he was OK.
Enve sent a new replacement rim from the US and it was built up by a local shop mechanic. I added the PRS to the wheel myself and was subsequently stabbed in the finger by a carbon fiber that was protruding from the outside edge of the rim. On closer inspection, there were a number of similar strands of fiber sticking out. I spoke to Jake Pantone, head of Enve's VP Product and Consumer Experience, who explained this could have been due to one of three reasons that are now impossible to point a finger at: this rim was either missed by quality control, damaged in the post or during building, or struck a hard surface without the PRS installed. The PRS also split when removing the valve stem from the original rim and had to be patched with tape for a reliable seal.
The rim on the left failed on the front wheel, and on the right was the rear failure after no more than 50kms on each wheel
With a new front wheel built, I fitted the wheelset to the Mondraker e-Level R (review coming soon) and managed 35kms of riding with no issue. The Mondraker had previously felt a little vague, and the stiffer Enve wheelset did sharpen up the handling and response, and during that ride the bike was plowed into plenty of rocks which don't make the nicest sound when they connected with the high-volume carbon rim. One of those rock strikes could have caused a crack, and on the following ride was the second catastrophic failure. This time was on another classic trail called Dolmen which is a rocky brute, but it's a trail I have done many runs on many variations of bike and wheel sans issue. Without warning, there was another huge crack which resulted in a near-instant loss of pressure in the rear tire which then also came off the rim with the PRS.
So this is starting to sound really, really, bad at this point, but we are not quite finished. Another replacement rim was sent from Enve, and it passed the 'are there any sharp, stabby bits of carbon fiber sticking out visual test' which gave me enough confidence to run my finger over it without any problems. But, there was one annoying piece of something rattling around the inside the rim which I couldn't get out. The spoke holes weren't drilled out centrally, and there were more loose fiber strands in each spoke hole - whether or not this would make any difference to the ride or not is hard to say, but at this point, I was done. Thoughts
I have lots of opinion on carbon fiber parts, and I understand many people have absolutely no problems using Enve wheelsets and other carbon products. I rarely choose to use carbon wheels, but these two failures added to two other catastrophic failures I have had with carbon wheels in the past.
I understand the price can be justified by Enve and their US-manufacturing and testing methods, but at this price, I would expect every product to be perfect. These failures were dangerous and should never happen in such a short period of time. It could have been two instances of bad luck, but both times they were on trails I ride often, with similar bikes and pressures I was using in other test scenarios. I was also riding my usual speed and style, which rarely does a similar amount of damage.Enve's ResponsePinkbike's Take