Enve has built a reputation on being the best in the business when it comes to carbon wheels. They’ve also built a reputation for being rather expensive — something only dentist could dream of. While a set of Enve M Series wheel will set you back well over $2000, there is something to be said about the brand and the quality of their wheels. They are hand-built in the US, and come with a pretty amazing warranty. If you’ve ridden a set, you’ll know there’s something special about the way they bring your bike to life.
So when Enve dropped the AM30 as part of the Foundation Collection today, we couldn’t be happier to see the same quality and dedication in a more affordable package. You can now fly the Enve flag without selling your first born. So what is the deal with the AM30 wheels? Let’s talk about that.
Here’s your greatest hits album of the Enve AM30 carbon MTB wheels. First off, let’s start with price. At $1600 these wheels competitively plop themsleves right in mix with other mid to high end wheelsets on the market. Enve did this without sacrificing quality. How? They’ve been at this wheel game for quite a while now. They have the whole system dialed. This allows them to produce a hand-built in the USA, carbon wheelset at a competitive price. Enve’s high-end M Series tech trickled down into the Foundation Collection AM30 wheels. Technology like molded spoke holes (higher strength and less weight), a wide hookless rim bead (reduced likelihood of pinch flats/no need for inserts), 20mm rim depth (high degree of tune-ability for a compliant ride) and Enve’s lifetime incident protection program. These AM30 wheels roll on Industry Nine 1/1 hubs featuring 4° engagement.
So where do these fall in Enve’s lineup? The AM30s are in the Foundation Collection. Along with two road wheels, the AM30s will fill the competitively-priced void that previously existed in Enve’s product line. The M Series wheels still reign supreme on the mountain. They offer the highest performance, most advanced tech and lightest weights. We will likely see the M Series evolve in the future now that the Foundation Collection has been released. It would be cool to see Enve go wild with new innovations and tech in the wheel world.
WTF (Why The Foundation) COLLECTION?
Enve started this project off wanting to produce a competitively-priced, robust and durable wheel that didn’t sacrifice anything in regards to ride quality. Keeping the weight ultralight wasn’t a big priority. As such, the AM30 wheels weigh 1852 grams — 336 grams more than the M630s. Though, to give you a point of reference, the Santa Cruz Reserve 30 ($1600) weigh 1863 grams, the Crankbrothers Synthesis E11 ($2400) weigh 1825 grams and the Zipp 3Zero Moto ($2000) weigh 1910grams. That puts the AM30s right in line with the competition in both price and weight. The AM30 is the only wheel in this list that is hand-built in the USA. It also features one of the fastest engaging hubs out of all the wheels in the list. What we are trying to say here, is this isn’t a cheapo version of an M Series wheel. Instead, it’s a purpose built wheel that uses trickle down technology and benefits from Enve’s production efficiency in order to offer a high-end ride in a competitively priced package.
So what separates the AM30 from the competition? According to Enve, the biggest benefit of the AM30 over the competition is the combination of multiple factors. The first being molded spoke holes instead of drilled. Most carbon wheels on the market have drilled spoke holes. Drilling cuts carbon fibers essentially making them weaker. To counteract this, manufacturers add extra material around spoke holes to keep them strong. In turn, the added material makes the rims heavier. Enve uses molded spoke holes keeping the carbon fibers strong and intact. Second, Enve uses a wide rim bead to reduce the likelihood of pinch flats. A wider bead spreads force out over more area reducing the probability that the rim will cut your tire. This allows you to run slightly lower tire pressures without the need for inserts. The softer tire provides more traction and a smoother ride — basically making your suspension feel better. Third, Enve’s shallow (20mm) rim profile allows them to tune the wheel for compliance. A deeper rim profile, by nature, is stiffer than a shallow one. Sure, you can change the carbon layup in the manufacturing process to make micro adjustments to a deep profile to add compliance, but eventually, the rim profile needs to change in order to make macro adjustments. The shallow rim helps the AM30 conform to the ground for better traction and vibration reduction. All of this technology makes the AM30 robust, yet compliant. Two really nice words when it comes to talking about wheels.
Bonus feature here — the new AM30 wheels use an external spoke nipple. Gone are the days of having to re-tape your tubeless wheel in order to tighten a loose spoke. It doesn’t look as clean as the internal nipples, but it’s a nice touch from Enve that should minimize time spent of maintenance and repairs.
Enve AM30 Ride Impressions
I’ve finally had some time to get out and ride the AM30s. I’m fresh off doing our Carbon vs Alloy Wheel Showdown, so I still have all the wheels fresh on my mind. It’s a good time to add a new wheel to the mix. I’m going to try to keep this write up about the AM30s alone, but I’m sure a few little tidbits of comparison are going to show up. So here we go.
I’m not overly picky when it comes to wheels. I like carbon, but I also appreciate a good alloy wheel. I prefer something light, but it doesn’t have to be. I like a wheel with a good hub, but if it’s not great, I’ll get over it. Where I put my foot down is on compliance, or flex if we are calling it how we see it. I don’t enjoy a wheel that feels like it crumples in the corners, but I also don’t like one that feels like it came off the Wells Fargo Stagecoach. There’s a fine balance between flexy and stiff, and I demand every brand get it right. What I’m looking for is a wheel that’s pretty compliant vertically, to smooth out rocky and rooty bits of trail. I like the quiet ride feel of a compliant wheel. I also want a wheel to be stiff enough laterally that I can push into a tight berm and generate a lot of speed.
Oh, and I hate getting flats or breaking wheels. So I want a wheel that is stout and durable. Is that too much to ask?
Enve AM30 First Ride
So how do the AM30 wheels hold up to my demands? Pretty damn well actually — and then some. I think Enve gets it right in the stiffness department. They are stiff (I’m finding this is a pretty defining characteristic of Enve wheels) without rattling all your teeth out. And, they’re stiff in all the right directions. Laterally, I couldn’t feel them flexing when I squared off a berm or hit a corner with some pace. I’m sure there was some flex there, but not so much that it was apparent while riding. Vertically, they bend and give just enough to smooth out the rocks and roots. Not so much that it makes them feel dead or slow, but just enough to take the edge off. They don’t make your bike feel like your suspension was set up for a Silverback Gorilla — a side effect of overly stiff wheels. The AM30s get a pass for my one and only stringent wheel criterion.
Here’s where the AM30s earn some bonus points. Let’s start with the hubs. When Enve launched the AM30s, I saw a whole bunch of internet hate on the Industry Nine 1/1 hubs. Like somehow they were sub-par or not worthy of a $1600 wheelset. I don’t really understand this one. What’s not to like? They have a higher engagement than most other hubs on the market, they are produced by a company with a reputation for building some of the best hubs on the planet. I mean on a spec sheet they’re pretty similar to the old Torch hubs, and no one complained about those. The 1/1 hubs offer 4° of engagement and fairly minimal drag. I don’t really care for the centerlock rotor mounts that Enve decided to go with for these wheels. Centerlock saves a little weight and time when swapping rotors, but a standard six bolt design is much more common. I prefer to run 200mm brake rotors, and until recently it’s been tough or near impossible to find 200mm centerlock rotors. Just something to consider.
The AM30s also win points for being tough and durable. According to Enve’s testing, the AM30s are tougher than the M630s and closer to the M730s when it comes to rim damage on trail. The M730s still take the cake for reducing pinch flats due to their rim strip, but the AM30s take a very close second. I’m probably not alone in thinking that flat tires and broken wheels suck. So you’ll be happy to hear that the AM30s are tough and help protect against pinch flats. In my testing so far I haven’t had any problems.
The AM30s climb very well. Not the best, but better than a lot. They aren’t exceptionally quick like the Enve M630s, but they’re also not slow and heavy. They still bring some of that zippy carbon wheel feel to the table. At 1852 grams, the AM30s are competitive on the scale. They won’t qualify for the flyweight class, but they’re far from heavyweights. The weight is a little apparent when riding them back to back with the Enve M630s, but not noticeable at all when compared to the Santa Cruz Reserve, Zipp 3Zero Moto and other similarly marketed wheels. Weight wasn’t one of Enve’s concerns with these anyway. They wanted a tough wheel that rode well — mission accomplished.
The hubs engage fast enough for technical climbs. With 4° of engagement there’s not really any perceptible dead zone when ratcheting through rocky terrain.
This is where these wheels are meant to shine. According to Enve, they’re targeted at the trail and enduro (all-mountain) segments, although I’d argue they lean more toward the latter. With better climbing options in their lineup, Enve could focus on making the AM30 a better descending wheel. They prioritized compliance, toughness and flat prevention. Depending on who you ask, the compliance is spot on. For me, I couldn’t be happier. Most things in the bike world are a bit of a compromise. For example, the Zipp 3Zero Motos are the smoothest riding wheels I’ve had on my bike. They are very compliant — that’s where they get their smooth feel. They can be too flexy in berms at high speed, though. They don’t have the fastest or most energetic feel either. On the other hand, the Enve M630s are stiffer and faster, but they can be a little rougher in the rocky bits of trail. Get the point? So, back to the AM30s — they are stiff laterally and more compliant vertically. In the corners they don’t flex too much. They still give you a lot of energy out of a corner, but not as much as the M630s. They flex enough vertically to smooth out rocky terrain. Although, not quite to the level of the Zipp 3Zero Motos. See what I mean? They fall in the middle somewhere between flexy and stiff.
I don’t have hundreds of miles on these wheels, but I’ve had zero issues with flats or damaged rims. I normally run my air pressures close to 30PSI front and back with a tire insert in the rear wheel. With the AM30s wheels, I dropped to 28 rear and 26 front and no tire insert. I like the feel of the lower air pressure and so far I haven’t been penalized for it. Apparently there’s some magic to that wide rim bead.
Overall, I’m very happy with the AM30s. Don’t take this the wrong way, but they seem to just disappear into the background when I’m riding. They don’t jump out at me or call attention to themselves. It’s nice to not be thinking about what my wheels (or bike in general) are doing and just focus on not blowing up on the next jump. Like a good employee, they demand little attention and just do their job.
Who are the Enve AM30 for?
Apparently, they’re for folks like me. I like to ride difficult and technical trails, I like to ride flowy, smooth trails too. I spend a little bit of time in the air and I unsuccessfully try to peel my tires off my rims in the corners. I rarely shuttle and spend a fair amount of time climbing. You could say I’m an average joe and I like to ride my bike just about everywhere. I think the AM30s are going to be a great wheel for the vast majority of riders out there. Within Enve’s lineup there are more specialist wheels (M630 for being light and quick, M730 for being bombproof), but the AM30s are very well-rounded and suited for a wide variety of riders. They’re also for the rider who wants a premium wheel, packed with features for a reasonable, or at least competitive, amount of money.
Enve AM30 Compared to the Santa Cruz Reserve 30
This is going to be quite the showdown. Stay tuned for a full write up about these two wheelsets. For now, let’s just say, it’s going to take a lot of ride time to tell these two apart. They are very similar in price, weight, spoke hole number, asymmetric profile, how they ride and warranty.
The biggest difference between the $1600 SC Reserve 30 wheels and the Enve AM30s is in the hub. The SC wheels use a DT350 hub (great value and reliability but they lack in the hub engagement department) where the Enve wheel uses an Industry Nine 1/1 hub with a rather fast engagement.
More time will tell, but I think the wide rim bead on the AM30s will be an advantage the Enves have over the Santa Cruz wheels. I’ve had my fair share of pinched tires on my Reserve 30s. So far I’ve had zero issues with the AM30s. We will see.
Enve trade up program
Here’s where the AM30 wheels start to get even more attractive. Enve has launched a trade up program to help consumers find themsleves on premium carbon wheels when purchasing a new bike. Enve is giving customers a trade in credit on their new, OEM alloy or carbon wheels when they purchase a new bike. Take those stock wheels and turn them into Enves. We’ve boiled it down into the essentials:
- Trade in a set of NEW alloy wheels for $325 towards the AM30 wheels ($1275 after trade in)
- Trade in a set of NEW carbon wheels for an $800 credit towards an M Series wheelset (Final price varies based upon Enve wheels purchased)
- Trade in a set of NEW alloy wheels for a $500 credit towards an M Series wheelset (Final price varies based upon Enve wheels purchased)
Here’s a scenario to help you wrap your head around how cool this program is. Let’s say you buy a brand new carbon bike that comes stock with alloy wheels. From the manufacturer, you could upgrade to a set of carbon wheels for around $1000-1500. You’d probably have to wait while we ordered this specific combination. Instead, you can upgrade to a set of AM30s with a lifetime incident protection program for $1275 and roll out the door the same day with fancy carbon bits all over your new bike. Pretty cool huh?
All in all, we are very excited to mount these up and hit the trail. In the meantime you can call or email us with any questions about these exciting new wheels or visit Enve’s product page for more info.
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