ENVE wheels have built a reputation of being the best of the best, so when I took these wheels for a ride I had very high expectations. But halfway through my ride the thing I noticed most about these wheels was – nothing.
Let me explain. Deep section wheels are fast in a straight line and still conditions but one of the biggest drawbacks has been the wheel stability under crosswinds. The wind catches the deep section rim and applies sideways force, which is both disconcerting to the rider and also a waste of valuable watts. In the past, riding a set of deep section rims in windy conditions meant you had to grab the bars tightly and concentration on just staying upright! As I rode I was concentrating, waiting to catch the wheels and bike from being pushed sideways but nothing happened, even in 30km/hr winds – not normal.
Where did these wheels come from? Several years back ENVE set out to improve on their already impressive ENVE Classic range. They teamed up with Simon Smart, an aerodynamicist who boasts over 14 years of experience in F1, specialising in aerodynamics and wind tunnel testing. The result was the Smart ENVE System (SES) range of products including the 6.7 model. The 6.7 wheelset is named so because the front rim is 60mm deep and the rear rim 70mm deep. Further, the front rim is 26mm wide while the rear is 24mm. These different size combinations provide the best stability when tested with a number of common frames (see point 4 below) under a wide range of conditions. The result of the extensive wind tunnel testing produced a wheelset with the following key points:
- In SES wheelsets the front wheel is wider and shallower to improve stability and reduce drag in any wind condition.
- Also, the rear wheel is deeper to reduce drag where stability is less affected.
- The focus on steering stability resulted in improved handling and confidence in varying crosswinds
- SES wheelsets feature in-frame design in the wind tunnel around the Specialized Tarmac, Cannondale Super Six, Cervelo P3 and Trek Speed Concept frames.
- Rims are not painted, sanded, filled or polished. Each rim therefore has its own ‘fingerprint’ or carbon character.
- The vacuum bag is removed after they are moulded. No excess material left inside the rim to deaden the ride feel or add weight.
- Proprietary moulded spoke hole technology means the spoke holes are moulded not drilled through the carbon fibres. This results in the ability to run higher spoke tensions.
- Moulded conical nipple beds allow better nipple to spoke alignment. Like a ball and socket joint.
- Drive Side spoke tension 120-140kg/f Radial spoke tension 100-120kg/f
- ENVE designed brass nipples manufactured in the USA.
- Textured braking surface allowing for a more positive engagement and better braking in wet conditions.
- 5 year warranty and lifetime crash replacement.
With deep section rims, these wheels look heavy, but the 6.7s weighed in lighter than expected:
These weights mean the rotating mass is comparable to most alloy wheels. These wheels came with DT Swiss 240 hubs and were fitted with 25mm Continental GP4000 S tyres. You can also get the 6.7s with DT Swiss 180 or Chris King R45 hubs.
The poor breaking performance of carbon wheels (carbon breaking surface) has improved dramatically in the last few years to the point where these 6.7s outperform alloy rims in the dry! I did not get a chance to test the 6.7s in the wet so I cannot comment there.
Considering these wheels retail for around $3,700, I asked Chris Till (ENVE product manager at Monza Imports) who buys these wheels? Chris said “generally there are two market segments, one is the serious cyclist or triathlete who competes regularly at the high end of their sports, the other is the cyclist who just loves cycling and the kudos that comes from owning a set of these wheels”. For the money you also instantly gain 15-30 watts and that reassuring carbon hum beneath you.
These wheels are simply one of the best wheelsets on the market. Although they come with a hefty price tag, the fact they perform so well in all conditions means these wheels should definitely be considered as an everyday riding wheel. Likewise, due to their relatively low weight these wheels are just as suitable for climbing as most alloy wheels out there.
These are high end wheels with a high end price, but with the ENVE 6.7s you buy stability, confidence and most importantly – watts. Oh and a lot of ENVIE at your local café!
– Lachlan Mackay
This article was previously published on www.tbsm.com.au