The Smart Enve System wheels devised by British aerodnamics guru Simon Smart will be widely available in the UK via Felt bike distributor Saddleback from next month.
Enve (pronounced (‘envy’) used to be called Edge Composites but a trademark issue has led to the US brand changing its name. Saddleback will be supplying the rims separately – we snapped the ones above when we first saw them at the Bespoked show – and also built up with Chris King R45 hubs.
The super-aero new Smart Enve System 6.7 wheelset will be available in August, selling at £2,200. Next will follow the shallower 3.4 version, then a deep 8.9 model. The new Smart wheelsets will only be available for tubulars.
The Smart Enve wheels have been developed in the wind tunnel by Simon Smart, the former F1 aerodynamicist who has previously worked on the Giant Trinity and Scott Plasma 3 time trial frames. The idea behind the design is that the airflow stays attached at high yaw (apparent wind) angles to reduce drag and to handle predictably.
Chris King see the R45 as a racing hub with sealing that’s well beyond what you usually get. We reviewed them last year and absolutely loved them. The engineering that goes into these is incredible.
The biggest difference between R45s and other hubs is that rather than standard pawls in the freewheel, engagement is handled by two rings (called Drive and Driven rings) with 45 interconnected teeth. Coast and the angled teeth back off and float over one another; pedal and the rings immediately mesh to provide the drive. The engagement is all-but instant.
The R45 is now available with ceramic balls as well as the standard steel ball option. You can get away with little or no grease/lube in the ceramic version, and Chris King reckon the balls are so hard that they’ll pulverize any contaminates that manage to get into the bearing.
Previously the R45 was compatible with only Shimano/SRAM but a Campag option gets a global release in January 2012. Until then, Saddleback will be supplying Enve rims with a DT Swiss Campag-compatible hub.
The standard Chris King hub colour Saddleback will be using is black but they will also supply red and have plans to bring in mango and pewter options next year. They are built up with Sapim spokes.
Saddleback are currently signing up premium Enve dealers who will support the full line. These are mainly shops that deal with exotic bike builds.
While visiting Saddleback, Jeff Menand of Chris King also showed us two of the brand’s Cielo frames. The Sportif Racer SE looks titanium but it’s actually made using double-butted KVA stainless steel which Chris King reckon is twice as strong as Ti with a weight similar to that of high-end aluminium. That’s a steel fork in there too, with a machined crown and stainless steel dropouts.
A beautiful piece of work, the Sportif Racer SE is available in a whopping 17 different sizes. The geometry on the Sportif Racer SE is actually fairly aggressive. If you want something with a taller head tube, you need to look at the straight Sportif.
The other Cielo bike we saw was the Cross Racer and it is a true cyclocross race bike rather than an urban crosser – there are no bottle cage mounts or mudguard eyelets. It’s made from True Temper OX Platinum steel tubing with a Chris King Inset-compatible head tube and comes as a frame only for £1,499 from www.evolutionimports.co.uk.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.