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Verdict: 
Seriously impressive wheels with low weight, toughness and lovely ride quality. But then you see the price...
Weight: 
1,346g

Think carbon fibre wheels and it's highly likely Enve is one of the first brand names that springs to mind. The US company knows carbon wheels and has put all its expertise into its first dedicated gravel design, these G23 wheels. They provide phenomenal performance, low weight and impressive durability, but you'll max out your credit card to purchase them.

  • Pros: Weight, strength, ride quality, looks, reliability, fast
  • Cons: Expensive

> Find your nearest dealer here

Enve has built its reputation on carbon fibre wheels since it first launched in 2007 (when it was called Edge Composites) and with the new G Series, it's bringing this experience to the growing gravel and adventure bike market. It is offering the G27 (650B) and G23 (700C) using a rim profile optimised for wide tyres and a unique hookless profile intended to minimise pinch flats.

What are they like to ride?

Before we get bogged down with all the nitty-gritty spec details, let's talk about what they're like to use. No doubt about it, you feel pretty special slotting a £3,100 pair of lightweight carbon fibre wheels into your bike. Very special indeed.

With 23mm internal width rims designed for gravel tyres up to 45mm, they're perfect for the sort of tyre widths that are proving popular on gravel bikes. I opted for 40mm Bontrager tyres, my preferred width for combining road riding and an assortment of gravel paths, forest tracks, bridleways and towpaths. I've swapped the wheels between various test bikes but they mostly resided in my Fairlight Secan.

enve g series wheels1.JPG

And colour me impressed! Enve says it has developed the shape and carbon layup of the rim to provide a bit of give when riding over rough ground and it really does seem to deliver on its promise.

Despite the obvious vibration-damping qualities of a low pressure 40mm tyre, the Enve rims appeared to provide a bit more 'give' when barrelling along boulder and gravel-strewn paths and gulleys compared with many other wheels I've tested.

enve g series wheels12.JPG

They just seem to help take the edge off the hits, whether it's riding along washboard surfaces, hard gravel tracks or taking on bigger impacts from rocks or roots.

It is possible to make a carbon fibre rim too stiff, but Enve gets it right with these. Build a really stiff rim and it'll give a harsh ride feel that can result in less control and more fatigue. The ride quality on offer here is exceptionally good, the rim helping to dissipate energy to generate a smoother ride with more control and less fatigue.

Comfort and fatigue are important factors when riding on rough gravel roads over very long distances; I can see the Enves being a good choice if I was doing a long-distance gravel event like Dirty Reiver.

enve g series wheels3.JPG

A gravel wheelset also needs to be tough. Given how light the rims are, a claimed 330g, I was initially sceptical they would have the desired durability. But they've taken everything I've thrown at them. Granted, I'm not a heavy rider and I'm not prone to breaking kit, but it's testament to how strong they are that they've coped as well as they have. I've not had to get the spoke key out after several months of testing either.

Over the several months I've been riding these wheels I've basically punted them into every rock, hole and root going, but the impact resistance has been highly impressive. I've run the tyre pressures deliberately low, too, just to explore their limits, but even with the rim noticeably bouncing off rocks, I've failed to incur either a flat tyre or an expensive repair bill.

Let's have some details then

The rims have a profile unlike any other I've seen, and here we see an influence from the company's mountain bike rims. Pinch flats (pinching the inner tube or tyre sidewall between the ground and rim) is a common cause of punctures and mechanical failures according to Enve, so it has developed a rim profile to combat that.

Most carbon rims are shaped to reduce drag – these are not. Instead, a bell-shaped profile with a 4.5mm-wide bead is designed, in tandem with the rim shape and carbon fibre layup, to absorb and disperse impact energy better, leading to a claimed 60 per cent reduction in pinch punctures. This profile avoids adding extra material and bumping up the weight, so they can be strong and light.

enve g series wheels5.JPG

The wider bead is intended to minimise rim damage if you smash into a rock really hard. It also decreases the risk of flatting an inner tube, or – in a tubeless setup – slicing the tyre sidewall. I certainly suffered no flat tyres during testing, but I doubt that's an indicator of anything other than sheer good luck.

"The inspiration for the Wide Hookless Bead technology comes from sitting on the side of the road or trail fixing flat tires. We understand intimately that nothing puts the damper on a fun ride like a flat tire. In gravel, the problem is exacerbated given that tire volumes and tire pressures are lower than you have in mountain biking, but with gravel, the bikes have little to no suspension. The Wide Hookless Bead technology can eliminate pinch-flats and allows riders to run their perfect tire pressure," explains Enve design engineer Clint Child.

Wide rims are on-trend now to meet the growing appetite for wide tyres, not just on gravel bikes but all road bikes. These measure 23mm internally with a 31.5mm external width and are 25mm tall. They're optimised for 33-45mm tyres but accept up to 50mm. There's also nothing stopping you slinging on a 28mm slick tyre.

enve g series wheels14.JPG

The 650B G27 rims are even wider, with a whopping 27mm internal width.

Like all Enve rims, these incorporate the company's moulded spoke hole technology (most carbon wheel rims have nipple holes drilled) using proprietary spoke nipples. Each rim is laced to Chris King R45 hubs with 24 Sapim CX Ray spokes in a two-cross pattern. You can also opt for Enve or DT hubs if you prefer, or buy the rims on their own and build up with any hub you prefer.

enve g series wheels9.JPG

The Chris King hubs have been reliable during testing, only needing one touch of bearing preload adjustment, which is an easy job. Installing the rear rotor was a bit of a pain compared to most other hubs as you need to remove the adjusting clamp first. The hubs are compatible with 12mm thru-axles and quick release.

enve g series wheels10.JPG

As well as being strong and tough, the wheels are also seriously light. Enve claims 330g for the rim, which with the Chris King hubs and Sapim spokes produces a complete wheelset weight of 1,346g (front 614g; rear 732g). That's impressively light and surpasses some of the lightest carbon road wheels designed for mountain climbing and weight weenies, like the stunningly expensive Lightweight Meilenstein C Disc wheels (£4,800 and 1,370g).

The closest to them in weight – and they were smaller 650B wheels – were the Roval CLX 32 Discs at 1,350g (£1,850). And for reference, at the other end of the price scale are the Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel Disc X-Wide wheels at £899 and 1,548g.

Installation

I found tubeless installation a breeze, using the supplied rim tape and tubeless valves. The tyre bead is retained in the rim not by a hook but by a moulded bead channel which locks the tyre bead into place. This appears to ease getting the tyres on and off, and I managed to get them inflated with just a regular track pump.

Air retention has been excellent, with only occasional topping up of pressure needed. I've also had no issues with the tyres unseating or burping air at lower pressures.

> How to choose your tyre pressure

Because of the hookless bead profile you might want to check that the tyres you are using are okay. I've used several with no issues at all.

Conclusion

The performance of these wheels is highly impressive. They're ridiculously light, bloody tough and with a hint of damping that makes them ride like a dream.

But the price makes them the stuff of dreams, too. It does reflect the US production and investment by Enve, and the lifetime warranty, but there is no shortage of good wheels on the market at much cheaper prices.

Does the performance justify the price? The ride quality, toughness and low weight certainly put them ahead of most of the rivals, but you need some serious disposal income to afford them. If you want the best, though, you better start saving.

Verdict

Seriously impressive wheels with low weight, toughness and lovely ride quality. But then you see the price...

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Enve G23 wheelset

Size tested: 700C

Tell us what the wheel is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Enve says:

The G23 is the definition of a true disc gravel wheelset. At 330 grams, ENVE's lightest 700c tubeless rim accelerates quickly and ascends with ease. Armed against pinch flats with the patent pending Wide Hookless Bead, the G23 is tough and relentless on road, path or trail. The G23 is a 700c tubeless carbon clincher wheelset, with a generous 23mm internal width, specifically conceived to meet the performance and ride quality demands of serious mixed surface cyclists.

Created for those seeking to discover new experiences, new terrain, and new challenges. Built to reflect the versatility of today's gravel and mixed surface riders, these wheels will excite ambitious, daring and indomitable riders everywhere. If your path leads to classics like Dirty Kanza, Landrun, Crusher in the Tushar, or a new wave of events like Grinduro, or Lost and Found, the G23 is your wheel.

There is a place between road and mountain open to discovery. Beyond the range of your trail bike or the capabilities of your road bike. Terrain littered with contradicting challenges and demanding requirements are at odds with the bikes and products available today. We built the new G23 to thrive in this new environment because insight gained through building the world's best road and mountain bike rims told us that the perfect combination did not exist in our stable, or in our opinion, anywhere at all. The higher volume and lower pressures would demand MTB toughness and flat resistance, while big days and long miles would require the lightweight and efficiency of a road machine. Above all, the combination of rough and rigid would require a wheel with the ride quality to make those long miles enjoyable and multi-day treks possible.

We want people to have as much fun riding gravel as we do, and for that reason, we've targeted rim geometries that favor the tire treads and volumes that have proven to be the most fun. With an inner rim width of 23mm the G23, is designed to be paired with gravel treads between 35mm and 45mm. While 35mm-45mm tires provide ample control and traction, for most gravel riding endeavors, they do not offer much by way of pinch-flat protection. Despite 'minimum PSI' markings to the contrary, many riders are experimenting with pressure setting in the 20s. The forward-looking G23 is ahead of the trend using our Wide Hookless Bead anti-flat technology, which provides a larger, more forgiving surface during bottom outs, protecting the tire from the dreaded pinch-flat. This technology means you can ride the tire pressures you want, confidently, without limitations. The G Series are intended for tubeless applications and features a molded bead-lock to ensure that your tires will remain secure and sealed to the rim over even the roughest terrain.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?

Enve lists these details:

Clincher / tubeless ready

Wheel size: 700c

Rim: Carbon

Rim ERD (Effective Rim Diameter): 608mm

Rim depth: 25mm

Internal rim width: 23mm

External rim width: 31.5mm

Spokes: 2x Sapim CX-Ray

Spoke count: 24 front, 24 rear

Hubs: ENVE alloy

Disc standard: Centre Lock

Front axle: Thru-axle

Rear axle: Thru-axle

Recommended tyre size: 700c x 33c-45c

Compatibility: SRAM/Shimano

Wide Hookless Bead Technology

Claimed weight: 1,306 grams (front 591 grams, rear 715 grams)

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
10/10

First class construction quality.

Rate the wheel for performance:
 
9/10

Stupendously good performance, live up to and exceed expectations.

Rate the wheel for durability:
 
9/10

They're darn tough.

Rate the wheel for weight
 
9/10

Also extremely light.

Rate the wheel for value:
 
5/10

This is where it gets tricky, because they are very expensive and everyone has their own way of measuring worth. If you value the best performance, first-class design and being made by the company and not outsourced to a third party vendor, these might be better value wheels for you than some less expensive ones.

But really, it doesn't matter what I write here because most people will just think they are a rip-off and way too expensive.

Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?

Yes, they stayed true.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

Very easy.

How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?

Tubeless tape and valves worked as expected. They are also lovely valves too, no skimping on details.

Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very light, very tough and lovely ride quality.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

The ride quality is just lovely, they aren't harsh and overly stiff at all.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

The big price.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

They compare nicely to the Roval CLX 32 Disc 650B wheelset when it comes to weight, but the Enves are about a grand more (though they have a slightly nicer ride quality).

Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes

Would you consider buying the wheel? If I had a pay rise...

Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? The rich ones, yes.

Use this box to explain your overall score

Seriously impressive wheels, but hard to overlook the massive price.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

19 comments

Avatar
Miller [273 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

I'm sure they're really lovely but once they're covered in dust and mud, difficult to tell apart from something a fifth of the price. When I win the lottery maybe (note to self: difficult when you don't buy tickets?).

Avatar
Xenophon2 [102 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

A fifth of the price might buy you a wheel that looks the same when covered in mud but it certainly won't ride the same and I believe the ride quality is supposed to be the main argument.

Arguably, at half the price and above you might find something that could give cause to hesitate.  But supposing that money is not a hurdle, that maybe 10-15% extra that the Enve offer might be reason enough for some to pay the premium.  Once you reach a certain point, the price explodes over an incrementally small quality or performance increase.

Personally I wouldn't purchase them, simply because I'm not enough of a cyclist to reap the benefits of such stellar equipment.  But I see overweight MAMILS on 12k Pinarellos every weekend (and only during the weekend) so who am I?

 

Avatar
Miller [273 posts] 2 weeks ago
4 likes

Why won't it ride the same, are Enve wheels sprinkled with fairy dust?

The hub is rigid. Steel spokes are stock items, a CXray is a CXray whatever it's laced to. The rim constraints are that it has to be strong enough to withstand tyre pressure and rigid enough to cope with spoke loading. The actual suspension of a wheel comes almost entirely from tyre compression. With an expensive wheel you're paying for nice-to-haves, the raw performance can be achieved for much less money.

Avatar
Xenophon2 [102 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Miller wrote:

Why won't it ride the same, are Enve wheels sprinkled with fairy dust?

The hub is rigid. Steel spokes are stock items, a CXray is a CXray whatever it's laced to. The rim constraints are that it has to be strong enough to withstand tyre pressure and rigid enough to cope with spoke loading. The actual suspension of a wheel comes almost entirely from tyre compression. With an expensive wheel you're paying for nice-to-haves, the raw performance can be achieved for much less money.

 

Ok, you're on.  Post a link to a 600 GBP wheelset that weighs the same and looks like this one from Enve.

Avatar
Miller [273 posts] 2 weeks ago
3 likes

I made these wheels, built weight 1529g, parts as follows:

Light Bicycle rims, RM29CO6, carbon, hookless, 29mm width
Sapim D-Light spokes, 28/28
Borg DX hubs, 28h, thru-axle, centrelock

I could have gone a little lighter with cx-ray 24/24 like Enve but in my opionion that gives a slightly flexy wheel. Cost to me of these wheels was £582.

//live.staticflickr.com/65535/48679234737_1d1a937058_c.jpg)

 

 

Avatar
Xenophon2 [102 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Well done and they do look nice,  hat off for making them, but it's not what I asked for.

I asked about a wheelset, not a bunch of components that requires considerable expertise, time that is not factored in and tools  to assemble.  My own wheelbuilding expertise is limited to a set of 16 in rims that I spoked and  put a Rohloff in (don't ask).  No dish, small diameter, lots of  safety margin for the spoke tension.  Even that wasn't a walk in the park to get just right the first time, it doesn't begin to compare to this so I'm pretty sure this is not an exercise that the average John could pull off.

Still, I'd love to give'm a try.  Woud be interesting to set up -if it could be done, which I suppose not- a blind comparison test with branded wheelsets.

 

Avatar
keirik [187 posts] 2 weeks ago
3 likes

I used to read hifi magazines just to see the snake oil reviews, it seems the writers of this articles have moved to road.cc

Avatar
Breako19 [1 post] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

K

keirik wrote:

I used to read hifi magazines just to see the snake oil reviews, it seems the writers of this articles have moved to road.cc

 

yeah, unfortunately the snake oil type stereophonic reviews of the past several decades seem to have migrated to bikes and bike components.  I take every enve review with a grain of salt, particularly the ride quality claims. If those wheels had been disguised as cheap $400 wheels I’ll guarantee you the review comments would have been: sluggish, slightly dead feeling, etc.,,,, I stopped taking enve products and their nosebleed prices seriously years ago after they were acquired, and you could visibly see the drop off in the finish quality of their products. Poor finish quality, but still charging nosebleed prices. But loads of fools will still pay top dollar to have those enve decals on their wheels, and the accompanying placebo effect and BS claims. LOL

 

 

Avatar
Miller [273 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Xenophon2 wrote:

Well done and they do look nice,  hat off for making them, but it's not what I asked for.

No commercial outfit is going to do you a quality pair of carbon wheels for £600, true.  But it's notable in the past couple of years that companies such as JRA, Hunt, Cycle Clinic etc are doing attractive carbon rimmed wheels in the £800 - £1000 range. That's still an investment but it's within reach.  Wheelsets costing north of £2k must face severe competition from those £1k wheelsets and I'm not sure what they can do about it other than offer daft features such as whale profiles or claim they're simply 'better' in some hard to define way. I have never ridden a pair of Enve wheels. As you suggest, a comparison test against cheaper options, or mine, would be very interesting.

Avatar
Jackson [451 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Miller wrote:
Xenophon2 wrote:

Well done and they do look nice,  hat off for making them, but it's not what I asked for.

No commercial outfit is going to do you a quality pair of carbon wheels for £600, true.  But it's notable in the past couple of years that companies such as JRA, Hunt, Cycle Clinic etc are doing attractive carbon rimmed wheels in the £800 - £1000 range. That's still an investment but it's within reach.  Wheelsets costing north of £2k must face severe competition from those £1k wheelsets and I'm not sure what they can do about it other than offer daft features such as whale profiles or claim they're simply 'better' in some hard to define way. I have never ridden a pair of Enve wheels. As you suggest, a comparison test against cheaper options, or mine, would be very interesting.

For me personally I can't see £800 as good value for some wheels when I've just bought a direct drive smart trainer for less than that, with change left over for a set of Shimano RS11s that'll do more than 20,000km before you need to think about them.

Avatar
Joe Totale [174 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like

With regards to cheaper Carbon wheels, I'd highly recommend Wheelsmith in Scotland. I've got the Aero Dimpled 45mm ones which to all intents and purposes are like Zipp 303's but at half the price and also a more comprehensive guarantee:

http://www.wheelsmith.co.uk/product-page/dimpled-45

Despite the huge outlay, Hambini found Enve wheels to be no more aero than other wheels at half the price:

https://www.hambini.com/blog/post/bicycle-wheel-aerodynamics-which-one-i...

Sure there's potential issues with his testing and we don't ride in wind tunnels but there aren't many independent tests out there. 

 

Avatar
hawkinspeter [3924 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
Miller wrote:
Xenophon2 wrote:

Well done and they do look nice,  hat off for making them, but it's not what I asked for.

No commercial outfit is going to do you a quality pair of carbon wheels for £600, true.  But it's notable in the past couple of years that companies such as JRA, Hunt, Cycle Clinic etc are doing attractive carbon rimmed wheels in the £800 - £1000 range. That's still an investment but it's within reach.  Wheelsets costing north of £2k must face severe competition from those £1k wheelsets and I'm not sure what they can do about it other than offer daft features such as whale profiles or claim they're simply 'better' in some hard to define way. I have never ridden a pair of Enve wheels. As you suggest, a comparison test against cheaper options, or mine, would be very interesting.

How about Prime Wiggle/CRC own brand?

https://www.wiggle.co.uk/prime-rr-50-se-carbon-clincher-disc-wheelset/

£550 for a 50mm carbon disc wheelset?

https://www.wiggle.co.uk/prime-rr-28-v2-carbon-clincher-disc-wheelset/

£400 for a 28mm carbon disc wheelset?

Avatar
Joe Totale [174 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Jackson wrote:

For me personally I can't see £800 as good value for some wheels when I've just bought a direct drive smart trainer for less than that, with change left over for a set of Shimano RS11s that'll do more than 20,000km before you need to think about them.

 

Well yeah, £100 wheels will do a job in the same way that a £400 bike will do a job. 

Avatar
Jackson [451 posts] 2 weeks ago
3 likes

I should note that I have no problem with cool expensive stuff as long as we aren't kidding ourselves that it's not just the mamil equivalent of a Prada handbag or gold plated stereo connectors

Avatar
BBB [504 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

Fools buying tubeless wheels with internal nipples deserve anything they get when their spoke snaps or their wheel need truing.

Avatar
Chris Hayes [457 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

Don't know how much I'd have to earn to justify these Enve wheels, but they seem 'good value' against the heavier and presumably less robust Lightweights.  But to all those lauding 1500g carbon wheels, I ask you: what's the point?  You can get a set of alloy rimmed wheels that come in below this weight, and, if you're still on rims (I am), they will be a lot more durable and safer (when braking). So it must be aesthetics then?

Avatar
Miller [273 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
Chris Hayes wrote:

 But to all those lauding 1500g carbon wheels, I ask you: what's the point?  You can get a set of alloy rimmed wheels that come in below this weight, and, if you're still on rims (I am), they will be a lot more durable and safer (when braking). So it must be aesthetics then?

If you're still on rim brakes, true what you say, although I think a 1500g alloy wheelset will be less durable than the carbon one as you need to choose the lightest alloy rims and select very light hubs to hit that weight with alloy. It will have better braking though.

If you're on disc brakes it's a different ball game as freed from the need for a brake track there is more design flexibility with carbon.

Avatar
Xenophon2 [102 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
Chris Hayes wrote:

Don't know how much I'd have to earn to justify these Enve wheels, but they seem 'good value' against the heavier and presumably less robust Lightweights.  But to all those lauding 1500g carbon wheels, I ask you: what's the point?  You can get a set of alloy rimmed wheels that come in below this weight, and, if you're still on rims (I am), they will be a lot more durable and safer (when braking). So it must be aesthetics then?

 

I'm using disc brakes and commuting just under 10k km/year over partially crappy roads.  I'm hard on my gear too, no apologies.  None of the alloy wheelsets that I ever used survived a year without trueing or repairs.  My carbon wheelset wich has the same inner width keeps going and still runs true after 2 years, for me that by itself is reason enough to abandon alloy.   In my case it's not about the weight, that's just icing on cake.  But ymmv.

Avatar
Chris Hayes [457 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

Xenophon & Miller....completely agree: if you're on discs then carbon is the way to go - though I had not considered that carbon wheels might take more hammer (though I can see these Enves might).  

I'm just not there yet.  I have  4 x rim bikes which are all dearly loved for very different reasons.  I have one set of Reynolds carbon wheels which I sometimes use when it's dry, but as 3 of my bikes have vintage group sets (10 speed Campag), old-style caliper brakes and carbon rims don't make for efficient stopping.