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Enve's Foundation 65mm Wheelset takes many of the design ideas of the range-topping SES wheels, and delivers plenty of performance and aerodynamic benefits for a decent price. With easy tubeless set up and what looks to be great reliability, they're a great choice for all-out speed and ticking off those KOMs.
At 65mm deep the Foundation wheels are aimed primarily at time-triallists and triathletes, but after running these on an aero road bike for the best part of six weeks I was surprised how easy they are to live with.
Wheels of this depth can be a bit of a handful on all but the stillest of days, but I found these coped with wind at various yaw angles well. They take a bit of a slap when passing an exposed field gate or the like, and you can feel a breeze pushing against the side of them, but I never felt buffeted around by them.
On all but the windiest of days I found them quite controllable, and there's a shallower 45mm deep option too.
The weight of 1,670g (no tape or valves) with such deep section rims is good going, and means they're not restricted to flatter routes. With good lateral stiffness, they are just as happy in the hills as they are on the flats, so if I was heading out on a hilly loop, I didn't feel compelled to swap them for something shallower.
Any losses against gravity are soon reaped back once you hit the flat or descents, as these Foundation wheels absolutely fly. It's alright quoting loads of data from the wind tunnel, but wheels need to perform in the real world amid tricky weather conditions and overtakes by large HGVs and the like.
Once you get above 20mph these wheels really do surge forward, and if you can make the most of an aerodynamic position on the bike I'd say the Enves will give you a real speed boost relative to your power. Oh, and they make a swooshing noise too, which we all know is worth about an extra 25 Watts, if not more.
They are also comfortable for such deep section wheels. Yes they're stiff and give a firm ride, but it's no way a harsh or buzzy one. Depth as I said is 65mm for both the front and rear wheel, with an internal width of 21mm, 28mm external.
Enve says the Foundations are aero-optimised for 25mm and 28mm tyres, and with both sizes we found the transition between tyre and rim seamless. Tyres are easy to fit too, although our set came without tubeless rim tape or valves.
Enve has gone for a hookless rim, so there's no lip around the inside for the Kevlar or metal bead of your standard clincher tyre to butt up against, or to stop it blowing it off the rim.
Tubeless tyres don't really need them – they tend to have more robust sidewalls and beads, so they work with just the air pressure keeping everything in place. For this reason Enve recommends tubeless tyres only (with or without inner tubes), although some tyre and wheel manufacturers would argue that standard clincher tyres work fine. The rims come with a five-year warranty and a Lifetime Incident Protection warranty.
Both wheels are laced with 24 Sapim CX Spring spokes, and Enve says that molding the holes – rather than drilling through the rims – keeps the full length of the carbon in one piece for greater strength, which in turn allows for greater spoke tension.
The Foundation Road Hubs run smoothly and quietly using full-contact sealed NTN steel bearings, rather than the ceramic offerings found on their top end wheels.
The ID360 40-tooth freehub mechanism offers very fast pickup once you start pedalling, and doesn't make a huge amount of noise when you aren't. You'll be heard by the rider who's wheel you're sucking, but it doesn't scream or click madly like some. Centre Lock rotor attachment is the order of the day, as is the acceptance of 12mm thru-axles.
The build quality is very high, and I had no issues with durability or trueness throughout the test period. Everything was set up straight from the box with no pinging of spokes as the tension settles over those first few miles. All this means their £1,850 price tag seems fair to me, although there is some very stiff competition.
The Reynolds AR 58/62 X DB wheelset isn't quite as deep, although performance and weight are similar, and they're a good bit less at £1,350.
Campagnolo's sweet-looking Bora WTO 60 Disc wheels are a bit lighter (sub 1,600g) and come with ceramic bearings, if that is a game changer for you, but they are pricier at £1,928.99.
Hunt's 60 Limitless Aero Disc wheels are £1,189 with steel bearings, or £1,389 with CeramicSpeed bearings.
Though hardly cheap, the performance and quality here justifies the cost – especially as the Foundations are surprisingly good all-rounders for such a deep set of wheels.
Fast in the real world and shrug off crosswinds with ease
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road.cc test report
Make and model: ENVE Foundation 65mm Wheelset
Size tested: n/a
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 ENVE 65 benefits from a knowledge base that has been established over more than a decade's worth of aero wheel development. To achieve the low drag and high stability performance the ENVE 65 offers, ENVE takes cues from its top of the line SES line up. This trickle down approach from ENVE's top-of-the-line products means the ENVE 65's outperform, or perform similar to, competitor's wheels that are upmarket in price.
"Featuring ENVE's Wide Hookless Bead technology, the ENVE 65 disperses any impact from pot holes, curbs and debris over a wide area, reducing the likelihood of pinch flats."
They are definitely some fast wheels, durable too backed up by a five year warranty.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Inner rim width: 21mm
Rim Weight: 510 grams
Wheelset Weight: 1620g
Internal Molded Spoke Holes
Hole count: 24/24
Aero optimised for 25cc to 28cc tubeless tires
ENVE Foundation Road Alloy hub with ID360 40t ratchet
Sapim CX Spring spokes
Tubeless compatible only. Hookless Construction. May run inner-tubes with tubeless tire
Centre-lock disc brake only
Lifetime Incident Protection and 5 Year warranty
Handcrafted at ENVE's HQ in Ogden, Utah, USA
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
The wheels arrived true and finished the test the same way.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Fitting a few tyres between 25mm to 28mm saw no problems.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
There are no extras.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They are a fast pair of wheels that don't carry a whole lot of weight considering their depth.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
No extras – not even rim tape.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Options from Reynolds and Hunt pip them on price, but against the likes of Campagnolo the Enves look good value for money.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Possibly
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
For such deep section wheels they handle very well in all conditions, and back that up with great stiffness. They are very well made too, which backs up the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!