First Look: ENVE AM30 Wheelset Review

A few weeks back, ENVE Composites released the first pillar of their new ENVE Foundation Collection, a pair of road wheels that brought ENVE innovation and craftsmanship to a lower price point than we’ve ever seen from the Utah stalwart. Next up to bat is a new wheelset aimed at the dirt. Called the ENVE AM30, this wheelset promises best-in-class riding experiences at a price point yet unseen by those lusting after an ENVE MTB wheelset.

What is the ENVE Foundation Collection?

In short, the ENVE Foundation Collection consists of two road bike wheelsets and a new MTB carbon wheels called the AM30. This new ENVE wheelset brings ENVE levels of quality and performance to a $1600 price point and are designed to fit in nicely with ENVE M Series wheels, including the ENVE M635 and ENVE M735 wheelset. These wheels are made in the U.S.A. and still carry the brand’s lifetime incident protection program, as well as what they call their ENVE wheelset ‘core technologies:’

ENVE Foundation Wheels AM30 - Profile - Contender Bicycles

  • Tubeless Optimization
    • Like most carbon mountain bike wheels, this new rim utilizes a hookless sidewall. ENVE introduced the idea in 2014, with their testing and modeling showing that hookless sidewalls like those found on a motorcycle or automobile rim. Hookless rims make for a more precise bead seat diameter, locking in the tire more effectively to make a more effective air-tight seal. Tubeless technology is one of the most important technological advancements in bicycles in the past thirty years, and we are happy to see a continual commitment to such tech.
  • Anti-Pinch Flat Protection
    • ENVE wheel testing shows that their wheels do as good if not a better job than the competition at protecting riders from pinch flats. For the most part, the new AM30 wheelset lines up nicely with their other wheel offerings. Perhaps more importantly, they match or exceed the performance of the competition in impact strength and pinch flat height. They believe so strongly in their rim design that they go as far as to say that their rims do not need inserts. Huckers rejoice!

ENVE Foundation Wheels - Flat Protection - Contender Bicycles

  • Molded Spoke Holes
    • While it is important to have a strong rim, the strength of a wheelset as a whole is can be let down by imperfect spoke tension. ENVE wheels maximize the number of uninterrupted carbon fibers in the rim in an effort to make the wheel as strong as possible. And while many manufacturers drill out their carbon rims, ENVE molds reinforcement directly into the spoke nipple hole while also molding the holes at the angle at which the nipples might lie. Less bending, less drilling, and less complexity mean fewer broken spokes, lower spoke tension and greater overall durability.

ENVE Foundation Wheelsets - Molded Spoke Holes - Contender Bicycles

  • Warranty and Lifetime Incident Protection
    • ENVE has the backs of everyone who wants the best in performance, reliability, and longevity. As such, all ENVE Foundation wheels are covered by their Lifetime Incident Protection, which protects the original owner from incidents that the rider is responsible for. This includes impact damage, crashes, and any other unlucky mishaps. They also include a five-year warranty to protect the original owner from material and workmanship defects.

ENVE Foundation Wheels - Lifetime Warranty

The Wheels

Frankly, there isn’t a ton of mind-blowing stuff going on here, but what is here is proven to work and built to last. This includes the 20mm-deep rims, a good 5mm shallower than any other MTB-centric rim they currently offer. A shallow 20mm depth means the rim can flex alongside trail features a bit more, thus damping impacts improving toughness, and maximizing cornering grip. The only rim in the competition that comes close in the overall rim profile is the Crank Brothers Synthesis E11 and Zipp 3Zero Moto, both of which tout high levels of compliance and smooth ride quality without being flexy. These rims are a standard 30mm width, making them a great pairing as general trail wheel with 2.3″ to 2.6″ tires.

ENVE AM30 Foundation Wheelset - Contender Bicycles

Most ENVE wheels use internal spoke nipples on a large majority of their carbon wheels, but they’re not doing it here. They’re also using standard J-Bend double-butted spokes paired to Industry Nine 101 hubs, which are well-received for their quick engagement and solid build quality. It uses a similar drive mechanism as their I9 Hydra hub, here using a six-pawl freehub ratchet with four degrees of engagement, just enough to feel like the bike has instant hub engagement when going up technical climbs.

ENVE AM30 Foundation Mountain Wheelset - Contender Bicycles

Conclusion

The previous generations of ENVE mountain bike rims were strong, but they were stiff as could be. Much of the time, that stiffness comes to the detriment of a wheel’s ability to resist flats and sidewall destruction. Their latest generation of M series rims shows a focus on preventing pinch flats, improving energy absorption, and maintaining even spoke tension shows that they’re looking to build the best wheel they can. We are curious to see how it works on the trail, but we don’t envision them suffering from being too stiff or unyielding like some lightweight carbon wheels on the market today. In short, the ENVE AM30 looks to be a typical ENVE wheelset, with impressive build quality to match.

2020 ENVE AM30 Foundation Wheels - Contender Bicycles

Have any questions about ENVE wheels, including the ENVE M-Series and ENVE Foundation wheels? Give us a call during business hours, or send us an email any time to info@contenderbicycles.com.

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