The new rims come in four varieties – the XC-based M50 Fifty, M60 Forty, M70 Thirty and M90 Ten, aimed at DH riders. The M60 Forty is probably the most versatile of the M-Series rims, designed with a slight bias towards descending, but without the burliness of a full-on enduro or downhill wheel.
We tested the Enve M-series rims in two configurations: a 27.5in version laced to Chris King hubs with Sapim CX Ray spokes and a 29in version laced to a DT Swiss 240 rear hub and a SRAM Predictive Steering front hub for use with the inverted RockShox RS-1 suspension fork.
The first thing we noticed from our initial rides was how stiff the wheels are. With time spent in the Alps on tight, steep switchbacks, swapping onto non-Enve wheels made it obvious just how much extra steering precision you get from the stiffer front wheel. Likewise, our testing on the rocky trails of Northern Colorado gave us the same sensation.There’s a learning curve that comes with these rims, the lack of flex resulted in an initial bit of oversteer as we learned that there’s very little give in these hoops.
Fire the bike through choppy, off-camber rooty and rocky sections, with each individual impact trying to throw you off line, and you find yourself at the other side of the section without even flinching, assuming your tyres can keep up with the grip required of course.
Out back you get solid dependability and responsiveness from the rear wheel. In compressions and berms there’s no steering flex.
Despite the stiffness, the M60 Forty is no heavyweight – weight for the 27.5in rim is 374g and just 396g for the 29er version, making it quite easy to build up a rock-solid wheelset at or below 1,600g.
The rims have been constructed without a bead-hook on the sidewalls, but tyre security’s never been a problem and tubeless inflation was as easy as it comes — once we’d muscled the tyres on. Internal width, at 23mm, is conservative compared to many wheels on the market, but the hookless design helps prevent tyre profiles getting too squeezed. An extra couple of millimeters would be welcome, though.
Pairing wheels with frames can be a bit of a balancing act. Stiff rims such as these can exacerbate flex in an underbuilt chassis. If you’re your rig has a reputation for a significant amount of “compliance” then these might not be the best fit. Conversely, when matched with the right frame, they can add extra snap and liveliness, making a good thing great.
Enve’s made great strides in expanding its rim line. The M60 Forty is the rim that will appeal to the broadest range of riders. This rim is light enough for cross-country but has the strength and rigidity to see the rider safely through rugged terrain.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.