Enve’s Twenty6 XC wheelset is a classic example of a product that’s bittersweet to test. On one hand, the wheels offer instant performance as soon as they’re installed, and are a pleasure to ride. But knowing they’ll have to be shipped back to Ogden, Utah, where the rims are handmade and hand-laced, it’s deflating to think of giving up the performance.
Aside from the in-house machines used to cut the carbon sheets, Enve rims are entirely handmade in the USA. The company use a removable bladder process in the rim production, allowing for a cleaner, lighter and stronger net product.
According to Enve marketing director Jake Pantone, the system allows for higher pressures to be used, compressing the composite layers together more tightly and increasing the rim’s strength. And as a bonus to removing the bladder, the inside is said to be as clean as the outside, making spoke lacing much easier.
In terms of the ride, the Enve rims with DT Swiss bladed spokes and 240s hubs were light enough for us to notice a reduction in rotational weight over most wheels available, and without any compromise in handling. In a similar way to a quality composite frame, Enve rims hint at compliance over rough trails yet offer straight and true steering through turns, as well as providing uninhibited power transfer through pedaling.
It was only when a larger, more aggressive tester treated the XC wheelset like an all-mountain product that there was even a whisper of flex. So, short of buying a set of XC-specific hoops for the wrong use, there doesn’t seem to be any trade-off in durability or performance from the 1,350g wheelset.
Width-wise, the Enve XC rims measure 18mm internally, and lend themselves to better performance on tires of 2.25in and narrower. This isn’t surprising for an XC rim, but for kicks a set of 2.4in tires were ridden for comparison. The result wasn’t as bad as we expected, but there was a noticeable increase in tire roll.
The carbon rims have a lot to do with the XC’s ride quality, but Enve’s build plays a factor as well. Using standard 3/16in internal nipples, Enve have been able to reduce spoke hole size in the rim to increase rim integrity and tension on the DT bladed spokes. Saving approximately 35g per wheel over 14/15 gauge butted spokes, the bladed version also plays a key role in spoke alignment and tension during the build, by acting as an alignment indicator.
Internal nipples reduce spoke hole size and boost rim integrity
At first, the idea of having to pull the tire and tubeless rim tape off to access the internal nipples for truing seemed tedious. But after months of abuse, the Enve XC wheels are as straight and true as the day they were installed, so it doesn’t seem fair to complain about a truing process that we haven’t yet needed to do.
Speaking of durability, the wheels are designed to be ridden daily, and now come with a five-year warranty versus the two-year guarantee provided until recently. For those who’ve already purchased a set of Enve rims prior to the policy change, the new warranty will be retroactive, too. Enve also provide a lifetime crash replacement policy of 50 percent off MSRP.
To set the UST XC rims up tubeless, Enve rely on tubeless valves and Gorilla tape. If the idea of a $2,400 wheelset coming with a $9 roll of glorified duct tape doesn’t sit well with you, you’re not the only one. But according to Pantone, after months of testing “dozens and dozens” of options, Gorilla tape consistently worked the best.
Pantone also said that Enve are working directly with Gorilla on rim-specific tape widths that will be branded with Enve logos. With our wheelset, it took two tries to get the tape properly laid on the rim for an air-tight seal. But the rims have now been ridden with a tubeless setup for the entirety of our long-term test without any issues.
Overall, the Enve XC wheelset is a fantastic option for racers and trail riders alike, with its impressive performance and durability. The only remotely disappointing aspect is the somewhat hoaky tubeless system. But considering it’s worked perfectly fine after a finicky setup, it’s not a huge issue.