Who’d have thought a set of wheels for £1,850 / $1,800 wouldn’t raise a fiscal eyebrow? But compared to Enve’s SES range that peaks at over three grand, Enve’s Foundation 65 wheels are more affordable than its other USA-made models.
Unlike the SES fare, which exhibits the contemporary idea of different rim shapes and depths front and rear, both of the Foundation’s 65mm rims are identical.
Their design is still modern with a 21mm internal width and 28mm external width optimised for 25 to 28mm tyres, while the rim itself is tubeless-ready and comes with a hookless design for easy set up. Just ensure the tyre beads are sitting outside the central channel or the tyre won’t spread and seal, and lubricate the beads beforehand.
The included tubeless valves create a leak-free seal and fitting is tight enough to prevent valve rattle. A caveat, though: keep your sealant topped up: an attempt to fit a standard inner tube in a roadside emergency was so painful I’d recommend the Foundations as tubeless only.
My test set tipped the scales at 1,640g, which is impressive for a wheelset of this depth and only 160g heavier than the equivalent top-spec SES 5.6 disc wheels that retail for £1,500 more. Tubeless valves and tapes add mass but I was impressed with how well the 65s roll.
The hubs use the same internals as the SES range but substitute ceramic bearings for more affordable steel ones and use a simpler-to-manufacture hub shell, though that has little impact on the performance, which is smooth spinning. The freehub picks up power quickly, too.
As for the real-life impact of that 65mm rim depth, on still days these are phenomenally rapid. Typically, the deep section takes longer to get up to speed than shallower depths but, once at high velocity, it holds onto that speed with commendable tenacity.
In strong (not gale force) winds, however, you’ll be pushed and pulled off-line; in side and diagonal winds, buffeting is not as extreme but these rims are affected more than shallower sizes (Enve’s SES 5.6 equivalent front is much shallower for this reason).
The risk with wheels this deep is too much stiffness, leading to discomfort. The opposite’s true here, though, with the 65s absorbing high-frequency road vibrations, feeling equally as good as the shallower carbon Fulcrums they replaced on my test bike.
Over more prominent ruts they vocalise their displeasure with a solid clunk at your poor line choice but, overall, they don’t feel harsh.
They come with a ‘lifetime of incident protection’ (if you damage the wheel in a crash Enve will replace the parts for free – you just pay for shipping), plus a five-year factory warranty.
If you’re looking for fast wheels for time trials, triathlons or simply for riding quickly over rolling terrain I’d recommend the Foundations even over Enve’s more ‘Gucci’ SES models. For the sake of less than a 200g weight saving and more care needed in high winds, I’ll take the £1,500 saving any day.