Since 2014, the mainstay of ENVE’s mountain biking rims has been the wildly popular M Series. With a specialist wheel for every discipline, ENVE has established a range that is the standard against which all other wheels are measured. However, the M Series was not without flaws. The rims were the strongest of any carbon rim, and they may have looked the part, but the ride quality wasn’t ideal and pinch flat protection was sub-par.
Redesigned for 2018, the new M Series of ENVE wheels has aimed to fix these issues, whilst making the rims stronger and lighter.
A lot has changed in mountain biking wheels since 2014, with wider rims, better standards and tubeless systems now a common preference. To accommodate for this, ENVE has doubled the size of their range. Whilst still based off the same ratios of uphill to downhill riding, ENVE has now added more choice of rim width, as well as a 29-inch M90. The new naming is pretty straight forward: the first number indicates the percentage of downhill riding that wheel is designed for, and the second two digits tell you the rim width. Therefore, the M730 is designed for riding downhill 70% of the time, the company’s enduro category, and has a 30mm internal rim width.
Each wheel is available in both 650b and 29 inch sizes.
Each rim has been optimised for its discipline. The new M525 is 4mm wider than its predecessor, yet is 30 grams lighter, and can accommodate up to 2.4 inch tyres. The M525 is only available in a 24-spoke pattern, but according to ENVE, the 2018 wheels are 40% stronger than the previous models and offer 50% more puncture protection.
Relatively unchanged for 2018, the only thing new for the M6 series is a choice of rim widths. With compatibility for 2.3 to 3.2 inch tyres, there is an M6 wheel to suit your needs.
The big changes in ENVE’s lineup have happened in the M7 and M9 series of wheels. Because of the increased demands of enduro and downhill riding, ENVE found that their rims were cracking and tyres were flatting at an unacceptable rate. To fix this, the engineers at ENVE came up with a new rim design. To reduce pinch flats, the M7 and M9 series rims have a wider bead, 4.5mm versus the standard 3.5mm. ENVE describes the difference between the two as a blunt versus a sharp knife. When you hit a rock, the tyre is forced onto the bead of the rim. Therefore, the narrower the bead, the less area the energy has to dissipate over, meaning you have a greater chance of puncturing your tyre, even with a tubeless setup. By widening the bead, or ‘dulling the knife,’ there’s a greater surface area, and therefore less chance your rim can punch through your tyre. The wider bead is combined with a shallower rim, decreasing weight whilst increasing ride quality. Combined with this is ENVE’s new rim strip. This plastic insert further widens the bead, but also creates two separate air chambers within the wheel, meaning that if somehow you do manage to crack your rim in a race run, your tyre should stay inflated, allowing you to finish strong.
Now, these changes all sound great on paper, but are they enough to convince you it’s worth the risk of laying out around $4000 or so for a new wheelset? If you’re not convinced, their warranty might help – ENVE stands behind their wheels. If you manage to crack a rim, ENVE will replace it, for free, for 5 years, plus they pay for shipping both ways to and from their factory in Utah (see their terms and conditions for more information).
ENVE’s MTB wheels can be found at Pushys, including the 2018 range once they’re released.