Review: Enve Composites 45 Clincher Carbon Road Wheels
Over the past couple of months, we have been riding around on the Enve Composites 45 clincher carbon road rims. These 45mm deep carbon rims are the all around deep dish from Enve (formerly Edge Composites) that promise to be the best balance between shallow climbing rims and really deep dish rims that provide great aero benefits.
About Enve Composites
Evne Composites is based out of Ogden, Utah and all manufacturing, engineering and design is based out those headquarters. That puts Enve the short list of American based manufacturers and designers of bike components that actually still keep everything in the states.
Enve makes an assortment of carbon components, but they are most known for the road and mountain bike wheels that can be seen on anything from Tour de France bikes to World Cup downhill racing. With over 30 years of design experience and history with companies like Specialized, Felt and Easton…Enve knows the industry and bike components.
Read more about Enve here.
Specs: Enve Composites 45 Clincher Carbon Wheelset
As mentioned previously, the 45′s are a 45mm deep carbon rim with carbon braking surface that is available in both tubular and clincher variations. For the purposes of this review, we were running the clincher rims on White Industries hubs as provided by Enve for this article. The wheels were ridden on the Specialized Tarmac SL3 review bike.
Enve 45 Specs
- Rim Weight: 440g
- Weight with DT Swiss 240s hubs: 1,458g
- Rim depth: 45mm
- Recommended Tire Pressure: 100 – 140 psi
The 440g rim weight puts the Evne 45 puts the overall wheel weight slightly less on 240s hubs than the comparable 303 from Zipp and slightly heavier the Reynolds forty six setup. Pricewise, you are looking at about an $850.00 rim cost which will land you right at the Reynolds and slightly more than the Zipp 303. All three of these setups are very close in weight (for the clincher) and price if you are looking into a full carbon rim setup in the 45mm depth range.
On The Road: Enve Composites 45 Clinchers
The first thing I noticed when I mounted up the Enve 45′s on the Tarmac was how well they matched the bike. Vain I know…but the carbon with white logos looked like they just matched the frame. In typical deep road rim fashion, the 45′s do have large Nascar style logos at three points on the rim surface, but the absence of any color does help them blend in even if slightly more than others.
The wheels were ridden on everything from centuries to local, weekly sprints to get an idea on how they would handle a large range of riding situations. As with most deep dish rims, they will have their strengths and weaknesses…so let’s get into it.
JRA and Climbing With The Enve 45′s
Ideally, the perfect climbing wheel is a shallow dish, really light weight rim. Obviously, the 45mm depth of the 45′s is not ideal, but they did phase wheel on long mountain climbs that were protected by tree cover. The 440g rim spooled up quickly and held momentum well. Power transfer to the ground was efficiently handled through a strong wheel build and stiff design of the rim profile. Under hard stand and hammer situations, you do get the carbon sound as you tweak the bike left and right. That is pretty normal for any deeper carbon rim.
The Enve 45′s handled their absolute best solo with head on and 45 degree angle winds. The deep profile cut through head on winds like a knife and made keeping speed in less than optimal conditions easier. As long as the wind direction did not hit past the 45 degree mark, the wheels continued to cut through and allow for higher averages. Once the wind cut sideways, the 45mm depth and angled cross section ran into trouble. Especially when dealing with cross winds off fields in the open, I felt like I was riding at a steep angle to keep the bike straight. This got multiplied with large gusts as the bike would almost change lanes.
Pace Lining and Descending With The Enve 45′s
Where these wheels really came alive was in pace line and downhill riding. When riding with a group, the wheels literally pull you into the rider in front of you. In smaller groups, I actually found myself apologizing to other riders as I was having to brake to keep from running into the rider in front of me without pedaling. The way these wheels cut through the draft allowing me to save energy for the pull was amazing. It almost felt like I was cheating in comparison to some other wheels I have ridden.
Once you get into long downhill situations, the wheels continued to shine. The low profile deep dish sliced through the air allowing for 5 – 7 mph higher top end speeds and they made for a much more stable bike. The bike tracked straighter and inspired more confidence in extreme leaning turns bike keeping the steering stable and predictable.
The Enve pads (required for the carbon braking surface) did a great job of bringing the bike to a stop. Surprisingly, they didn’t run into a lot of the high pitched squeal you typically hear with carbon braking surface rims. Braking pressure was pretty linear and came on strong even in wet conditions.
Conclusions: Enve Composites 45 Clincher Carbon Wheels
Let’s face it…carbon road wheels are not going to be for everyone. The price of this wheelset is close to the average of what most of the industry spends on their entire bike. Given the pricepoint, weight and performance, the Enve 45′s are a really strong contender in the all around 45mm depth market. For my type of riding in the north Georgia mountains (we use the same roads that were in the Tour de Georgia), the 45′s were a perfect mix of aero benefits with minimal drawbacks. If you are in more open, windy areas, you might find that crosswinds make your life a little bit harder with a deeper set like this.
Overall, I’ll miss this wheels as they head back to Enve. The 45′s seemed faster in straight line and descending than the 303′s while the 303′s seemed to handle crosswinds a little bit better due to the nature of their profile. The 45′s matched the bike perfectly and were incredibly fast in my core riding conditions. If they weren’t so expensive…they would have stayed on the bike and would be my choice out of the current 45mm depth offerings.
Good: Enve Composites 45 Clincher
- Tire sucking speed in pace lines
- Fast and stable in long downhill situations
- Predictable, quiet braking
- Black/white color combo matches most frame colors
Bad: Enve Composites 45 Clincher
- Price – You have to pay to play in carbon
- Susceptible to adverse handling in strong crosswinds
To purchase Enve products or check out pricing, click here. You can also request a build from your favorite wheel builder or through Enve direct.
Discuss these wheels on the forums by clicking here.
What do you think?