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ENVE AM30 Review

Confidence-inspiring, these wheels feel sporty and high-performance but the crisp handling has its drawbacks
enve am30 mountain bike wheel review
Credit: Backcountry.com
Price:  $1,750 List
Manufacturer:   ENVE
By Joshua Hutchens, Jeremy Benson  ⋅  Nov 8, 2022
78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 9
  • Ride Quality - 35% 8.0
  • Freehub Engagement - 20% 7.0
  • Weight - 25% 8.0
  • Durability - 20% 8.0

Our Verdict

Enve designed the AM30 foundation wheelset to be a "one wheelset quiver" featuring well-engineered carbon rims, quality hubs, and a price point that wasn't too lofty. The rims feature an optimized profile for tubeless tires that prevents pinch flats, in-molded spoke holes, and lifetime incident protection. Rolling on Industry Nine 1/1 hubs, the wheels feel lively and transmit power efficiently. While fast and sporty, they also transmit a bit more vibration than the other wheels tested. They're an excellent choice for racing or slaying berms and G-outs, but the rider looking for compliance and comfort might want to look elsewhere.
REASONS TO BUY
Confident
Accurate
Lively
Excellent acceleration
Made in the USA
REASONS TO AVOID
Stiff
Unforgiving
Comparably slower engagement

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enve am30 mountain bike wheel review
This Product
ENVE AM30
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award 
Price $1,750 List
$1,750 at Backcountry
$799.99 at Backcountry
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$1,899 List$975.00 at Backcountry
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$449 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Confident, accurate, lively, excellent acceleration, made in the USA3-degree freehub engagement, 2-year no fault guarantee, Vault hubs, lightweightIncredible traction, stability at speed, feedback reductionIndustry-leading 0.52-degree freehub engagement, less expensive than carbon, great ride qualityInexpensive, stable, compliant, reasonably light weight,
Cons Stiff, unforgiving, comparably slower engagementDecals peel easily, not sold as a pair, you need to purchase both the front and rear wheelsHeavy for carbon, lethargic acceleration, vague feeling at lower speedsExpensive for alloy, heavier than carbonSlower freehub engagement, a little flexy under load
Bottom Line Confidence-inspiring, these wheels feel sporty and high-performance but the crisp handling has its drawbacksThese wheels had the best performance and ride quality of any we testedThe carbon rim reimagined, these wheels provide the best traction, damping, and comfort of any wheel we've testedThe best alloy wheelset we've ever testedA great set of alloy wheels with a comfortable ride quality and well-rounded performance at a very reasonable price
Rating Categories ENVE AM30 RaceFace Next R31 C... Zipp 3Zero Moto Industry Nine Endur... Hunt Trail Wide MTB
Ride Quality (35%)
8.0
10.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Freehub Engagement (20%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
10.0
7.0
Weight (25%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Durability (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
Totals (%)
10.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
10.0
Specs ENVE AM30 RaceFace Next R31 C... Zipp 3Zero Moto Industry Nine Endur... Hunt Trail Wide MTB
Weight Per Wheelset 1889g 1,776g 2011g 1,895g 1869g
Available Wheel Sizes 27.5", 29" 27.5", 29" 27.5", 29" 27.5", 29" 27.5", 29"
Available Axle Spacing Boost, Super Boost Boost, Super-Boost Boost Boost, non-Boost, Super Boost 157 Boost, Super Boost
Available Freehub Body Options Shimano HG, Shimano Micrspline, SRAM XD Shimano HG, SRAM XD, MicroSpline SRAM XD, Shimano Shimano HG, SRAM XD, MicroSpline Shimano HG, Shimano Micrspline, SRAM XD
Rim Inner Dimension 30mm 31mm 30mm 30.5mm 30mm
Rim Outer Dimension 39mm 37mm 37.5mm 34.1mm 34.5mm
Offset 3mm 4.5mm 2.5mm 0mm 0mm
Spoke Count 28 28 32 28 28
Brake Rotor Attachment 6-bolt, Center Lock 6-bolt 6-bolt 6-bolt 6-bolt, Center Lock
Freehub P.O.E 4-degree 3-degree 2.7-degree 0.52-degree 5-degree
Warranty Policy 5-year factory warranty and "lifetime incident protection" Lifetime Lifetime 2-year 3-years against material or workmanship defects

Our Analysis and Test Results

Enve has been producing carbon wheels in the United States for the past 13 years and has some unique technology on their side. From the layup of the carbon itself to the shape of the bead, Enve has engineered technology that makes a difference in ride quality and durability. The AM30 is more affordable than earlier ENVE wheels and was designed to be the one wheelset to do it all, recommended for 110mm to 180mm travel bikes, and available in 27.5" and 29" sizes. The bead of the AM30 rim is amongst the most substantial we've ever tested and Enve claims it has some serious performance advantages, read on for our thoughts.

Performance Comparison


enve am30 mountain bike wheel review - the enve am30 feels fast and accurate
The Enve AM30 feels fast and accurate
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Product Specifications


The Enve AM30 is built with a specially made carbon rim with molded spoke holes and asymmetrical offset for more balanced spoke tension. Most manufacturers build their carbon rims and then drill them for the appropriate number of spokes, Enve molds their spoke holes into the rim so the carbon weave and strength aren't interrupted, giving them enough strength that Enve has no upper weight limit for their use. Unlike previous iterations of Enve rims, the spoke holes are slightly larger allowing for external nipples to be used on these wheels. That's a handy feature if you ever need to true your wheels, you won't need to remove your tires and rim tape.

The unique bead shape that Enve calls Wide Hookless Bead is said to dissipate energy from impacts while the rounded bead itself is far less likely to cut the sidewall of a tire in a pinch situation. The rims are manufactured in Ogden, Utah at Enve's own high-tech facility. Like other wheels in this test, the internal width is 30mm but externally they're a whopping 39mm. This is due to the shape and thickness of the bead wall itself and Enve claims it allows riders to use a greater variety of tires and casings with lighter sidewalls and differing pressures. Tire recommendations are still in the 2.3 to 2.6 width range.

enve am30 mountain bike wheel review - stiff and direct, the am30 wheelset holds it's line
Stiff and direct, the AM30 wheelset holds it's line
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

As experts on carbon rims, Enve leaned on Asheville, North Carolina wheel makers Industry Nine for a sensible, high-performance hub. The 1/1 hubs that I9 provides are reliable and they're offered with HG, Sram XD, and Micro Spline freehub bodies in boost or super boost spacing. The freehub features a dual-phase pawl mechanism that offers 4-degree engagement from its 90 points of engagement. I9 calls the hubs no-nonsense and endorses them for e-bike use but notably, this wheelset is not approved by Enve for e-bike use. We find them durable and sensible but not incredibly impressive from an engagement standpoint.

The wheels are built with 28 Sapim race double-butted spokes, nipples are a double square polyax that can be trued from the inside or outside. Center lock and 6-bolt rotor configurations are available and the wheels come with tubeless tape and valve stems that you install yourself.

enve am30 mountain bike wheel review - the enve am30 wheels feature nipples that can be twisted without...
The Enve AM30 wheels feature nipples that can be twisted without removing the tire and rim tape which is incredibly helpful for quick truing.
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Ride Quality


The AM30 wheels have a crisp and stiff feel that accelerates very quickly. Laterally, these wheels are stiffer than anything we've ridden except for maybe Enve's M-series wheels. They offer unshakeable line accuracy but also some unforgiving feedback. When your line is perfect and you're nailing all the transitions, these wheels feel like magic, if you get sloppy, you can feel it. Their handling always felt precise and at times telepathic, sink into a fast berm and there's no flex, all exit speed. Land that jump into the rough stuff and it could be a bit more panic-inducing. The lateral deflection of these wheels was a defining characteristic, they sometimes felt harsh and jarring. While we found these wheels wildly fast, much like the Stans Flow MK4, the lack of compliance sometimes affected traction and passed on a fair bit of trail chatter to the rider.


The Industry Nine hubs are everything they claim to be, confident, capable, no-nonsense, and durable. You feel very little drag, they do not require adjustments and are fairly well sealed.

Freehub Engagement


The 1/1 hubs use a 45-tooth drive ring and a dual-phase pawl mechanism to achieve 90 points of engagement or a maximum of 4 degrees of free motion before locking into place. While the hubs feel quick and friction-free, the 4-degree engagement felt lackluster on a wheelset of this price and pedigree. There was never any chain drag and they caught up to our pedal strokes faster than the Hunt Trail Wide, but we feel a little spoiled from riding some of the quicker hubs on the market these days. In contrast, the Industry Nine Hydra Enduro S achieved .52 degrees of engagement, giving the rider instantaneous acceleration which feels especially beneficial in tight technical climbs.


While we've come to love the feeling of fast engagement and use it as a performance metric, not every rider is going to be wowed by the decrease in free play between coasting and acceleration. In many ways, the Enve wheels feel faster out of the corners than the Zipp 3Zeromoto with a much faster freehub. This is likely due to their weight, stiffness, and rim profile. In short, freehub engagement doesn't tell the whole story but we would have appreciated a faster hub in the center of the AM30 rear wheel.

enve am30 mountain bike wheel review - enve am30 wheel testing
Enve AM30 wheel testing
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Weight


The Enve AM30 wheels tipped our scales at 1889 grams once we installed the tape and valves. Not quite as light as some of the carbon wheelsets we've tested, they accelerate efficiently and feel lively. Even if weight is your primary metric for deciding on new wheels, we'd urge you to consider these. Weighing 20 grams more than the Hunt Trail Wide, these wheels feel noticeably faster on the bike.


enve am30 mountain bike wheel review - other than some minor scratches, our am30 wheels held up to our...
Other than some minor scratches, our AM30 wheels held up to our abuse with flying colors.
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Durability


We ended up being particularly hard on this wheelset, it endured all of our testing and about a dozen extra rides just due to logistics. They endured the primitive, "not really a trail yet" areas of the Eastern Sierra, blown-out conditions on all of the H trails in Sedona, and rowdy jump lines with the boys in Tahoe. We certainly didn't ride them like we'd be keeping them or fuss with them at all.

Front and rear were mounted with Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR Tires at 23 and 25 psi, respectively. The pressure was ideal for traction and fast corners but low enough that the rims bottomed out on trail features on more than several occasions. At the end of the test, we pulled the tires and put them in the truing stand to find that they had survived unscathed. The wheels are still true, bead surface is unfazed but the rims got a bit scratched up, as did the stickers. Spoke tension is almost identical to our readings before mounting tires and while they certainly look used, they're structurally perfect.


The I9 hubs fared well through our testing, there was no intrusion of dirt or grime beyond the end caps or freehub body. The bearings all feel smooth and the end caps still fit snugly with no obvious axle wear. These wheels have a 5-year factory warranty and come with what Enve calls "Lifetime Incident Protection", it covers everything including running over your bike with your truck but it's not exactly replacement coverage. It functions to give the original owner a percent discount on replacement wheels and the discount wanes over time.

enve am30 mountain bike wheel review - the am30 strikes us as a great option for the rider who values...
The AM30 strikes us as a great option for the rider who values stiffness and precision over comfort and compliance.
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Value


These American-made wheels are priced competitively compared to similar carbon models. We feel like the rims themselves are incredibly robust and hi-tech but the hubs feel like a bit of a sacrifice to make the set affordable. These wheels offer crisp handling, rapid acceleration, and a set-and-forget simplicity. While we'd like to see a faster response from the freehub, 90 points of engagement won't leave most riders disappointed. Other Enve mountain wheel sets with faster-engaging hubs and slightly different rims start at $2550 so if you're only shopping Enve, these are an attractive value.

Conclusion


The Enve AM30 is a versatile, high-quality wheelset that will please a multitude of riders of different disciplines. Understanding what makes the ride quality unique can help you understand if these might be appropriate for you. If you value crisp handling, precise steering, and stiffness over compliance and comfort, these might be ideal. We found nothing wrong with these wheels but they're not our top choice for non-competitive riding.

enve am30 mountain bike wheel review - enve am30 wheel testing
Enve AM30 wheel testing
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Joshua Hutchens, Jeremy Benson
 
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