- WHAT'S HOT
- MILL VALLEY SHOP
- OUR FIT STUDIO
- TRIPS, BLOGS, PIX
by Scott Penzarella on January 25, 2014
Finding the perfect all-around wheelset is no easy task. There are so many different wheel companies in the cycling world these days, it's no wonder consumers are confused by the massive selection and variety.
While some might be overwhelmed by this plethora of options, we frankly believe there are only a few true wheel manufacturers out there who get it right. Mavic, Zipp, HED, Fulcrum/Campy, and Enve, for example, lead the industry in innovation, quality and customer service. It's no coincidence these are precisely the wheels we stock at Studio Velo. Indeed, there are wheel options from Specialized, Trek, among others, but in our eyes, these are not wheel companies; these are companies who make wheels to "accessorize" their bikes. That is not the purpose or philosophy of the aforementioned brands, whose incredible R&D drives performance, durability and safety. As a result, you, the rider, experience what its truly like to experience wheels that are versatile, stable, smooth, snappy, solid, and fast.
Here at Studio Velo we pride ourselves on testing everything we sell. Recently, a customer experienced a wheel failure (a delimitation of the rim wall) on a carbon Enve wheel which gave us pause. It was unclear whether this individual "rode" the rear brake exclusively on the downhills (a no/no in carbon wheels), had excessive wear on the brake pads or simply experienced a poorly built wheel. It became apparent that we needed to test this particular wheelset, that is precisely what I have been doing for the past 4 weeks, culminating this test period with a 38-mile descent down Mt. Haleakala, Maui. This 10,225' climb, with 38 miles from summit to sea, provides the perfect testing ground for these Enve 3.4 clinchers.
The Enve SES (Smart Enve System) 3.4 clinchers, as described by Enve, "are specifically designed as a multi-purpose wheelset that can be used in virtually all weather conditions, terrains and disciplines." The 3.4's, being shallower, offer maximum performance characteristics when the wind conditions are strong, like many days atop the 7 Sisters, riding down the California coast, or right here in Maui, which is probably the windiest of all. With a front rim of 26mm wide and 35mm deep and a rear of 24mm wide and 45mm deep, this wheelset is the most stable wheel in my wheel quiver and certainly the most confidence inspiring for its depth.
As I descended down past Kula (see photo below showing the return trek) the wind was gusting to over 50 knots yet the wheels proved to be incredibly stable. This was by far the most impressive riding characteristic. The shallower, wider front rim provided incredible stability while still feeling snapping and fast on the flats, sharp in the corners, and with incredibly solid breaking.
The net/net experience: A+. Last year I raced a brilliant pair of Mavic Cosmic Carbon Ultimates, which unfortunately with my bike flew off the back of my car. After a week of testing, I have decided to purchase a slightly lower cost wheelset, the 3.4 Tubulars for racing while riding the 3.4 clinchers in everyday conditions. This seems like a winning combination.
To learn more about this or other Enve wheels , please come into the store, test our demo wheels or do some research on line here: http://www.enve.com/wheels/road/3.4clincher.aspx