We are more than riders…
We are risk takers, engineers and innovators, driven by our love of cycling. We are a dynamic collection of skilled individuals that create the world’s best carbon fiber products. Partnering with the prominent frame builders of our time and the world’s best athletes, we combine industry leading technology with world-class athlete feedback to provide our customers with the ultimate in lightness, stiffness and durability. Born from a desire for a better ride, we strive to deliver our consumers products without compromise.” – Enve
ENVE Composites: A Premium Brand
Founded sometime during 2007, ENVE began life as Edge Composites. Three years later, a European trademark issue saw the company name change to what we know the company as today, ENVE Composites. In 2016, Amer Sports, the parent company of Mavic, Salomon and others, purchased ENVE Composites outright for about $US 50 million. Despite a change in name and ownership, ENVE Composites still holds a place in the cycling marketplace as a premium brand.
The Growth of Gravel Bikes
Gravel is arguably the cycling genre that has seen the biggest growth over the past year or two. Virtually every bicycle manufacturer has a gravel bike of some sort in their product line up, and this extends further to components. We’ve seen gravel suspension forks, stems, saddles(!), and naturally, a plethora of gravel wheels.
ENVE M525 G Carbon Fiber Wheelset
“For Roads Less Travelled” ENVE Composites is renown for its expertise in the design of carbon fiber wheels, and they too have a wheelset that can potentially tame even the roughest of gravel roads. Enter the ENVE M525 G Carbon Fiber wheelset – where G is for gravel. I thought it appropriate to ride the pants off the M525 G wheelset around the dirt and gravel roads of Gainesville, Florida, including two of my mega training rides for the 2018 Dirty Kanza 200.
MTB Rims for Gravel
ENVE doesn’t hide the fact this wheelset was originally designed for world cup cross country MTB racing. “The M525 is a lightweight, full carbon tubeless compatible clincher that has been developed specifically for the demands of world cup cross country racing. Consequently, many of the same attributes that make for a great XC race wheel also deliver a ride quality that inspires confidence for off-road drop bar endeavors.” Translated, you’re looking at a set of ENVE M525 cross country MTB rims laced up to road disc brake hubs. But why MTB rims for gravel? For the past few years, all of us have learned that wider is better on pavement. The same applies to dirt and gravel. The minimum accepted tyre size on the M525 rims is 700c x 32mm. Most of us gravel cyclist types are riding tyres that measure 35mm to 45mm in width, but these rims will handily support MTB sized tyres of 2.1″, etc.
Dynamic Impact Design
ENVE’s M525 rims feature the company’s “Dynamic Impact Design”. “Dynamic Impact Design was born to solve the problems associated with traditional hookless carbon rim designs. Traditional hookless rims are strong, stiff, reliably tubeless and light, but require more material for strength, ride harsh, and are very susceptible to pinch flatting tires. Once the tire has flatted, there is nothing but the carbon itself to absorb impact energy from the trail. Unfortunately, a pinch flat is often the precursor to a damaged carbon rim. Dynamic Impact Design by ENVE aims to solve this problem.” Thus, ENVE has developed the Wide Hookless Bead, which sees the following improvements over other hookless rims.
Actual Weight and Specifications
Placed on my trusty gram scale, the front wheel with rim tape and tubeless valve installed weighed 646 grams. Advertised weight is 637 grams, so I’m going to say ENVE is absolutely spot on here. And the rear wheel, 737 grams with rim tape, tubeless valve and a SRAM XD driver installed. Advertised weight is 731 grams, which I assume means a wheel sans rim tape and valve. Once again, spot on with advertised weight. Advertised combined weight for the M525 G wheelset is 1,368 grams. The review pair adds up to 1,383 grams with the required accessories mentioned earlier. Chapeau to ENVE for accurate spec!
Hub Options and Accessories
For the period of review, I ran the ENVE M525 G wheelset with bikes configured for a 2x / double chainring setup. Thus, the SRAM XD driver body pictured above would be surplus, but I weighed it anyway. Swapping cassette bodies on a DT Swiss 240 hubset is as simple as pulling off the end cap and removing the freehub body, and the Shimano 10 / 11-speed cassette body only added 10 grams to the weight of the rear wheel (pro tip – if the seals on the DT Swiss end cap are too tight to easily pull off the axle, install a cassette on the existing freehub and just barely tighten the lock nut by hand – so you can get it off later without tools. Then you can use the cassette for additional leverage if you don’t have access to an axle vice). A sub 1,400 gram wheelset intended for use on gnarly gravel roads is very impressive. ENVE offers two choices of hub with the M525 G wheelset; DT Swiss 240S CL (Center Lock) and Chris King R45CL. As the photos indicate, our review wheelset was built with the DT Swiss hubs. Twenty four spokes are built two cross on the front and rear wheel, with spokes by DT Swiss (Aerolite) or Sapim (CX Ray). Spokes are mated to ENVE’S own internal brass nipples. In addition to cassette bodies, axles can be interchanged with a minimum of fuss. Available with a regular quick release, or 12/15mm thru axle on the front and 142mm x 12mm thru axle on the rear, the DT Swiss 240 hubs will cater to the needs of all gravel cyclists. Pictured above are the accessories I received with the ENVE M525 G wheelset. Included are the manual, end caps for the hubs, and lock rings for the center lock rotors. The extra cassette body pictured is not normally supplied. When reviewing wheels, you need to think about all of the options, and thus, request extra parts here and there. Above, another nice touch. This M525 G wheelset was built by JN. Thank you JN.
Disc Rotor and Tyre Installation
What’s not to love about Shimano’s center lock brake rotor standard? In terms of the rotor swaps, it is fastest of the two rotor mounting standards. For the duration of the review, I mounted Vittoria’s Terreno Dry compound tyre, which measures 700c x 40mm. Mounting was a snap, no need for complaining or plastic tyre levers. The tyres were easy to inflate, thanks to Bontrager’s Flash Charger Pump. I also use the Topeak Joe Blow Booster pump for tyre inflation; if you own an air compressor, the task will be effortless. Sealant used was Orange Seal’s Endurance Formula. It needs to be said that the tyres were easy to remove from the rims. I’ve ridden at least two brands of wheel in the past that required gargantuan force to remove tyres, and tyre brand was irrelevant. This is less than pleasing when you’re standing by the side of a road. Factor this into your purchase decision, particularly in this age of tubeless gravel tyres.