An interesting move from ENVE... their new Foundation wheelsets sit alongside their existing SES range, giving a new, lower, price of entry into the world of ENVE.
Road and MTB wheelsets are available, all tubeless, all with ENVE's own alloy hubs - it's the road range that we'll be looking at here.
There are just two models at launch, the 45 and the 65, with those numbers representing the rim depth in mm. Both are priced at £1800, a significant difference from the circa £3k asking price for their SES and G series hoops.
Despite this they're still handmade by ENVE in the USA, in the same Ogden, Utah factory as the rest of their range, and carry a 5 year factory warranty alongside ENVE's lifetime "incident protection".
They're tubeless only (with a hookless rim design - so check that tyre compatibility), and available with Shimano/SRAM 11 speed or SRAM XDR freehubs.
Optimised for 25-28mm wide tyres, the wheels are designed to be aero, but multi-purpose road all-rounders. Impressively the weights come in very close to their existing wheelsets too - with a pair of the Foundation 45 only around 20-30g heavier than the SES 4.5.
So what's the downside? Well, there are few small changes to the components (more on this below), and they're not quite as aero as the SES range. For many though that's likely to be a compromise worth making for the lower price - and the SES range is still very much present and correct for those looking to gain every last bit of advantage.
right: aero performance compared
ENVE are already a hugely popular upgrade - just take a look at our Build Gallery for a host of examples, both on custom builds and upgrades to 'stock' bikes. From the pricepoint alone the new range is clearly targetting the likes of Roval and Bontrager.
On paper these look to be superb value, but they face competition from an ever-increasing range of highly capable third-party manufacturers. So, the question is, will the ENVE name be enough to tempt people to switch? ENVE know a thing or two about wheels, so we're confident the quality will be there, but we're really looking forward to getting hold of a set to ride and test.
The 45 and 65 are available to order now:
below: will this become a common sight? Trek + Rotor + ENVE Foundation... quite the upgrade package.
The Foundation wheelsets are aero optimised, using tech trickled down from the SES range, but where the SES wheels have different aero profiles front and rear - to maximise aero benefits whatever the angle - the Foundation use the same rim shape front and back.
Foundation wheels are built with Sapim CX-Sprint spokes - quality bladed spokes, but slightly stiffer and heavier than the CX-Ray used on the SES range. This isn't necessarily a downside, the weight penalty is minimal and it makes for an extra strong wheel. It'll be interesting to see if there's a noticeable effect on ride quality.
ENVE have launched a new range of Foundation alloy hubs for these latest wheelsets, using steel bearings as opposed to the stainless steel used in their higher-range hubsets.
ENVE's patented "moulded spoke holes" are one of our favourite tech features, and we're glad to see them carried across to the Foundation range.
Rather than drilling through the carbon weave to create the spoke holes the fibres are routed around the aperture. Carbon is at its strongest when uncut and in tension, so this is a valuable way to retain strength in a lighweight rim.
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