Gear

Enve Foundation wheels: American made for $1,600

Enve's Foundation wheels drop the price significantly on the halo brand's offerings. And the new hoops are made in the USA.

Enve’s Foundation wheels aren’t exactly cheap at $1,600, but compared to Enve’s other offerings — which can cost nearly $4,000 — the Foundation wheels are a downright bargain. Enve makes these carbon wheels in its Ogden, Utah facility, allowing the company to control the process from start to finish. Enve says it has streamlined its manufacturing processes enough to cut costs for the consumer.

The Foundation wheels come in both road and mountain bike varieties. The road wheels go by the monikers Enve 45 and Enve 65, named for their respective rim depths. The mountain bike wheels are called the AM30, and they feature a 30mm internal rim width, as you might have gleaned from the name.

Foundation Road Wheels

The Enve 45 and 65 wheels fit nicely into the two rim depth categories likely to appeal to the widest swath of riders. Like other wheels in the Enve lineup, both sets of the Foundation road wheels are hookless and tubeless-ready. The rims are 21mm wide internally and pair best with a 25mm tire.

Unlike Enve’s premium SES wheels, the Foundation wheel geometries are the same front and rear. The SES lineup features custom rim geometries front and rear to optimize aerodynamics and strength as much as possible. Enve says the Foundation wheels still best competitors with higher price tags aerodynamically.

The hubs feature the same internals as the SES lineup, but with a simpler hub-shell construction, presumably to cut down on manufacturing costs.

The Enve 45 set weighs a claimed, 1,541 grams, and the 65s are advertised as 1,621 grams.

Enve offers a 5-year warranty on the Foundation wheels, as well as a lifetime incident replacement program — so if you bust up your wheels in a crash, you can get a replacement set at a discounted price.

Mountain bike wheels

AM30 Foundation wheels
Enve AM30 Foundation wheels. Photo: Enve

The AM30 Foundation wheels place a premium on strength. That matches well with the budget-conscious rider who doesn’t want to plunk down a ton of cash only to crack a carbon rim on the first ride out. Enve does impact testing on its rims in-house to find a balance between light weight, durability, and performance, and the AM30 Foundation wheels are no different in that respect.

The 30mm-wide internal rim width means the AM30 Foundation wheels are intended for use with 2.3-inch to 2.6-inch tires. That’s basically the most common sizes for trail and enduro riders, so it’s fitting with current trends. The AM30 Foundation wheels come in both 27.5-inch and 29-inch configurations.

The wheels with 1,852 grams for a set with I9 hubs.

Like the road wheels, the AM30 wheels are protected by a 5-year warranty and lifetime incident replacement program.

Is this a big deal?

Yes and no. $1,600 for wheels is still a whole heckuva lot of money for wheels, but as Enve has been known exclusively as a high-end brand, with wheels costing twice as much as the Foundation wheels, it’s certainly a step in the right direction that allows more cost-conscious consumers to enter the high-end wheel game.

Of course, there are already other options out there for less expensive wheels, and many trail and enduro riders most often opt for aluminum rims anyway to hedge against wheel damage — and astronomical replacement costs. To counter that, Enve has not only dropped its prices here, but also offers a lifetime protection policy. That makes it easier to stomach dropping that much coin on a high-end wheelset without constantly fretting about having to plunk down even more cash to replace the hoops should you crack them for any reason. No mountain biker wants to go easy on the trails because of his or her gear. In a sense, Enve is addressing that very concern.

And road riders can take the same solace. Enve’s Foundation wheels hit the market hot on the heels of Corima’s announcement of its own premium offering, now available in the United States. The two announcements could not be more different — nor could they address a more different type of rider. While Corima’s wheels might offer pro-level performance in terms of strength and aerodynamics, that’s not what most everyday riders need. Now more than ever, we are living in a price-conscious world; that doesn’t mean riders want to sacrifice performance entirely in that pursuit. It’s wise for Enve to recognize that with its Foundation wheels.

What do you think? Is this the beginning of a slow pullback in high-end pricing? Or is it still too high of a pricetag for the common rider? Let me know  your thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, or via email.