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Gravel Gear

ENVE AG25 and AG28 gravel wheels: details and first-ride impressions

$1,600 for 700c and 650b options that each weigh 1,460g per set. Check out the short video.

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On the heels of its more-affordable Foundation road wheels, ENVE is rolling out AG25 and AG28 wheels for gravel. Positioned as the ‘Shimano Ultegra’ to its typical top-end ‘Dura-Ace’ level product, ENVE’s AG wheels are priced at $1,600.

AG stands for Adventure/Gravel, and the model number denotes its inner rim width, at 25mm and 28mm respectively. The AG25 is a 7000c wheelset, and the AG28 is 650b. Both pairs weigh 1,460 grams.

The carbon-rim wheels are made in Utah with many of ENVE’s technologies like wide hookless beads and molded spoke holes featured in its top-end G Series gravel wheels.

The ENVE AG28 is a 650b wheelset. Photo: Ian Matteson

ENVE vice president Jake Pantone said the company’s goals with the AG wheels were compliance, low weight, and the durability to withstand the rigors of gravel racing and backcountry exploration. The company used on-board data acquisition and subjective rider feedback to fine-tune the lay-up, which isn’t as complex as that of ENVE’s top-end G Series wheels and is part of where the cost savings come from.

The G23 wheels, by contrast, weigh between 1,287 and 1,316g depending on the hubs spec’d, and retail for $2,550.

The broad edge of the hookless bead is designed to help reduce pinch flats by distributing pressure across that surface in the event of a hard, sharp hit.

ENVE’s patented practice of molding a hole for each spoke instead of just drilling through carbon makes for a stronger and lighter structure.

The wheels come with a five-year warranty.

“Since the introduction of the G Series line two and a half years ago, we’ve been enjoying the benefits of purpose-built gravel wheels on our local Utah roads and trails, and at events such as Unbound Gravel, Rebecca’s Private Idaho, Crusher in the Tushar, and the Belgian Waffle Ride,” said ENVE marketing manager Neil Shirley. “What those wheels have delivered to the gravel rider is a more capable wheel with pinch-flat protection, vertical compliance, and low weight. Bringing those design elements to the AG25 and AG28 is exciting knowing more gravel riders, bike packers, and adventurers will be able to experience a higher level of confidence in their wheels.”

The AG25 and AG28 are built on ENVE’s Foundation road hub, which has the same design as ENVE’s top-end hub but with a simpler shell design and standard (not stainless) steel bearings. The hub still gets ENVE’s ID360 40t ratchet drive mechanism.

Both the AB25 and AG 28 wheels weigh 1,460 grams for the set. Photo: Ian Matteson

AG 25 first-ride impressions in Utah

I drove out to Utah last summer for ENVE’s virtual Builders’ Show and rode the wheels with Neil and Jake and ENVE engineer Clint Child — all of whom are far superior riders to me. After a shakedown afternoon ride through the heavily wooded trails near their office, we tackled much of the Grodeo course in the Wasatch mountains. Grodeo is the boutique gravel event ENVE put on two years ago in conjunction with its Builders’ Show, and intended to do in 2020 until the pandemic kiboshed so many things. You know how some gravel flirts with mountain biking? Grodeo doesn’t flirt; it has run off and eloped with mountain biking.

When Clint showed up with toothy 2.1in tires, I knew I was in trouble. For one thing, he, Neil, and Jake are better riders than I am on any bike. And the fact that he had so much rubber on worried me.

Sure enough, the trio easily dropped me up and down the mountains, but in the meantime I got an extensive wheel (and nerve) test, hanging on for dear life over jeep trails where I would gladly have ridden a full-suspension rig.

Okay, define ‘gravel’. This is ENVE’s Grodeo course. Photo: Ben Delaney

With tire pressure low enough for good grip and float, I did smack one stone hard enough to hit the rim and make a horrible noise. But no harm, no foul to the rim, nor a pinch flat.

It’s hard to say on feel how much compliance a carbon wheel has, but low rim weight is easy to feel every time you slightly accelerate, and the AG25s might be hard to pick out from the G23 in a blind test.

Despite riding like a bag of anvils, I didn’t faze the construction of the wheels in the slightest.

The fat, 25mm internal rim width reflects the increasingly widening trend of gravel wheels. It plumps up many tires beyond their labeled size, and makes for a sturdy bed for low-pressure rubber.

At $1,600, the AG25s are still not cheap by any means but are still a noticeable upgrade from metal wheels. I just got a pair in the mail, so stay tuned for a full review in the hopefully not-too-distant future.