Week in Tech: Enve, Bontrager wheels, and gravel bikes
Enve rolls out new stems, wheels; Bontrager improves its road wheel line-up; Foundry delves into titanium, and Salsa goes carbon for gravel
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Here’s your Week in Tech — all the gear news, tips, and announcements you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t.
Enve launches Mtn Stem and new wheel depth
Enve has announced the Mtn Stem, which caters to the riders looking for an extra-short stem in a lightweight — and quite expensive — package.
The Mtn Stem will come in lengths of 40mm, 55mm, 70mm, and 85mm, each having a rise/drop of six degrees. With a full unidirectional carbon body, aluminum faceplate, and titanium hardware, the 85mm stem will tip the scales at 104g, while the 40mm stem will weigh just 85g. Enve claims the Mtn Stem has the greatest strength-to-weight ratio of any mountain stem. It will retail for $270.
On the road side of things, Enve is launching a new wheelset, the SES 4.5. Slotting in between the existing SES 3.4 and SES 6.7 wheelsets, the SES 4.5 sports a front wheel depth of 48mm and a rear wheel depth of 56mm. Following the trend of other wheels in the SES line, the SES 4.5’s front wheel is wider than the rear one, measuring 27mm; the rear measures 25.5mm.
Enve says the new SES 4.5 wheelset has already been pegged by Team MTN-Qhubeka as its go-to wheel for the season. Of course, MTN is able to choose from the full Enve lineup, should course conditions demand something different.
We expect the SES 4.5 wheels will retail for $3,050 for the clincher version with Chris King R45 hubs and $2,850 for the tubular version, as these are the exact same prices as the shallower SES 3.4 and deeper SES 6.7 wheelsets.
Both the Mtn Stem and SES 4.5 wheels are now available to consumers.
New Bontrager Aeolus disc and tubeless wheels
Bontrager has revamped its carbon wheel lineup, offering wider rims, select disc-brake versions, and tubeless options across the range. Bontrager claims it keeps the same “D3” shape with the new wheels, while increasing the inner tire bead width by 2mm. We spotted a prototype version of the Aeolus 5 tubulars on Jens Voigt’s one-off Madone at the USA Pro Challenge last summer.
Bontrager has been making disc-brake wheels for its elite cyclocross athletes for some time, but will now offer disc-brake versions of the 30mm-deep Aeolus 3 and 50mm-deep Aeolus 5. Like all of the offerings in the lineup, the disc models will be available in tubular or clincher/tubeless models.
Bontrager claims to have shaved weight from the new models despite the wider rims. We look forward to getting a set to test.
Foundry Overland titanium bike blurs lines
Foundry Cycles is a brand that built itself with carbon, off-road, drop-bar bikes. For 2015, the Minneapolis-based brand is releasing its first bike made of something other than carbon — the Overland, a titanium all-rounder.
As the stereotypical gravel grinder-ness of the name suggests, the Overland is positioned as a do-it-all drop-bar bike. However, the Overland’s bottom bracket height is not all that low, as most “gravel grinders” tend to be. That’s a feature that usually renders them slower in cyclocross races, where pedaling through turns and off-camber sections is a part of the job.
Compared to the Foundry’s only other offering, the Harrow (an unadulterated ’cross machine), the Overland sports slacker angles, a taller head tube, a 3mm lower bottom bracket, and about a 15mm shorter wheelbase in size medium. Compared to the new Salsa Warbird, the Overland still has a 2mm higher bottom bracket and a slightly shorter wheelbase, a testament to it being a true “in-betweener.”
The inspiration for the Overland came from Ultra CX events like Crushar in the Tushar — a true race, though not a common one. The Overland can run up to 41mm-wide tires, like most cyclocross and gravel bikes. It sports bosses for two water bottles and has front and rear thru-axles by DT Swiss.
As far as gravel bikes go, the Overland’s geometry and features add up to one of the more capable race bikes we’ve come across. Its slightly higher bottom bracket lends it to be capable enough on a cyclocross course, and its head tube angle is surprisingly steep for the category. So it’s no master-of-all, but it’s also not pigeon-holed into being a gravel bike.
At $4,700 for the complete bike with SRAM Force 22, the Overland is no cheap date. But remembering that it’s a titanium bike made for the rider looking for a single bike to tackle gravel races, some ’cross racing, and winter training, the Overland could be the ticket.
New Salsa Warbird Carbon gravel bike
Salsa Cycles, which has long supported the gravel-bike segment, unveiled its first full-carbon gravel race bike, the Warbird Carbon. Unlike the aforementioned Foundry Overland, the Warbird is more of a niche gravel bike, with a lowered bottom bracket and longer wheelbase.
Salsa claims to have significantly reduced road vibrations with its dramatically bowed seat stays — a design approach currently used by the Alchemy Aithon gravel bike. The Warbird Carbon will only be available with a SRAM Rival 22 build, while the Warbird Aluminum has 11-speed Shimano 105 or 10-speed Tiagra options.
The Warbird does not have fender mounts, but does sport a third water bottle mount on the underside of the down tube. Those qualities are testaments to the Warbird’s gravel racer identity, with an emphasis on “racer.” Like other Salsa bikes, the Warbird Carbon is priced to be ridden hard and put away wet at $3,500. The Warbird Aluminum 105 is just $2,500.