Mounting the 29 Enduros to my Evil Following was quick and easy. I swapped the Shimano freehub for an XD driver (that was included with the wheels) — that process is as easy as yanking one off and popping the other one on.
Mounting tires was similarly easy; the rims have a nice little “bead hook” molded into them, which yields a fit that was just the right amount of tight with the Maxxis Highroller 2’s I was using. They’re tight enough to easily get the bead to seat solidly without the need for a compressor, but they’re not so tight that I had to swear at them or resort to tools while putting the tire on.
The defining characteristic of the 29 Enduro wheels is that they’re pretty dang stiff. Most noticeable is their lateral stiffness, but they’re quite stiff vertically, too. Out of the wheels I’ve ridden (both carbon and aluminum), I’d say the 29 Enduro is very close to the stiffest in its class.
Now, of course, the 29 Enduro wheelset isn’t quite up to DH-levels of burliness — it’s running on 28 spokes and it has relatively low hub flanges, both of which make the wheel a bit less stiff. But despite that, I’ll say it again: these wheels are damn stiff.
And, of course, they’re also pretty light. Like any other lightweight wheel, this translates into quicker acceleration and a certain ease when it comes to snapping through turns. The biggest thing here, though, is the combination of light weight and stiffness. You can accelerate like you’re on a XC bike, but also throw the bike into a corner without worrying about your wheel folding.
I noted in my review of the Enve M60 HV that, when that wheel flexes, it’s more of a “whole wheel flex.” In hard corners, it feels like the whole rim is pushed to one side, rather than one defined spot in the rim bending over (which is more the sensation I get with aluminum rims). The 29 Enduro wheels exhibit this same feeling, but to a much smaller degree than the Enve’s.
Also, in a bid for the Captain Obvious award, the 29 Enduro wheels ride like a carbon wheel. They have a dampness to them that’s characteristic to carbon — high frequency vibrations are heavily muted. I can’t say high frequency vibrations ever particularly bothered me in all the years I’ve spent on aluminum rims, but I’ll readily admit that all weight and stiffness attributes aside, the way carbon rims ride is really nice. This isn’t unique to the 29 Enduro wheels, but there’s a certain velvety ride quality that’s dangerously addicting (“dangerous” mostly in the economic sense).
Aside from the stiffness and carbon attributes, the wheels really just feel like a nice, super-dialed wheel. The quick engagement of the hubs makes ratcheting up technical climbs super easy, the only downside being that they’re quite loud — the angry swarm of bees follows you everywhere.
So you’ve decided to take a somewhat serious look at plopping down a metric shitton of money for some wheels. I haven’t spent time on every high zoot carbon wheel out there, but I have been swapping back and forth between the Enve M60 Forty HV and the 29 Enduro this spring. I’ve run both wheels on the same bike with the same tires on the same trails, so here’s how they stack up.
The wheelsets as a whole weigh about the same — the 29 Enduros are about 10 g heavier for the complete wheelset, which is negligible. But that comes with a significant caveat: the M60’s I was riding were built with Chris King hubs, which are substantially heavier than than the Industry 9’s on the 29 Enduros. Which means that the M60’s are lighter at the rim, but heavier at the hub, and that translates to a wheelset that feels lighter on the trail (rotational weight matters, y’know).
The flip side of that, however, is that the 29 Enduro’s are noticeably stiffer, both vertically and laterally. While I wouldn’t call either wheelset flexy, I get quite a bit more wiggle out of the M60’s in hard corners than I do with the 29 Enduro. I’d say the 29 Enduro rim is probably closer to the M70 HV in terms of stiffness (and possibly even a touch stiffer). If you’re riding a hardtail where a bit of compliance in the wheels is appreciated, the 29 Enduro’s are arguably too stiff. But on the Evil Following, the stiffness was definitely appreciated.
On the whole, these are both ridiculously nice wheels, so I’m not ready to declare a clear winner. The easiest way to differentiate between them is weight vs. stiffness — if you want something lighter, go with the Enve’s on DT Swiss hubs. If you want something stiffer, the Reynolds are the better bet. Beyond that, there’s plenty of other factors that could play into the decision.
Enve offers a few different hub options, but Industry 9 hubs aren’t one of them, and I’d take the I9’s on the Reynolds wheels any day of the week. They’re lighter than the Chris Kings (plus I’ve had issues with King hubs skipping and coming loose), and they have far better engagement than the DT Swiss options that Enve offers.
Some other considerations, in no particular order:
• Reynolds’ Enduro series falls between the Enve M60 HV and M70 HV in terms of width, but both companies offer other wheelsets with different rim widths.
• The Reynolds are cheaper by a few hundred dollars.
• Enve’s warranty is longer (5 years vs. 2 for Reynolds).
• Both the Enve and Reynolds wheels use the same spokes, but the Enve wheels require a special spoke wrench and the removal of the tire and rim strip, while the Reynolds wheels can be trued like a normal wheel.
• Aside from the hub options I mentioned previously, Enve offers options as to spoke count and decal color, and I’ll admit, the yellowish green decals on the 29 Enduro didn’t match my bike very well.
• So far, I haven’t had any durability issues with either wheelset, so — for now — I’m calling that aspect a wash.
Long Term Durability
Since writing the review of the Enduro 29 wheels last spring, I’ve put some more time on them, and I’ve loaned them around to some friends to beat up on the wheels for a while. So after about a season of riding, here’s what I have to report: nothing.
The wheels are still rolling perfectly smoothly, and I’ve yet to touch them with a spoke wrench. The bearings in the Industry 9 hubs are as smooth as when they were new, and the freehub has never missed a beat. I’ve pinged the rims off of rocks, thrown them sideways into chunky corners, and abused them as best as I could. Despite all that, they’re still perfectly true and the spokes are still holding tension just fine.
Like I said at the outset, these wheels are quite stiff. I did have a friend who tried them for a few rides on his hardtail, and he concluded they were too stiff. While they snapped through corners, they were just a bit too harsh over rough terrain without any suspension. But, of course, these are Reynolds’ burliest rim, and they’re designed with longer travel full suspension bikes in mind. For their intended use, look no further than Bernard Kerr – he won the Redbull Hardline on these rims, and that course is as abusive on wheels as anything out there.
So, after a bunch more time on these wheels, I don’t have much to add to my initial review. As you’d expect (or at least hope) from an expensive wheelset like this, they’ve held up perfectly, and they’re still going strong with zero maintenance or durability issues. If you’re looking for a legitimately stiff wheelset for your trail or enduro bike, I’m still of the opinion that the Reynolds Enduro’s are a great option.
The Reynolds 29 Enduro wheels are firmly situated in the upper echelons of really, really nice wheels, and they have a price tag to match. They’re some of the stiffest “trail” oriented wheels I’ve ever ridden, and matching that kind of stiffness with the light weight of a carbon wheelset encourages sprinting into rock gardens, hucking to flat, and trying to rip the side knobs off of your tires in corners.
It’s easy to dismiss high-end wheels like the 29 Enduro because of their price tag, and without a doubt, the vast majority of riders are never going to shell out for a wheelset like this. But all I can say is: avoid riding a set if you don’t intend to buy them. It’s tough to go back. All of a sudden, that $700 wheelset that’s heavier and flexier starts to sound less appealing, which spells trouble for the bank account.