Like many cross-country racers, you may have traded in your
full-suspension 26-inch bike for a 29-inch hardtail. If you are looking
for the ultimate in race-day performance that can still handle the abuse
of day-to-day riding, the guys at ENVE
think their Twenty9 XC wheelset is the answer. These wheels carry a
serious price tag of $2414, so they are intended for serious riders.
If you are proud to be an American, rejoice, as the
Twenty9 XC rims are handmade in the USA. The level of craftsmanship is
remarkable. The smooth, unidirectional carbon fiber finish makes these
wheels look like just as much a work of art as a killer mountain bike
wheel. The double-walled, full-composite rims are 1.25 inches deep and
feature a UST profile, which is set up via rim tape. Our Twenty9 XCs
featured Sapim CX Ray spokes, noteworthy for their great
strength-to-weight ratio and bladed design. This wheelset also features
internal spoke nipples for increased aerodynamic performance. Our wheels
featured 28 spokes front and rear. The rims were laced to DT Swiss
240s hubs, which feature the DT Swiss star-ratchet freehub body and
legendary sealed bearings. Our front wheel weighed in at 1.5 pounds, and
the rear wheel was 1.7 pounds. Our wheelset was set up for a
9-millimeter quick release up front and rear 135x10-millimeter spacing.
You can contact ENVE at (801) 476-3363.
Field test results:
Tire inflation and beading were simple; we were
actually able to mount Specialized Fast Track tires using a floor pump.
From the moment we rolled out on these wheels, it felt like cheating.
Our race bike (a Specialized
S-Works 29er Stumpjumper HT) instantly went on a diet. The star-ratchet
freehub body on the DT 240s hubs engaged quickly and was very quiet
when coasting. The Twenty9 XCs held their momentum remarkably well; it
felt like they could roll up hills. Climbing in the saddle was awesome.
We were able to run a slightly higher gear and attack steep inclines
without hesitation. Out of the saddle, the wheels were equally
impressive. The lateral and torsional stiffness were exceptional. These
are without a doubt “cheater wheels.” They will make any rider
noticeably faster going uphill. With race wheels, riders often sacrifice
ride quality or descending capability to gain an advantage on the
climbs. The Twenty9 XC rider does not have to contend with this
compromise. Through gnarly terrain, they were comfortable and held loose
rocky lines with ease. The relatively tall rim walls proved excellent
in deep sand or loose terrain; these wheels cut through it with pure
confidence, and the confidence carried over into the corners. Carbon
mountain wheels aren’t anything new, but there are still plenty of
skeptics—including us. We purposely hammered these things hard—really
hard—and we couldn’t find a weak spot in their armor. We never had to
true them throughout our 90-day testing period (and that’s good, because
truing these wheels requires tire and rim tape removal). ENVE has
agreed to let us hang on to the wheels for long-term abuse. If they hold
up as claimed, the $2414 price tag won’t seem quite as crazy. If we can
get two or three years out of them, the price of admission seems more
palatable. If you are looking to up your game or feel like you are in a
riding rut, the ENVE Twenty9 XC wheels will elevate your play and
rejuvenate you. No question. If they are out of your price range, don’t
even try them, because after one ride you’ll know what you’re missing
Mountain Bike Action
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