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ENVE Composites M90 Ten Wheels (discontinued)

Vital Rating: (Outstanding)
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ENVE M Series 90 Ten Wheels
 ENVE Composites M90 Ten Wheels  ENVE Composites M90 Ten Wheels  ENVE Composites M90 Ten Wheels
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Tested: ENVE M90 Ten Wheels

Rating: Vital Review

By A.J. Barlas // Photography A.J. Barlas & Brandon Turman

There is no shortage of wheels for mountain bikers to choose from and we've tested a number of them over the past couple of years - some we've been pleased with while others have been less than ideal.A large number of these are focusing on the trail/AM segment of the sport, but what about DH? Designing a wheel that meets the rigors of today's downhill riding, while remaining light enough to keep the weight conscious happy is a tricky situation. Throw price into the equation and you complicate it even more. Light, strong, cheap; pick any two is an old golden rule of the bike industry, and although we've tested wheels that claim to tick all three of those boxes, ENVE's no-holds-barred approach promises to deliver the ultimate experience when price doesn't matter. To find out if their new M90 Ten wheels are indeed the Ferrari of downhill mountain bike wheels, we've been putting them through the wringer in Whistler Bike Park and beyond.

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ENVE M90 Highlights

  • 26" and 27.5" (650b) wheel sizes
  • Rim weight: 26" = 487g // 27.5" = 509g
  • Internal width: 25mm
  • External width: 34mm
  • Rim height: 34mm
  • Available in 32 hole configuration
  • Full wheel built on DT240 hubs: 1,707g (in 26")
  • MSRP $2,718 (DT 240 20/150 built wheelset, as tested)

Initial Impressions

As with the M70 wheels we recently tested, when these arrived we were a little excited. We'd never really had a pair of them in our hands, only pawing at them on other people's bikes and more often than not, those were of the trail bike variety. The M90 rims felt light but solid, and we proceeded to mount a set of Maxxis Shorty tires to them and get out on the trails as quickly as humanly possible. The Shortys, despite not being a tubeless specific tire, seated easily on the rim. The beads are tight on the M90 wheels, just like the M70 wheels were, mostly thanks to the hookless technology incorporated and tighter tolerances afforded as a result. Initial rides on the loamy trails near home found the wheels to give the bike more zest, adding life in the corners and on the rougher sections of trail. It wasn't until we hit the bike park though that the wheels really began to shine, and shine they did.

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ENVE's wheels are a top shelf product, make no mistake about it. The proprietary processes in place for development and the technology being utilized throughout the range is all about providing the rider with the best possible wheel on the market. The M-Series wheels pushed to further improve the rider experience with a focus on a wheel that gives a little as it mows over terrain, filtering trail feedback and further increasing impact resistance. An alloy wheel will do this at the spoke interface, which creates a lot of stress on the spokes and often results in breaks, or more time spent adjusting spoke tension. ENVE have designed the layup and the wall of their M-Series wheels to provide this give and it is a quality noticed as soon as you bomb down a section of rougher trail.

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In addition to this technology, ENVE utilize a specially designed conical shape spoke face, allowing the nipples to pull at the same angle at which the spokes meet the rim. This method creates a stronger, more reliable interface and also allows ENVE to use less material in this area, saving more valuable rotational weight. They are also one of a few that remove the internal layup bladders from their wheels, removing more weight and avoiding issues with spoke installation down the line. All of ENVE's recent technologies and processes have resulted in a wider, lighter, stronger wheel, but how does that translate to the trail?

On The Trail

Within a quarter of a run down the Whistler Bike Park, the light weight and lateral stiffness of the wheels became incredibly evident, throwing us down the hill out of each corner and springing out of rough sections of trail - it was as if some adjustments had been made to the suspension, but nothing had changed there at all, the tires were the same as what was on the bike previously as well. Many might think that a stiff carbon wheel means you will get pinged off lines and feel the abruptness of the added stiffness when rolling through sections of trail, but ENVE have gone to great lengths to improve the way the wheels 'give' when hitting terrain features straight on, while retaining the lateral stiffness qualities in order to better support riders through corners. Did they achieve it, heck yeah! The wheels track well in all terrain, with even lighter riders being able to control where the bike goes and keep it there.

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The lateral stiffness combined with the light weight of the wheelset really adds to the slingshot feeling out of corners—the harder you load these bad boys up, the faster you will be slung down the next section of trail, so long as you're ready and getting on with it. Our first run of the year was down Ninja Cougar, a trail known for some incredible berms with some serious g's and the benefits of the wheel under pressure were made very apparent. From here the wheels have been down everything from the full Oriental Express, Afternoon Delight and Tech Noir, to the Canadian Open, plenty of classic old school with Joyride and Schleyer, and everything in-between. They have not disappointed anywhere.

In rough terrain expect to hear a slightly different and at first disconcerting sound when the tires bottom to the rim. On more than one occasion the sounds from the carbon hoops had us frightened for what we might discover the next time we stopped to take a look, but to this point, nothing. Not a lick of damage on hits that would have resulted in substantial flat spots on a good quality alloy rim. We haven't been shy with these wheels, rallying them down the nastier, rockier trails on offer, and on more than a few occasions letting the bike (wheels) take the brunt of impact as our tired and weary bodies hung on for the ride. These experiences have left us quite impressed as to the impact resistance and durability of the M90 wheels.

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Long Term Durability

After beating on the M90s in the Whistler Bike Park and some local trails around home for a good amount of time we're baffled by the lack of maintenance required, "lack of" here translating to zero! Other than a few scuffs on the walls of the rims and on the stickers, the wheels are as good as the day we received them. We can't wait to see how they last out a whole summer of abuse, but if the Santa Cruz Syndicate did indeed run the same set on their DH bikes during their first race season as reported, then it's fairly safe to assume that bar a ridiculous accident, these will last a lot longer under us. It is also worth mentioning that the ENVE's come with a five year warranty, so if you do bust 'em, you should be covered for some time.

Things That Could Be Improved

We mentioned a couple of things that initially had us question them on the M70 review (mainly the internal spoke nipples that necessitate removing tires and rim strip to adjust spoke tension), but the rationale from ENVE coupled with having zero issues meant these concerns were moot. The M90s are no different and after having taken more of a hiding than other wheels tested and needing zero work thus far, we're really impressed.

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Some will no doubt have issues with the pricing, but some things simply cost more, like a Ferrari or a Mercedes AMG, and like these, the attention to detail from ENVE is impeccable and as a result, the product very desirable. In more relative terms, a DVO or BOS fork is going to cost you more than the SR Suntour or X-Fusion equivalent. To our point earlier, if it is out and out best-in-class performance you are after, then you unfortunately cannot have all three; light, strong, and cheap. In terms of bang for your buck, the ENVE M90 wheels are as light and as strong as they come, and they offer a genuinely unique ride experience.

What's The Bottom Line?

The ENVE M90 wheels are an exciting bit of bike technology to ride. To be honest, we're surprised that we have not had a single issue with them after weeks of rat bagging them down the Whistler Bike park and through our local trails. They inspire confidence on the trail and add more life to the bike than we expected to notice. Despite there being no problems with them to date, we're still a little on the nervous side whenever we do hear the tires bottom to the rim. With more time on the wheels, we hope to only further our confidence in their abilities. If money is not an object when your happiness is involved and you're after the finer details from a wheel, I highly recommend you get after a set of these wheels to adorn your downhill sled. They will knock your socks off from the moment you drop into that first, aggressive run.

For more details, visit www.enve.com.


About The Reviewer

AJ Barlasstarted riding as most do, bashing about dirt mounds and popping off street curbs. Not much has changed, really. These days the dirt mounds have become mountains and the street curbs, while still getting sessioned, are more often features on the trail. He began as a shop monkey racing downhill since day zero, only to go 'backwards' and start riding and racing BMX later on. He then came full circle once moving to Whistler. AJ loves riding everything from 8 hour mountain pass epics (bonking) to lap after lap in the park and 20 minute pumptrack sessions at sunset. Driven by his passion for biking and exposing people to the great equipment we ride, AJ started and maintains the Straightshot MTB blog. So long as wheels are involved, and preferably dirt (the drier and dustier the better), life is good.

Specifications

Product ENVE Composites M90 Ten Wheels
Riding Type Downhill
Wheel Size 26", 27.5" (650b)
Rim Material Carbon
Rim 34mm external width, 34mm rim height
Inner Rim Width 25mm
Hole Count 32
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Rear Hub Chris King, DT 180/240/350
Rear Axle
Front Hub Chris King, DT 180/240/350
Front Axle
Disc Mount Type 6 Bolt
Spokes Bladed
Nipples Internal Brass
Colors White, Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow
Weight
  • 4 lb 10.3 oz (2,105 g)
  • 4 lb 3 oz (1,900 g)
Miscellaneous Starting at $2399
Price N/A
More Info

​WHAT IS IT?

The first and only UCI World Cup-winning downhill carbon fiber wheelset

WHO IS IT FOR?

Downhill riders and racers

WHY DID WE MAKE IT?

To raise the bar on our former world championship winning ENVE DH wheelset and to provide the Santa Cruz Syndicate riders with the latest carbon fiber rim technology on the market. By saving weight, increasing strength and adding the utility of tubeless compatibility, the M90 is the wheelset of choice for today’s most discerning world cup racers and mechanics.

Learn more on ENVE.com »

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