It’s remarkable the amount of (or rather, lack thereof) wheel manufacturers that cater to triathletes that also choose not to produce a 650c wheelset. As I see it, it’s negligent to not have one; with steep angles and compromised steering geometries, compounded with the amount of small women and men that are better suited to a bike with better handing and no toe overlap, and I consider a 650c a mandate in being taken seriously in the triathlon industry.
Surprisingly, and unfortunately, it’s a short list of serious brands. I think we can sort out who those brands are.
Today, you can add one more name to the mix: Enve Composites. In truth, the soft launch of the 650c carbon clincher took place a month ago at Ironman 70.3 St. George, but Park City and PressCamp served as its official unveiling. The Ogden, Utah company headed a few miles south to Park City as an exhibitor at the 2014 Summer PressCamp, to show off some key items in its fast-growing line of tri-specific gear.
“The idea to do a 650c wheel came during one of our meeting with the Mark Allen Online athletes at the Hawaii Ironman,â€ says ENVE CEO Sarah Lehman. “I asked if there was anything they’d like to see from ENVE, and they asked if we could make a 650c wheel. We came home and said we’re going to make a 650c wheel, not because it’s a big market, but because we can. We wanted to created an optimized aero experience for that athlete.â€
The turn from a Q&A in October to being in production in June later is impressive in its own right. “It shows our ability to conceive, prototype and produce.
And it all starts with this new 650c wheel. The details: It’s not just a shrunk-down version of its 700c Smart Enve System (SES) product; true to its hallmark of variable-depth wheelset pairings, the front wheel is 48mm deep, while the rear is 56mm. It has a reduced spoke count at 16 front and 20 rear, and it’s actually a millimeter wider than existing SES wheels, with a front at 27mm wide and the rear at 25mm.
“It has all the same principles that the rest of our SES line have; durability, handling and light weight,â€ Lehman said. “And especially for smaller athletes, stability is key. And we felt strongly enough about our stability that we went to a 48mm front rim.
The tunnel and CFD testing data (with testing done at the Mercedes Wind Tunnel in the U.K.) is in the hands of ENVE’s Simon Smart, and ENVE’s U.S.-based team is in the process of culling data, which we will update readers with soon.
The wheels will be available in August, and will price at $2,950 with DT Swiss 240 hubs, or at $3,050 with Chris King hubs.
While news of this new 650c wheel is new, word is getting out. “We have no idea how many athletes are out there that will be looking into this wheel, but I can tell you, we’re already getting calls,â€ Lehman said.
Furthering its commitment to triathlon, ENVE added to its aerobar debut of a year ago by supplementing it with a pair of clip-on aerobars that may play favor among not only triathletes on road bikes racing hilly courses, and Gran Fondo riders looking for a new position for that long day in the saddle, but also the ITU set.
The offerings are quite different. There’s a standard clip-on that will fit any 31.8 bar clamp on a carbon-compatible road drop bar and has a vertically-oriented extension clamp. It will price at $350, and, as ENVE says, pairs nicely with the shown ENVE road bar or one of the company’s compact drop bars, which also price at $350.
The other offering is the SES Aero Clip On. Also $350, it has a oval clamp that mates not with a round bar, but rather an ovalized, aero bar top. That does two things; one, it allows for a low, horizontally-oriented extension clamp, which allows for a lower pad placement, nearly flush with the handlebar. And two, it allows an aerobar to be installed onto an aero-shaped road drop. And ENVE has that as well: the $400 SES Aero Road Bar.
Beyond having an aero bar top, it also has a very outward-flared lower drop position. At least it seems like that on first glance.
The truth is, it’s no wider than a standard bar. In fact a 42 center-to-center bar will measure the same at the drops. What ENVE did was narrow the bar top. The bar doesn’t bang the forearm while climbing or sprinting from the drops, but that wasn’t the intent. Rather, the design was all about narrowing the hand position and closing the shoulders for an aggressive ITU racing position.
The clip-ons have a full carbon fiber pad carrier, and the clip and extension clamp base are comprised of carbon fiber as well. Each bar comes with one set of three-in-one length-cuttable extensions, that offer a lazy S, ski and straight options based on cut.
While there is a fair bit of fore/aft and width adjust, ENVE intentionally intends the clip-ons to not have pedestaled forearm pads.
Both the round and aero-clip ENVE clip-ons are available in shops now.