Whether you're in the peloton or at Kona, speed matters. But, the question begs to be raised, how do we define speed? Some assert that aerodynamics are the end-all-be-all of speed, while others point to light weights and rigidity. However, regardless of what your definition is, we can all agree that it's increasingly uncommon to find one set of wheels that embodies all of our definitions. But, note that we said 'uncommon' and not 'impossible.' This is because American innovators like Enve produce exceptional products like the 8.9 Carbon Tubular Wheelset. Boasting the industry's highest stiffness-to-weight ratio, unparalleled durability, and aerodynamics that are literally ahead of the curve, the 8.9 is undoubtedly a revolution in speed.
As part of the Enve Smart System, SES series, the 8.9 carbon tubular uses Enve's most sophisticated technology and engineering techniques to ensure a fast, stiff, and aerodynamic wheelset. The 8.9's aerodynamic design starts with the size differential of the wheels. Enve accounted for the different behaviors of front and rear wheels, and designed the 8.9s with a front wheel that's 85mm deep and 26mm wide, while the rear wheel is 95mm deep and 24mm wide. The front wheel's shallower profile and wide stance helps decrease drag in windy conditions. The rear wheel's depth also decreases drag, because stability is less affected at the aft position of the bike. According to Enve, the 8.9s create a low drag number rivaling many competitors' 80+ mm depth wheels. In fact, when comparing the necessary power required to hold 40kph at yaw angles ranging from 0 to 16 degrees, the 8.9 requires around three to four watts less than the Zipp 808 Firecrest, it's leaps and bounds ahead of the 404 Firecrest, and it's basically miles ahead of every offering from HED and Bontrager. However, for the sake of full disclosure, the data does show the Firecrest 808 at a slight advantage between 13 and 15 degree yaw angles.
Outside of consistent aerodynamic performance, the most noticeable advantage of the 8.9 carbon wheelset is its enhanced stability. The 8.9 demonstrates stellar results under the Enve Stability Index, a series of tests that incorporate the measurement of transient aerodynamics. In the wind tunnel, the front wheel is subjected to quick changes in wind degree at set yaw angles, and the steering torque of user-correction is then measured. The test represents real-world conditions, and surprisingly, Enve is one of the only non-Formula One manufacturers to conduct it. The 8.9 shape was developed as a result of these tests, and it ensures predictable airflow attachment over the rim, regardless of crosswind. In fact, the linear steering response trumps even the Zipp Firecrest series. In a crosswind, the 8.9 experiences a buildup of side-force equal to the changing angle of the wind, and the predictability prevents the need for rider over-correction.
The Smart System 8.9 is not only aero, but it's also lightweight, stiff, and strong. The Enve SES series boasts the highest strength-to-weight ratio on the market, and this is due in part to Enve's patented process of molding in-spoke holes, nipple seats, and valve stem holes. Knowing that carbon fiber gains strength from continuous fibers, Enve routes the fibers around each hole in a 100% intact design. This design allows a lower weight at the spoke face, and adds overall rigidity to the rim. When built, the molded design promotes both higher spoke tension and tension uniformity than the industry standard of bladder molding. Another aspect of the 8.9's light weight is due to Enve's use of removal bladders during the molding process. While most composite rim manufacturers leave the rim-shaping, inflatable bladder within the rim, Enve spends the time and money to remove it. This time-consuming process reduces rim weight, and makes for a perfectly tensioned wheel build.
And outside of incredible strength-to-weight ratios and insane levels of compliant rigidity, Enve has also taken the time to ensure that you can stop at great speeds -- an all-too-common ailment of the carbon rims. To do so, the 8.9 has been given a textured braking surface that promotes a positive engagement with your pads, even in wet conditions. So, you can descend like a banshee without the worry of over heating or only being able to scrub speed.
The Enve Smart System 8.9 carbon tubular use a 16/20 spoke count, and are built with DT Aerolite bladed spokes on DT Swiss 240 hubs.
The Enve Smart System 8.9 Carbon Tubular Wheelset is available in the color Black and with either a Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM compatible freehub body.