ENVE 65 – A VALUE AERO FOUNDATION
If you’re not all-in on aero but want some aero benefits, the ENVE 65 wheelset provides a solid foundation for aero riding without making a maximal investment. For that reason, I recommend it as the Best Value for disc brake aero wheelsets.
What is all in? Aero frame, aero components, aero kit, 23-25mph/37-40kph, TT and crit racers, where every bike length matters.
What is want some aero benefits? Race bike, aero aware, 20mph/32kph and up, fast group rides, occasional races, where going fast on flats and gently rolling terrain matters.
Most aero wheelsets, the ENVE SES 5.6 disc and rim brake wheels being an exception, aren’t versatile enough to ride on all terrain. But on the right terrain and in the right riding situations, the best aero wheels make a decisive speed difference when compared to shallower, all-around ones.
If you want the benefits of the best aero wheelset performance but can’t quite justify the investment, the ENVE 65 will get you close and for a lot less. At $1600/£1850/€2120 for the ENVE 65, that’s $800/£150/€280 to $1000/£950/€1020 less than my best-rated aero road disc wheelset performers.
The ENVE 65 is as stiff and compliant as the best. That’s a great combination to have in any wheelset, one that other aero and all-around wheelsets I’ve ridden priced in the same range as the ENVE 65 almost never pull off.
Aero performance is, obviously, the critically important measure of an aero wheelset. While we can’t test them in a wind tunnel, I and my fellow testers Nate and Miles can and have judged and compared several indicators of aero performance across the range of wheelsets we’ve ridden. And on those indicators, The ENVE 65 is on par with the average higher-priced aero wheelset though slightly off the pace of the best.
Specifically, the ENVE 65 holds its momentum well once at aero speeds though not as well as the Bontrager Aeolus XXX 6, Reynolds Blacklabel Aero 65DB or Roval CLX 64. It also holds its own or, perhaps better said, holds you reasonably close to your line in crosswinds, something that most >$2000 wheelsets do these days and just the aero wheelset category’s Best Performers ENVE 5.6 and Bontrager Aeolus XXX 6 do better in our experience.
The ENVE 65’s 28.3mm outside rim width meets or exceeds the rule of 105 rim to tire width ratio per my measurements with the ENVE hookless rim compatible and approved/recommended 25mm Schwalbe Pro One TLE, Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance 11Storm, and 26mm Specialized S-Works Turbo RapidAir tubeless tires.
Acceleration, handling, and climbing performance are on par with the average aero disc wheelset in this review but off the pace of the best performers. Whether those performance differences would be noticeable in a flat to rolling TT or crit is debatable. They would if you were to take them on hillier terrain or races with more demanding cornering.
As with the ENVE SES 5.6 option we tested, the 65 uses the same ENVE Alloy hub internals. They engage and roll very well on the road and emit a low frequency, hollow sound. The 65 uses the Foundation hub shell, only 6 grams heavier than the one on the 5.6 which is milled in such a way to allow for its paired spoke lacing. You can also order the ENVE 65 with a distinctively louder Industry Nine hub if that’s your preference.
So how do the aero category’s Best Performers ENVE 5.6 and Bontrager XXX 6 differ from the Best Value ENVE 65 and is that performance enough to justify the price difference?
The ENVE 5.6 is more responsive and versatile, a better handler, and less affected by the crosswinds. I can ride the 5.6 confidently as a very fast, every-day wheelset on any combination of flats, rollers, and climbs either riding solo or in a collegially competitive group ride. Fellow testers Miles and Nate would choose the 5.6 ahead of the rest for a road race on anything with a sustained 7%+ grade hill or three in the course profile.
While it takes longer up to speed, the ENVE 65 is a touch faster at full throttle than the 5.6 and would be the better choice for a flattish solo outing, bullet train group ride, or sprint finish race. Its wider internal, hookless rims, more basic layup, and standard spoke lacing might be what makes it a bit more compliant if less snappy than the 5.6 at the same tire pressure.
Though not as refined, the ENVE 65 has a more similar performance feel to the Bontrager Aeolus XXX 6 than ENVE 5.6. The XXX 6 is faster, quicker, handles better, and is less moved by the crosswinds. But the 65 and XXX6 are both focused on raw speed, are best on the flatter rides and crit races with only small or short rollers.
The choice is up to your aero performance id and cycling budget ego to resolve.
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First published on October 29, 2020. Date of the most recent major update shown at the top of the post.