Zipp vs. Enve Wheels
Zipp and Enve are two of the most respected and well-known brands in the carbon wheel world for good reason. We’ve represented both for a long-time – Zipp since our inception in ’01 and Enve since not long after their inception, back when they were called Edge Composites.
The hardest thing about trying to compare Zipp and Enve wheels is that their price points and design targets are just different enough that it could be argued that they aren’t directly comparable. For example, do you compare a pair of $2700 Enve wheels with DT hubs to Zipp’s standard hub equipped $2100 wheelset or their $3100 NSW hub equipped model? This being said, the two brands are clear competitors, so let’s break down the most meaningful differences between how the two companies build carbon rim bicycle wheels.
Zipp Versus Enve Carbon Wheel Aerodynamics
Zipp, along with HED, invented the original toroidal rim shape that continues to play a significant role in aero wheel innovation and design today. There is likely no other company in the bike industry that put as much into aerodynamics research and testing of bicycle wheels as Zipp. The result is features like ABLC dimpling, the radical “whale inspired” Sawtooth rim design on the 454 NSW wheels, and being early players in the development of wide rim profiles. The development of these features have either brought aerodynamics up another level in performance and/or significantly improved stability and predictability in side winds. There is a reason that, like Cervelo when it comes to frames, the baseline comparison wheel that everyone compares is usually a Zipp.
Enve is no slouch in the aerodynamics department either. Enve developed their SES (Smart Enve System) wheel designs with a good deal of aerodynamics research. Enve even went as far as hiring an aerodynamics expert with Formula 1 experience to help – Simon Smart. The result is that Enve wheels compete well aerodynamically with archetypal aerodynamic wheel brands like HED and Zipp. Most riders will find that an Enve rim equipped wheelset is plenty aero and their rim profile is one of the best when it comes to mitigating crosswinds.
While Enve is very competitive, if we are picking an aerodynamics category winner, it is going to be Zipp. Our own aero testing expert and World Champion Pursuit rider Dean Phillips has tested almost every highly aero wheel under the sun and time and time again he keeps ending up riding a pair of Zipp wheels.
Aerodynamic Advantage: Zipp
Zipp Versus Enve Wheel Weight
While you can order the front and rear wheel independently, Zipp tends to keep the depth of their front and rear wheels in a pair of wheels the same. Enve, on the other hand, usually pairs a lower profile front wheel with a 10mm deeper rear. This makes it a little difficult to directly compare wheel weights. This being said, I think it is fair argument that the Enve SES 4.5 is designed to directly compete with the Zipp 303 NSW. A pair of caliper brake clincher SES 4.5 with DT hubs is 1328 grams and a pair of 303 NSW is 1420 grams. Similar differences exist across the disc brake equipped wheels as well and the difference becomes a little bigger as the rims get deeper (Enve 7.8 are about 150 grams lighter than a Zipp 808 NSW). If you compare tubular rim options, the difference usually falls between 50 and 90 grams, with the Enve being lighter.
If light weight at a given depth is your primary target, Enve holds the advantage.
Wheel Weight: Advantage Enve
Zipp Versus Enve Hubs and Wheel Service
There are some real differences in philosophy between Zipp and Enve wheels in terms of design, maintenance and the ease of service. Zipp is 100% committed to building a wheel system. Zipp no longer sells rims that can be laced to the hub of your choice. Instead, they design and spec the hub, the rim and the spokes to work as a system. Enve takes a different approach. Enve builds rims and they offer their rims built up on hubs from a variety of manufacturers. The results are wheels that each have service benefits, but in different ways.
Hubs – In addition to their own carbon hubs, Enve offers hubs from DT and Chris King. You can also get Enve rims and build most any hub you want into them. This approach lets you select a hub based on ease of service or any other variable that you value. In our experience, Chris King hubs need very little long-term service, DT hubs are not far behind and the Enve hub (which uses DT internals) require a little more as the design is ultralight and minimalist. If max speed is your goal, a DT240 (or, even better, having us custom build a pair of DT180 hubs onto a pair of Enve rims) is a good bet. If minimal service and custom colors are your primary goal, you will not go wrong with Chris King hubs.
Zipp offers three different levels of hub on their carbon wheels – the 76/176, the 77/177 and the Cognition. The 76/176 hubset is found in Zipp’s lowest priced carbon wheelset – the 302. The 76/176 uses a standard J-Bend spoke and a basic and proven hub design with Zipp’s most protected bearings and seals. While this is a relatively basic hub, and doesn’t get the nicer Swiss bearings Zipp is well known for, the bearings can be upgraded. The Zipp 302 is a really nice riding wheel that outperforms the venerable (and significantly more expensive) 404 from just a generation or two ago on a number of fronts.
The 77/177 hubs come in Zipp’s middle price tier wheels (wheels just over $2000 a pair). In addition to the usual 11 speed cassette options from Campagnolo and Shimano, the 177 rear hub offers the ability to be set-up with a XDR cassette body. If you want to use one of SRAM’s innovative XDR cassettes (for wide ratio double or 1x), which have gearing ranges as wide as 10-50, XDR is the ticket. The 77/177 hubs use straight-pull spokes, which eliminate the weakest point on the spoke – the bend at the hub. The seals on the 77/177 are more robust than past Zipp hubs and Zipp uses high-grade Swiss made steel bearings. In our experience, these bearings offer performance that is better than a number of ceramic bearings on the market. Past Zipp hubs have required annual bearing service for riders who are in the rain with any regularity. While not sealed up like a Chris King, the new 77/177 has cut the need for regular bearing service down nicely compared to past Zipp offerings while providing lower mechanical seal resistance than a Chris King.
The top of the line Zipp NSW wheels use the Cognition hub. The Cognition is a pretty unique hub. Zipp Cognition hubs use an axial clutch design with magnets, instead of pawls and springs, to eliminate hub friction when coasting. Zipp also claims that the magnet based system on the Cognition rear hub engages quicker than most pawls. We’re not convinced the latter always holds true, but we can tell you that Zipp Cognition hubs are very fast when you are coasting or descending. Like the 177, the Cognition hub can have a XDR cassette body installed and includes the same precision stainless steel ABEC 5 Swiss bearings that have long been part of why Zipp wheels almost always tend to roll and coast better than many others. If you want to maximize speed, Cognition hubs are a good way to do it.
This being said, generally speaking, the faster the hub, the more you need to pay attention to bearing service. The best way to protect bearings is with heavy duty seals and goopy and heavy grease. This is also the best way to make bearings spin sluggishly and a wheel slow… Conversely, the best way to make bearings spin great is light viscosity grease paired with lighter seals for lower friction. The hubs found on Firecrest and NSW Zipp wheels prioritize speed.
Spoke Nipples – Zipp uses spoke nipples that are outside the rim. If your wheel goes out of true, you don’t need to remove the tire and rim strip to true it. Enve uses spokes where the nipple is inside the rim, arguing that they can build stronger spoke holes this way and improve aerodynamics. Mechanically, we’re fans of external spoke nipples. We’re also pretty sure that Zipp would put the nipples inside if they thought there was a worthwhile aero benefit. This being said, once the spokes are settled, many riders can ride years without needing a wheel true. You need to know yourself as to whether one wheel or the other offers value to you in this regard.
Hub Advantage – While it is a bit more complicated than this, we’re going to call Zipp the winner if you value pure speed over service intervals while Enve (with Chris King hubs) prevails if you value service intervals over absolute top speed.
Wheel Truing Advantage- Zipp. While both brands are better than ever in terms of how often they need to be trued, external nipples are easier to true.
Zipp Versus Enve Wheel Responsiveness and Lateral Stiffness
Because of the differences in hubs and rim depths offered, this is a difficult category to make a direct comparison. With the exception of some of the lightest full carbon wheels (Lightweight, Reynolds RZR), wheel weight and stiffness can often be inversely proportionate. Enve’s lightest rim, hub and spoke hub combination is the Enve SES 2.2 with Enve carbon hubs. While Enve does not declare a maximum rider weight on these wheels, we have seen evidence that this combination is not great for some riders as light as 160 lbs. We haven’t seen the same with recent versions of the moderately heavier Zipp 202.
We don’t have the ability to deflection test rims and wheels across the full range of product from each company. Even if we did, overall wheel stiffness is a combination of spokes, hubs and rims. While this could be tested with Zipp, who only sells complete wheels with factory hubs and spokes, Enve offers an array of hubs from the factory, as well as the option to build your own wheels with spokes and rims to suit. If we are speaking in generalities, heavier rims are normally stiffer rims. If you are over 150 lbs and produce above average power, it can be worth giving up 100 grams in weight to gain stiffness.
Wheel Responsiveness Advantage – The bottom line is that you need to determine how stiff is stiff enough for you. This will be different rider to rider. This is a dead heat category until you start drilling down to comparing individual wheel models within the line for your use. Contact us if you want an opinion on what option(s) are best for you as an individual.
Zipp Versus Enve Braking
Let’s point out the obvious – if you are using disc brakes, this section matters little. Yes, there are some Zipp wheels that currently only accept 6-bolt rotors (303), and thus can’t use some of Shimano’s most advanced cenerlock rotors with them, but these exceptions are becoming more of a scarcity by the day. Regardless, we’re not going to talk about disc brake braking comparing Zipp and Enve wheels. What about caliper brakes?
Both Zipp and Enve have been at the forefront of improving carbon clincher braking performance. The latest generation braking tracks offered by both companies means that there is no longer a huge delta between stopping with aluminum and carbon rims across wet and dry conditions. Enve calls their technology “Textured Full Carbon Brake Track” while Zipp’s best performing brake track is called “Showstopper”. Enve textured braking surfaces and Zipp Showstopper offer similar performance in the dry; both Zipp and Enve are at the top of the category in terms of carbon rim braking performance. We’ll give Enve braking the advantage in the wet though. The Zipp Showstopper brake track is better than many carbon rims, including Firecrest, but isn’t as inspiring as the Enve in the wet. This being stated, if you ride a lot in the wet, you should likely be looking at a disc brake bike…
It is important to note that the brake track is part of what makes the top of the line NSW rims different from the standard Firecrest. The Firecrest braking track is not Showstopper. This is one place where things become complicated comparing Zipp and Enve and where the differences could sway you one way or another. All current generation Enve rims offer the Textured Full Carbon Brake Track. So, if you value the best performing caliper braking over all else, and are trying to minimize your costs to get it, an Enve with a DT240 hub is usually the way to get this. On the other hand, if you are willing to give up some braking performance, particularly in wet conditions, you can get into a Zipp Firecrest equipped wheel for well over $500 a pair less than the lowest priced Enve.
Enve as they offer the best braking at the lowest price. As of June 2018, Zipp put their Showstopper braking surface on many of their Firecrest wheels, thus making Zipp the new leader from a price perspective. Enve is the winner for overall braking performance. Zipp wins for price to performance ratio. (Updated. June 2018.)
Zipp Versus Enve Wheels. Tubeless Ready?
Over the past few years, both Zipp and Enve have made almost all of their latest generation rim introductions tubeless ready. While we have read reviews that mention that this isn’t important if you are a performance based rider, we beg to differ. The latest tubeless road tires, like the Schwalbe Pro One, have really started to come into their own as of late, offering some of the lowest rolling resistance numbers on the market, while simultaneously eliminating pinch flats and offering an exceptional ride. We expect more race capable tubeless tire designs in the future. If you are investing in a nice new carbon clincher wheelset, having it be tubeless ready has some nice benefits and no disadvantages.
While all current Enve rims are tubeless compatible, if you want tubeless on a Zipp, it is important to check the specific wheelset you are interested. For example, at the moment, Zipp’s 303 caliper brake wheels are not tubeless ready, but the disc brake version of the same wheel is. It will not be too long before almost every wheel will likely be tubeless compatible, but we aren’t quite there yet. For now, check the exact model and brake type you want before you buy.
Tubeless Ready Advantage: Zipp has the advantage when it comes to offering tubeless at a lower price than Enve. Enve holds the advantage for having all their clincher rims be tubeless ready today.
Zipp Wheels Versus Enve Wheels – Price
Price is a particularly difficult thing to compare between Zipp wheels and Enve wheels. Why? Their hub offerings are arguably not directly comparable and Enve makes one level of rim while Zipp offers three. So, while Zipp carbon wheels start at $1500, Enve’s start about $1000 more. We won’t even try to compare things in terms of price – it all comes down to what you value and what you are looking for. If you want the best rim braking at the lowest price, get an Enve built on DT 240 hubs. If you want the lowest priced high quality carbon wheel on the market, get a Zipp 302. If you aren’t so concerned about price and want the most roll speed and aerodynamics, get a Zipp NSW or have us built a pair of Enve rims on DT 180 hubs.
Price Advantage: Zipp for just starting at a lower price point. This advantage is not so clear cut when it comes to comparing Enve to Zipp NSW wheels.
Zipp vs. Enve Aesthetics
Both Zipp and Enve offer options for colored logo graphics. Enve has played as big a role as any in the industry in the popularization for the sophisticated wax look matte black finish. Zipp, on the other hand, has often made bold graphics and textured finishes part of their culture. If you want to get anodized hubs to match the sweet anodization on your new custom ti frame, you’ll want to head to Enve, where you can order rims and have them built with hubs of your choice. Otherwise, this category comes down to whether you prefer more eclectic or a more universal aesthetic.
On a related note, both Enve and Zipp offer stems, seatposts and handlebars that match their wheels.
Aesthetic Advantage: Aesthetics are up to the individual. If you want to know my tastes, I tend to lean towards the Enve aesthetic, but I have plenty of Zipp parts on various bikes…
Zipp Versus Enve Warranty
Two years for Zipp. Five years for Enve.
Both companies offer competitive “no fault” replacement and repair programs for issues outside of warranty. Usually, if a warranty failure is going to happen, it occurs near the beginning of the service life of the product.
Warranty Advantage: Both companies stand behind their product. Zipp’s parent company is SRAM. SRAM has one of the most responsive and supportive customer service departments in the business. Enve’s parent company is Mavic and they don’t have things quite as together as SRAM in this department. This being said, it is hard to fault a five year warranty; Enve gets the nod based on simple duration of warranty.
Zipp Versus Enve Wheel Conclusions
Both Zipp and Enve’s lines are evolving. This has meant that while some of the more recently updated models may be tubeless ready or have the latest high performance braking track, others do not. For example, for 2018, the Zipp 303 Firecrest caliper brake wheelset is not designed for use with tubeless tires, but the 303 Firecrest disc brake wheelset is equipped with a tubeless compatible rim. So, look at the exact wheel you are interested and don’t assume that if one wheel in a series has a feature the rest do.
If your goal is outright speed, get a pair of current Zipp NSW wheels. When it comes to the hubs, the Cognition hubs on the Zipp NSW with the axial clutch hub and Swiss bearings are arguably as fast as you can get. When it comes to the rims, no one has been more creative or followed the data from their test results more than Zipp. At a given depth, if the Zipp NSW is not the most aero wheel you can buy, it will be very, very close. Likewise, if you are looking for wheels more in the $2000 range, the standard Zipp offerings are possibly the fastest wheels in their categories. Even the $1500 Zipp 302, which uses “old” Zipp rim technology, is a very fast wheel that few other ~50mm depth wheels in its price range can touch. In other words, from a performance standpoint, if you want a safe bet, you won’t go wrong with a Zipp wheel.
So, if Zipp wheels are almost universally at the top of the speed charts for their price, why would you buy anything else? Because there are other wheels that can be built to be of very similar speed to a Zipp and many riders have other considerations. From wet weather rim braking performance to the different benefits and considerations of being able to select from a variety of hubs, Enve has a lot to talk about. This is why we recommend that you talk to folks with experience with both brands across a wide array of uses, rider weights, power profiles and with different frames to select a wheel that makes the most sense for you.
Contact us if you have questions or want to talk wheels.
hello, i’m 160lbs ride about 400k a week, mostly flat terrain but i’m not shy of hills, looking for a wheel set that will make me faster, quicker or able to keep up to a group i ride with. I’m 62 other’s are 38 -40, stronger than me, i’m able to keep up for the most part, get dropped on the hills.
Moderate depth wheels like the Zipp 303, Enve 3.4 or Rolf Ares or EoS 3 or 4 would likely be your best options. This being said, there are a lot of variables and items that could be specific to your situation that we’d want to flesh out with you before making a specific recommendation. email [email protected] or call us to speak with someone.
I have a pair of the new ENVE SES 3.4s with the new ENVE carbon hubs. Overall the, wheelset is awesome. The braking surface works well. The ride quality is great and they definitely are designed to perform well in crosswinds. However. I do have one complaint/concern. Yes. The wheels are tubeless ready. But I don’t want to go tubeless. I use tubes paired with Continental 5000 tires. And I dread getting a flat tire. Why? ENVE seems to have pushed the limits with their rims diameter. They probably do this in order to make sure the tubeless tires stay on at all times. But the negative is that it is really hard to change a flat tire when you use a tube set up. Getting the tire back on the rim takes a special technique along with some brut force. The tire beads have to be in the middle of the rim all the way around the rim. And then it still takes a bunch force to get the tire completely back on. Continental tires are also known to be a little smaller. Which doesn’t help. I have contacted ENVE about this…and was told that I needed to change the way I have always changed my tires. I have read about this difficulty several times on the internet too and my local bike mechanic says that the ENVE tubeless ready rims are notoriously difficult to put tubed tires on. One thing is for sure. My girlfriend is never going to be able to put a Conti tire on an ENVE tubeless ready rim. I hope this helps. Cheers!
Hi. Thanks for the article. I recently upgraded to a new disc bike with Enve 5.6 with Chris king hubs from a rim brake with zipp 404 NSW. I’ve only covered about 850km a n the new bike but the new wheels feel noticeably slower when coasting. Almost as soon as I stop pedalling it feels as though something is dragging. I’ve checked there’s no brake rub. Do Chris King hubs take while to “bed in” or are the zipps just a faster wheelset?
On another note, as with another poster I have also been experiencing speed wobble when descending at speed. Is this also a common trait for the 5.6’s
Thanks in advance.
Your observations are accurate regarding the frictional coasting difference between the hubs. Chris King are great hubs, but they use a fairly traditional ratchet/pawl type cassette body design. Any design that uses ratchets/pawls will have friction when coasting. The Zipp NSW Cognition hubs are an unique design. The magnet based cassette body basically disengages the cassette body from the hub body completely – thus no coasting friction. The only consideration is that they can require a bit more frequent service to stay in top running order.
On your Chris King hubs, if you did not get the ceramic bearing version, you may want to consider getting some low friction, high quality ceramic or stainless steel bearings. The stock steel CK bearings are high quality and quite well sealed, but this comes at the expense of the rolling friction. Using bearings with a no-contact seal will reduce friction and increase roll speed – https://fitwerx.com/ceramic-bearings-vs-steel-bearings-on-bicycles-which-is-best/.
I wouldn’t say that a speed wobble is inherent to the 5.6. This being said, some frame, fork, wheel and tire combinations can be more prone to this than others. This is usually due to how wind flows around all the components (and your body) and how they interact together. If you are not already doing it, consider putting a tire on the wide side of what your frame will accept and see what happens.
Hope this helps.
Woah.. nice reviews and comparison on these 2 super brands. I am in the market for a deep carbon wheels. I am currently using the Roval CLX64 on my Venge Disc 2019. I wouldn’t say I’m a pure climber nor a pure sprinter. However, I like punching through rolling hills and love the “all out” sprint segments. I would categorise myself as more of a all-rounder or a puncher.
Currently, I am looking at the SES 5.6 (DT240) & NSW 404 & NSW 454.
Please advise the following:-
1) Will there be a big step up / improvement from my CLX64 if I choose any of these? If so, how much and in what ways?
2) What’s the difference between the NSW404 vs NSW454?
3) How are these 3 models compared to each other in my style/type of riding?
Thanking you in advance!
Thank you for reading.
The Roval CLX64 is a wheel that is competitive with some of Zipp and Enve’s offerings. The wheel uses DT240 internals and has a modern rim profile. For example, I would not say that you are likely to see a measurable performance difference between what you have now and a SES 5.6 with DT240 hubs. The performance difference between this and a Zipp NSW becomes a bit murkier water. The NSW wheels use Zipp’s Cognition hubset. In our experience, these are very fast hubs, especially when coasting. They do benefit from a bit more periodic maintenance than the DT240 though.
The difference between the 404 and 454 NSW is in the rim design. The 454 uses the “next generation” patented Sawtooth design while the 404 offers a more traditional rim shape. Zipp argues that the 454 is their most aerodynamic ~60mm deep rim ever and testing indicates that this is true. This being said, there is not any “low hanging” fruit on aero wheel designs and we’re talking small wattage differences across the three brands and four wheel designs in terms of absolute aerodynamics. For many riders, the more compelling upgrade with the 454 comes from how it reacts in side winds. For its depth, the Sawtooth design reduces lateral wind load and makes it one of the most predictable deep dish wheels in variable wind conditions. If you have experienced a lot of side wind effect on your Roval, the 454 will likely feel more stable in most conditions.
So, if you want to know that you have as aero, fast (when coasting) and stable a wheel as possible in its category, get a 454 NSW. It will be the fastest wheel of the ones listed in most conditions. Otherwise, the differences between the other options is likely to be subtle and preferential more than a measurable performance difference across all conditions.
I hope that this helps and we’d be happy to continue the conversation and/or help supply a new set of wheels. You can call 802-496-7570 to reach me or email [email protected].
hello I need some advise, I am an average weekend rider, I am planning on making an upgrade on wheels. I am debating between Zipp 404 Firecrest or Enve 5.6 SES. they both look good but I cannot decide which one to pick.
The two wheelsets you are considering are highly competitive with each other and are of similar depth. The article lists out the fundamental differences/comparison between the two brands. If you would like to discuss how they may compare for your specific use, we’d need more detailed information about your riding style as well as your weight and other variables. Please email [email protected] if you want to start a dialogue that is specific to you or call one of our locations.
Hi, what a useful comparison – thanks! On big omission, if I may, is dealing with the elephant in the room: the damage and potential danger caused by rims overheating under sustained braking.
Having melted two rear brake tracks, I think this is a vital performance aspect for all carbon wheels and it’d be worth providing some comparison data around it.
Thanks for reading Mark. It sounds like you need a disc brake bike!
While it would be helpful, we don’t have any data on heat delamination on rims. I think one of the “off brand” wheel brands published a test that they did on this topic, but there was no lack of questions that came up about brand bias and the testing protocol. Either way, while we used to see a fair amount of heat related issues, the numbers diminished markedly as of a few years ago. While I’m sure there are still a few folks like yourself who have melted a rim lately, we haven’t seen much on the current generation of current Enve or Zipp rims.
Very nice writeup comparing Zipp and ENVE wheels! Has anyone looked at the longevity of the brake tracks used on carbon wheels when the manufacturer’s suggested brake pads are used? My Zipp NSW “Showstopper” brake tracks worked great when new. The brake pads turned to dust very quickly when the wheels were new and stopping wet or dry was phenomenal. But over time the pad wear decreased along with the stopping power. I am at 6700 miles now and the second set of pads are half worn, but I can’t stop in the wet and dry stopping isn’t great. The brake tracks were cleaned per Zipp/SRAM specifications and SRAM says that there is no problem with the braking surface (it no longer has an aggressive rough surface). I plan to try some ENVE wheels next. A separate comparison is with my Xentis 4.2 wheels (braking surface is machined carbon) which still stop in the wet however not as well as new, but after 22K+ of riding in all conditions I can deal with that.
Thanks for reading! The topic you have presented would be an excellent thing for there to be a comprehensive study by someone (I doubt that we have enough staff or equipment to pull this off well). As you noted, a really aggressive rim braking profile will wear over time. As it does, the braking will change. We don’t have any reliable information on whether one of the brands seem to hold up better in this regard and I’d just be hypothesizing to say otherwise. It is interesting that you say that your NSW brakes have almost become dysfunctional. That shouldn’t happen. If that happened with one of our clients, we’d be talking to Zipp about how to resolve it…
Thank you for a great article!
What do you think about changing my rear 2017 Zipp FC hub to a DT swiss 240? Can this be done?
Thanks for reading! You can likely have the rim rebuilt on a DT 240 hub, but it will be a somewhat involved process. You would need to get a DT hub with a matching hole pattern and then carefully detension the current wheel and take it apart. You could then rebuild with a DT. If you are interested in doing something like this, feel free to give us a call and we can talk about the best way to make it happen for you.
I’m looking for a new wheelset.
Since it’s for TT-efforts (TRI), I’m looking for ENVE 7.8 or the new tubeless ready ZIPP NSW 808 Carbon Clincher Rim Brake.
If it’s really about speed, is there no difference between Chris King and DT?
Is the Cognition hub even faster?
This “Nipples thing” is somewhat annoying. It’s the biggest Argument from DT SWISS and ENVE…
What do you think?
BR from Germany
If you are looking to maximize speed and are looking between a DT and a Chris King, you would want to look at a DT180. This is purely anecdotal, but DT seems to have less pawl resistance when coasting than Chris King. Chris King has always focused on smooth durability over absolutely minimizing mechanical friction from seals and the like. This being said, if coasting speed is your primary concern, Zipp Cognition hubs (found on NSW wheels) is about as low friction as you can find.
I would not say that internal nipples make a huge difference in the speed of the wheel. If it did, Zipp would do it. Zipp wheels remain a benchmark aero wheel and the nipples are external… In the end, there are many ways to get an end result and you want to weigh the pluses and considerations for each variable and what you value the most. The 7.8 and the 808 are both very good wheels, but they have different things that they highlight.
Fantastic and informative article. I haven’t seen information on carbon wheels presented so clearly anywhere else. Especially with regards to rider requirements that aren’t just “go fast”. I’d love to see you expand this analysis to include other leading carbon wheel manufacturers if possible.
Thanks for reading Mark and glad you found the article informative.
There are certainly other carbon wheel builders worth talking about too. Enve and Zipp tend to compete on so many levels that we thought they would be the logical place to start. We’ll keep in mind adding comparisons of other wheel brands would help in the future. In the interim, if you are thinking about new wheels, give us a call. We’d be happy to share our experience and thoughts and help you find a really well suited wheelset for your needs.
Congratulations on an excellent article on carbon wheels. This represents a departure from many bicycle retailers who just tell customers what they recommend with minimal and typically biased education. I am a ride leader who comes in contact with hundreds of cyclists so to have me recommend a retailer to someone, they have to display a commitment to educate people first rather than just trying to close a sale. That said, there is what I consider a serious omission in this article pertaining to identifying what type of rider should be considering aero wheels. It is generally acknowledged that you need to be a rider who can average at least 18-19 MPH to gain any advantage with an aero wheel. Some even say its more like 20 MPH so whie there is disagreement on this, nobody disagrees that a 15 MPH rider should not be sold aero wheels without
being aadvised that it will likely not make them faster and more likely that they will be a little bit slower than using a low profile wheel of comparable weight. This part f the education process and should never be omitted. Also, it should always be mentioned that on very windy days, it is is still recommended to have a set of low profile wheels around to make your ride faster, safer, and more enjoyable. It is aerodynamics 101 that a high surface area wheel is at significant disadvantage to a low surface area wheel in high winds which of coarse is not intrinsically understood by most people so must be taught to them.
Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. Your point about specificity is a good one. As you commented, you need to look at the big picture for your specific situation. In the case of the two brands covered, both Enve and Zipp make carbon wheels with a wide array of depths. Wheels like the Zipp 202 and the Enve 2.2 are lower profile than many aluminum rims and thus provide good options for many riders who do would not benefit from a more aerodynamic wheel. When selecting a wheel, part of what we strive to do is talk to the rider about their situation and use and then make an individualized recommendation. For some, that will mean a deeper aero wheel, for others it will mean a low profile wheel.
According to the info in the article linked below, which seems quite well researched, the slower rider could probably benefit quite well from aero advantages. For many years I’ve heard exactly what they write; the slower rider is out longer and hence accumulates more total gain from the aero advantage than the faster rider, even though the momentary gain is lower. This has always made sense to me which is why I found James White’s commentary concerning speed problematic. So the article linked below restored my calm and confidence in that department. So, by all means, stay aero no matter what speed you’re going.