While there are currently a quite a few rim/wheel options out there in the fat-bike universe, one major player in the high-end carbon market has been noticeably absent – ENVE Composites. The same can be said for fork offerings … lots of choices but no ENVE. Well, that’s now changed with the launch of the ENVE’s new fat-bike specific rim, the M685, and their new fork simply called the Fat Fork. As luck would have it, these new fat specific offerings from ENVE just happened to land at Fat-Bike.com World HQ attached to an absolutely stunning Why Cycles Big Iron (previously featured on Fat-Bike.com here and here). We figured we’d give you a quick First Look and then check back in later after we’ve put some miles on these new carbon fiber wonder parts.
M685 Wheelset (MSRP starting at $2800)
The M685 rim (M6 series with 85mm inner width/94mm ouster width) is available is several configurations –
- Rim only which comes with rim specific nipples and a tubeless kit.
- Wheelset – M685 rims laced to i9 Torch hubs (150mm front/197mm rear) utilizing Sapim CX-Ray spokes.
- Non-Built – unlaced M685 rims, nipples, spokes, hubs, and tubeless kit so you can have someone build up the wheelset for you.
ENVE’s claimed weight on the wheelset is F907g/R1093g and to my pleasant surprise, these are the weights I got when I threw them on a scale (removing rotors/cassette/valve stems and accounting for tape). It’s always nice to see manufactures listing true weights.
The wheelset being tested here is the 27.5″ version. A 26″ M685 is being planned and will be released in the early part of 2019. The merits of 26” vs 27.5” wheel size in the fat-bike arena can be debated at a later time complete with flashbacks to the 26er vs. 29er debate. With that said, these wheels came clad in Terrene Cake Eaters (27.5×4.5 lite version) and let’s just say that spinning up the bigger rubber is noticeable. The deep V profile of the M685 rims accentuated the rotund nature of the wide, large diameter Cake Eaters. To the point that they made Gomez’s bike running 26×4.0 Jumbo Jims look childlike. It was similar to the effect when 29ers came on the market and you were out riding with your friends who were still on 26” wheels. (photo below)
The M685 rims use the same “Wide Hookless Bead” that is found on the newest generation of other M-Series wheels. ENVE says that through quite a bit of ride testing, lab studies, and work with athletes, they were able to build rims and hook geometries that greatly minimizes pinch flats, which they feel is important for riders who use their bikes on dirt trails. ENVE claims that the M685 is “An all season, all terrain fat bike wheel that’s at home in the snow, or on the dirt.” Having a wheelset that isn’t specifically “Snow-Only” was one of the goals for their engineering team when developing the rim.
The rim shape was driven by a combination of the right balance of weight and strength, which led to a shape that features steep sidewalls (aka deep V). ENVE also feels this shape helps shed un-wanted snow from the rims, which reduces rotational weight. Of course, this extra material comes at a weight penalty as well but ENVE feels its worth it for the gained advantages. ENVE says the rims use a layup that maintains the impact strength, pinch-flat resistance, stiffness, control, and the same trail absorption performance criteria metrics as the rest of the M6 line up (M630, M635, M640, and now M685). The M685 rim also uses ENVE’s asymmetric, patented molded spoke holes to better support the wide bracing angles of fat-bike hubs. And as you can see in the pics, the nipples are internal and they require ENVE’s M685 specific nipples (included with the rim only and non-built option).
I’ll be running both the Terrene Cake Eaters that came on the bike as well as a set of 45NRTH Dillinger 4s. In fact, due to lack of snow and thus no need for all the float that a 4.5” tire offers (and the touted benefits of the 27.5″ size in snowy conditions), I’ve switched to the Dillingers for use on dirt and gravel until the glorious white stuff decides to make its return to the lower Midwest.
Fork Fat (MSRP $625)
ENVE used their experience from the development of their road, gravel, cyclocross, and mountain forks in designing the all-new Fat Fork. It’s a one-piece molded part from the steer tube all the way to the drop-outs. Speaking of dropouts, the Fat Fork is able to run both 26″ and 27.5” tires through the use of a flip-able chip in the fork’s dropouts. This allows the rake to be switched between 42mm and 51mm depending on your wheel size. Of course, being a carbon fork, weight is a svelte 748g. Other specs include a 1.5” tapered steerer, axle to crown measurement of 488.8mm, clearance for rotors up to 203mm, and internal cable routing.
Back to that chip – While the flip-able chip is meant to adjust the fork geometry for different wheel sizes, there is also the possibility of using the chip to fine tune geometry to conditions (similar to Cane Creeks AngleSet and other contraptions). This is something we here at Fat-Bike.com World HQ are interested in as this could be a means to really fine-tune your ride (i.e., snow vs dirt). So be sure to look for insights into this once we have some time to play with the fork.
Of course, within the fat-bike world, its often all about clearance, especially with tires now pushing the 5″ width. The Fat Fork is capable of running both 26” (up to 5.2”) and 27.5” (up to 4.5”) tires. Obviously, the fork has plenty of clearance no matter what size tire you’re running. The M685 setup with the Cake Eater 4.5 still had clearance to spare. The clearance was copious once I mounted up some 45NRTH Dillinger 4s.
So there you have it — ENVE is now in the fat-bike game. Tune back in to Fat-bike.com in the coming weeks and look for an update once we have some more time of the new radness.
For more info on the M685 and the Fat Fork visit ENVE