Way back in December I wrote an introduction to a new wheelset and fork from the carbon fiber maestros over at ENVE. This was big news given that one of the biggest names in carbon fiber was (finally) getting into the fat game. You can read all about the M685 wheels and Fat Fork here so I won’t go over all those details again. With that out of the way . . .
Overall, my time on the ENVE M685 wheelset and Fat Fork was great, especially given the super sexy Why Cycles Big Iron they were attached to (Did I mention that I really liked this bike? I’m pretty sure I did but its worth mentioning again). The Fork was stiff where it needed to be and compliant where it should be – Point and shoot. The M685 wheels were what you would expect when venturing into the realm of super bling wheelsets that cost more than most people’s bikes. Light(ish) rims laced to high engagement point, top notch made in the USA hubs that spun round and round very smoothly.
Fit and finish is what you would expect from high-end parts from a very well-respected manufacturer. Bonus points to ENVE on the stealth, black on black colorway on the fork. It would be great if the rims were available with the same murdered out look. But this is obviously an aesthetic nitpick and not a critique of function.
But enough with generalities . . .
I touched on the highlights of the M685 wheelset here. During my time on the wheels, they stayed true and spun up to speed with ease to the point that most of the time I really didn’t notice I was riding 27.5” tires and the weight that comes with them. I could say that they took some of the chatter/hum off the trail but when you’re running 3-4 psi on 4.5” wide tires that’s purely conjecture. The claims that the deep-V shape help to prevent snow build upheld true. Even when pushed through some deep, sticky snow, the rims performed as designed and there was no snow buildup. I took my own person sled out right afterward, which spins MuleFut 80SL rims and make it about 100 yards before I said F’ this.
Of course, this deep dish shape comes at a penalty and the M685 isn’t the lightest carbon rim on the block. The 27.5″ and 26″ rims come in at 606g/576g, respectively (claimed weights). However, that extra material gets you a rim that is rated for year round use. Another thing I did notice as it relates to the deep-v shape was the amplification of the i9 hub buzz. Industry Nine hubs are on the loud side and this was exacerbated by all that carbon rim void. Not a biggie but I know some are bothered by the buzz.
As mentioned here, the ENVE Fat Fork ticks a lot of boxes – full carbon construction, 15mm thru axle, very clean internal routing, able to run up to a 203mm rotor, and clearance for 5” tires (5.2” to be exact). At 748g, the Fat Fork is right in line with the weight of other carbon fork offerings. With that said, from a cosmetic standpoint, it’s on the slender profile side compared to those other offerings, namely in the crown area. One thing that is notably absent, is the lack of rack attachment points. Of course, your view of this omission will vary on your point of view on such things.
There’s also the flipable dropout chip for running both 27.5” and 26” wheel standards. While this was the original intent of the chip, a few of us chatting around the FBdC watercooler (really just Gomez and I talking in a parking lot) wondered if the chip could also be used to change the ride since it essentially changes the rake of the fork. Well, after playing around with it for a while, I came to the unscientific conclusion of No, it doesn’t. Chalk it up to conditions, lack of rider sensitivity, or it really didn’t make any difference, but I didn’t notice much if any difference. This was especially true for any gravel miles on the fork. On dirt/snow, there were times where I thought maybe I felt a difference but who knows if it was PSI, tires, I didn’t stretch well enough, whatever – I just didn’t notice a drastic enough difference to attribute it to the chip.
Let’s face it, when you’re laying out a serious number of dead presidents on parts like these, you expect the best. Honestly, it was hard to find anything to complain about with either the M685 wheelset or the Fat Fork. These are some extremely super nice bits for your fat-bike. If I had the cash (and a bike capable of running them – yeah, I ride a dinosaur), I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
For more on the ENVE M685 wheels and Fat Fork, hop on over to www.enve.com