The AM30 is ENVE’s Foundation Series mountain wheel, and was made to take a beating while being offered at a lower price point than previously possible. But what’s the story behind it? Did you know it was one of the hardest wheels we’ve had to design? We sat down with Clint Child, ENVE’s Director of Engineering and R&D, to get the answers to why it was such a challenge and how it was overcome.
What is the AM30 to you?
A wheel that costs almost half of our premium products, while retaining their impact strength, pinch flat protection and ride characteristics. It’s an awesome wheel at a competitive price and it was a big challenge.
Why was creating the AM30 a challenge?
At ENVE, our development has always focused on one thing – making the best performing product in its class. Price is always a consideration, but not necessarily a constraint. With the AM30, we reversed that and said “how do we create a wheel within a price constraint, but that is still the best in class?” All while retaining the manufacturing here in the USA.
On top of price point, we wanted to make a wheel that was desirable to a wide audience rather than segmented into a category. We looked for ride characteristics that would work across disciplines, bike types, and ride styles. This led to a wheel that maintains the ENVE high performance feel, but with competitive weights and even more damping characteristics – something that took time and testing to perfect.
What went into the AM30 development then?
On top of the decade of mountain wheel development we had already done, we spent a year with this specific challenge. In this time there were hours in modeling, creating molds, laying up prototypes, testing, and more testing. This included too many laps at the infamous Bootleg Canyon trail system in Las Vegas. It’s a brutal place to test wheels.
What’s so different about the AM30 compared to M Series?
Honestly the shape was completely different to anything we’d done before. All of our rim shapes to that point had been deeper, using the rim shape to create strength and stiffness we were after. To get the ride feel we wanted, we made the rim shallower. We also spent a lot of time developing a simplified carbon fiber laminate that reduced the manufacturing and layup time and increased the rim compliance. This sounds simple on paper, but when you consider all the factors that go into it, it became a big project. But it netted out in a wheel that reduces vibrations more than our other wheels, which we’ve found to be appealing to a broader range of riders.
This also pushed the spoke nipples to the outside of the rim – something we’d never done before.
This included too many laps at the infamous Bootleg Canyon trail system in Las Vegas. It’s a brutal place to test wheels.
We were able to create this new shape while keeping the tech from our premium wheels, including our patented molded spoke holes, our Wide Hookless Bead technology, and US manufacturing.
What separates the AM30 from the competition at this price point?
First, that it’s made here in the USA. We considered taking the production overseas to get our price per rim even lower. But, we committed to staying true to our ethos of building American rims proudly here in Utah.
On top of that, it’s a blend of many advantages. It’s light for the category, incredibly durable, high performing, and includes an awesome warranty and customer service. We benchmarked many competitor rims when testing and found that the AM30 required much more impact energy to break than the competition. We also preferred the ride feel of the AM30 to those in the market.
How would the AM30 improve someone’s ride experience?
I think for the delta of weight, durability, and ride feel, there’s really not a better value out there. In our testing, we set out to create a laminate and shape that decreases the amplitude of shock waves in more frequency ranges. Which for the rider means more comfort, less vibration transmission, and a smoother, more traction-filled ride. This of course, while maintaining the energy and zing that comes with carbon construction. Ultimately, they’ll make a good bike, rider, and trail – even better.