Wheelbuilder.com ENVE and Derby wheels review

Strong, light, and dialed

27.5 Components Wheels
The components for the Chris King and Derby wheels are optimized for each other.

The components for the Chris King and Derby wheels are optimized for each other (click to enlarge).

Lowdown: Wheelbuilder.com ENVE and Derby Wheels

Wheelbuilder.com builds wheels exclusively so they’ve gotten mighty good at it. They’ve built wheels for Olympians, Grand Tour riders and teams and the most demanding consumers. Building their reputation on the road market, they’ve diversified in recent years in to the mountain bike market.

That’s why they were eager for us to try their wheels. One is a wheelset built around Derby carbon rims and the other on ENVE M70 carbon hoops. Both are built with Chris King hubs front and rear.

Rear weight on the Derby is 978 grams.

Rear weight on the Derby is 978 grams.

Stat Box: ENVE M70/30 HV 650b 32H Rims with Blue Decals
Hubs: Turquoise Chris King ISO Spoke detail: 28 black; 4 white with a color pop
Front hub: SD, 15mm Nipple: ENVE brass internal
Rear hub: 142mm x 12mm w/ XD driver Price: $2748 for Enve and $1817 for Derby
Spokes: DT Aerolite bladed Rating: 4.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4.5 Chilis-out-of-5

Pluses
Minuses
  • Great knowledge about what parts work together in a given wheel application
  • Hard for some enthusiasts to quickly tell the difference
  • The wheels are incredibly stiff laterally
  • These wheels are not affordable by many
  • Quick engaging but quiet
  • Maybe too stiff for some
  • Attractive with custom decal options
  • As flashy as the wheels are, they disappear into the ride

Review: Wheelbuilder.com ENVE and Derby Wheels

The wheels worked flawlessly for the two months that we rode them. There was never a wobble, a spoke pop or tubeless issue that interfered with our rides. These were not the lightest builds in the world but they rank as some of the sturdiest for our weight and style.

Every wheelset is built by hand to exacting specifications.

Every wheelset is built by hand to exacting specifications (click to enlarge).

Spoke tension was perfectly tight and even at the start of the test and at the end as we plucked and measured all the spokes and they still had the same tune. Such is the key strength of Wheelbuilder.com as they know the strengths and tolerances of all the wheel components in their arsenal. They have the ability to tailor the wheelset to the buyer’s budget and riding style to produce the strongest and lightest wheelset for that buyer.

The other side of it is longevity. It’s not difficult to to lace up a wheel that is dialed on Day One but how is the tension and trueness after two years? That is a key strength of this company and we have a Kappius Wheelbuilder wheelset that that has been raced and ridden thousands of miles in the last couple years. It’s got scratches here and there but the build and lacing feels like the first month of operation.

Orange and blue combination on the Ritchey Timberwolf.

Orange and blue combination on the Ritchey Timberwolf (click to enlarge).

Of the two sets in the test, we liked the Derby wheelset better. It was lighter, cheaper and wider. It weighed in at 1771 grams with tape and valve while the Enve set weighed 1885 grams. Also it had a 35 mm internal width while the Enve was 30mm. Loved the finish of the rim too and the understated graphics. The tubeless system seemed to work better as well as it mounted easily with a thin tape that didn’t go to the edges of the rim. It allowed the tape to stay perfectly in place as tires were taken on and off with ease. The ridges on the rim tubeless tires to rest are a nice element too. Both the ENVE and the Derby wheels improved the performance of our test bikes noticeably in terms of cornering and accelerating. Some folks may like wheels that are lighter or not as stiff so they can track better on very rocky descents. Many options are available for those demands as well.

Continue to page 2 for more about Wheelbuilder.com’s philosophy »

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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Comments:

  • mac says:

    Light bikes rims break alot huh? Mine don’t seem to work right then. They’re still awesome after more than 2-1/2 years of abuse. But I know there’s always a guy like you that has to keep the myth alive.

    • Mike says:

      Ahhh yes Mac. I broke my LBR front wheel and pulled out where the spokes nipples are. The carbon layup around the nipple is terrible. I run Derby’s now and so far no issues. Not saying it won’t happen with them, but lots of people on the forums here have had problems like me with LBR’s wheels. I am 230lbs and might be pushing it weight wise, but if you compare hoop to hoop side by side with a Derby, there is a noticeable difference in stiffness between the 2 and more material around the nipple of the Derby.

  • Jeff says:

    My LB rims are working great after 18 months of use in the 26″ AM size. I’ve used ProCore in the rear though for the past 6 months to get better performance & protection at low psi.

  • pvflyer says:

    Have two sets of LB 38mm wheels one 26″ now a 27.5″ best wheels I ever had. the 26er was ridden hard for 2 years never went out of true.

    Aaron Ingrao have you ever had a pair of LB’s? all wheels break it just a fact.

  • Marc Friedman says:

    i have a set of derby’s built by another great wheelbuilder Mike Berna at Velocity in Winters,Ca. They have been subjected to all sorts of abuse and are fabulous after over about a year. The only complaint is the overdrilled stem hole necessitating the orange system which i think is inferior. I have accidentally caught the stem on a pump and pulled it into the center area of the rim requiring an insane effort to fix. the orange bottom looks like it was made in their garage with a huge flap of rubber that still doeskin lie correctly. This is the major Derby drawback. Why does Derby think some kind of shraeder valve is going to be used?

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