In this year’s Tour de France, Team MTN-Qhubeka is racing on ENVE carbon wheels. In the video below one of the mechanics explains the reasoning behind which wheels they race with depending on conditions. The team trailer contains around 90 wheels for race use. Planning and experience help them decide which ENVE wheels to use and when. Wheel depths range from the ENVE SES 8.9 all the way down to a prototype set of 20mm deep rims.
MTN-Qhubeka’s mechanic explains which conditions each wheel is used for and the benefits of the different models. One interesting thing you will notice is the lack of full disc wheels seen in their arsenal. Wind tunnel testing conducted by ENVE in conjunction with Simon Smart, a computational fluid dynamics master and founder of Smart Aero Technologies, has found that the advantages of a full disc wheel are negligible when compared to an ENVE SES 8.9 setup in varying conditions. While full discs provide advantages in ideal situations, any sort of a crosswind will hurt performance. The 95mm rear wheel depth of the 8.9 setup is almost as aerodynamic in ideal situations, much more aerodynamic and stable when crosswinds are introduced, and several hundred grams lighter than a full disc wheel.
As seen in the video, MTN-Qhubeka have been very pleased with the performance of ENVE wheels over the season. They claim less than six broken wheels throughout the season, including tours and cobble stages. This says a lot about the design and rigidity of ENVE wheels. One contributing factor is the molded-in spoke holes, which keeps the carbon weave strong and eliminates the requirement to drill out material and weaken the structure of the wheel. Check out the video for a peek into the carbon fiber oasis of a tour trailer.