Team ENVE and the Hardest Climb in the World

Team ENVE and the Hardest Climb in the World

Ascending 14,000 feet in a single ride is massive by any standard. Doing that all on one climb is something else entirely. Add in double-digit gradients along with a five-mile dirt section and all of a sudden Hawaii’s Mauna Kea becomes one of the hardest climbs on the planet.


From the ocean shore in Waikoloa on the eastern side of the island to the barren 13,800-foot summit, the 55 miles in between averages a seemingly mellow 5% grade, but don’t let that fool you. The final 15 miles of Mauna Kea sets its average at 9%, including 5 miles of dirt. Some sections pitch upwards of 17% with the road consisting of traction defying sand and ash.

The Crew

Six of ENVE’s finest set out to take on this ultimate climbing challenge, each acutely aware of their potential limitations and multiple unknowns. Would the altitude become a factor? How would their bodies respond to a 50-degree temperature swing? Would their choice in equipment make or break them?


While each rider opted for a slightly different equipment setup, they were all in agreement on gravel bikes and easy gearing. Tires ranged from 32c up to 40c, and of course all riding with ENVE’s new G23 gravel wheels. Some went with a compact double chainring crank (50/34) with cassettes from 11-28 up to 11-36. Others opted for a 34 chainring 1x setup with an 11-40 cassette on the rear.

It is the hardest 55 mile ride ever .. and we rode through some big sections of this stuff... this is Hawaiian gravel, and it is real.
— Chris Lyman


All 6 riders finished the challenge, riding together for the first 40 miles, they eventually split up to individually complete the final 15. The fastest time would be around six hours, with the last rider coming in at around the seven-hour mark.

Video & photos courtesy by ENVE Composites