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It’s hard to believe that it was almost six years ago that Enve introduced its SES 4.5 AR wheelset, a 25 mm-wide, disc-only, tubeless-specific, aero all-rounder. It was a ground-breaking road wheel that pushed the width boundaries and showed the benefits of higher-volume rubber. It introduced hookless tubeless to the road world. It was one of the first true disc-specific rim designs. And it did all of that while being impressively aero and competitive in weight.
Fast forward to the present day and that SES 4.5 AR wheelset continues to be a modern offering amongst a sea of wheels that followed in Enve’s path. And to pick just one example, Enve’s closest competitor, Zipp, now markets 25 mm internal width and tubeless-specific hookless wheels as the future of road riding.
Today, Enve announced a revamp to its entire range of Smart Enve System, aka SES, road wheels. The premium-level range is now simplified, with six models becoming four, each offering a depth and width to suit a specific usage. All models are disc-only. All feature a hookless design that requires the use of tubeless tyres (regardless of whether you want to run a tube in them or not). And all are lighter as the result of new carbon layups.
The new SES lineup
The new range consists of the SES 2.3, SES 3.4, SES 4.5, and SES 6.7, each one optimised for a specific tyre size range that Enve expects/intends the rider to use with the chosen wheel. For example, the supremely lightweight SES 2.3 climbing wheel, or the aero-focussed SES 6.7 both offer narrower rims for use with a minimum of 25 mm tyres, while the two medium-depth models in the middle are built with a minimum of 27 mm tyres in mind.
Like previous SES wheels, the new versions all build on the idea that airflow and real-world demands are different between the front and rear wheels of a bike. All four new models feature front- and rear-specific rim profiles, with shallower and more rounded front rim profiles for smoother handling and stability, while rear wheels are deeper and more pointed for better drag reduction and greater wheel stiffness.
Another common feature across all four models is the use of a hookless tubeless rim bed (ETRTO compliant). Enve was the first to introduce hookless to the road, and while it remains a somewhat polarising choice amongst consumers, you at least now have a more generous range of tubeless-compliant tyres to pick from. Obviously, Enve would love for you to use its own SES tyres (25, 27, 29, 31 mm widths available), but any tyres from its approved list are safe for use. And as a reminder, you’re welcome to use inner tubes within an approved tubeless tyre if you wish.
While the rims change with each model, what remains consistent is the use of Enve’s own Road Hubs which offer a 40-tooth ratchet drive and a 378 g paired weight (other aftermarket hub options were not mentioned, likely the result of ongoing supply issues). Similarly, the Sapim CX-Ray blades spokes (J-bend) are kept consistent, with each wheel built with 24 spokes front and rear, laced two-cross.
Enve continues to build its rims in house at its Ogden, Utah facility. And the wheels are backed by Enve’s five-year warranty against manufacturer defects, and a three-year free rim replacement for rider-induced issues (note: shipping, parts, and labour costs are at the customer’s expense).
All new complete SES wheelsets, regardless of depth, are priced at US$2,850 for a pair. Enve continues to offer rims for custom builds, too. OK, onto the finer details.
Enve SES 2.3
The SES 2.3 is Enve’s first disc-specific climbing wheel, and the 1,197g claimed weight for the wheelset is impressively low.
That weight is mostly thanks to the lightest production rims the company has produced. Those front and rear rims are just 275 and 280 g respectively. Helping to shave those grams is a shallow 28 (front) and 32 mm (rear) depth, combined with a 21 mm internal rim width – the narrowest of the new SES range. These feathery rims measure 25 mm externally, the same figure for the minimum recommended tyre size.
Interestingly Enve states a maximum tyre pressure of 90 psi for a 25 mm tyre on these rims, something that is noticeably higher than the simple “72 psi max” often quoted with hookless, tubeless road rims and tyres. It’s exactly the needed nuance with road tubeless that was recently discussed on the Nerd Alert podcast.
“Enve has been doing tubeless and hookless for a while now. SES 4.5 AR came out in 2016. At that time, there was no ETRTO max pressure or a hookless road tubeless standard. So, we did what we always do, we improvised and put our best engineering foot forward. At Enve, we do testing to establish what a rim’s max pressure can/should be. We’ve been doing this since day one essentially. So, when we made our first hookless road wheel in 2016, we just put it through our qualification testing which includes a specific test to establish a max blow off pressure,” said Enve’s Jake Pantone. “For the 25 mm internal rims we make we landed on 80 psi. For the 21mm internal rims we landed on 90 psi. Why 90? Well at 21-23 mm internal, you can still run a 25 mm tire. As much as we don’t like it, there are some big guys out there who still refuse to increase their tyre volume and a 200 lb + rider on a 25 mm tire usually needs more than 75 psi and running less just isn’t an option. Especially if that tyre is something w/ really supple sidewalls. So, Enve gives that rider the option to run a rim that can handle the pressure they need to run.”
Enve SES 3.4
With rims sitting at 39 mm (front) and 44 mm (rear) deep, the new SES 3.4 is claimed to be a lighter and more compliant successor to the all-rounder SES 3.4 AR. Enve intends this wheelset to be its go-to option for fast all-road riding and gravel racing.
Along with the new SES 4.5, the 25 mm internal (32 mm external) rim width borrows a trick from Enve’s mountain bike range by way of a wide and blunt rim sidewall that’s not only stronger but is intended to reduce the chance of pinch-flatting a tire sidewall (in the event the tyre bottoms against the rim). That 25 mm internal rim width calls for a minimum 27 mm (labelled) tyre width.
The weight on this model has only seen a marginal drop with a claimed figure of 1,395 g for the pair. Front and rear rims are quoted at 370 and 378 g a piece.
Enve SES 4.5
The successor to the hugely popular and trend-setting SES 4.5 AR. While the 25 mm internal width (minimum 27 mm tyre), 32 mm external width, and 51/56 mm depths are only subtly different to before, Enve claims a new layup saves weight and improves wheel compliance.
The 1,452 g (claimed) wheelset weight is now approximately 67 g lighter than before. Meanwhile, and like the new SES 3.4, Enve has introduced its Anti-Pinch Flat flat-edge sidewalls to these do-it-all road/all-road/gravel race wheels.
Enve SES 6.7
Lastly is the most aerodynamic offering in the revised SES lineup, the 6.7. Designed for triathlons, time trials, and fast road races, these wheels offer a 23 mm internal rim width that can be used with 25 mm or wider tyres. The front and rear rims offer depths of 60 and 67 mm respectively, and external widths of 30 and 29 mm.
Enve quotes a paired weight of just 1,497 g, a competitive figure for the depths.
Overall the new wheels don’t provide the same revolutionary change that Enve’s original SES and SES AR lineup introduced. Rather the simplified SES range appears to bring welcomed improvement on what were already highly competitive wheels.