There are few products that turn heads like a set of Enve wheels, and a look through our build gallery reveals they're a very popular choice. This year the US company has updated its best-selling wheelset, the SES 3.4, redesigning them for 25mm tyres, improving aerodynamics, adding tubeless compatibility and an improved brake track.
Why is the Enve SES 3.4 such a popular wheelset? In Enve's own words, it's a "climbing wheel with an aero advantage," and it's that all-round balance of weight, stiffness and aero performance that makes it popular with a wide range of cyclists. Great in the mountains, road racing or tackling your local hills and lanes, they are its most versatile wheelset.
Reflecting the trend for wider tyres, Enve has widened the rim, it now has a 21mm internal width front and rear, compared to the 18.5mm and 16.5mm front and rear combination of the previous wheels. That extra width is intended to improve compatibility and performance with 25mm tyres, whereas the previous wheels were modelled around a 23mm tyre. With the growing popularity for wider tyres, this is a welcome move.
Enve continues to use mismatched rim depths but the front rim grows to 38mm and the rear drops to 42mm. This change, Enve claims, provides better performance because the front and rear wheels have difference requirements placed upon them.
"On a bike, you need stability at the front because the front wheel steers while the rear wheel is fixed, plus you have different wind angles at the front to the back. At the front, you want stability, at the back pure aero performance," explains Enve's Ken Boomer.
Braking performance has also been given a boost, with the in-moulded diamond pattern brake track carried over to the new wheelset. Along with a new laminate that is better at resisting heat buildup, dry weather braking performance is improved with 30% less force required at the lever to achieve the same stopping power, while braking in the wet is said to be on a par with dry weather braking.
Another change that has caught our eye is tubeless compatibility, which in combination with wider tyres allows you to run lower pressures for improved rolling resistance and comfort. Tubeless tyres, common on mountain bikes and cars, hasn't caught on that quickly with road cyclists but we're seeing more choice and adoption with every passing year.
Like all Enve wheels, they're manufactured in the US to the company's own processes, and it's the only company that moulds the spoke holes and nipple seats, which reduces weight and adds rigidity to the rim. The bladder used to form the rims is also removed from the rim which lowers the weight.
The new Enve SES 3.4 wheels are available in tubeless clincher rim brake, tubular rim brake and disc brake versions with a choice of all-carbon Enve hubs, DT 240 or Chris King R45 hubs. The lightest option is the tubular rim on Enve carbon hubs with a paltry 1,272g weight. A tubeless clincher and Chris King R45 wheelset comes in at 1,447g.
The price includes a five-year warranty and lifetime replacement
Although many people will gravitate towards the deeper section wheels in Enve's range, overlooking the SES 3.4 would be to miss out on a phenomenal wheelset that provides the ideal balance of aerodynamics, stiffness, weight and responsiveness for any sort of riding, from tackling a week in the mountains or a demanding sportive course.
At the launch of the new wheels in Girona earlier this year I
got to try the wheels on two rides, and experienced the full gamut
of weather conditions from pouring rain to high heat. The small
bustling Spanish town is a growing paradise for cyclists looking
for a quiet retreat with a focus on quality miles and, thanks to a
growing number of coffee shops, outstandingly good coffee.
Despite the brevity of the two rides, the SES 3.4s impressed. The reshaped rim profiles provide outstanding stability in all sorts of wind conditions. The textured brake track delivers powerful braking in the rain and dry. They feel precise and nimble when pushed hard through twisty roads. Those who take pride in maintaining high average speeds won't be left frustrated. They're dynamic and sporty.
The new Enve SES 3.4s set a milestone for a shallow section
carbon fibre wheel. Watch out for an indepth review soon.
In a word, these are FAST. I have ridden these wheels for a month now – in Surrey, Kent, the Dordogne and the Cote d'Azure. Lots of different types of riding, with different...Read more