American composite company Enve today introduced its new Smart Enve System (SES™) line-up – a collection of four wheelsets that are tubeless-only, discipline-specific and purpose-built for Enve’s interpretation of modern road riding.
Now in its fourth generation, the 2022 collection introduces two all-new wheels —the SES 2.3 climbing wheels and SES 6.7 aero wheelset—and updates to the SES 3.4 and SES 4.5, which were formerly part of the All Road (AR) line.
Enve’s definition of what a modern road rider and triathlete is looking for is based around the pillars of fast, fun and versatile. As such, Enve fully adopts the trends of stability, comfort equals speed, and accommodating wider tires for mixed-terrain riding.
This means a simplified, discipline-specific model lineup; a refined carbon laminate for a lighter, stronger wheel; a hookless bead design and disc brake only offerings. Additionally, Enve will no longer offer rim builds with any hub other than their own Enve premium hub.
“Our goal was to create a simpler wheel line for people to navigate and help them find the wheel that’s best for them,” said Jake Pantone, Enve’s VP of Product and Consumer Experience.
The SES line was guided by its holistic approach to performance, its so-called RealWorld Fast design philosophy. This approach evaluates the interaction of the wheels, bike frame, and rider in both the wind tunnel and on the open road. Features and technology across the SES line include:
Asymmetrical Wheel Profiles
Rim shape and depths take into account the differences in airflow at the front of the bike versus the rear as well as crosswinds. As such, all wheels in the SES lineup have a unique shape based on their location on the bike and the airflow. Front wheels are shallower than rear wheels, and feature a more rounded profile to maximize crosswind stability and control. The rear wheels have a deeper, sharper profile, and were streamlined to maximize power transmission and drag reduction.
All new SES wheels were aerodynamically optimized around Enve’s 27mm SES hookless tires.
Made for Real-world Speeds
Enve claims that most wind tunnel testing is performed at 48 kph/30 mph. However, only few riders consistently spend much time at or above that speed. The SES™ wheels are therefore designed and tested at both 48 kph/30 mph, and 32 kph/20 mph.
A Hookless and Tubeless-only System
Calling it the “pinnacle of modern road wheel and tire system performance,” Enve has been a believer in the road tubeless system since 2016, when it first launched the SES 4.5 AR with a mountain bike inspired hookless bead design.
The new SES lineup is tubeless-only and features Enve’s patent-pending Wide Hookless Bead. This technology is Enve’s solution to eliminating pinch-flats, strong enough for road pressures of up to 90 PSI, and compliant with the current ETRTO (European Tire and Rim Technical Organization) tubeless rim with straight-sidewall dimensional standard.
Enve argues that a tubeless setup was never meant to have a hooked bead and rim, stating that the hooked bead was designed purely in order to keep lightweight folding tires from coming off the rim. Enve believes that a hooked bead actually compromises tubeless performance as it makes achieving the critical dimension of the bead seat diameter less precise.
Since consumers want tire choices beyond the Enve offerings, Enve has worked with manufacturers across the industry to build a database of tires that are compatible with their hookless system as well as recommended tire pressures.
“We understand that for the Enve customers it’s a point of much education and discussion,” Pantone said. “But while reading recommendations might be new in cycling it’s certainly not in other industries like cars.”
Enve says that while a customer can still buy the SES rim on its own, it will no longer offer rim builds with any hub other than their own Enve Premium Road Hub. The Enve hub features full premium-grade NTN stainless-steel bearings, a refined lightweight design, flange geometry and a 40t ratchet drive system. Introduced in 2018, ENVE hubs also feature Perfect Preload™, a technology that eliminates the need for bearing preload adjustments over time and ensures longer bearing life with greater efficiency.
Each of the models in the SES collection was designed with a specific rider and application in mind. From climbing to triathlon to mixed terrain, each model features a scaled per intended application Wide Hookless Bead and inner rim width. So while the ultra-light SES 2.3 features a narrower Wide Hookless Bead with an inner rim width of 21mm, the mixed-surface capable SES 4.5 features a 25mm inner rim width and a substantially larger Wide Hookless Bead.
SES 2.3 -The Climbing Wheel
The 2.3 is a purpose-built climbing road wheel. With a claimed weight of just under 1,200 grams XDR-driver included (540 grams in the front, 657 grams in the rear), the 2.3 is not only the lightest wheelset Enve has ever produced, it's also among the lightest tubeless wheels on the market today.
An asymmetrical wheelset, the front sports a 28mm deep rim, while the rear has a 32mm rim. The rim has an internal width of 21mm and requires a minimum tubeless tire width of 25mm.
SES 3.4 - The One Wheel Quiver
The Swiss Army Knife of wheels, the SES 3.4 is a versatile do-everything road wheelset. It features the same shape and depths as current SES 3.4 AR but received an all-new carbon layup and construction resulting in a 10% weight reduction.
XDR-driver included, the wheelset comes in around 1390 grams while being strong enough for criterium and gravel racing alike. In fact, Alexey Vermeulen recently won the Belgian Waffle Ride on this wheelset and will likely be riding it at Unbound in June.
The wheels feature a 25mm internal width, which require a minimum tire size of 27mm and can handle pressures up to 80 PSI. The differential rim heights do come with some aerodynamic advantages as well with a front rim sporting a rim depth of 39mm, and the rear has a rim of 43mm depth.
SES 4.5 - The Area Road Wheelset
The 4.5 are the wheels that started Enve’s hookless project back in 2016 as well as the wide aero road wheel evolution. It has seen various iterations over the years, and this latest version features a new lamination for a 15% weight reduction, better responsiveness and a better ride feel.
At 1,452 grams for the full wheelset, XDR driver included, the wheelset offers the handling and stability of the 3.4 with the aerodynamic benefits of a 49mm front rim and 55mm rear rim.
“Favorable climbing weight, aerodynamic and stability — frankly this is an incredibly fast combination, and outperforms our competitor wheels even with deeper rims,” said Pantone.
SES 6.7 - The “Science Wheel”
The new 6.7 was Enve’s R&E project and considers it a flagship wheel. It’s made for triathletes as well as aero-loving roadies alike and was optimized to the point of diminishing returns.
“There is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to aerodynamics and the weight penalty. We wanted to see what is the least depth wheelset we can build that has max aerodynamic benefits,” Pantone explained.
In the 6.7, Enve found its answer. With a 60mm front rim and 67mm rim in the rear, the 6.7 wheelset weighs in at just 1497 grams, thereby striking a balance between aerodynamics, weight savings and stability. It features a 23mm internal rim width, which can take a 25mm tire but for optimal aerodynamic benefits, a 27mm tire (28mm when inflated) is recommended.
Price & Availability
All four models in the new SES™ collection retail for USD $2,850 / £3,100 and are now available from Enve retailers everywhere.
Individual rims are available for purchase starting at $1,095.
First Ride Review
As Enve's most versatile do-it-all wheel, the SES 3.4 fits my riding style really well. I'm definitely guilty of an "all bikes are gravel bikes" attitude at times, and have certainly pushed gear far beyond the intended use. As such, Enve's self-touted 'Swiss Army knife of wheels' sounds like it would be the perfect wheelset for me to put through the wringer.
Right out of the box, the first thing that struck me was how wide the rims are. With a 25mm internal and 32mm external width, we're almost in mountain bike category here. And sure enough my 35mm Panaracer GravelKing SS tires measure a solid 38mm when mounted and inflated on these wheels. A note about the mounting process: it was startling loud but an absolute breeze. Tires seated quickly with a floor pump, no compressor needed.
While the SES 3.4 were optimized around the 27mm SES tire (measures 29mm when inflated), I choose the wider gravel tire because I know that this is the gravel wheel of choice for many of Enve's supported athletes.
My short lunch loop is a great testing ground for a versatile wheel like this as it is 55% paved and 45% unpaved including gravel, mud, double track and even a wee bit of singletrack. It can be tackled on either a road bike or gravel bike but wider tires are preferable.
While no longer stocked with a Chris King hub, the Enve Premium Road Hub spin up just fine and the wheels in general whoosh along nicely on the pavement. I say 'whoosh' because these wheels have quite a nice sound to them. And while they don't have the stiffness, snap or acceleration of an aero road wheelset like the SES 4.5, they do hold their speed well. It's hard to say that it's due to the differential rim height, or due to a decent hub and low rolling resistance, but either way, they roll along nicely at a steady pace.
Paired with the 35mm tire, the ride was plush. So much so that I spent my first ride on them constantly checking my rear tire, convinced I had lost air.
Coming in at just below 1400 grams, this is a remarkably light DIA wheelset and that lack of weight was noticeable on the climbs.
The wheels stood out to me on the more technical and bumpier riding. They are compliant and quite nimble, capably rolling over roots, rocks and ruts.
To test their speed and road prowess, I will set up these wheels with some skinnier tires and transfer them onto my road bike. Stay tuned for an in-depth review.
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