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Enve updates and streamlines its SES wheelset range, kills off rim brake designs too

Sam Challis
26 May 2022

Two new SES rim depths are introduced, while all the new and updated rims are hookless and optimised around 27mm tyres

Enve has overhauled its SES line of wheelsets. The 6-wheelset range now includes two new depths, SES 2.3 and SES 6.7, with the SES 6.7 replacing the SES 5.6 depth.

The AR variants of the SES 3.4 and SES 4.5 wheels have been updated to become lighter and replace the originals in the range, for Enve says the wider road tyres they are designed to suit are the norm now, not the exception.

The SES 7.8 and SES Disc wheel will continue to be offered unchanged, while the new/modified wheelsets use hookless rims, unique rim profiles between front and rear and are optimised around Enve’s 27mm SES tyre.

Enve also says the introduction of the fourth generation SES line-up signals the end of the production of its rim-brake wheelsets, although warranty and service support will continue for two years.

The new SES wheelsets will be priced at £3,100 using Enve’s premium road hubs. It is unconfirmed whether wheelset builds with third-party hubsets from the likes of Chris King and DT Swiss will be available in future, but that seems likely.

The new line-up: key specs

The SES 2.3 wheels are aimed at climbers, being the lightest disc brake wheelset Enve has ever made at a claimed weight of 1,197g. They use a 21mm internal rim width, 25mm external and are 28/32mm deep.

The new SES 3.4 wheels share more in common with the previous generation SES 3.4 AR wheels than they do the regular SES 3.4. They are billed as the most versatile of the line-up, suitable for all-types of road and gravel riding. They weigh a claimed 1,390g and use a 25mm internal width, 32mm external and are 39/43mm deep.

The new SES 4.5 wheels again share more in common with Enve’s old SES 4.5 AR wheelset. Enve says these are a modern aero road wheelset for drag efficiency when using wide road tyres. They weigh a claimed 1,452g, representing a 67g saving over their predecessors, and use a 25mm internal, 32mm external width rim that is 51/56mm deep.

The SES 6.7 wheels replace the shallower, narrower SES 5.6 wheels as a deep road wheel/TT option. Considering their depth, weight is impressive at a claimed 1,497g. They use a 23mm internal width paired to a 30mm external and are 60/67mm deep.

Differential rim shapes

Enve partnered with British aerodynamicist Simon Smart in 2009 and with him introduced the first SES wheels in 2011.

Enve says that one of the most notable innovations to come from the partnership was the understanding that front and back wheels are subject to different types of airflow, therefore the SES wheelsets have always used different rim shapes between front and back to account for this.

The new wheelsets are no different. Enve says the front wheels are shallower and use a blunt spoke face to improve crosswind stability, whereas the rear wheels in the sets are deeper, pointier and uses more sharply bladed spokes to maximise drag reduction.

According to the brand, the rim shapes have been wind tunnel tested at what it says is the industry norm of 48kmh, but also at a more realistic 32kmh too, to ensure the rim shape are efficient in conditions representing real world riding conditions.

Enve says both the Mercedes GP and Silverstone Sports Engineering hub wind tunnels were used to validate its designs, and all testing was done on two Specialized Tarmac SL7 and Enve Custom bikes, both with 27mm Enve SES tyres.

According to Enve’s results, its new SES wheels compare favourably to or better than a wide range of popular, similar competitors.

The undeniable effect of tyres

All the new wheels have been optimised around Enve’s 27mm SES road tyre. Enve has long been a proponent of wider road tyres, explaining their potential to improve comfort and grip come with little downside if the rim design adequately supports such sizes.

The aerodynamic penalty of increased the volume can be offset, and rolling resistance decreased, says Enve.

As such all the new wheels have been designed for use with tyres in the region of 27-32mm, so are typically much wider than many other designs on the market – internal rim widths on the new SES wheels range from 21mm to 25mm.

Down with hooks and tubes

Enve has seen the value in road tubeless for a long time too, which it considers works in tandem with larger tyre size and increased rim width to facilitate lower pressures and a decreased risk of punctures.

The brand considers a hookless rim design to be a key factor in optimising the concept of tubeless. It launched the SES 4.5 AR wheelset in 2016, which was the first road wheelset on the market to use such a rim design.

Enve says that hookless rims are lighter and easier to manufacture to the tighter tolerances required to successful tubeless setup.

Hookless is also said to provide a further performance effect. With no hooks to pinch the tyre sidewalls inwards, they can be flatter and wider part, therefore forming a smoother physical transition from tyre to rim, aiding aerodynamics while also offering more support when cornering.

Thanks to its experience in the rim feature, Enve says it has learnt to make its hookless rim walls wider, meaning the user should stand a smaller chance of pinch-flatting.

The new SES wheels use proportional width rim walls, meaning that they are narrower on the ultra-light SES 2.3 wheels, which use a 21mm internal width, but wider on the SES 3.4 and SES 5.6 wheels, which have 25mm internal width rims and will be used on more mixed terrain.

No more rim brake wheels

The release of the fourth generation SES wheelsets sees Enve stop offering rim-brake wheelsets to the aftermarket altogether.

Thanks to features like their light weight and textured braking surface, Enve’s rim brake wheels were considered among the best on the market, but the company is now choosing to wind up operations on that side of the business thanks to the overwhelming demand of disc brake wheels and direction of the market.

Despite ceasing their manufacture, Enve says it will continue to offer warranty and service support for the next two years for its rim brake designs.

Purchase assurance

As to be expected the new Enve wheelsets sit at the premium end of the market at £3,100 but upon registration of their wheels Enve says customers can expect a decent amount of support to ensure the wheels are in an investment rather than fast fashion.

The original owner is afforded a five-year guarantee form the original purchase date against defects in materials and workmanship, while as a bonus, second-hand owners are protected for five years from the wheels’ original date of manufacture.

The wheels also fall under Enve’s Incidental Damage Program, which helps original, registered customers with free rim replacements are they are damaged during riding, racing or transportation for up to 3 years from the original date of purchase.

The new Enve SES wheels are available from retailers now.

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