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Ceramic hearts carbon.
The combination of carbon rims, carbon hubs, and ceramic bearings found when ENVE's SES 3.4 Carbon Clincher Road Wheelset meets ENVE's Ceramic Hubs is one that'll turn heads at the Tuesday night group ride and have the peloton charging on the rivet just to keep up. The hubs harness ENVE's renowned engineering and feature DT Swiss' star ratchet internals for lightning fast engagement and silky smooth speed, while the versatile 3.4 rim gets some updates for 2017. Gaining tubeless compatibility and a wider profile, the 3.4's updated rim shape pushes its predecessor's famed versatility even further with increased stability, more confident handling, and an overall faster, smoother ride.
The new rim profile features a mammoth 21mm internal rim width for both front and rear, dwarfing the previous 3.4's 18.5mm front and 16.5mm rear combination. ENVE says this wide stance optimizes aerodynamics with a 25mm tire while also boosting tire volume, which in turn allows lower tire pressure for a smoother, more efficient ride. We'd also happily run even wider tires for an extra dose of plush, and swapping the tubes for tubeless will take full advantage of the new rim width by reducing pinch flat risk while further reducing pressure and rolling resistance.
The rim depth continues ENVE's commitment to a shallower front and deeper rear rim pairing, but brings the numbers closer together with the front rim gaining 3mm to a 38mm depth and the rear dropping 3mm to land at a 42mm depth compared to the previous rim profile. ENVE claims that this new combination improves handling and stability in variable wind conditions without sacrificing any aerodynamics, which means you'll be riding smooth instead of wrestling to keep your bike in line at speed. At the brake track, the 3.4 carries over 2016's in-molded Gen 2 finish, which offers 30% stronger stopping power and the ability to retain 95% of its braking power when being used in wet conditions.
As with all its SES wheels, ENVE uses its most sophisticated technology and engineering techniques to create this fast, stiff, and aerodynamic wheelset. The ENVE SES series boasts the highest strength-to-weight ratio on the market, due in part to ENVE's patented process of molding-in spoke holes, nipple seats, and valve stem holes. Knowing that carbon fiber gains strength from continuous fibers, ENVE routes the fibers around each hole in a 100% intact design, which allows a lower weight at the spoke face and adds overall rigidity to the rim. ENVE also removes the rim-shaping inflatable bladder in the rim, which, while time-consuming, serves to reduce rim weight and makes for a perfectly tensioned wheel build.
- A versatile wheel with tubeless compatibility and a new rim shape
- SES carbon construction balances strength and weight
- Rim depth pairing provides aerodynamic speed and confident stability
- Gen 2 brake track performs well in variable weather conditions
- Wide internal rim width optimized for 25mm and wider tires
- Tubeless compatibility lets you lower tire pressure
- ENVE's carbon hubs with ceramic bearings roll smooth and fast
- Item #ENV003W
- Q & A
Only reporting on tire width
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
25mm Conti 4000s II's measure a whopping 27.2-27.3mm. On my Zipp 202 NSW's the same tire is only 25.4-25.6 (yes, the width clearly varies a little around the circumference on both wheels)
Too few miles to report on anything else, except weight seemed to be about exactly as advertised