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When ENVE introduced the first generation of its SES 4.5, it effectively bridged the divide between the SES line's discipline-specific wheels — the featherweight, climb-ready 3.4 and the aerodynamic missile 6.7 — to offer one do-it-all set of carbon hoops. ENVE's carbon craftsmen in Northern Utah created the SES 4.5 Carbon Clincher Wheelset with Chris King R45 Hubs to be an all-around training and racing option, capable of slicing through the wind on a flat, fast tri course or powering a road ride through rolling climbs and wide, sweeping descents without getting knocked around by the wind. For 2016, ENVE is updating that versatile platform with the Gen 2 brake track to give the SES 4.5s even more reliable stopping power than before.
Of course, ENVE built its name on going, not stopping, and that involves reducing lateral forces and developing aerodynamic rims that cut drag while displaying consistent stability across a wide range of yaw angles. Its engineers based the rim's shape around depth requirements, then molded the front and rear rims to different dimensions to account for their individual behaviors on the bike. The result is a front wheel measuring 48mm deep and 27m wide and a deeper, slimmer rear wheel shaped to 56mm deep and 25.5mm wide. This design allows the front wheel to provide stability while the rear wheel, tucked away from the wind, takes advantage of its position's relative stability to deliver significant aerodynamic gains.
As mentioned above, ENVE graces the latest SES 4.5 with a new brake track, the Gen 2. ENVE first introduced the new brake track on the SES 2.2, and it claims the textured surface provides a 30% increase in power and nearly equal stopping in wet and dry conditions. Aside from the new brake track, ENVE's meticulous rim construction remains reassuringly static. It still features carbon fiber carefully wrapped around a removable bladder and individually routed around each hole for a completely intact, precise design that displays the industry-leading strength-to-weight ratio we've come to associate with ENVE.
We also think the SES 4.5's generous interior rim width is worth a mention, as it grants your tires a lower rolling resistance at a lower PSI, so you can take advantage of a ride that manages to be both faster and more comfortable. This also means that the tires will deform less while cornering, so they'll keep a better grip on the road and allow you to carry more speed through turns. And for a final bit of good news, the rims come laced to Chris King's outstanding R45 hubs, affording you a wheelset whose incredibly clean exterior is matched by internals of the same caliber.
- Item #ENV0033
- Q & A
Just Love 'em.
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
These are fabulous wheels. The SES 4.5s make for a great all-around wheel set that can be used for both training and racing. A five year warranty helps put your mind at ease when you’re doing either.
The CK hubs engage quickly, are smooth, and roll forever. I haven't ridden them in the rain yet, but the textured brake surface slows me down noticeably faster than my other ENVE wheels without them. When you apply the brakes the textured surface makes it so they're not silent as a good set of alloy hoops, but the sound they make isn't the high-pitched squeal you get from poorly adjusted rim brakes or discs, for that matter. If you’re braking in the corners like a rookie, everyone will know it.
With the added depth they don't spin up quite as fast as my 3.4s but they're no slouches, either. And once up to speed, they're much easier to hold at speed, too.
One of the more remarkable things about this wheel set is how well they deal with crosswinds. I feel more pressure on my SES 3.4s (previous generation) than these; they’re very easy to control, though really light riders (<150 lbs.) may feel it more.
They are also very stiff. I keep my brake pads adjusted very close (1mm clearance) and the only time I get any rub is when I’m cranking around a corner. They’re silent in straight sprints and climbing out of the saddle.
Comfort comes as an added bonus to it’s aero qualities: you can run lower tire pressures while reaping the aero and lower rolling resistance rewards that come with a very wide internal track and external measurement.
If I had to nitpick, I do wish these were tubeless instead of clinchers, but that doesn’t lessen how they ride or how much I enjoy them.
As a whole, these are definitely not cheap wheels, but are a worthy upgrade to your bike and a whole lot of fun to ride.