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ENVE's wheels occasionally give us mortals the chance to feel like we're riding like higher powers, and with the advent of the SES 4.5 Carbon Clincher Road Wheelset, complete with ENVE's Carbon Ceramic Hubs, ENVE blends powerful, competent internals with its rims' ethereal, functional exterior. In fact, the SES 4.5 rims have already earned fabled status as they carried MTN Qhubeka's Cummings to victory in Stage 14 of the 2015 Tour; however, the ENVE carbon hubs included here are actually lighter and smoother than the ones Mr. Cummings himself races on.
For the SES line, ENVE's engineers use wheel depth requirements to determine the ideal width dimensions and rim shape, allowing them to reduce lateral forces and increase aerodynamic benefits across a diverse range of yaw angles. ENVE also anticipates the different behaviors of front and rear wheels, shaping the front rim to 48mm deep and 27mm wide, and applying a slimmer, deeper shape to the rear, which measures 56mm deep and 25.5mm wide. As the wheels spin, this design caters to stability in the front and aerodynamic gains in back without impacting the stability of the system as a whole.
For you, all of these measurements result in a wheelset that won't quake at the first gusty crosswind, behaving much like wheelsets far shallower than it. ENVE has successfully proven this claim by subjecting its wheels to a Stability Index borrowed from the Formula One industry. The rigorous testing involves subjecting the wheels to rapidly changing wind speeds at a variety of yaw angles, ensuring the wheels are able respond calmly to sharp turns in windy conditions. Stable is a word we continue to associate with this wheelset, and it's no exaggeration.
ENVE being ENVE, the actual construction process is just as meticulous and time consuming as the meta work of designing the rim. It entails wrapping the carbon fibers continuously around each spoke hole in a 100% intact design, allowing for less material, more structural integrity, and the seductively smooth aesthetics ENVE is known for. For 2016, ENVE also gifts the SES 4.5 with a brand new brake track, referred to as Gen 2, which offers a claimed 30% increase in stopping power and the ability to retain 95% of its braking power in sloppy, wet conditions.
To create its own hubs, superior even to those ridden by MTN Qhubeka (now Dimension Data), ENVE starts with DT Swiss' revered star ratchet freehub engagement system. It then upgrades the bearings from stainless steel to CeramicSpeed, aligning the hubs with DT's top-of-the-line 180 hubs. The sleek carbon shell and flanges, with their defining scalloped edges, are all laid-up as a single piece, saving weight over Mr. Cummings' aluminum hub bodies and increasing the overall stiffness of the system. As we've said already, the combination of materials, engineering, and rock-solid internals may bring us mortals one step closer to the gods of cycling.
- Item #ENV0032
- Q & A
One wheel to rule them all
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
These wheels are flat out amazing!!! Frankly, there was nothing wrong with the outgoing 4.5's, but when Enve sees an opportunity to increase performance they go for it. The Gen 2 brake track is everything Enve claims, with a noticeable improvement in stopping power, modulation and especially wet braking performance. I had the opportunity to test this out during a particularly lousy commute home. The textured track adds a fair amount of braking noise, but it's a linear, whirring down as you stop instead of the occasional pad squeal that carbon rims are known for.
These wheels are replacing my trusted Zipp 404's and I can feel a definite increase in lateral stiffness as well as an improvement in high speed stability. The staggered rim profile and width from front to rear lives up to Enve's aero claims in my opinion. As to the hub selection.....
Do I actually :::need::: carbon hubs with ceramic bearings? The fact that I am not paid to ride my bike says "no", but the combo of the 4.5 and the new Enve carbon hub was too hard to resist. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?
I have never experienced a hub that rolls as smooth or lets the wheels spin up as fast as these. The reduced weight is of course a plus, but non-gram counters can revel in the rest of the beauty of the hubs. The woven in spoke holes in the flanges follow Enve's practice of adding strength where there is a hole (rather than loosing it) and this also helps in the rigidity factor.
The DT/Swiss options are winners as well, for a reduced cost and a handful more grams.
Overall, the SES 4.5's are proving to be a one-wheel collection!
If you have any questions or for additional information, please feel free to reach out to me directly.
Gearhead - Bike