Already ENVE’s best selling wheelset, their popular SES 3.4 is about to get even better. Originally created as a “climbing wheel with an aero advantage” the 3.4s are part of the Smart ENVE System line up using their patented SES rim profile. The goal with the newest iteration was to refine the ride qualities and improve the wheels overall, not necessarily in one specific category. Notably, the wheels are wider with the same internal width front and back, tubeless compatible, and truly rim and disc brake specific…
When road disc was on the horizon, we heard a lot about the potential to make disc brake specific wheels lighter than rim brake wheels because they didn’t need a brake track and didn’t need to withstand the heat or clamping forces of the rim brake caliper. For the most part, that hasn’t materialized, but ENVE is making it happen. Without a brake track and with a disc specific layup, the disc rims are about 40g lighter than their rim brake counterparts.
However, the disc brake wheels do have four more spokes on the front wheel so the wheel sets end up heavier for the Chris King R45 disc build, but the DT 240 CL disc wheels squeak out a victory at almost 30g lighter. Sure, once you add in the rotors and the heavier disc brake calipers the rim set up will still probably be lighter, but the fact that a disc brake version with more spokes is lighter than a corresponding rim brake version is substantial.
The rim brake and tubular versions use ENVE’s molded-in brake track technology made from unidirectional carbon fiber that produces 30% more stopping power. The brake track has a raised texture that is said to provide excellent wet weather stopping that is almost equivalent to dry stopping, and uses a high temperature resin to keep things from melting and falling apart on long descents.
Both rims have undergone improvements to the overall profile, though some of the results aren’t what you would expect. The new 3.4 profile is actually slightly less aerodynamic over multiple yaw angles, but the trade off is a lighter rim that is wider, and offers a better ride through tubeless compatibility. To ENVE, the development of the new SES 3.4 took a “holistic” approach to the overall performance which resulted in a 21mm internal width optimized for 25mm tires and a similar width front to back, though the rims still have different depths – 38mm front and 42mm rear. According to aerodynamicist Simon Smart whose own name is a part of the SES moniker, “Drag reduction is only one part of the equation. In order to make a fast wheel, attributes such as stability, rolling resistance, shape of the tire bed, and the construction of the rim itself must be carefully considered to produce maximum efficiency on the road. The new SES 3.4 carefully balances all these attributes for a net gain in efficiency over other wheelsets in this category.” The tubular rims are similar, designed around 25mm tires with a 29.7mm/38mm front and 29mm/42mm rear provfile.
Sold as “Road Tubeless Ready,” the rim and disc brake wheelsets will ship with a rim strip and valve extenders for normal tubed use, plus a tubeless kit with tape and valve stems to run them tubeless out of the box. The rim brake wheels will also include titanium skewers and brake pads, while the disc version gets the same minus the brake pads. Pricing is set at $975 per rim ($899 for the tubular), and complete wheelsets running $2,700 for a set of tubulars with DT 240 hubs, to $3,500 for the rim brake wheels with ENVE’s ultralight hubs (see chart above for pricing).
Rim brake versions are available now, with disc brake and tubular options shipping April 1.
In other news from ENVE, the company has launched a new version of their carbon seat post. Considered Road specific, the post is shortened to 300mm and includes a new Di2 battery plug for improved electronics integration. Unseen is a new laminate that is said to be exclusively tailored to road cycling which along with the shorter length makes it lighter at 168g for the 0 offset or 178g for the 25mm offset in 25.4 and 27.2 diameters. Bikes with larger diameter seatposts will still need to use their existing 400mm seat post.
Built with their horizontal twin bolt system with titanium bolts, the head has clamps for 7mm and 7x10mm rails and a reversible cradle for 0-18° and 9-27° of adjustment. Sold with the post, the battery plugs will also be available aftermarket in three sizes – 25.4, 27.2, and 30.9/31.6. Posts will run $275 with additional battery plugs sold for $20.
Finally, wheels don’t get all the disc brake fun as there is a new Road Disc fork from ENVE as well. This one borrows the 12 x 100mm thru axle dropout from their gravel fork but in a road specific package.
Some riders will be happy to hear that while the fork keeps the axle to crown height at 370mm to fit many road bikes, the fork still has clearance for 32mm tires. Designed for flat mount disc brakes (140mm or 160mm rotors), standard disc calipers can be run with an adapter and the fork has internal routing through the left leg. Available in both 43mm and 50mm rakes, the fork is only offered in a 1.125 – 1.25″ tapered steerer that’s 350mm long and weighs 425g. The fork does not appear to be fender compatible like their gravel fork, and is priced at $575. Available now.