A Breakdown of ENVE’s New SES 4.5 Rims
It will probably come as no surprise that we here at FairWheel are huge fans of ENVE. Some of our favorite wheels are built using ENVE 3.4 and ENVE 6.7 rims. However we’ve always struggled with a feeling that while each of those are great at certain things, neither one of them really nails it as a do it all wheelset. The 6.7 has generally been a go to for us, but with the added weight and depth they sometimes feel out of place in the mountains. While the 3.4 feels right at home in the mountains but sometimes leaves us wanting more on the flats and rollers. That’s where the new ENVE 4.5 comes in. ENVE’s 4.5 is a new middle ground that is being released in the next couple of weeks, and it’s something that we’re very excited for.SES (Smart ENVE System) rims are something that ENVE has really spent a lot of time and money in developing. Unlike some other companies they didn’t just settle on a shape and then apply that shape to different depths. Instead, they tested different shapes at different depths to find the combinations that worked best. We were definitely happy to hear that the 4.5 is not just a deeper 3.4 or a shallower 6.7 but is in fact it’s own design. The cross section of the 4.5 is unique to the current SES rims and while that may not result in a huge change it does mean that every little bit of performance that can be squeezed in has been. An easy place to see this is in the stiffness being that the 4.5 rim has tested as ENVE’s stiffest rim to date. This could be a major benefit to cross riders, and heavier, or more abusive, road riders.
The SES 4.5 is what they are calling this wheelset, but if we’re rounding off the depths this wheelset should have been called the 5.6. For the 4.5’s the front rim is actually 48mm deep and 27mm wide, while the rear is 56mm deep and 25.5mm wide. This makes both the front and rear rims the widest of all the SES rims to date.
Claimed weight is listed at 469 grams for the front and 489 grams for the rear. Our pre-production set came in at almost exactly the claimed weights (476 gms frt / 488 gms rr). That’s roughly 40 grams heavier than the 3.4 and 100 grams lighter than the 6.7.
Production on the SES 4.5 is entirely in the USA as it is on all ENVE rims. Spoke and valve holes continue to be molded in for added strength, and the brake track is also the same molded-in textured surface from the existing SES rims. Spoke counts at 20/24 are also the same as current 3.4 and 6.7 rims.
Overall, we are super excited to see ENVE release what we consider a perfect wheelset. The depth, width, and weight are all spot on with what we’d consider an ideal all-rounder wheelset. We do have to wonder how this will affect the 3.4 – will this be the rim that kills the 3.4?
ENVE 3.4, 4.5, 6.7 Comparison
The Quick and Dirty; Smart ENVE System (SES)
The SES (Smart ENVE System) is ENVE’s flagship wheel lineup. Designed to be used in matched pairs, the front and rear rims have asymmetric profiles – the front being slightly shallower and wider than the rear. Other than this commonality, each depth of SES wheels are specifically designed to maximize aerodynamics and stability. Handling in particular is where SES wheels excel – they are amazingly stable. Instead of totally eliminating the buffeting that happens from a crosswind, they changed the way that the wheel interacts with it. Another key design feature is the molded braking surface – this creates a seamless transition between rim and brake track. Getting rid of the small lip transitioning to the brake track has maximized aerodynamic efficiency. Along these same lines, the spoke holes and spoke beds are molded in to the rims. Just like the brake track, this creates a slippery smooth surface for the air to flow over. If you want to read up a bit more on SES technology, give this article a read – Smart ENVE System Rims