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

SES 3.4 Front Rear
Weight 458g 464g
Depth 35mm 45mm
Width 26mm 24mm
SES 4.5 Front Rear
Weight 469g 489g
Depth 48mm 56mm
Width 27mm 25.5mm
SES 6.7 Front Rear
Weight 520g 542g
Depth 60mm 70mm
Width 26mm 24mm

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

How do They Look Like on a Bike?

Our Ritte Snob build with ENVE 4.5 wheels.

Our Ritte Snob build with ENVE 4.5 wheels.

26 comments on “A Breakdown of ENVE’s New SES 4.5 Rims”

  1. ChrisLee says:

    Hey guys,

    What width tyres will work best with these. Assume 25mm+ is necessary as anything else won’t be wide enough for the rim bed?


    1. We’ve mounted 23mm Vredestein tires on our test set and they’re good for Jason. I’ll be running 25mm on a DT 240 / CX-Ray build since I prefer 25s.

  2. Thomas says:

    Any thoughts on converting to tubeless?

    1. We can’t recommend it because of ENVE’s policies including the fact that you have to use an ENVE rim strip. But, we do know of people doing it successfully.

  3. RobinS says:

    What’s the internal width of these rims?

    1. Front 18.5 / Rear 16.9

  4. Anthony Young says:

    How will these go fitting between ee brakes. I have the 6.7s and I have to have the smallest pad spacer on those and they only just fit.

    1. The newest version should be fine. Out of curiosity did you change the spacers on your pad holders? The EE Brakes come with different spacer kits.

  5. jb says:

    what is the internal width of the rims? new bontys are 19.5mm/zipp 30317.25mm

    1. Front 18.5 / Rear 16.9

  6. Thomas says:

    I’m thinking about going to these from tubeless shamals. What inner tubes do you think would have a similar ride quality? Also, what inner tube width would work best with the 4.5s?

  7. kaster says:

    what spokes come with the 4.5?

    1. We build using Pillar, DT-Swiss or Sapim spokes. Weight, price, hubset and rider input all play a role in which spoke we use. The spokes on the Ritte Snob that we photographed are black Cx-Rays.

  8. joowon49 says:

    I see that the 4.5 tubulars are listed as being lighter than the 3.4 tubulars, can you confirm this?

  9. jumbojuice says:

    Will there be a Disc Brake version?

  10. Dallas parr says:

    I have the 4.5 and absolutely love them. 2 rides.

    Question: do you have to run 80mm inner tube or can 60mm fit no problem.

    Any thoughts

    1. Madcow says:

      The 60mm valve does not fit well. We do have Vredestein 80mm valve tubes.

  11. Kam says:

    Do you recommend to mix 4.5 and 6.7 to make 4.7? Means having 70mm rear and 48mm front?
    Any advantage?

  12. Alberto says:

    I way 202lbs…. how much weight will these rims support?


    1. Madcow says:

      The rims will have no problem with a rider your size. Spoke selection will be important to tailor the ride quality to your size though.

  13. chup says:

    the 3.4 would probably work better at windy situation, otherwise… I still love my 3.4 Disc tho.

  14. Piotr Frankowicz says:


    Enve 4.5 tubular or clichers
    which is better?
    I weigh 68 kg, every year 20 thousand km
    This is the only set of wheels

    Piter ( from Poland 🙂 )

    1. ejordan says:

      Clinchers will be a bit cheaper and easier to maintain, tubulars will perform slightly better.

  15. Jack says:

    I have a parlee z5 sli frame, I heard there’s an issue of the enve 4.5 tire will rub chainstay.

  16. Gus says:

    Will a ses 4.5 with 25 ‘s
    Tires rub the chain stays of a 2012 Cervelo R5??

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