Like a feather in the wind.
The ENVE SES 2.2 wheelset, built feather-light to fly up the mountains of the Tour, was the biggest news of the climbing wheel world this year. Now laced with ENVE's new carbon hubs, the SES 2.2 Tubular Wheelset with ENVE Hubs is available to us all whether we're conquering our favorite local passes or lining up with the pro peloton.
Mountain roads bring with them a special set of specifications and necessary robustness in braking capabilities. ENVE tackles those requirements head-on with a brand-new, molded-in, textured brake surface and new, black brake pads for a claimed 30% improvement in braking performance over ENVE's previous models. The new combination also makes for more consistent braking across both wet and dry conditions. When you're sweeping through switchbacks, you can trust the braking surface to do what it's supposed to do: get you through the descent on two wheels.
While designing the SES 2.2, ENVE's primary focus was on stiffness and low weight — essential qualities while pedaling up steep grades. Rather than create two separate rim profiles for the front and rear as it does in the rest of the SES line, ENVE chose to keep the 2.0 rim dimensions uniform. This means 25mm of depth and 27mm of external width across both wheels. They're specifically made to be used with on-trend 25mm tires for a smooth, forgiving, and more efficient ride.
Though the 2.2 has a different profile than its SES siblings, it has the same solid construction and attention to detail we expect from ENVE. ENVE wheels enjoy the reputation of having one of the highest strength-to-weight ratios in the industry because of a jealously guarded process of molding in-spoke holes, nipple seats, and valve stem holes rather than drilling them after the fact. ENVE routes the carbon fibers around each hole to maintain continuous fiber integrity, which results in both increased rim rigidity and lower weight.
This system facilitates higher, more uniform spoke tension than standard bladder molding. ENVE is also able to remove the inner bladder once the molding process is complete, which results in a lower overall weight than processes that leave the bladder in place. This is a lengthy and costly extra step, but it results in a wheel that is perfectly tensioned and significantly lighter than it would be were the bladder left inside.
As the icing on the carbon cake, these SES 2.2 Tubulars are finished with the all-new ENVE carbon hubs, which feature the same venerable star ratchet engagement system in the DT Swiss 240 hubs used throughout ENVE's line. Unlike those 240s, though, ENVE's carbon hubs are built with CeramicSpeed bearings instead of stainless steel, putting them more on par with DT's top-tier 180 hubs. The hubs' weights also compare favorably to 240 hubs, with the carbon hubs weighing a claimed 74g (front) and 158g (rear) for a total claimed weight of just 232g — 92g lighter than the 240 set.
The secret to the weight loss is, obviously, the carbon shell and flanges, all of which are laid-up as a single piece. This allows ENVE to wrap threads continuously across the hubs' bodies in much the same way as its wheels, increasing structural integrity while requiring less material to keep weight to a minimum. The spoke holes are also molded in, not drilled, which further improves the hubs' strength and results in a hub body so strong that — in industry testing — the spokes fail before it does. While we shouldn't be surprised that ENVE is rolling such quality out of its Northern Utah manufacturing facility, we still can't help but be impressed every time the company rewrites what's possible to achieve with carbon fiber.