SES 3.4 Carbon Hub Wheelset
Few manufacturers live up to their names like ENVE, whose rims not only redefined race wheel aesthetics but inspire envious glances the world over. This is taken up another rung when the hoops are laced to its very own carbon rims and the SES 3.4 Carbon Hub Wheelset is the result. Carbon rims on smooth spinning carbon hubs create a wheelset that'll turn heads on race day, and the fact that the hubs feature Mavic's ID 360 star ratchet internals means those heads may get whiplash trying to keep up. Add to that its impressive brake track that brings a powerful boost to stopping in a wheelset that we associate primarily with going.
We've spent enough time on the SES 3.4 to state definitively that the SES wheel design successfully improves the quality of our rides. And while disc brakes seem to be getting all of the praise, with its Gen 2 brake track, it offers braking so exceptional it has us questioning if rotors are needed. The brake track's molded-in texture pattern and specially designed pads achieve a claimed 30% increase in stopping power that manifests in both wet and dry conditions.
Enough about braking, the thing that really sets our hearts aflutter is all of the aerodynamic black magic that has inspired so much starting line envy in competitors the world over. The SES 3.4's rims aren't subjected to static, arbitrary widths and shapes. Instead, the engineers let each wheel's depth requirements dictate the ideal dimensions in order to reduce lateral forces and increase aerodynamic benefits across a wide range of yaw angles. The 3.4's design also accounts for the different behaviors of front and rear wheels. The front wheel is 38mm deep while the rear wheel is deeper at 42mm. This decreases drag with a focus on increased stability up front while taking advantage of the fact that the aft position has less of an effect on steering stability to focus on aerodynamic gains in the rear.
The result is that the 3.4 handles crosswinds and gusts with the confident stability of a wheelset with half its depth by building up a side-force equal to the changing angle of the wind. While this sounds like so much marketing palaver, it's verified by the Stability Index test results. ENVE borrows this testing protocol from the Formula One industry, and it remains the only cycling manufacturer with the confidence to measure its wheels by such a demanding metric. To rate a wheelset on this index, the front wheel is subjected to quick changes in wind resistance at set yaw angles, and the steering torque of user-correction is then measured. This means you won't be thrown across the road when a sharp turn radically changes your orientation to the wind, and you'll also enjoy more stability in gusty conditions, eliminating unfortunate surprises while cruising in the bunch.
Of course, we also recognize that aerodynamics are absolutely meaningless if a wheelset crumbles at the first sign of less-than-optimal road conditions, so we expected ENVE's obsessive engineering to carry over into the wheels' materials and lay-up. We weren't disappointed. For both the rim and the scalloped carbon hub flanges, ENVE routes the carbon around each spoke hole in a 100% intact design, which adds strength, boosts rigidity, and allows for less material and lower weight. The use of removable bladders also keeps weight down compared to other wheels, so the SES series boasts the highest claimed strength-to-weight ratio on the market.
- ENVE's all-rounder wheelset gets wider and lighter
- SES carbon construction balances strength and low weight
- Rim depths provide aerodynamic speed and confident stability
- Gen 2 brake track performs well in variable weather conditions
- Wide internal rim width optimized for 25mm and wider tires
- Smooth spinning ENVE carbon hubs further drop grams
- Tubeless compatibility lets you lower tire pressure
- Lifetime incident protection covers mishaps on or off the bike