Fill the void.
Before the introduction of the SES 4.5s, ENVE undeniably had an impressively strong lineup of carbon wheels, but it lacked one all-around wheelset that could be used in almost any situation, a design that could adapt seamlessly to different rides. We aren't surprised that ENVE identified that gap and set out to fill it, creating the 4.5s to fill the void so perfectly between the 3.4s and 6.7s that it would appear as if it planned it that way all along. This year, the 4.5s continue to offer the same ability to dance up climbs and blast through the flats as when they debuted, now with even more control delivered by ENVE's Generation 2 brake track.
New this year, ENVE graces the SES 4.5 with the Generation 2 brake track, a carbon fiber surface that first appeared on the SES 2.2 and claims equally improved stopping power in both wet and dry conditions. The more rugged texture of the track gives it an increase in power of up to 30%, according to ENVE, and is designed to pair with a new brake pad as well.
For the rim itself, ENVE continues to trust the demonstrated success of the original wheel dimensions on the SES 4.5, which doesn't follow static, arbitrary widths and shapes. Rather, ENVE's engineers designed the rims' dimensions with the goal of reducing lateral forces and increasing aerodynamic benefits across a wide range of yaw angles to create what we see as their most versatile wheelset yet. The front wheel and rear wheel each has its own individual dimensions to account for differences in their behavior, translating to a front wheel that measures 48mm deep and 27mm wide, and a deeper, slimmer rear wheel shaped to 56mm deep and 25.5mm wide. This design lends stability to the more exposed front wheel, while the rear wheel uses its more protected position to deliver strong aerodynamic gains.
Number aside, these dimensions allow the SES 4.5 to handle crosswinds and gusts with the confident stability of a wheelset half its depth by building up a side-force equal to the changing angle of the wind. We're aware of the boldness of this claim, and we commend ENVE for backing it up by subjecting its wheels to rigorous testing borrowed from the Formula One industry, which involves subjecting the wheels to rapidly changing wind degrees at a variety of yaw angles. Much like making a sharp turn that radically changes your orientation to the wind, this realistic simulation ensures the wheelset won't unpredictably pull you across the road or knock you off-balance.
While shaping and dimensions are the brand's calling card, we'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge ENVE's careful construction of the rim itself, and though an obsessively clean construction has become an expected element of the ENVE experience, it's still impressive. ENVE wraps carbon fiber continuously around a removable bladder to construct the rims, routing the fibers around each hole for a completely intact, precise design that boasts the highest claimed strength-to-weight ratio on the market. Since the bladder is removable, the final product is both lighter and more structurally sound than rims that remain packed with molding material. The extra step of removing the mold adds time and expense to the manufacturing process, but the end result is worth it.
We also think it's worth noting that the 4.5s' generous interior widths grant your tires a lower rolling resistance at a lower PSI, so you can enjoy a ride that's both faster and more comfortable. Because of this, the tires will also deform less while cornering, so they'll keep a better grip on the road and let you carry more speed through turns. More good news: the rims come laced to DT Swiss' revered 240 hubs, complete with their incredibly satisfying star ratchet system and indisputable durability.
- A versatile wheelset for nearly any road discipline
- Light yet strong carbon fiber rim construction
- 48mm front and 56mm rear rim depth balance light weight and aerodynamics
- New Generation 2 textured brake track improves control
- 17mm front and 18.5mm rear internal rim widths provide stable tire platform
- Unmistakable rim shaping and clean carbon finish