ENVE SES 2.2 WHEELSET REVIEW
With a top notch carbon fiber engineering and design team and one of the most respected carbon fiber manufacturing facilities in the United States, we regard Enve as one of the top manufacturers of high performance carbon wheels and components.
The new Enve SES 2.2 low profile rim further demonstrates Enve’s focus on quality of engineering and production. The Enve SES 2.2 wheelset is exceptionally light and versatile; a wheelset that will be one of the best available for climbing for lighter to moderate weight riders without being a pure specialist in the process.
NEW CARBON FIBER ROAD HUB
While the Enve SES 2.2 is available with hubs from DT and Chris King (like all Enve wheels), this ultralight wheel is often best served with Enve’s recently released carbon fiber hub of its own design and manufacture here in the U.S. The shell of the new Enve carbon hub is carbon fiber, designed around the internals of a DT Swiss 180 freewheel ratchet system. The result is a very lightweight, stiff hub with reliable, easy to service, and time-tested mechanical innards.
These new hubs have some very impressive statistics. The weak point of pretty much all hubs is the flange where the spokes attach to the hub. The hubs feature molded-in spoke holes and a carbon weave and lay-up that make the flanges exceptionally strong. Enve states that the hubs can take between 800-900 ft/lbs of spoke tension, exceeding the tension capacity of the spokes themselves. As for weight, these hubs are quite light. The front hub weighs in at 72 grams, while the rear is 159 grams. By comparison, a pair of DT Swiss 180, one of the lightest hubs around, weighs 60 grams more. The front Enve carbon hub takes 20 spokes, while the rear is for 24.
On a related note, Enve has been nice enough to offer their new carbon hubs separate of the wheels for $1,350 a pair. Fit Werx would be happy to build you a custom matched set of wheels for your use and weight with most any rim that is compatible.
SMART ENVE SYSTEM 2.2 RIMS
The Smart Enve System (SES for short) rims are available in both clincher and tubular designs, with the clincher rim being tubeless-ready (very cool in a carbon rim!). Like most of Enve’s more recent rims, the Enve SES 2.2 rims use the latest in wider-rim design. The clincher rims are 18.5 mm internally, 27 mm on the outside. The clinchers are designed to work optimally with 25mm wide tires and are one of the first full carbon clincher rims to be specifically designed to be tubeless compatible. As an aside, note that the wider the rim, the wider the tire you should use; using a 23mm tire on a wider rim like the Enve SES 2.2 can actually distort the tire shape.
When it comes to depth, the rims of the Enve SES 2.2 are a scant 25 mm deep. With the exception of full carbon wheels like those from Lightweight and the Reynolds RZR, in a traditional spoked design a low profile depth like this simply saves weight and minimizes side wind issues.
The 2.2 SES rims, like all Enve carbon fiber rims and hubs, have spoke holes that are molded into the rim, not drilled. Molding the holes into the rim as part of the manufacturing process makes the rim stronger than drilling after the fact and is a hallmark of Enve’s products.
Enve’s goals with the SES 2.2 were to build a light-weight climbing wheel that would also be stable on long descents in possibly nasty conditions; weight savings and confidence inspiring ground contact trumped aero advantages in the design. Unlike many low profile rims, however, these rims don’t totally ignore aerodynamics in the process. The Enve 2.2 rim, as with all of Enve’s SES rims, were developed with the assistance of Simon Smart, founder of Smart Aero Technologies, one of the top firms specializing in computation fluid dynamics. The design of the rim, and its aerodynamic qualities and performance, were confirmed by testing in the Mercedes GP-Petronas wind tunnel. While not as aero as wheels with much deeper profiles, these rims have maximized the aerodynamic advantages available at this rim depth.
One criticism of carbon rims has been that they do not offer braking performance equal to that of alloy rims and this applied to earlier Enve rim designs. However, times continue to change… The Enve SES 2.2 is the first wheel in Enve’s line to feature their latest textured braking track that is molded into the rim during manufacture, not milled into the carbon fiber later. Molding the textured brake track into the rim maximizes strength and the new textured surface offers a claimed 30% better braking performance than Enve’s previous brake track design. The brake track and pad combination of the Enve SES 2.2 now offers equal braking capacity in both wet and dry. Zipp’s latest brake track offers similar braking performance in our experience and we seem to have officially entered a new era where there are now carbon fiber rims that actually brake more consistently and stronger in all conditions than the majority of alloy wheels.
The Enve SES 2.2 wheels come with Enve’s brake pads. My motto with regard to brake pads is, “If the manufacturer specifies a brake pad, use it.” Many braking components are now designed as a system and work best this way.
Okay, now for the main reason behind the development of the hub and rim combination found in the Enve SES 2.2 wheelset – weight.
• Enve carbon hubs are a mere 231 grams a pair.
• An Enve SES 2.2 tubular rim is just 281 grams.
• A clincher Enve SES 2.2 rim is 410 grams.
• The complete tubular wheelset built on Enve’s hubs is 1045 grams and the clinchers come in at 1275 grams (both without the included Enve titanium skewers).
While not quite as light as a pair of Lightweight Meilenstein Obermeyers or Reynolds RZR’s, this is still VERY light and the price of the Enve SES 2.2 is a fair amount lower than these other wheels.
I have heard some say that carbon clincher wheels are a waste of money, because they are heavier than alloy rimmed wheels. Not so here, as you will find very few alloy-rimmed wheels at this weight. And remember, this weight is being achieved with common J-bend spokes. While the previously mentioned Lightweights and RZRs are 90 to 100 grams lighter, this is achieved with carbon fiber spokes that are molded or bonded into the rim and hub. Damage a spoke, and the wheel has to go back to the manufacturer for repair.
Team MTN-Qhubeka used these wheels in the Tour this past summer, so you know they can perform at the highest level, and stand up to the rigors of the most demanding bike race in the world. This being said, Enve backs their products with one of the best warranties in the business.
Enve hubs and rims carry a five year warranty with lifetime crash replacement, while the bearing warranty is four years.
IMPROVE YOUR BIKE!
We have repeated this ad nauseam, but I will say it again: “The best way to improve your bike is to upgrade your wheels.“ It can be truly remarkable what a high quality set of wheels can do for your bike. Truly, great wheels can make an average bike ride great and basic wheels can take even the nicest bike and make it ride average at best. Wheels can completely transform a bike by improving ride comfort, quickening handling, increasing power transfer to the road, and improving acceleration and climbing. This fact was first driven home to me (in spades!) when several years ago I rode a set of the Reynolds RZR’s for a weekend. I found myself riding a gear higher almost everywhere instantly! The Enve SES 2.2 wheelset offers some similar transformational power, especially when climbing.
Are you a light to mid weight/power rider looking for a wheel to help you get up and down the gaps of Vermont, or just looking for a high quality all-around wheel that will significantly improve the acceleration of your bike? Unless you already have a pair of Lightweight wheels or Reynolds’ RZR, a pair of Enve SES 2.2 with Enve carbon hubs will be a step above any other wheel you have ever attacked a hill on. As a bonus, they descend well, brake exceptionally and offer ride comfort, handling, and good aerodynamics (for its depth…). Bigger/more powerful riders should consider using a heavier spoke gauge than what Enve delivers from the factory and/or seek out a stiffer wheel in Enve’s line like the 3.4 or 4.5.
Enve SES 2.2 carbon wheels are between $2375 and $3500 a pair depending on the hub you select and just how light and efficient you want them to be.
Visit the wheel section of our web site for additional information on how to select the best wheel for your needs and more information on manufacturers we carry. Contact Us to discuss a new wheelset and ask about our Wheel Rewards Program to get the best value and price we can provide on a wheel package.