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ENVE SES 2.3: The best choice for climbers

The commitment from ENVE to always provide the highest performing components, wheels, and bikes is evident. In their latest release, they are updating the Smart ENVE System (SES™) wheelsets to their fourth generation, providing a range of aerodynamic carbon wheels for all disciplines. This latest collection features four wheel models, the SES 2.3, SES 3.4, SES 4.5, and SES 6.7, with the only purpose of making you roll faster.

In the last edition of Among the Giants we had the pleasure of testing the 3.4 model that they were mounted on the ENVE Custom Road Bike and we were completely delighted. This time we bring to you the completely new addition to the line, the SES 2.3, whose details and performance we could check and test first hand.

The SES family gets upgraded

With the launch of this fourth edition of SES, ENVE wanted to design specific wheels for each rider and use case. For instance, the 2.3 is the shallowest (28-32 mm of rim depth) and thinnest (21 mm inner rim bed) rim, designed for climbing. The 3.4 (39-43 mm) and 4.5 (49-55 mm) are designed for mixed-terrain and surface, being wider (25 mm) and deeper. Finally, the 6.7 has the deepest rim (60-67 mm) and an intermediate width (23 mm), as it is designed for flat terrain. Despite these differences in volume, all the SES family is characterized by four strong points that make them stand out from their competitors.

Firstly, the airflow through the front and the rear wheel is not the same, so this is why the front wheels are shallower than the rear ones. Moreover, the front wheel profile is rounder to maximize crosswind stability and control while the rear wheel is sharper and more streamlined to optimize power transmission and aerodynamics. This difference in rim depth gives name to each wheelset. For example, the SES 2.3 has depths of 28 and 32 mm, respectively.

Secondly, most brands only run their tunnel tests at 48 km/h (30 miles/h). However, that is not the average speed riders may ride at during a casual ride, being substantially lower in some cases. This is why ENVE designed and tested the wheels also at 32 km/h (20 miles/h), resulting in rim shapes that are top-of-class performers at both real-world speeds.

The wheel’s performance is not exclusively related to the rim, but also to the tire choice. These can certainly affect the aerodynamics, rolling resistance, and flat protection, and can be the difference between a good or bad day on the bike. ENVE developed their SES Tire collection alongside the rims, with a perfect balance between durability, weight, and rolling and aero efficiency. These SES Road Tires are available in four sizes (25, 27, 29, and 31 mm) and specially designed for tubeless setups.

Last but not least, the most special feature of these wheels is their tubeless-specific design. Tubeless allows lower rolling resistance, better grip, and fewer flat tires. The SES family rims feature ENVE’s patent pending Wide Hookless Bead. The hookless bead rim design ensures that the critical dimensions of the rim, that are required for optimal tubeless performance, are achieved and reduces the chances of pinch-flats.

In addition to these technological improvements, all wheels come with ENVE’s road hubs that feature premium-grade NTN full stainless-steel bearings, a refined lightweight design, optimized flange geometry for power transmission, a durable 40t ratchet drive system, and center-lock discs.

Key points of SES 2.3

Focusing on the SES 2.3 wheelset, it differs from the rest for being the lightest one. It is designed for climbers who value performance on both ascents and descents through the mountains. At a weight of 1,197 g for the whole wheelset (with the ENVE hub and XDR driver) it represents the lightest rim and wheels that ENVE has ever produced. In addition to that, it is the lightest in the market for climbing wheels.

Despite their lightweight design for hilly terrain, they provide a confident handling thanks to a relatively large rim internal width of 21 mm (25 mm of outer width) that is best matched with 27 mm tires. The weight of the front and rear wheels is 540 and 657 g, respectively, and the rim depth is 28 and 32 mm.

Our insight

There is no doubt that we are describing a product that has required a lot of time investement from the wheels and components brand, but the output is worth it.

We have been able to test this model in several scenarios during different days. One can feel how light these SES 2.3 wheels are as soon as you clip in. It didn’t take long to test its reactivity and stifness on the climbs, something we always welcome when trying to make the most of a set of wheels while climbing.

Nonetheless, the good impressions are not only restricted to the moments in which we were going uphill, as the SES 2.3 also perform with high marks on the descents. Its rim width, in addition to the possibility of mounting wide tires, increases bike handling and provided us with the confidence needed to fly downhill.

It is not always the case, but when it happens, we like to acknowledge that. We have really enjoyed testing ENVE’s latest wheelset.

Photos: ENVE Archives