KNOWS NOTES – ENVE UPDATES, REVIEW GOALS, MORE VALUE
ENVE just announced some major and minor updates to their SES road bike wheel line. While we don’t do product announcements and industry news, I’ll leave it to others to give you the full rundown. But, since I’ve got a half dozen reviews of the ENVE wheels up on the site, I thought it was important to tell you what reviews we’ve done that have or will be updated, added, been taken down, or remain as is, and why.
I’ve been riding the newly named and somewhat updated ENVE SES 4.5, formerly known as the ENVE SES 4.5 AR. If you click on that new name, you’ll see my new review of its performance. Spoiler alert, it remains my Best All-Around Performance Wheelset.
Except for shedding the AR moniker and getting some new labels, the new ENVE SES 3.4 is essentially unchanged. I too have merely dropped the AR name from my review of that wheelset which you can see by clicking on the new name or in my category reviews that compare climbing and gravel wheels.
ENVE has stopped making, and I’ve removed my writeup of the wheelset that before today was called the ENVE SES 3.4 disc that appeared in my ongoing comparative review of the best lightweight wheels. They are now making the ENVE SES 2.3 for pure climbers (though the renamed SES 3.4 and even the SES 4.5 climb pretty damn well amidst the other things they do). I’ve ordered the SES 2.3 and will compare it to two mountain goats from other brands this summer.
ENVE has stopped making the SES 5.6 in both disc and rim brake versions. Those reviews will be removed once these models are no longer available in stores. I hate to see them go – the wheels, more so than the reviews. They were both ranked Best Performers in the aero category and I was a big fan of both. ENVE is now making the SES 6.7 for aero-focused time trialists and triathletes. I’ll await your feedback on whether we should test it.
Four other things of note that cross all of the new SES line of wheels.
Hubs – The SES wheels are now available only with the ENVE Alloy hubset with Shimano HG, SRAM XDR, and Campagnolo N3W freehub options. Chris King, Industry Nine, DT Swiss 240, and ENVE Carbon hubs are no longer options.
In my experience, the ENVE Alloy hub engages quickly, coasts quietly, and requires next to no maintenance. I’ve tested ENVE wheels with Chris King and Industry Nine hubs in the past and found they offered some aesthetic, sonic, and maintenance pluses and minuses but didn’t make notable road performance differences on the road.
Rim tape – As more and more wheelsets come with pretaped rims and installed valve stems, ENVE still provides the tape and valve stems for us consumers to install. That’s to allow access to the internal nipples for any spoke tensioning or wheel truing adjustments needed prior to covering them with the tape. ENVE believes internal nipples reduce about 1.5 watts of aero drag between the two wheels, which is not nuthin’, and leads them to stay with the internal nipple design.
While I’ve gotten pretty good at taping rims and ENVE rims in particular, I really prefer not to do it and know that some aren’t very good at it. (Here’s how to install ENVE tape. Ignore what they say at the beginning about using clincher tires; it doesn’t apply to their current line of SES wheels.)
I applaud those wheelset manufacturers who pretape their rims at the factory. As my unscientific method of spoke plucking and wheel true eyeballing has never found an ENVE wheelset to need adjustment – and I wouldn’t trust myself twisting the spokes one way or the other if it did – I really would have liked it if ENVE pretaped this latest line of SES wheels to save all of us some time and save some a lot of hassle.
If a high percentage of new, pretaped ENVE builds are shipped out of tolerance and need adjustment – which I doubt – that would be bad on ENVE and something they should pay a shop to take care of as part of their warranty.
Tire pressure – The decals on the new SES wheels show a max pressure of 80 psi for the SES 4.5 wheels that are tubeless only, hookless, and have a 25mm inside width. The new ETRTO and ISO standard for tubeless, hookless rims is 5 bar or 72.5 psi. I asked ENVE about this.
ENVE, began making tubeless, hookless road wheels years before ETRTO started considering a pressure standard for that combination. They established max pressures for their rims in their own testing.
For the record, the 21mm wide internal rim wheelsets (ENVE SES 2.3, ENVE 45, ENVE 65 ) are recommended not to exceed 90 psi, and the 25mm wide internal rim wheelsets (ENVE SES 3.4 and SES 4.5) not to exceed 80 psi. ENVE also prepares a list of compatible tires that stay on their wheels up to 150% of those recommended max pressures.
Except for the heaviest riders using the skinniest of tires, you’ll usually get the best combination of aero drag and rolling resistance performance and comfort well under these max pressure recommendation levels (see ENVE tire pressure recommendations chart).
Price – The price of ENVE’s new SES line of wheels has gone up US$300 and £300 to $2850/£3100. That’s the unfortunate trend across all segments of cycling wheels and from most every wheelmaking brand. I can’t and won’t try to justify it by using supply chain, labor costs, inflation, or the latest conspiracy theory.
As with all cycling products, prices are based on what sellers feel the market will bear and what buyers are willing to pay. You get to choose between products of different prices or between cycling and reading.
In my January issue of Know’s Notes, I laid out the goals I wanted our reviews to focus on this year.
How are we doing? You, of course, are the judge. To help, here’s a list of gear we’ve reviewed or are testing* against the goals I set back then.
— More Brands – Goodyear tires, Scribe wheels, Wahoo power meter, Veloflex tires, Quoc gravel shoes*, Look gravel cleats*, KOO sunglasses*, DMT shoes*, Renee Herse tires*
— More Value – Tifosi sunglasses, Scribe wheels, Ale bib shorts, Bontrager wheels*,
— More Categories – Wide wheels and wide tires research, climbing wheels price point face-off*,
— More Apparel – 4 new road shoes*, 4 new men’s bib shorts*, 4 new women’s bib shorts*, 2 new sunglasses*, 1 new road helmet*
— More Connections – See below
— More of What Works – Conti tires, Enve wheels, Campagnolo wheels*, 3 new gravel tires*
* currently in testing
As a reminder, you can enter a product name in the “Find a review…” search bar at the top of any page on the site to see if we’ve reviewed it or in the “Shop for gear…” search bar just below it to see which of our recommended stores has it.
If you read a lot of online cycling sites you can see that the relationship between publishers and readers is changing. Many sites have put up paywalls, requiring you to buy subscriptions to see their content.
Even after you pay your subscription, you still get ads and the potential conflicts of interest that come with them. Other sites shamelessly post “sponsored content,” a fancy name for articles and reviews written and paid for by product suppliers.
Some sites have shut down and others that apparently aren’t meeting their advertising or subscription goals are cutting back staff and coverage, some in their tech and gear review areas in favor of more news, event, culture, opinion, and podcast content.
There are still quality reviewers doing good reviews that you can read, though often with more of a focus on the product storyline, technology, and specs, fed to them by the suppliers and too little about the actual product performance. And even with that, you need a subscription to read it on many sites.
Where is In The Know Cycling headed in the midst of all of this?
I remain committed to no advertisements, no paywalls, and no industry influence or compensation of any type. I have neither cycling industry nor media experience. My fellow reviewers all have full-time, non-cycling industry jobs. I’m a cycling enthusiast who years ago started writing a blog about a search for a new wheelset and turned it into a comprehensive product review site for anyone who wants to read it.
I want all of that to continue.
As a cyclist, I try to write reviews that are helpful in choosing what gear and kit will make me and my fellow testers faster and improve our cycling experiences. That means doing an objective and comprehensive review of the performance of a category of gear that gives me enough information and analysis that I can relate to and trust to make the right decision about what to buy.
I also work hard to find and link to the stores I’d want to buy at because they have the best prices, product selection, and customer satisfaction and because they support the goals of this site by providing a small commission when you buy there after clicking on the links.
Those commissions, and the ridiculous amount of time I and my unpaid fellow testers spend reviewing gear, provide the juice that keeps this site up and running. It’s the only thing that allows us to be ad-free and subscription-free.
Yet many of you, my dear readers, want more.
You want more reviews of more products. You want reviews sooner than I post them. You want me to review more of the products you’ve suggested I review. You’d like to know more about which products are best for your particular situation and budget. And you want to see the site keep doing all that it is doing already and, at the same time, support your local bike shop by making some gear purchases there as well as online.
I’m flattered. I’d like to give you all of those things.
The survey many of you filled out recently made this clear. Those who responded overwhelmingly said they would value getting early access to reviews, helping to choose what products are reviewed, getting personal recommendations, and many other things.
So in addition to all the free, independent, comprehensive, and comparative reviews you now get, I’m going to offer you more of what you’re asking for and value.
Stay tuned for an invitation to Know’s Club, a paid membership program that will allow you to get more from me and all that we do here at In The Know Cycling without any change or charge for what you already get now.
Have a great, safe weekend of riding.
First published on May 27, 2022. The date of the most recent major update is shown at the top of the post.