Enve SES 4.5 clincher
Enve have moved into mid-range depths with these stunning wheels
Some brands in cycling have an aura about them, a feeling everything they do is that little bit special. Enve are a brand that would definitely fall into that category, and their reputation for excellence and innovation is as well founded as the look of their products is slick.
The SES 4.5 clinchers are what Enve call their everyday racing wheelset, and they were launched last year to fit that very gap in Enve’s line-up. You’ll probably have seen the tubular versions on the bikes of MTN-Qhubeka last season, and that’ll continue as the team – now with Mark Cavendish on board – change their name to Dimension Data for this year. The 4.5s fall into that same, popular mid-depth range as other favourites like Zipp’s 404s, which makes them very versatile and capable of being a go-to set of wheels no matter what the situation.
At the heart of the wheels are Chris King’s fantastic R45 hubs (which we’ve also featured in the 100). They’re light, strong and a benchmark for excellence in the industry so you know your wheels have a solid base. But just in case you don’t want the Chris Kings, you can also buy these built around DT Swiss’s 240 hubs or, alternatively, buy just the rims and build them up yourself.
The rims are pretty chunky, yet they're impressively light for such a deep set of wheels
If you’re not familiar with Enve, they do one major thing differently to almost all the other big name wheel brands, and that’s rim depth. It’s not that their depths are unusual, but every Enve wheelset is dual depth, with the front wheel being shallower than the rear.
With that in mind, the 4.5 in the name starts to make a little more sense, although the depths are 48mm on the front and 56mm for the rear, rather than the 40/50mm combo you might have guessed. The idea behind it is simple: a shallower front rim makes for easier handling and, as anyone who has ever ridden deep section wheels in high winds will tell you, it really makes a difference.
Stats-wise, the rims are pretty chunky, although that varies between the two as well, with the front wheel being 27mm wide and the rear 25.5mm. Those two wheels combine for a claimed weight of 1,448g, impressively light for such deep rims.
In case you’re wondering what the SES stands for, that’d be Smart Enve Systems, a testament to the partnership between Enve and aerodynamicist Simon Smart, founder of the Drag2Zero wind tunnel and former Formula 1 engineer with Red Bull Racing. Together the two have been pioneers of the wide rims that are ubiquitous throughout the market these days, and the 4.5s are the latest in a very successful line of launches. The only downside to these wheels is that you’ll need to find the money to buy some, and this sort of quality doesn’t come cheap.