Green with Enve – SES 3.4s
The Enve 3.4s are a great looking wheelset and after putting them through their paces it is obvious these wheels are best of breed.
My first impression was that the wheels were very smooth. The smoothness results from the vertical compliance provided by the all carbon rims. They are also very stiff, this was evident in the front wheel when climbing out of the saddle, while during an all-out sprint the rear wheel just felt rigid. I’ll stop short of calling these wheels bulletproof only because I cannot vouch for their longevity, you really need to ride wheels for some months (not weeks) to observe how true the wheels remain and if any spokes twang under heavy training and racing schedules.
The 3.4s (like their big brother 6.7s) are designed to be very aero. Enve explain this is achieved by looking not just at the wheel itself, but also taking into account the tyre width and the frame aerodynamics. Further the front and rear wheels interact differently with the bike as the air flows past the wheels; the front wheel experiences more stable air but is more sensitive to cross winds, while the rear is typically exposed to more turbulent air. This results in different rim shapes and profiles:
- The front wheel is wider and shallower to improve stability and reduce drag in any wind condition.
- The rear wheel is deeper to reduce drag where stability is less affected.
- Wheels were tested on multiple frame designs in order to produce the maximum drag reduction. The result is a wheel system, which handles predictably, and displays superior drag results when installed in multiple bicycle frame designs.
The stability of the wheelset is excellent. I did not notice any issues under cross winds and this is testament to the research, development and wind tunnel testing undertaken by Enve and Simon Smart of Mercedes F1 fame.
Front wheel is wider and shallower for stability; the rear is deeper to reduce drag.
Weight The 3.4s are very light considering they are a medium profile wheel. With DT Swiss 240 hubs the wheels weighed:
Front: 693g Rear: 792
You can also get the 3.4s with DT Swiss 180, Chris King R45 or Chris King Ceramic hubs.
Braking Fact: These wheels have excellent braking performance; as good, if not better, than most alloys. However I was a little disappointed with the stopping power of the 3.4s. I suspect my disappointment was due to the fact that I had very high expectations for the 3.4s, as I had been so impressed with how good the 6.7s were.
Price The wheelset retails for around $3,599. For that you get a class leading wheelset, which is very strong, stable and light. They are suitable for just about any kind of training or racing.
Overall Like the 6.7s, these wheels are market leading in their class. The high price may deter some but it buys you speed on the flat, uphill and accelerating out of corners. I would class these wheels as an outstanding “all-rounder” with predictable linear stability.
These are high end wheels with a high end price, but they are worth it… you just need to convince your other half.
– Lachlan Mackay