ENVE Smart SES 3.4 Carbon Clincher Update

I now have over a couple thousand miles on the Enves.  They are as true as the day is long, without any adjustment.  I’ve gotten accustomed to the sound amplification that was originally disconcerting (if you shoot a rock out from under a tire, the hollow carbon rim amplifies the noise greatly).  I’ve grown used to the responsiveness, the ease with which they accelerate, the way that they cut through angular crosswinds, and the speed with which the DT240 rear hub, with the 36T upgrade, engages at the slightest twitch of the pedals.  I say I’ve gotten used to all of those things because I threw my old Fulcrum 3s on there, and couldn’t believe the difference in each of those areas.

I’ve had 2 flats on them, neither of which was the fault of the tire.  One was road-debris related, and the other was a poor decision to take a freshly graveled road instead of a much longer paved detour.  In both instances, the Bontrager R3 tires I run were easy to mount and dismount, and I appreciated having clinchers instead of tubulars.

I have no real constructive criticism of the wheels, other than to note that the brake pads, while highly effective in nearly all conditions (including rain), do wear appreciably faster than the ‘stock’ Dura Ace pads I used to run with aluminum clinchers.  (And I say Dura Ace pads because they’re the pads that came on the Dura Ace brakes I run–they may just be a stock Shimano part).  With the miles I’ve put in so far, the brake pads are likely more than half worn (if you accept that the end of the grooves cut into the pads is the end of useful wear life).  That said, the wheels themselves show no signs of wear on the brake tracks–so I’m guessing the sacrificial ‘ENVE specific’ pads are doing their job.

Without a doubt and beyond any comparison, the wheels are the single best, biggest improvement in any bike that I’ve ever ridden.  Were I buying a bike on a limited budget tomorrow, I’d likely look at a less expensive frame or gruppo, to save money for more expensive wheels.  And were I looking at a ‘cost is no object’ set of wheels for midwestern road riding in all conditions, I wouldn’t even look at anything other than the SES 3.4 Clinchers.  (I guess if cost is no object, I might look at lighter hubs–but that’s going to be a sub-marginal gain).  I saw in a recent magazine article that the ENVE SES 6.7 won an overall comparison of similar depth wheels, based on its performance under varying circumstances.  I also greatly appreciated a relatively recent opinion piece comparing the ENVE SES to other available wheels, like ZIPP 404 Firecrests.  (If you don’t want to follow the link, ENVEs provide similar aerodynamic benefits with significant (i.e. 200 gram) weight savings).

So the current update:  I love them, I have no complaints–save for the fast pad wear (which I’d take over rim wear), and I highly recommend them.

9 thoughts on “ENVE Smart SES 3.4 Carbon Clincher Update

  1. On Monday, I put a set of Enve 3.4 clinchers on my Parlee Z5sl, and have put 170 miles on them including 50 miles of climbing. My average speed on the flats and climbs has improved by 1.5-2 mph. In my book, that’s significant. I was previously running HED Belgium C2 rims with Alchemy hubs. The Enve 3.4 clinchers have Tune hubs.

    The Enve’s were expensive, but thus far, I’d say the money was well spent.

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