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Climbing wheels have to be super light. But they also need to be strong for the rough roads you’ll have to scale. And aero for the long descents. And light, because it’s hard to be too light. ENVE ticked off all the boxes when designing their SES 2.2 Wheels.
SES is the acronym for Smart ENVE System, named for aerodynamicist Simon Smart. This wheelset is the only one in the SES range that has the same rim both front and rear. This is because when climbing steep mountains for a long time, your speed is low and minimizing rotating weight is primary.
But they didn’t stop with rotating weight. The rim is still aero, with a wide, shallow shape, 27mm wide by 25mm deep, that works best with 25mm tires. Tires, as both the leading edge and trailing edge are an essential part of the aerodynamic equation. And this width is both comfortable and provides very low rolling resistance, lower than narrower tires.
The rim also has their new molded brake track treatment. A close-up shows it kind of resembles a flat file, and it won’t ever wear out. ENVE found they needed 30% less effort at the brake lever to get equal stopping distance with their older brake tracks. Use more force, and you can stop faster. It also makes braking in the wet easier. ENVE developed a pad that works with this brake track. A set comes with the wheels. Use them or risk voiding the warranty.
If you go clincher, you’re getting a 1275g wheelset that is tubeless compatible. The tubular version is even lighter 1063g for the set. Both ways, you’re getting bladed spokes to minimize spoke drag.
ENVE Carbon-Fiber hubs are a radical new offering from ENVE. The hubs are made at their Utah facility. The entire hub bodies are carbon, not merely carbon cylinders with aluminum flanges. That’s how good ENVE is-they figured out how to build carbon flanges. While they won’t reveal all their secrets, one is obvious: they mold the spoke holes. They wisely outsource the cassette body and mechanism to DT Swiss and the bearings to CeramicSpeed for a set that weighs in at 232g (74g front, 152g rear), lighter than many rear hubs. CeramicSpeed bearings are the closest you can get to zero bearing drag. And because they’re working with DT Swiss, you can easily swap between a Shimano/SRAM 11-speed compatible body and a Campagnolo 9/10/11-speed compatible body.
The wheels come with ENVE Titanium skewers, which weigh in at 55g for the set. The shaft is ti’ while the rest is aluminum.
These wheels work. They were taken to the Tour de France in 2015 under the MTN-Qhuebeka squad, and they held the King of the Mountains jersey as well as won a mountain top stage finish.
Wheels come with skewers and brake pads. The clincher version comes with rim tape and a tubeless valve. As the rim depth is so shallow, you shouldn’t need a valve extender.
The ENVE SES 2.2 Wheelset will allow your bike to flirt with the UCI weight minimum and allow you to dance over mountains.