Based on the looks and comments I received from my fellow triathletes after riding on a pair of SES (Smart Enve System) 6.7 clinchers for the past few months, Utah-based Enve wisely chose its company name.
It takes guts to name your product after any kind of self-congratulatory adjective, but in ride after ride, Enve’s wheels walked the brand’s talk. The 6.7s look fast, are fast, and seem built to last.
I tested my 6.7s (60mm on the front wheel, 70mm on the rear) on two Ironman courses and several local mountain ranges. Headwinds and tailwinds rarely posed any kind of problem. Though in gusty cross-headwinds, I felt like I had to muscle the steering at times to stay on course. That is really no different than most wheelsets I’ve ridden though. The most trouble I experienced was on a very gusty crosswind descent atop Brockway Summit in Lake Tahoe – part of the Ironman course next year. The winds were slightly more than 20 miles per hour by my estimation, but with the curves I downright wished I was anywhere else but on that hill. I struggled through even stronger gusts in Southern California this past December, getting blown out into the road from the bike lane a couple times. Maybe I just need to put on a few more pounds.
The Enve wheels represent the brainchild of aerodynamicist Simon Smart, who calls upon an extensive background in Formula One racing to help shape his wheel design philosophy. Smart also served as an aerodynamicist for Formula One racecar drivers and The Highroad-HTC pro cycling team when it used the Scott Plasma and Foil bikes.
As I wrote in my June Bike Press Camp overview, Smart has been with Enve since 2007.
He realized the company had great potential if he could apply his experience to their extensive knowledge about carbon-based development. Part of Smart’s experience has involved investing his time forming his own metrics to better understand wheel stability. He concluded that it’s not as much the amount of steering torque but rather the rate of change of steering torque with a crosswind angle that affects wheel performance.
Based on my own experience with the SES 6.7 clinchers, I’d say that it’s a risk-reward question when it comes to speed versus gusty crosswind stability. I still confidently recommend Enve wheels – but I would caution triathletes who have problems in crosswinds to also consider the SES 3.4 clincher wheelset and not just automatically opt for the 6.7s. That said, after recently being hit by a car while cycling, I’ve already contacted Enve and plan to opt for another pair of SES 6.7s once I’m able to ride again. That’s how much I enjoyed them.
The SES 3.4 and 6.7 wheelsets cost $2,900 and come with an industry-leading five-year warranty – including lifetime crash replacement coverage for the original owner.