Long Term Review: Enve SES 5.6 Disc Wheelset

My migration to disc brakes came slightly before the avalanche of disc brake road bikes built for aggressive riding. The Pinarello F10 Disk was released a few months before refined disc brake versions of the Specialized Venge and later the Trek Madone materialised. This meant that there were not many disc brake road wheels built for speed to choose from. Prior to 2018, most disc brake bikes and road wheels were focused on endurance, gravel/all road and cross disciplines. The Enve SES 5.6 Disc (clincher) was one of the few that I could pick from. It has been paired with Continental GP4000S II clincher tires throughout. Here is how it has performed over the past seven months.

The Good

  • Aerodynamic. With a depth of 54mm on the front and 63mm on the back, Enve had to get the aerodynamics right and they did. The wheelset purrs and cuts through wind with ease. This is best noticed at speeds of above 35kmph where the effort to maintain speeds or to push further to the 40s or 50s falls rather dramatically. The difference is very noticeable when you swap to a other shallower rims such as the Extralite CyberD-Max (25mm).
  • Stiff. Very, very stiff. This wheelset is the stiffest I have experienced. Period.
  • Light for its depth. Coming in at 1600g, it is light for a deep section wheelset. Most  disc brake wheelsets between the 30-40mm range would easily exceed 1600g but Enve has managed to keep the weight respectable.
  • Tough. Having been put through pot holes and uneven roads, the wheelset has taken crappy terrain in its stride. I was concerned that durability could be an issue given that the wheelset was light for a deep section rim but those fears have been allayed.

The Bad

  • Harsh. Ride quality could be improved. The wheelset is extremely harsh. I had to lower my tire pressure by 10 PSI to eke out a similar comfort level to my Reynolds Assault SLG and my Extralite wheelsets.  Enve could have traded a little bit of stiffness for better comfort.
  • Acceleration. It is a deep wheelset and sub-optimal acceleration is to be expected. Nonetheless, I was taken aback by the amount of effort needed to bring the wheelset up from 0 to 20kmph. That said, once you start going above 30kmph, the wheelset enters cruise control.
  • Crosswinds. Singapore does not experience very strong winds but handling the wheelset in moderate crosswinds require some getting use to. Coming from the Reynolds  (41mm) on my Dogma F8, I had to manage some early wobbles which were frankly pretty scary given that I weigh below 65kg. Crosswinds still remain somewhat of a challenge. Enve could have done better job with optimising the wheelset for crosswind performance.
  • Pricey. The wheelset when paired with Chris King R45 hubs come in at around S$4200. I purchased mine from Chapter 2 Cycle which had one of the better prices in Singapore. But it is still very pricey in my opinion.

Others

  • Hubs. As mentioned above, I paired the wheelset with Chris King R45 hubs. The hubs have been rock solid so far barely requiring any maintenance. It performs well and rolls extremely smoothly even though I did not get ceramic bearings. The hubs are slightly heavier and visually chunkier compared to options from Extralite and Tune. However, the R45 is a good match given that this wheelset is built to be deep and fast.  Most people buy Chris King hubs for the freehub sound. I didn’t. I still do not fancy the buzzing sound as I prefer my bike to be whisper quiet but this is not a deal breaker for me.

Overall, I am satisfied with the performance of the Enve SES 5.6 wheelset. It ticks many boxes for aggressive riding but there are sacrifices especially in comfort. Would I recommend it? I would say yes for now but this may not be the case in the near future given that the launch of many disc brake racing bikes will soon be followed by the launch of better racing road wheels. This wheelset will be up against newer and wider competition soon and I  expect Enve to update this wheelset to address its comfort and crosswind performance issues.

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