Last year doing cobble classic testing with the previous iteration of the Dimension Data team, ENVE decided that they needed to get a wheel under their riders that delivered on aerodynamics while rolling on the 27-30mm tubulars that are de rigueur for the northern Spring Classics. With events like the Tour of Flanders only having cobbles for about 22 of 255km, and even Paris-Roubaix’s brutal pavé only making up about 53 of 258km, riders at these races spend a lot of time out on open, wind-exposed roads. So a new SES prototype was born that ENVE claims delivers the same aero benefits as their SES 4.5 with 25mm tires, but now paired with wide 28mm rubber. Get some more details after the break and see if you can spot the difference as the team heads into another weekend of cobbled racing…
ENVE claims that in their internal testing rider on Classics tires were throwing away 5-10W simply because their aero wheels were optimized for more narrow 25mm tires. In order to get back to the same aero advantage as the SES 4.5 with fat 28mm tires, the rim dimensions got pretty large as well. That’s saying something since the most recent 25mm matched disc brake SES 5.6 & 7.8 already top out at 29mm wide.
Seeing how the fat tire trend is going hand-in-hand with the advent of road discs, ENVE says that the wheels were actually first developed around disc brakes. But seeing as how Dimension Data are still racing with rim brakes, ENVE made them a special run with a brake track, and thankfully the Cervelo R3 Mud bikes they are riding on the cobbles have enough clearance at the stays and in the fork to fit the wider rims.
While the team is racing on tubulars, ENVE’s marketing head tells us that he has been riding a tubeless clincher version of the same rim on his personal disc brake road bike for the past several months. So it looks like there should be both tubeless and tubular versions available when they get officially launched around the start of June 2016.
As we’ve seen the market develop better, lighter wide road tires, with clearly more comfort and even tests showing the low rolling resistance with road tubeless, it is great to hear that ENVE claims they can deliver the same aero performance as a 25mm tire with a 28mm one combined with a properly matched rim design. That’s not so different than what we have seen with Mavic and most recently their new carbon clinchers that specifically pair tires with their wheels when you buy them, and even companies like Vittoria that spend a lot of time and effort optimizing the match between new tires and new rims, sometimes even with shared tech. ENVE’s matching of tires to disc wheels is also interesting as it shows strong parallels to Mavic, even for quite some time before they were acquired by the latter.
It looks like the upsides of narrow road tires pumped up to silly high pressures are dropping faster than ever. And I personally couldn’t be more pleased.