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by James Huang
August 7, 2020
Photography by Enve Composites
It was just a matter of time, and now it’s official: Enve is growing its product range with its own collection of tubeless road tires to go along with its expansive collection of wheels. Part of the motivation may have been to move into a category with higher profit margins than complete wheelsets, but perhaps equally important in this confusing day and age is surefire compatibility.
“Fundamental to our success at Enve has been developing rim shapes that work optimally with the best tires on the market,” said Enve aerodynamicist Simon Smart via press release. “That has led to constant evolution in rim shape over the last 10 years, some of which is driven by rider feedback, and the rest by our recognition that it is possible to partially control tire shape through internal rim shape.
“Whilst we were driven to make our rims as stable and aerodynamically efficient as possible with other manufacturers’ tires, there was always that thought that it would be better if we could have complete control over the tire and rim.”
Enve says the new collection of tires — which was developed in partnership with and are manufactured by Czech Republic brand Tufo — doesn’t top the field in any one performance parameter, but rather “strikes a unique balance between all these elements to achieve an everyday rideable, racing performance proposition.”
The subtle tread design (which abstractly mimics the Enve logo) supposedly helps with aerodynamic performance.
Given that it’s Enve we’re talking about here, aerodynamic efficiency falls high on that list of priorities, with a “hybrid” casing shape (which otherwise looks like “round” to me) that supposedly mates ideally with the company’s deeper-section rim shapes. There’s also a curiously geometric shoulder design on the single-compound, 66 Shore A-durometer silica rubber tread cap that “acts as a trip edge that energizes the airflow so that it remains attached as it flows from the tire to rim surface on the front wheel. On the rear wheel, the tread helps to close the wake as the airflow transitions off the tire.”
Quite conveniently, that tread pattern also happens to closely mimic the Enve logo. Regardless, while Enve’s own test data shows measurable gains relative to popular options like the Vittoria Corsa Speed and Schwalbe Pro One, we’re still talking very small improvements (less than a watt in most cases, even at 48 km/h).
Supplied rolling efficiency results are more middle-of-the-pack, with the new SES tires finishing ahead of Hutchinson Fusion 5 All-Season TL, Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR, and Maxxis Padrone TR, but behind Schwalbe Pro One Addix TLE, Continental GP5000 TL, and Vittoria Corsa Control G+ 2.0 TLR.
Rolling resistance has emerged as one of the performance metrics riders are paying attention to most these days, so it’s quite bold for Enve to be so open that its SES tires only finish mid-pack here.
Things look a lot better in terms of puncture resistance, though, which Enve claims is better than nearly every major competitor (the Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR being the lone exception) in terms of both sidewall and tread protection. Weight-wise, the SES tires look impressive as well, with a 700×25 mm sample tipping the scales at just 255 grams.
Enve is offering the SES in four nominal sizes — 25, 27, 29, and 31 mm — with respective claimed weights of 255, 265, 275, and 285 grams, all in black-wall and tan-wall colors. Enve will release the 25c and 29c immediately, with the other two sizes to follow around October. Retail price is US$70 / £70 / €75, with Australian pricing still to be confirmed.
As mentioned earlier, rim compatibility is a key attribute for the new SES tubeless road tires. According to Enve, the tires are safe to use on both hooked and straight-sidewall (otherwise known as “hookless”) rims, with Zylon bead materials that are said to be stretch-resistant and very tolerant of high heat. Precise tolerances supposedly help make the SES tires easy to install and remove, too, while an “anti-chafe strip” is on hand to protect against rim abrasion when running lower pressures.
Hookless rims will be more prevalent moving forward, so it’s critical to have tires that are designed to fit.
“Enve has advanced road tubeless rim design with the inclusion of the hookless bead, which allows us to consistently achieve the critical bead seat dimensions required for reliable tubeless setups,” said Enve VP of product and consumer experience Jake Pantone. “However, the path hasn’t been without its hurdles as some tire manufacturers have been behind the curve at which road tubeless rim technology has advanced. So, aside from the on-road performance our new tires deliver, the SES road tires are constructed to guarantee a robust sealing interface and compatibility with our hooked and hookless rim designs alike.”
Given the diversity of rim widths that riders are using these days — and common confusion as to how big a tire will actually be in real life — Enve deserves some kudos for listing on the packaging the actual measured size of each tire on a variety of internal rim widths. For example, the SES 29C model is listed as being 28 mm-wide when mounted on a 19 mm-wide rim, 29 mm on a 21 mm-wide rim, 30 mm on a 23 mm rim, and 31 mm on a 25 mm rim.
Seriously, every tire company should provide this information.
Pantone adds that all of the new SES tires are fully compliant with the pending update to industry-wide ETRTO standards, meaning that while the SES range was designed with Enve’s own wheels and rims in mind, they should also work with most other brands for riders that might want a bit of the Enve pie.
Where Enve goes from here is one of the more intriguing questions to ask. Although the brand is strongest in the road space, it also enjoys a prominent position in mountain bike and gravel circles as well. Will SES trail and gravel tires come next? If so, what would they look like, and what might Enve be able to offer there?
Time to wait and see.
Enve is expecting buyers to run its SES road tires on a broad range of rim widths, depending on the application and desired performance goals.
This chart shows the huge variabilty in tire bead diameters and stretchiness. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a chart like this, and anecdotally, I can certainly confirm that tire fitment these days in anything but consistent.
I’m not sure I agree with the labeling of these three configurations, but so be it.
Even Enve admits that its new SES road tires aren’t the fastest or lightest, but they’re supposedly pretty fast, very light, and impressively tough.
256 grams is quite good for a 25 mm-wide tubeless road tire.
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