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No discussion on versatile tubular race wheels is complete without some significant time dedicated to ENVE's SES 3.4 Carbon Tubular Road Wheelset with DT Swiss 240 Hubs and its ability to go toe-to-toe aerodynamically with much deeper wheelsets without matching them in extra weight. For 2017, ENVE builds on the 3.4's ability to balance climbing prowess and aerodynamic speed with a new rim shape accompanied by claims of even more stability, increased handling confidence, and a general faster, smoother ride than ever before.
The new rim profile features a mammoth 27.5mm external rim width for both front and rear in comparison to the previous 3.4's 26mm front and 24mm rear combination. ENVE says this wide stance optimizes aerodynamics with a 25mm tire, which in turn allows lower tire pressure for a smoother, more efficient ride than old-school 23mm and smaller tubular options.
The rim depth continues ENVE's commitment to a shallower front and deeper rear rim pairing, but brings the numbers closer together with the front rim gaining 3mm to a 38mm depth and the rear dropping 3mm to land at a 42mm. ENVE claims that this new combination improves handling and stability in variable wind conditions without sacrificing any aerodynamics, which means you'll be riding smooth instead of wrestling to keep your bike in line at speed. At the brake track, the 3.4 carries over 2016's in-molded Gen 2 brake track, which offers 30% stronger stopping power and the ability to retain 95% of its braking power when being used in sloppy, wet conditions.
As with all its SES wheels, ENVE uses its most sophisticated technology and engineering techniques to create this fast, stiff, and aerodynamic wheelset. The ENVE SES series boasts the highest strength-to-weight ratio on the market, due in part to ENVE's patented process of molding in spoke holes, nipple seats, and valve stem holes. Knowing that carbon fiber gains strength from continuous fibers, ENVE routes the fibers around each hole in a 100% intact design, which allows a lower weight at the spoke face and adds overall rigidity to the rim. ENVE also removes the rim-shaping inflatable bladder in the rim, which, while time-consuming, serves to reduce rim weight and makes for a perfectly tensioned wheel build.