ENVE Buyer’s Guide: Pick The Perfect Wheelset

Nothing ties a bike together like a set of ENVEs. Whether you're riding a slippery aero bike or a trail-crushing enduro bike, picking the right ENVE wheels will elevate your performance.

ENVE Wheel buyer's guide

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
Guides

Those who want to ride the best choose ENVE. Its carbon wheels are beloved in the cycling world, and renowned almost as much for their price as they are for their engineering and quality. For many riders, they’re worth every penny. Every ENVE rim is made here in the USA and designed to maximize strength, stiffness, weight, and aerodynamics. Plus, they’re backed by ENVE’s generous Lifetime Protection Plan and Five-Year Warranty. 

But with so many options in ENVE’s catalog, how do you choose the right wheels? This quick guide will break down the differences between ENVE’s different wheel series and models, so you can find the best wheelset for your ride. 

Contents:

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ENVE road wheels

SES Series

ENVE SES wheels

Models

SES 3.4

SES 4.5

SES 5.6

SES 7.8

Depth (front/rear)

38/42mm

48/56mm

54/63mm

71/78mm

Internal Width

21mm

18.5/17mm

20/19mm

19mm

External Width

27.5mm

27/25.5mm

28.75/28mm

29/27.5mm

Tire Width

25mm

25mm

25mm

25mm

Tubeless

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Brake type

Disc or Rim

Rim

Disc or Rim

Disc or Rim

Weight (alloy hub)

1,420g

1,548g

1,553g

1,652g

Best for…

Climbing

Rolling terrain

Flat terrain

Time trials

Highlights

  • Designed to maximize aerodynamics
  • Aerodynamically optimized for 25mm wide tires
  • Different front and rear rim depths reduce drag and improve stability in crosswinds
  • Internal molded spoke holes for increased strength and reduced weight
  • Start at $2,550

ENVE SES (Smart ENVE System) wheels are among the fastest road wheels around and are designed to maximize aerodynamic efficiency and stability in crosswinds. SES wheels accomplish this by using different rim shapes for the front and rear. The front wheel is wider and shallower to improve stability while the rear is deeper to maximize drag reduction. SES wheels are tested extensively in the wind tunnel at different speeds and yaw angles to ensure they are as fast as possible in real-world riding conditions. 

For SES wheels, higher numbered model names indicate deeper section rims. The deeper the rim, the more aerodynamic it is. The trade-off for deeper rims is increased weight, so choosing the right rim depth will depend on your local terrain and riding preferences. 

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For the majority of cyclists, the SES 3.4 or SES 4.5 model will be the best choices for all-around riding. The SES 3.4 strikes a nice compromise between aerodynamics and weight. They are ideal for hilly or mountainous terrain and long, steep climbs. The deeper SES 4.5 will suit faster terrain that is rolling or flat, but they are also still light enough to handle occasional big climbs. The ultra-deep SES 5.6 and 7.8 wheels will be best on flat terrain or for time trials.  

[product-block handle="enve-ses-5-6-disc-carbon-tubeless-700c-wheelset-3"/]

SES wheels are available in disc or rim brake versions and are tubeless-ready. The only exception is the SES 4.5 which is currently only available in a rim brake clincher version. They are available with ENVE alloy, Industry 9, or Chris King hubs. Rim brake models are also available with ENVE’s ultra-light carbon road hub. 

SES AR Series

ENVE SES AR

Models

SES 3.4 AR

SES 4.5 AR

Depth 

39/43mm

49/55mm

Internal Width

25mm

25mm

External Width

32mm

31/30.5mm

Tire Width

27-32mm

27-32mm

Tubeless

Yes

Yes - Tubeless tires only

Brake

Disc

Disc

Weight (alloy hub)

1,417g

1,569g

Best for…

Hilly all-road terrain

Rolling or flat all-road terrain

Highlights

  • Wider internal rim width to support wider tires
  • Wider external width and SES rim shapes maintain aero efficiency
  • Internal molded spoke holes for increased strength and reduced weight
  • Hookless bead
  • Suitable for pavement, dirt, gravel, a.k.a. all-road riding
  • Start at $2,550

SES AR (all-road) rims are designed for the latest generation of endurance and all-road bikes. ENVE engineers created SES AR rims with the specific goal of fitting wider tires to improve ride quality on rough roads while maintaining aero efficiency. To do this, the rims have an external width that’s very close to the tire width to smooth airflow and keep it attached. Until the arrival of the SES AR wheels, aero wheels wide enough for 32mm tires were unheard of, but the introduction of disc brakes made it possible. SES AR wheels are the best option for all-road riders who leave the pavement to explore rough and mixed surfaces like cobbles, dirt, and gravel. 

[product-block handle="enve-ses-3-4-ar-disc-carbon-tubeless-700c-wheelset"/]

Like the standard SES wheels, higher numbered model names indicate deeper section rims. The SES 3.4 AR blends aerodynamics and light weight to suit hilly terrain and big climbs. The deeper SES 4.5 AR is designed to excel in cobble classics like Paris-Roubaix and will suit flatter and faster terrain. 

SES AR wheels are disc-brake-only. They are available with ENVE alloy, Industry 9, or Chris King hubs. The SES 3.4 AR is tubeless-ready. The SES 4.5 AR is tubeless-only, meaning it can be run with tubes, but must always be used with tubeless-ready tires. 

ENVE Foundation Series

ENVE Foundation 65

Models

ENVE 45

ENVE 65

Depth 

45mm

65mm

Internal Width

21mm

21mm

External Width

28mm

28mm

Tire Width

25-28mm

25-28mm

Tubeless

Yes - Tubeless tires only

Yes - Tubeless tires only

Brake

Disc

Disc

Weight (alloy hub)

1,541g

1,641g

Best for…

General road riding

Flat roads and Time trials

Highlights

  • Reduced cost 
  • Comparable aero efficiency and crosswind stability to SES wheels 
  • Retains ENVE’s internal molded spoke holes
  • Hookless bead
  • Tubeless and center-lock disc only
  • Start at $1,750

ENVE’s Foundation road wheels are a lower-cost alternative to its top-of-the-line SES wheels. Price is reduced by using a single rim profile for the front and rear (SES wheels use a different rim profile for the front and rear). They are also built with a simplified version of ENVE’s alloy disc hub or Industry 9’s budget-friendly 1/1 hubs and use cheaper spokes. 

[product-block handle="nc_enve-45-carbon-clincher-700c-wheelset-s11"/]

There are two Foundation road wheelsets available — the ENVE 45 and 65, which have 45mm and 65mm depths respectively. They are both tubeless-ready and disc-brake-only. Overall, they weigh slightly more than an SES equivalent and sacrifice a tiny bit of aero efficiency for affordability. For the majority of road riders though, Foundation wheels will provide more than enough performance. 

ENVE gravel wheels

G-Series

ENVE G23

Models

G23

G27

Diameter

700c

650b

Depth 

25mm

25mm

Internal Width

23mm

27mm

External Width

31.5mm

35.5mm

Tire Width

33-45mm

42-57mm (2.25”)

Weight (alloy hub)

1,305g

1,275g

Best for…

Fast gravel

Chunky gravel

Highlights

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Wide hookless bead prevents pinch flats
  • High damping and impact resistance
  • Internal molded spoke holes for increased strength and reduced weight
  • Start at $2,550

ENVE G-Series wheels are designed to be the ultimate gravel race wheel and focus on three key elements: weight, durability, and flat protection. Wheelsets only weigh around 1,300 grams, meaning G-Series wheels are among the lightest gravel-specific wheels on the market. To achieve this low weight while maintaining strength and durability, G-Series rims use a bell-shaped design that increases the rim’s ability to absorb and damp harsh impacts. This is paired with ENVE’s wide hookless bead, first used on its M-Series mountain bike wheels. The edge of the rim bead is wider and flatter than a standard rim bead so it’s less likely to cut the tire during a harsh bottom-out, preventing pinch flats. 

[product-block handle="nc_enve-45-carbon-clincher-700c-wheelset-s11"/]

G-Series wheels come in a 700c version (G23) and a 650b version (G27). The numbered model names correspond to the rim’s internal width. G-Series wheels are disc-brake-only and available with ENVE alloy, Industry 9, or Chris King hubs. And of course, they are tubeless-ready. 

AG Foundation Series

Model

AG25

AG28

Diameter

700c

650b

Depth 

21mm

21mm

Internal Width

25mm

28mm

External Width

33.5mm

36.5mm

Tire Width

36-50mm

47-57mm (2.25”)

Weight (alloy hub)

1,480g

1,480g

Best for…

Fast gravel 

Chunky gravel

Highlights

  • Reduced cost
  • Wide hookless bead prevent pinch flats
  • Shallow 21mm rim increases damping and comfort
  • External Molded spoke holes for easy maintenance  
  • Start at $1,750

ENVE’s AG Foundation gravel wheels are a lower-cost alternative to its top-of-the-line G Series wheels. Price is reduced by using external molded spoke holes and nipples (G Series wheels use internal molded spoke holes which are stronger and lighter). They are also built with a simplified version of ENVE’s alloy disc hub or Industry 9’s budget-friendly 1/1 hubs and use cheaper spokes. The rims retain the wide hookless bead to prevent pinch flats and are also 4mm shallower than G-Series rims for increased compliance. 

[product-block handle="enve-g23-carbon-tubeless-700c-wheelset-3"/]

AG Foundation wheels come in a 700c version (AG25) and a 650b version (AG28). The numbered model names correspond to each rim’s internal width. Compared to G-Series wheels, AG Foundation wheels weigh about 200 grams more and sacrifice some stiffness, but provide more comfort. 

ENVE MTB wheels

M-Series

ENVE M SeriesPhoto: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Models

M525

M630

M635

M640

M730

M735

M930

Internal Width

25mm

30mm

35mm

40mm

30mm

35mm

30mm

Tire Width

2.1–2.4”

2.3–2.5”

2.5-2.8”

2.8-3.2”

2.3-2.5”

2.5-2.8”

2.35-2.6”

Spke hole count

24h

28h

28h

28h

32h

32h

32h

Weight (29” - Hydra hub)

1,388g

1,516g

1,591g

1,689g

1,956g

1,895g

2,193g

Best for…

XC racing

XC/trail

Trail

Trail

Enduro

Enduro

Downhill

Highlights

  • Specific design, layup and spoke count for each model, depending on intended use.
  • Wide hookless beads (M5 & M6 Series)
  • Protective rim strip (M7 & M9 Series)
  • Internal molded spoke holes for increased strength and reduced weight
  • Start at $2,550

ENVE M-Series mountain bike wheels made history in 2010 when they became the first carbon wheels to win a World Cup downhill race. Since then, ENVE has continued to lead the way in carbon mountain bike wheel design. ENVE uses “application specific design” for its M-Series wheels, meaning each model has a carbon lay-up and spoke count specifically tuned to achieve the ideal balance of weight, stiffness, and durability for particular riding disciplines. M5 and M6 Series wheels prioritize weight reduction for XC racing and trail riding while M7 and M9 Series wheels prioritize durability for enduro and downhill racing.

M5 and M6 Series wheels were the first to feature ENVE’s wide hookless bead. The edge of the rim bead is wider and flatter than a standard rim bead so it’s less likely to cut the tire during a harsh bottom-out, preventing pinch flats without the need for a tire inserts

M7 and M9 Series wheels are more gravity-oriented, and instead of the wide hookless bead, they use ENVE’s protective rim strip. It’s a durable rubber-like strip that eliminates the need for tire inserts. It extends over the rim walls, acting like a bumper between the rim and the trail, dissipating energy from harsh impacts, protecting the rim, and preventing pinch flats. It’s also airtight, eliminating the need for tubeless tape.   

[product-block handle="enve-m630-carbon-tubeless-29-wheelset-12"/]

M5 Series wheels will be the best option for weight-conscious XC-racers. For XC and trail riders who run wider tires but want to keep the weight down, M6 Series wheels are the ticket.

[product-block handle="nc_enve-m730-carbon-clincher-29-wheelset"/]

M7 Series wheels have a significant increase in weight, but offer substantially more strength and durability for hard charging enduro riders. Then for pure downhill riding, the M9 is the same bombproof wheel used by top World Cup racers. 

For M-Series wheels, the numbered model names correspond to each rim’s internal width. M630 wheels, for example, are an M6 Series rim with a 30mm internal width. They are available with ENVE alloy, Industry 9, or Chris King hubs.

AM Foundation Series

Model

AM30

Internal Width

30mm

Tire Width

2.3-2.6”

Weight (29” - 1/1 hub)

1,852g

Best for…

Trail and Enduro

Highlights

  • Wide hookless bead
  • External molded spoke holes for easy maintenance 
  • Asymmetric rim for even spoke tension
  • Start at $1,750

ENVE’s AM Foundation mountain bike wheels are a lower-cost alternative to its top-of-the-line M-Series wheels. Price is reduced by using external molded spoke holes and nipples (M-Series wheels use internal molded spoke holes which are stronger and lighter). They are also built with a simplified version of ENVE’s alloy disc hub or Industry 9’s budget friendly 1/1 hubs and use cheaper spokes. 

[product-block handle="nc_enve-am30-carbon-clincher-29-wheelset-xd"/]

The rims use the same wide hookless bead featured on the M5 and M6 Series wheels to prevent pinch flats. Currently, the only AM Foundation model is the AM30, which has a 30mm internal rim width that will suit most modern mountain bike tires. It splits the difference between the M6 and M7 series wheels in terms of weight and durability, so they will be perfect for most trail and enduro riders. For more details, check out our in depth ENVE AM30 review

Final Thoughts

If you want the best high-performance bling for your bike, you can’t go wrong with a set of ENVEs. There are no lower-tier options though, so be prepared to pay to play. In the long run though, an ENVE wheelset may not be as expensive as you think. The wheels are incredibly durable and have a long lifespan that can last through several bikes. Should the worst happen, ENVE’s Lifetime Protection Plan has your back. Even if you decide to buy pre-owned ENVE wheels from The Pro's Closet, they're still backed by ENVE's second hand owner replacement program. 

For those who are budget conscious, the ENVE’s mid-range Foundation Series wheels are the best entry-point. They feature much of the same carbon lay-ups and rim technology that makes ENVE’s top-of-the-line wheels so good. If you want the best of the best though, SES, SES AR, G-Series, and M-Series wheels have no equal. 

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Photos courtesy of ENVE Composites.

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