In the never ending quest for more speed, ENVE is looking outward from rims to the tires that adorn them. The brand says the new focus on tires comes after the realization that advances in rim shapes are yielding ever diminishing returns in aerodynamics. The next big advances are in rubber
The new SES Road Tires adhere to the brand’s “real world fast” design philosophy. They don’t aim to deliver the absolute best numbers in any one category like rolling resistance. Instead, the tires balance factors like weight and puncture resistance while creating the fastest tire shape for the brand’s own rims.
To make faster tires, ENVE isn’t starting completely from scratch. The brand is teaming up with established tire manufacturer TUFO to create low volume batches of handmade tires. The partnership provides ENVE access to the brand’s proprietary rubber compounds and premium casing materials, as well as a quarter century of manufacturing know how.
The SES tires are optimized for tubeless rims, especially hookless designs. To make the experience of installing and riding these tires tubeless as easy as possible, ENVE has honed in on the optimal tire bead diameter and bead stiffness. And unlike before when ENVE was designing its rim shapes around existing tires, the brand is now able to flip the script and make tires that match its rims. The result is a new hybrid tire shape that falls in between the low rolling resistance of a round shape and the aerodynamic advantage of an elliptical profile. The new shape embodies the real world fast philosophy, delivering a shape that balances rolling resistance, aerodynamics and stability.
Independent testing shows that the new tires fall in the middle in terms of rolling resistance compared to other top road tires. But the tire also bests those competitors in puncture resistance in the tread, and beats most on sidewall puncture resistance as well. And in terms of weight, the tire is also among the lightest for a size 25c at a reported 256 grams. For reference a lightweight, race-only Schwalbe Pro One TT weighs 222 grams, and a Continental GP5000 just shy of 300 grams.
You will also notice some tread in the shape of an ENVE logo on the tires. Apparently the edges/angles of the tread pattern help in aerodynamics in two ways. On the front, the pattern energizes the airflow allowing it to stay attached from tire to rim. And on the rear tire, the tread closes the wake as the airflow leaves, resulting in less turbulent air. The result is a tire that improves aerodynamically at all speeds. The benefit should be present for any rim, too, not just ENVE ones.
Because tires interact differently with different rim widths, measuring out larger or smaller depending on the rim, ENVE includes a guide with each tire saying the expected actual measured width of a given tire with a given internal rim width. For example, the SES 29 tire will measure out to 28mm on a 19mm rim, 29mm on a 21mm rim, 30mm on a 23mm rim and 31mm on a 25mm rim.
The SES Road Tire line will eventually include four sizes—SES 25, SES 27, SES 29 and SES 31—with the 25c and 29c options available now, and the 27c and 31c options being available later this year. They weigh 255 grams each for a size 25c and gain 10 grams per size all the way to the 285-gram SES 31. There are also options for both black and tan sidewalls. Each size retails for $75 per tire.
More info: Enve.com