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Enve SES Road Tyre review

Is this the fastest tyre for everyday use?

Enve SES Road Tyres
(Image: © Josh Ross)

Our Verdict

The headline feature of the Enve SES road tyre is that it's been aerodynamically optimised but that’s just one small feature. This is a tyre that sits in the goldilocks zone where it's as fast as possible without losing track of real-world performance.

For

  • - Aero optimised
  • - Excellent road feel
  • - Hookless compatible
  • - Reasonable pricing

Against

  • - Non-standard sizing

Finding the right tyres for your road bike is one of those decisions that people get deeply invested in. Riders tend to find their favourites through a mix of trial and error, hearsay and luck then stick to their guns for years. Those of us here at Cyclingnews don't have that luxury though, we constantly try various tyres so that we can share with you the best of what's available. Lately, the Enve SES road tyre has popped up on both our list of the best tubeless road tyres and also the best road bike tyres and now it's time to validate that inclusion with a bit more detail. 

When a brand develops one of the best road bike wheels it's no longer in a vacuum without consideration for the rest of the system. There are countless hours of CFD and wind tunnel time spent optimising aerodynamics and the tyre is a part of that. It only makes sense to take as much control of the tyre as the wheel and that's exactly what Enve has done here. After spending a lot of time on the result of their efforts, we are ready to share with you our thoughts on the Enve SES road tyre. Keep reading to see what we think they are good at and see if you should consider making the jump for your riding.  

Enve SES Road Tyres detail showing used tread

The tread design uses the Enve logo to keep air attached longer for better aero performance.  (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Design and aesthetics 

The headline feature of the Enve SES road tyres is that they are aerodynamically optimised. It's only a small part of the overall design but if you've read anything regarding the Enve tyres it's bound to be about the aero optimisation. The majority of what that actually means in this context is relating to the tread pattern.

The basic theory is similar to the dimples on golf balls - spend much time thinking about aerodynamics in cycling and this is a trend that comes up with regularity. You can even see it in clothing with Castelli utilising the same concept in the Castelli Free Aero Race 4 bib shorts. As with clothing and golf balls, Enve says the Logo on the shoulder of the tyre provides beneficial turbulence.

As air flows around the tyre, that tread adds turbulence that keeps the airflow attached. Instead of breaking free at the top of the tyre and leaving the rest of the wheel in a wake of dirty, turbulent air, it stays attached long enough to flow into the rim surface of the front wheel. On the rear wheel, the tread helps to close the wake as the airflow transitions off the tyre. According to Enve the specifics of the tread aren't all that important, just that they contain angles and edges. That little detail means they've had the opportunity to have a bit of fun and use the Enve logo. 

Despite this optimisation being the thing that tends to catch people's eye, there's a lot more depth to the design. Everyday rideability is actually at the forefront of what the Enve SES road tyre is all about, and to achieve this meant balancing weight, rolling resistance, and puncture resistance for a tyre you can ride without overthinking it. 

Enve SES Road Tyres detail showing rolling resistance

Enve isn't the fastest but they also aren't the slowest and they have better puncture protection than most. (Image credit: Enve)

In each of these categories the design team worked with Tufo tyres to manufacture exactly what they were looking for, which is a combination of wheel compatibility, ease of installation, and every-day rideability. 

Enve didn’t try to be the absolute best in every category, but rather aimed to keep the tyre on the wheel and otherwise be among the best. A great example is the rolling resistance; a combination of weight and puncture resistance. The design goal was to balance those needs for everyday use. Put to the test by bicyclerollingresistance.com, the Enve SES tyre isn’t the absolute fastest tyre available, but it has got better puncture resistance than most.

Actually arriving at the stated goals meant choosing the right materials for the job. At the bead you’ll find a material called Zylon, which is stronger than Kevlar and stiffer than steel but also has high thermal stability and high resistance to stretching over time. Move to the tread and you’ll find a 2.2mm layer of SPC Silica with a 66 durometer rating and a Vectran backing, all of which serve to provide longevity as well as grip.

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Enve SES Road Tyres detail showing squared off centre section

Out of the package the Enve SES tyre is squared off compared to other tyres. (Image credit: Josh Ross)
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Enve SES Road Tyres detail showing made in CZ

Tufo manufacturers the Enve designed tyres. (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Performance

The first thing you have to do with a new set of tubeless tyres is mount them. Enve spent time optimising this experience and the results are obvious but not overwhelming. Pulling them out of the packaging you can feel in your hands that these are rather tacky tires and a 29mm tyre has a squared-off centre section with a steep sidewall. I tested them on a wheel that a few hours earlier required three tyre levers and a second person to get a tyre on. With the Enve tyre, two tyre levers, and a few minutes of struggling did the job just fine. It's still a hookless compatible tyre, and that is always going to mean a challenging mount experience, but it's not nearly as drastic, even on a difficult wheel. 

Out on the road, my experience was consistent with the stated design goals. My riding tends to cover country roads that range from chipseal up to something that was once in decent shape. I also spend a good amount of time on rural highway shoulders that are inevitably filled with road debris, so puncture resistance is also always in the back of my mind.

With tyre shortages being the current norm it's difficult to use the same tyres I've used in the past. Having a tyre that's compatible with hookless systems certainly takes some of the guesswork out of things, and that's a big plus in my book.

I'm always a sucker for aerodynamic claims but it's also important that the story doesn't end there. The Enve SES tyre is sticky enough it consistently shoots rocks on debris-filled highways shoulders. That's a good indication that you'll have the grip when descending and it also matches up with the feel of the tyres as they come out of the box and the level of traction offered in corners too. 

Enve SES Road Tyres inflated tyre sizes

Although I measured the same results, I'd prefer Enve stuck to the established standards even if they aren't technically correct. (Image credit: Enve)

Verdict

When you ride the Enve SES tyres you can feel the input of the riders who work at Enve. These are fast tyres that you don’t have to think about. You can get them on a wheel easily and won’t worry about them coming off if that wheel uses a hookless design. They’ve got great road feel and grip but enough puncture protection that they aren’t fragile. The Enve SES road tyre is an excellent tyre if your riding is spirited and fast but you’ll be covering big miles where it’s more important to have a comfortable ride than it is to have the absolute fastest tyre available. 

Two years ago when these tyres came to market there were very few options available for those running hookless wheels. There are more options now but the Enve SES continues to be a high-quality contender. The most obvious competition is the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR, and the two are close but you can see how they have a slightly different focus. The Continental is faster but there’s less puncture protection and our reviewer specifically called out what a struggle they are to mount. It doesn’t hurt that the Enve option is a little less expensive too.

The one thing I'd love to see Enve adjust is the sizing. I prefer to ride a 28mm tyre and with the Enve system, I've got to choose to go up or down. The reason for that isn't, according to Enve, that the tyres are actually a different size but rather that most tyre sizes don't represent the inflated size on modern wheels. It's true but it's a challenge to have one company as the outlier. Just know that if you like a 28mm tyre mounted on a wheel that's got an internal width of around 21mm, that means a 29mm tyre from Enve. It also means both tyres will be near 30mm if you measure the inflated tyre on a 22.4mm internal width wheel. 

 Tech Specs: Enve SES Road Tyre  

  • Price: £69.99 / $75.00 / AU$109.99
  • Application: Road, Road Race, Triathlon, Time-Trial, All-Road
  • Composition: Natural and Synthetic Rubber Compound w/ Activated Silica for All-Weather Performance
  • Tubeless Compatibility: Tubeless Ready and Inner-Tube Compatible
  • Rim bead compatibility: Hookless and Hooked-Bead Rim Type Compatible
  • Inner-Rim Width Compatibility: 25c (17-21mm) | 27c, 29c, 31c (17-25mm)
  • Weight: 25c (255g), 27c (265g), 29c (275g), 31c (285g)
  • Puncture Protection: Vectran™ Protection Barrier

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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutia of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 137 lb.
Rides: Orbea Orca Aero, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Trek Checkpoint, Priority Continuum Onyx