Enve has today launched four tubeless-ready road tyres and they’re to be known as the Enve SES tyre range.
The brand claims its new tyres are competitive with the best tubeless road racing tyres, not just in terms of weight, rolling resistance and puncture resistance, but also in terms of aerodynamic efficiency.
In keeping with a growing industry trend towards hookless road tubeless rims, Enve says every tyre in the range is compatible with hookless rims. Furthermore, Enve says the tyres have all been designed in accordance with the latest ETRTO standards (although it’s still not entirely clear what those standards are right now).
Enve has also provided detailed information on recommended pressure ranges and actual inflated width for each tyre in the range, when mounted on rims of differing internal widths.
Fashionistas will be thrilled to learn that all four tyres in the range will be available with either black or tan walls.
2021 Enve SES road tyre range: details, pricing and specifications
The 25c and 29c tyres are available now, with 27c and 31c tyres following around October 2020.
In terms of RRP pricing, the new Enve tyres are in line with key competitors such as the Continental GP5000 TL (£70) and Schwalbe Pro One TLE (£68.49), though it remains to be seen if they are discounted to the same extent on the open market.
2021 Enve SES tyres aero data
Enve claims the tread pattern (which is made up of parts of Enve’s brand logo) has been specifically designed to improve aerodynamic efficiency. It says the tread acts as a ‘trip edge’ that energises the airflow, helping it to remain attached over the transition between the rim and tyre.
It also claims this effect works at the rear wheel too, where the tread helps to close the wake of the airflow as it transitions off the tyre, leading to a smaller low pressure wake behind the wheel.
The tread pattern is specifically designed to lower aerodynamic drag. Enve
Enve also told us its testing (performed by long-term partner Drag2Zero) showed this aerodynamic benefit increases with a pedalling rider present because the rider’s legs generate extra turbulence that the rear tread can apparently help streamline.
At this point we would normally advise you to take these kinds of claims with a healthy pinch of salt, but in a somewhat rare move, Enve has provided both wind tunnel development information and data from comparative testing it performed.
We’re not in a position to validate this data, so do keep the salt nearby, but it’s worth noting Enve’s tyres don’t show the lowest drag numbers in all situations, as is often the case with aero data provided by manufacturers. This lends the brand’s claims more credence because it suggests data isn’t being cherrypicked to favour Enve over its rivals.
For example, where Continental’s GP5000 is tested, Enve’s data shows it as being slightly more aerodynamically efficient than Enve’s own tyres.
When asked why it only tested the 28mm GP5000 TL (and not the 25mm version), Enve told us wind tunnel testing for the 25c tyres was performed at an earlier date, when the GP5000 had not yet been released. The brand was therefore only able to test the GP5000 TL when it later tested the 29c versions of its own tyres.
On a more general point, it’s worth noting that the difference in weighted average drag between the 25c and 29c tyres appears quite stark.
It’s difficult to make direct comparisons because the 25c and 29c tyres were tested on different rims; Enve’s SES 5.6 and 7.8 for the 25c tyre) and Enve’s SES 3.4 AR for the 29c tyre).
However, considering the SES 3.4 AR is claimed to be optimised for wider tyres and that the apparent difference in drag between the SES 5.6 and 7.8 wheelsets (both with the 25c tyre) is less than a couple of watts… Well, the 19 or so watts difference between the 25c tyres on the SES 5.6 wheelset and 29c tyres on the SES 3.4 AR wheelset seems to be quite significant.
Of course, aerodynamic performance doesn’t tell the whole story, and there are likely to be gains made in decreased rolling resistance and increased comfort and grip from the wider rim and tyre combination, especially on rough surfaces.
However, racers may wish to consider that the narrower combination (narrower in relative terms – the SES 5.6 front wheel is still 29mm wide) is, according to Enve’s own testing, apparently substantially more aerodynamically efficient than the wider combination.
2021 Enve SES tyres rolling and puncture resistance data
In another very welcome move, Enve has already provided rolling and puncture resistance data from testing performed by BicycleRollingResistance.com, an independent tester that focuses on drum testing the rolling and puncture resistance of bicycle tyres.
Notably, the rolling resistance testing shows the new 25mm Enve SES tyre lags slightly behind the best road racing tyres in its class – namely a couple of watts behind the Schwalbe Pro One TLE and Hutchinson Fusion 5 Galactik TL, and around 4 watts behind the Continental GP5000 TL.
It should be caveated that the GP5000 TL is not compatible with hookless rims and therefore won’t be an option for some riders. Likewise, the Vittoria Corsa Speed and Schwalbe Pro One TT TLE tyres are designed for time trials and, as such, offer lower durability and more limited puncture protection.
Enve’s rolling resistance data, garnered from independent testing, shows the SES tyre as slightly slower than the competition. Enve insists types of tests alone aren’t necessarily representative of real world performance, though. Enve
Enve would perhaps feel that the tyres’ aerodynamic performance at higher speeds (20mph and above) may make up for some of this rolling resistance deficit though.
Likewise, the puncture resistance testing shows the Enve SES tyre outperforming the aforementioned tyres, despite claimed weights for the 25mm tyre being a little lower than the competition.
When we put this to Enve, it told us it focused on making a tyre that balanced low rolling resistance with decent enough puncture protection to not be a race-day-only tyre.
Jake Pantone, vice president, product and customer experience at Enve, told us: “We were trying to achieve an ideal balance for everyday race worthy performance. Saving 3–4 watts in rolling resistance but doubling your likelihood for flats in some cases just isn’t worth it to us.”
Enve was also at pains to point out that rolling resistance tests performed on steel drums are not always indicative of real world performance.
In fairness to Enve, it’s not completely wrong in this regard. As steel drums (even ones with diamond plating as used by BicycleRollingResistance.com) tend to be much smoother and more uniform than an actual road, such tests tend to favour higher pressures and stiffer, less supple tyre casings. However, in the real world, where even the best roads are full of minor surface imperfections, more supple tyres with somewhat lower pressures are, in most people’s experience, actually faster.
A wider tyre may give up a lot in aero terms at high speeds, but it may also make gains in comfort, traction and rolling resistance on rough roads. Enve
So… Why do this type of testing then? Well, according to Enve the raw rolling resistance data is still useful as a development benchmark, presumably because it’s a highly repeatable testing methodology, even if the results don’t necessarily translate precisely into real world performance.
We’ll leave it up to you to consider the data provided and draw your own conclusions on whether Enve has struck the right balance of performance and durability. We can at least applaud Enve for providing some actual data to help us make more informed purchasing decisions.