Another cyclocross wheel set question

Hi all,

I’m in the market for a new wheelset and I can’t convince myself one way or the other. I race CX so that should be the priority but do the occasional peppy group road rides on rolling roads - no prolonged climbs more than 4-5 minutes. I’m a Cat 2 for CX and on paper, would hold my own in Cat 1 if I can ever race enough to get the points, so I consider myself performance oriented here. I was initially leaning towards the Zipp 303 firecrests. But with my LBS having trouble getting them, I started looking into the new ENVE SES 3.4’s. Then I went down the rabbit hole of “Does rim depth matter for cyclocross?” and started considering the SES 4.5’s since they are the same price and would give a bit more road riding advantages over the other 2. If it comes down to it, I don’t mind spending the extra money for the ENVE’s if the performance gains are there. I would keep my current Roval C35’s as my spare/mud set if the consensus is shallower is better for mud, regardless of the set I get. I am aware that the aero advantages deeper wheels offer are less pronounced at cyclocross speeds but deeper often equals stiffer, more responsive so :man_shrugging:

I’m also not that worried about the internal/external width. New rules allow up to 35mm tires and my magic 8 ball says that as wider rims become the norm, that number may grow even more. Worst case, if I ever go to nationals, I could run my Rovals to be safe.


  1. Do people think the new ENVE’s are worth the money compared to the Zipps when it comes to cyclocross/rolling road performance?
  2. If I go ENVE, is it worth going for the 4.5’s for the deeper rims?

Lastly, I realize I can’t go wrong with any of these options, just want to maximize the purchase.

Thanks all!

Chances are, you are more experienced in CX than me. The way that 33’s round out over my 19m internal cx wheels that came with my TCX feels great to me. Im thinking of when I lean the bike over underneath me to dig the side knobs in. I wonder if other have had similar experiences or could comment about the shape of the tire?

On the other hand, I’m using a set of 3.4 AR’s and they are superb on the road with 29c enve road tires. They have a really nice responssive pop when you step on the gas so I know you’ll enjoy that in the CX race. I havent CX’d them so no comment there.

If I had the money to buy an ENVE wheelset…

I’d use it to buy 2 sets of Light Bicycle (or similar) tubular wheels with different tires glued on. I was hesitant to commit myself to tubulars, but for CX they are amazing.


I had carbon tubulars for my cross bike last year. Loved them.

Now I need a new set of wheels though as upgraded my bike from aluminum with rim brakes to carbon with disk brakes.

I’d actually think that slightly deeper (within reason) is better for mud, because you get less mud over the rim and sticking between the spokes. But on the other hand, I don’t think you want the wheel to be too stiff, so that it handles all the bumps and roughness better.

In high-end wheels, I’d be worried about the bearings - not sure if you can really have low drag wheels for road and reasonably sealed bearings for cross at the same time.

I second this. As a long-time CX racer in the northeast US. 50mm is the way to go for mud. I had a quiver of like 6 tubular wheelsets for 2x bikes up until 2 yrs ago, when I switched to discs and tubeless. My team is sponsored by Stan’s No Tubes, so this may be biased. I went with Avions.

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Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I considered going the multiple “value” wheelset direction but in the end, I really wanted to make an upgrade. Anything in that value category isn’t any better than my current Rovals.

And with hookless rims, swapping tires isn’t that big of a deal to me. Much less of a deal than gluing on multiple sets of tubulars.

I ended up going with the ENVE 3.4’s. Seems like the best combo of everything I was looking for out of the 3 options. Plus my LBS could get them. They were delivered today and will hopefully be ready for pickup tomorrow! Very excited!

Thanks again,