Enve 4.5 AR Disc

I’m looking to build up a new steed, but am a bit torn on wheelset choice.

I current run rim 303 Firecrests, but my entire bike peer group seem to be Enve fanboys/gals.

The 4.5 AR’s seem a bit quirky.
Hookless, ultra wide, etc. relative to the 3.4 SES disc and 5.6 SES disc (that the TR crew raves about).

In my area (Boulder County, CO), I feel like the depth on the 5.6 is a bit much for all but the flattest of crit courses, but there’s enough flat’ish to justify a deeper wheelset.

So, the question, does anyone have any experience with the 4.5 AR’s racing/riding? I mostly ride road, but wouldn’t be adverse to taking them offroad on some mellow gravel too.

What exactly is your concern? At least on paper the ARs seems they tick all your boxes.

In terms of depth, 4.5s are a good compromise between aero benefits and aero/weight penalties. The ARs are made for 28 mm tires, which IMHO will be the default tire width for most riders in a few years anyway. The ARs are more robust, which means you don’t have to baby them on gravel rides, and you can put wider gravel rubber on them. (But I wouldn’t call them ultrawide, though, coming from the mountain bike side, even 40 mm tires are quite skinny :wink: )

As far as I can tell the only obvious downsides of Enve rims is that they are so darn expensive.


4.5AR can be used for light gravel etc but then youre changing tyres if you do varying event types. Better to have specific wheel sets set up if possible.

I have 5.6 and love them. Wouldnt take them offroad though.
You could set the 303s with mid width gravel type tyres and see how that goes until you do enough gravel to go 2x specific wheelsets

not to quote enve but you cant judge a rim by its depth in terms of how it deals with the wind. I’ve found 5.6 great in the wind and my weight for reference i’m 175lbs

Most articles and tests say always go aero unless your course is averaging over 7-8% across the entire length or if the event is a very short hilly event or hill climbing event. Essentially the aero benefit will win out over the length of the course and they hold their speed really well.

Depends on the hubs but you can still get them to 1.5kg or maybe a bit less

Also the 5.6 look the best imo :slight_smile:

4.5AR are limited on the tyre choices and you have to go tubeless which may be exactly what you want. Given the 3.4AR launched recently I would say that Enve may be moving to a rim that is both good for clincher and tubeless. the 3.4AR is supposedly even better than the 4.5AR for pinch flats. Given the 4.5AR is a few years old it wouldn’t surprise me if the bring out a new version in the not too distant future.

3.4AR is a reasonable depth and very versatile and very light so might be worth considering as an all rounder.

Its’ quite an investment, but getting a gravel/all road set and a Fast road set would be good. Unless you’re running very wide tyres the 3.4AR has been used to win DK and other events, and might be a good choice vs the g23. Then get a 5.6 or alternative for the road. the 303s are probably somewhere in between the 3.4 and 5.6 for ref.

I’ve never understood why you would market a tire as AR and then only recommend up to 30mm tires. Other than that, they seem like great road tires with ENVE build quality and a higher weight tolerance for bigger riders.

Is that from ENVE? They list pressure recommendations for tires up to 55mm. I know ENVE says they’re optimized for 28mm tires and maybe that’s the aero recommendation, but they’re definitely not limited to 30s.

All I know is that everything you read says “Enve developed these wheels for use with large volume 28mm tires”. That doesn’t strike me as designed for “all road”. In fact I’d say in a few years I would expect 28 to be considered “small”.

I’m not sold on the hookless design…no doubt Enve makes great wheels, but to spend all that $$ and then be limited on tire choices if you want to go tubeless on the road seems to be a bit of a waste.

1 Like

They’re aerodynamically optimized for 28mm, but compatible up to 50mm. That’s directly from ENVE. So I’d say they’re all-road.

28c for the best aerodynamic performance
33-50c These tires sizes are compatible, but will eliminate aerodynamic advantage of the rim profile.”

They’re designed around a 28mm tire for aero benefits, but are compatible with a huge range of tire widths. I don’t think there’s a wheel that’s aero with 50mm and can also fit a 28.


Note the tire restrictions on these. https://www.enve.com/en/tire-compatibility/

Incompatible/Not Approved Tires

Any Tube-Type/Non-Tubeless Tire
Continental GP5000 TL – 28mm
Hutchinson Sector 32 – 32mm
Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance 11Storm – 28mm
Hutchinson Fusion 5 All Season 11Storm – 28mm
Mavic Yksion Pro UST – 28mm
Specialized S-Works Turbo 2Bliss Ready – 28mm
Teravail Rampart All-Road Light/Supple TR (Tan Sidewall) – 32mm

If you like GP5000 or Hutchinson ( & Mavic) tires, probably should pass.

1 Like

I have a set of ENVE 3.4 SES Disc and they’re the best wheels I’ve ever had. I chose them over the 4.5 AR because the 4.5s just seem SO limiting—no tubes and only a very specific set of tires work with them. We’re getting closer to these being practical, but like @jfranci3 said, if you want GP5000s, these aren’t for you. That’s an issue if you ask me.

For what it’s worth, if I had it to do over, I’d probably get the 5.6s now. I love my 3.4s, but I wish I would’ve gone more aero, especially after hearing the TR crew talk about how nice they are even in a crosswind (which was my main reason for going with the 3.4 in the first place).

Well, hopefully they’ll make a non-AR variant before I actually pull the trigger.

I suppose I could be convinced to do a 303 or 404 disc setup too.
I love my current rim 303 firecrests, I’d imagine the disc variant is more of the same.

I just went down this decision matrix. And it was a tough one.

So here is the thing, while there is always the argument to be made that aero trumps weight, there is a very marginal difference between the 3.4 and 4.5AR’s vis a vis drag. Or in this case lift, because in reality that is what you are looking for in higher yaw angles w/ anything under about 50mm’s in depth. To wit, Enve’s own drag chart:

As you can see, the drag differences between the two AR rim profiles are miniscule, like what 1 watt at > that 10 deg of yaw?

So as best I could figure (and because I live in the mountains), I opted for the 3.4AR’s because you also lose about 157g’s of rotating weight. Laugh if you want, but taking that amount of rotating weight out of the wheel set at the rim (especially when setup w/ heavier TLR tires and sealant) seemed like a better way to go for my climbing/everyday wheels, w/ only about a watt of drag losses in most situations.

Full disclosure I also purchased a pair of SES 7.8’s for crits/TTs and not crazy windy road racing. For me and as @pete and I chatted about, it seems like a good combo of wheels.


They seem to be going the opposite direction these days, especially with disc wheels. I imagine we’ll see more AR series wheelsets moving forward.

That is fine too.
The AR’s just seem to be the niche of the niche for “road” wheels at the moment, which I realize is highly ironic since they’re meant to be non-niche. I just mean for accompanying equipment selection (tires, etc) they’re pretty niche by comparison.

1 Like

The 3.4 AR really seems like a great all-around wheel set, especially with Enve suggesting they can be used for some gravel riding as well. They are also promoting Strickland winning Kanza on them. Although when you dig into Enve’s “Gravel Guide” they do steer everyday users towards the G23 for Kanza.

The one issue remains the incompatibility with a great everyday tire, the GP5000. I wonder if anything is going on behind the scenes with Enve and Continental to come up with tire that will work reliably with Enve’s hookless bead design.


To be a fly on the wall in some of these meetings…

1 Like

AFAIK Enve has discontinued the non-AR variant in favor of the AR variant. I foresee the same happening to the 3.4s. What is the reason for your trepidation? I see only advantages here: the ARs are optimized for 28 mm tires rather than 25 mm tires, but you can still use 25 mm tires on them.

Why are they niche?

1 Like

Most of my trepidation stems from a limitation in tire selection.
Which is not much, since the tires on offer that are compatible, some of them are fantastic (pro one’s for example).

It just makes me nervous to step that far outside of “convention” when no one else is following suit (yet).


I don’t see any essential limitation, the list includes some of the best tires at this point in time, including Schwalbe Pro One and Vittoria Corsa (Control). The only notable exception is the Continental GP5000, which seems to work, but seems to be a giant pain to put on.

I don’t think this is true. 3T’s new carbon wheelset is essentially their version of the Enve 4.5 AR Disc: wider internal rim width to accommodate wider tires without any loss in aero performance, tubeless ready, disc brakes, the works.

I think within the next few years almost every Enve wheelset will be an AR wheelset. That’s because modern frame sets, even aero frame sets (such as the Venge), have enough clearance for 30-32 mm tires. Given where things are going, I expect all rim manufacturers to follow these trends.


I tried to say this above too. They are marketed as “All Road” and also as “Optimized for a 28mm tire”. I don’t know many people riding off road on 28mm tires. That’s about as niche as it gets in my opinion.

1 Like