Enve SES 4.5 AR vs 5.6

Good evening!

I’ve searched through the forums, and there are references to both of these wheelsets as being great, but I am wondering something more specific.

Building a new road race bike. I understand that the 5.6’s are designed around 25mm tires, which I currently run and are nice, but a wheel designed around 28mm tires is tempting. Lower pressures leading to better traction for later braking and harder cornering, better comfort…what am I missing? Both will be run tubeless, the difference in rolling resistance will be really really low, maybe a watt or two. Same wheel weight, same amount of sealant. 28mm tires will be heavier.

These won’t be used off-road or for gravel, but for road and crit racing. Pete mentioned he has access to both, but races on the narrower tires. I trust TR crew recommendations implicitly, but what am I missing?

Thanks for considering and lending any experience you might have!

This guy’s website has a lot of good info on it. Check it out and enjoy the reading!


do you have a bike with frame clearance to fit the 4.5 AR? I’ve run 25mm and 26mm and 28mm tires on the 5.6. The fastest by feel were the Specialized 26mm. Enve warranty has delivered big time, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy again.

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5.6s with 25/26 up front and 28 in the back. best of both worlds?


It would be better if you could explain what kind of terrain you’ll be riding most of the time to decide what wheels are best. Is there a lot of elevation?

it would also help if you could decide what kind of priorities you’re looking for comfort or speed?

tire choice would help as well. if you plan to use 28C tires and wider, definitely go for the AR4.5’s

if you ride roads with lots of bumps and ruts and are looking for added comfort, I would highly suggest 28C and bigger tires with the AR4.5’s.

If however, you’re looking for speed and don’t mind a slightly bumpier ride, go for the AR5.6’s.

Do check your bike for tire clearance as the AR4.5’s are massively wide due to the 25mm internal width.

Personally, I’d go for the ENVE AR4.5’s due to their versatility, the wide width in addition to wide tires would increase the comfort massively on the bike. Not to mention that the added traction (according to GCN and cyclingtips) would help as well.

If however, you race and wanted something deep, then the 5.6’s would be the way to go along with some nice rolling 25C GP5000TL tires to get that nice aero benefit of the tires < rim width.

Hope it helps.


Thanks for responses!

These will be used on an Allez Sprint disc for the fit - need the open hip angle. Raced in a balanced mix of rolling road races and criteriums.

I am also heavily leaning toward the 4.5AR’s - for the stiff Allez Sprint, they will help with comfort massively, as well as all the other benefits. I think my question is a broader - what will be sacrificed by using the 4.5AR’s + 28mm tubeless tires vs the 5.6’s? Is there some handling drawback that I am unaware of?

You’d lose a tiny bit of aero advantage. Probably get better handling though with the 4.5s.

I just built up a Sprint with 4.5s and 28 tires. The ride is fantastic.


You could also look at the new Foundation Series 45s, which seem to be a solid compromise. They’re hookless, so designed for tubeless tires, but optimized for 25-28. At $1600, they might save you a bit of coin, too.

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This all makes sense…anyone actually racing on the 4.5ARs with 28mm tires and can comment on handling?

I have a sprint disc with 5.6s and 28mm tires (non tubeless).

Handling is fine. The 5.6s are very stable on the wind. I haven’t really had a moment of sketchiness with them.

28s are more comfy than 25s for sure on the bike.

I race crits so just went with the deeper wheel and I have no desire to run tubeless of any kind. Bet the 4.5s will be great

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Same here, I do a fair bit of riding in heavy crosswinds in flat and hilly terrain and they are very stable.

The only “interesting” situation is some twitchiness above 35-40mph in strong crosswinds on fast mountain descents. However I emphasize strong crosswinds. In low wind conditions I’ve ridden my 5.6 Discs down mountain descents at 40-50mph and they handle great.

I went back and forth with Enve about 5.6 vs 4.5 AR and concluded the 4.5 AR are too wide on my bike (only 2mm tire clearance to frame).


Damn, y’all are making me want some 5.6s now. I have 3.4s because the last set of 50mm wheels I had threw my 145lbs ass all over the place in crosswinds, and I hated it. If the 5.6s are stable even in crosswinds, I might have to pick up a set at some point.

@HMG Just got the 5.6 disc the other day and they are amazing. It was between the 5.6 and 7.8 and based on research and use I made the right choice. Plus Nate gave me advice during a group workout.

A very good blend of everything and first ride out quite a lot of cross wind and handled well with my gp4000II s. I am coming from rim mavic cosmics that we 52mm if I remember right so used to some gusts. Anyone that says they wont throw you around a little is fooling themselves vs riding a shallow rim. They are good though.

Talked to Enve corporate a couple of times prior to the purchase and they were great. Actually talked me down to the enve hub vs the Chris King which saved me some $$ as well.

They also look badass.


Slight sideline, but what were some of the reasons that made you choose the ENVE hubs instead?

The allez sprint disc’s have great tire clearance. I have mine setup with roval 64’s with 28C schwalbe pro one’s, plenty of tire clearance.

I’d recommend the 4.5Ar’s with 28c tires.

As far as I know, wider tires means better handling with the only drawback being aero watts.

on the other hand consider this, if you race, you probably train a lot as well, would you not benefit more from the comfort and handling of the wider rims 90% of the time? Unless you race more than you train.

Maybe it would help to drop ENVE a line and ask what they think as well. I wonder if there’s an ENVE rep in here on Trainerroad considering how much we talk about them :thinking:

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When I talked to enve directly they said the hubs were more of a set it and forget it design vs Chris King that are different material and need more servicing. And they said save the $700 and buy something else with that.

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Before buying mine I picked up the phone and talked with support, like you said they were great and very helpful.

Out here in flatland we get some epic crosswinds and tailwinds… to give you some idea here are two Wed nights in a row and a evening commute past 4 office buildings:


in those conditions everybody gets pushed around, a little more on the 5.6 vs stock alloy wheels but its not a big difference. They are very well mannered and like I said everyone is getting pushed sideways when you get smacked by a 30mph gust. And we are echeloning at ~20-25mph in those crosswinds. The only conditions that make me a little nervous are 35+mph descents in a canyon in gusty high wind conditions - they get a little “twitchy” and while they feel safe I’m a little cautious and only let them roll up to 40mph before braking back down. A better descender could easily go faster.

I don’t have Enve wheels, but I have been racing on 28s. Wider tires handle significantly better in difficult conditions. Two of my races were in rain, and I lowered the pressure to 65 psi. That definitely gave me better traction than many of my competitors, who complained that they did not feel safe racing that day. (Many of them also had carbon wheels and rim brakes while I was on disc brakes.)

If all you are after is eliminating the aero penalty, I don’t know whether you actually need to sell your 5.6s.

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I really like my 5.6. I only notice winds in strong cross winds but its just a twitch. I weigh 73kg

I heard the 28mm on 4.5AR come out at 30mm so assume you have clearance. From what i heard that inspires grip and also must have a decent impact on comfort. However, if these are a crit wheelset then its 5.6 as best performer. I’ve done 100+ mile rides on these (25mm) and they are fine. If i were going for an all rounder and these were on an endurance/race combo bike then 4.5AR would make sense as a compromise. Not sure i would want Tubeless only, or min 28mm but i havent tried this yet so cant really comment. I know people are keen on tubeless.

The 3.4AR are the best of both with Tubeless and Clincher + wider. I’m hoping that this is where ENVE will take the 4.5AR v2.

Overall very happy with my Enve’s so i’m sure both choices would be good, but if Crit performance is your no1. aim then i’d go 5.6.


Thanks all! These responses are very helpful.

My understanding is that the aero gains from using a wheelset like 5.6 are minimized if you don’t use the appropriate tire (25mm). So I think the discussion around speed ends up being between the potential gains in traction for 28mm tires (most aerodynamic with 4.5 ARs) and the aerodynamic gains of the 5.6’s over the 4.5 AR (deeper dish). I plan on contacting Enve, but based on the numbers on their website, the aerodynamic gains of the 5.6 over the 4.5 AR appears pretty minimal. Being able to brake later and take turns faster are more important to my riding, I have low-sided in a crit, and it isn’t fun at all. In addition to the massive comfort gains in being able to train on 30mm tires if desired :slight_smile:
Full disclosure, I currently have 5.6’s on my rim brake Tarmac, and they are the best wheels I’ve ever ridden, zero complaints and durability has been phenomenal. Certainly not knocking the 5.6s!!

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