Kinda resurrecting this thread briefly as I’d like to share my experience with these wheels and the Enve tires. This is a really long post with a lot of information. The first half summarizes things and the second half elaborates on my experiences in the event somebody else has a similar experience or issue to me. Hoping my headaches will be as lesson for folks down the road.
First of all, the wheels are awesome. They look great. They feel great. And they feel fast. I ended up getting the 65s with I9 hubs. The thing I noticed immediately (and on practically every ride in the 6 months I've ridden them) is the hub engagement. All those extra teeth make snap accelerations immediate. It almost feels like I've upgraded my shifting at times because the engagement is so fast and gives the illusion of a smoother shift. The buzzing of the hub took some time to get used to as I would often think I had punctured when instead I was simply free-wheeling (although punctures did become an issue, so read on).
Control in the Wind
In windy conditions, it has taken some time to get used to them. I was initially really concerned about this and avoided riding on windy days, particularly when gusts were stronger than 20 mph (more frequent then you'd think in Chicagoland). However, in the past couple months, I've become much more confident in riding them in all windy conditions, and I'd have no problem riding them every day, regardless of the conditions outside.
There are two specific things I have found through experimentation that have helped with this confidence from a technique perspective. I’m certain these are useful regardless of your wheel choice, but it bears repeating here for anybody who finds this post and is concerned about this in particular.
- Move your weight slightly back in the saddle. Doing so will place more pressure onto the back wheel much like what you would do on a steep or cobbled climb to minimize slipping. This keeps the bike anchored.
- By moving your weight back, make sure to also relieve some weight off your hands. Let the front wheel have some degree of movement by removing pressure on the front end. The more stiffly you grip it and the more weight you put through the front wheel, the more likely you are to feel every twitch of the wheel and overcompensate. Let it do its thing (within reason) and you’ll be amazed how much more comfortable you’ll feel in crosswinds, especially.
I’ve now ridden in rainy conditions, super windy conditions (20 mph wind with 35 mph gusts) and can confidently say they they ride great. When a gust hits the front wheel, you’ll feel it catch for a quarter second before it fully dissipates. It’s an initially jarring feeling that becomes second nature to manage overtime.
Enve SES Road Tubeless Tire Opinions
Not going to lie. My experience here was not very rosy at the start. The first ride was excellent. I was flying. Smashing around my local KOMs that I like to go for but know I'll never beat. And then I got my first puncture. I'll start with my overall opinion on the tire and the headings after that will elaborate on my experiences that informed that opinion.
For reference, I run 70 psi front and rear at 155 lbs. I've ridden at 65 psi in the rain without much issue. Original sealant was Muckoff, but I've switched to Orange Seal because the Muckoff simply didn't work at all in my experience.
The Enve SES Tires are very supple and grippy, which means they roll well and are great in corners. But that also means they are prone to punctures and slashes. In a tubed set-up, they are likely excellent as they'd provide enough protection at the tire level to ensure the tube doesn't puncture, however, run as a tubeless set up, this can lead to headaches and major frustrations. One thing that helped me notice this was reviewing the routes I used when I punctured. Any route I've done that required a diversion over a crushed limestone path or a brief section of dirt to get around construction led to cuts, slashes or punctures to these tires. They are just really, really prone to this because of how supple they are.
Because of that fact, critical to making these tires run great is having the correct sealant in a tubeless set up. In my experience, Muckoff sealant has been a total bust and I would never recommend it to anyone on the road. It never sealed punctures, no matter how small, even pinhole sized punctures wouldn't fully seal. Reading some reviews around the web, it would appear I'm not alone, and the below Cycling Weekly post was like looking in a mirror during my biggest frustrations with tubeless.
That said, with a switch to OrangeSeal, I have become a true road tubeless believer. I’ve had a couple punctures while running this sealant, and every time it fills in immediately and I lose no more than 2-5 psi in the tires, even for holes that are a centimeter wide. It’s an astounding experience compared to the Muckoff. It just works. It’s easy to maintain. It’s easier to clean up the bike after a puncture. It’s simply better in every way, not the least of which is simply that it actually seals up punctures. That said, if I had the choice and if they were approved for the rim, I’d be riding Continental GP 5000 tires. They just have far superior durability, while also maintaining that grippy-ness and great rolling speed.
The Full Experience
Below is my experience in more detail, should this be of interest to you. The above summarizes things overall, but for those who want more detail, the below will provide it. My hope is also that this experience may help anyone who had had issues similar to mine now or in the future.
Set Up and Air Bleed
It is here that I should mention the set up. When the wheels were first set up, it was with the Enve SES tires and Muckoff sealant. Using the Enve tire pressure calculator, I ran the tires at 70 psi. During the first couple weeks, I noticed the tires losing a lot of pressure overnight (like 40 psi or more), and after mentioning it to my mechanic, we came to the position that there's more air bleed for tubeless set ups (this isn't true and is explained further down). I wasn't very confident in the tires initially because they felt so squishy, and this bleed was the reason for that feeling.
About three weeks into riding the tires, I got a puncture. I didn't actually realize it at the time. I rode the bike home, put it on the trainer for some workouts that week, and while wiping the bike down one day, I noticed some goop on the back of the seat tube. I didn't put two-and-two together until later, but this was the Muckoff sealant from that initial puncture. In any case, I went out for a couple more rides and the tires kept getting soft faster than I'd have expected, ultimately ending with my back tire going fully flat on a long ride and I had to call my parents to pick me up. This was the start of the problems for me.
This puncture was quite small, essentially pinhole sized. There is no reason this hole should not have fully sealed. I brought it to my mechanic, he topped off the sealant and it was holding fine in the store. On a group ride, it broke open again and started to slowly leak, and was spitting sealant on whomever was behind me. We stopped, I tried to plug it and the plug comically flew into the sky from the air pressure, and we had to put a tube in to finish the ride. It was an absolute mess and everybody on the ride chalked it up to tubeless just being terrible. I was still adamant about giving it a shot, however.
Brought it back to the mechanic, and they reupped on the Muckoff sealant and I went for another ride, only to have the same thing happen: the sealed hole blew out and I was once again stranded on the side of the road. Once more, the plug did not work and I had to call for help. At this point, the shop replaced the tire at no expense to me and put in a claim with Enve for warranty (love my LBS so much).
Set up was done once again with Muckoff sealant, and things were alright until the back tire punctured once again (on the new tire; like I said they are very supple). And yet again, it would not seal fully. Or rather, it would seal, but pumping the tire beyond 40 psi would blow it out, so for my purposes, it was failing me and completely useless.
Change of Sealant
With all this trouble, we decided to keep the same tire and try OrangeSeal instead. The purpose here was to see if the sealant or the tire was the problem. My mechanic got it set up with the previously punctured tire, and I took it out for some rides. In fact, on the first ride, I had to skid a little to avoid a car and it reopened the puncture. I stopped for a moment, turned the wheel puncture-side down and it sealed instantly. I cannot explain to you how night-and-day different this felt from the Muckoff sealant. It felt like magic. It was instantaneous. It didn't blow out. I lost only 5 psi in the tire, finished my ride, pumped it back up to pressure and never looked back. It held. It actually friggin worked as it should have! (Although, the tire shouldn't be puncturing this much, regardless.)
By now, the front tire had not punctured at all and was still set with Muckoff, however, I did puncture a few weeks ago, and it wouldn't seal. I switched the sealant to OrangeSeal, and once again, it was a night-and-day difference for me. In short, buy and use OrangeSeal with this tire and rim combo for road tubeless. The Muckoff sealant just cannot work at the road pressures (I ride 65-70 psi), but OrangeSeal does.
Above, I noted the air bleed issues I was experiencing as well. Since making the sealant switch, the tires have held pressure in the same way I've come to experience they would had it been a set up with tubes. As such, the air bleed is no longer an issue, and in my opinion, never should have been.
The wheels kick ass, are fast, are fun, are stiff, and have incredible hub engagement. The tires are prone to punctures, even on crushed lime stone paths or small dirt sections, so getting the sealant set up is critical to success and to reducing headaches if you are looking to run these tires. It is worth considering other compatible tires instead. On that note, absolutely do not use Muckoff sealant with this tire and rim combo. It simply does not work. Orange Seal is the way to go if you're having trouble. I have not tried Stan's, so I cannot speak to it, but their darts do not work with tires at this pressure as they just blow right out. After all the trial and error, I'm now a believer in tubeless and love ripping on these wheels. It just took a lot of time, anger and frustration to get here.