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Carbon disc wheel decisions

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Carbon disc wheel decisions

Old 03-18-21, 08:46 PM
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RichLV
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Carbon disc wheel decisions

Hi all...Been lurking the site for a while and deciding to pose a question for you fine folks.
I am in the process of building-up an SL7 and am completely bewildered by the sheer amount of wheel choices that exist these days. After a few days of digesting as much info as I could, I've decided on a few that should fit my needs. So, looking for some pro/con opinions.
Up until last year, I have been riding on 23mm Conti 4000s on aluminum rims under a 10 year old Trek Madone. Last year, I made the switch to 25mm Conti 5000s and noticed much less fatigue, and better overall times on most of my loops. With that, I'm looking for some fairly lightweight wheels that climb well, have some aero benefit and won't be completely obsolete in a year. These wheels will never see gravel. Will probably be fitted with tires in the 25-28mm range. Tubeless ready is required for future-proofing. Must weigh less than 1500 grams for the pair. I mostly ride solo on hilly terrain; most routes are approx. 40 miles with 3500' of climbing.
Choices are:
Enve SES 3.4 Disc Tubeless - Well regarded, lightweight, optimized for 25mm tires.
Enve SES 3.4 AR - Lightweight, optimized for 28mm tires, hookless
Zipp 303 Firecrest - Hookless, lightweight, unproven hubs

I am leaning towards the Enve AR right now, due mostly to the ravings for wide, low psi benefits on rolling resistance and improved handling. But not sure how much of that is just hype.The 28mm minimum is fine, as long as they perform as well or better than 25mm.

Any imput or advice is much appreciated.
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Old 03-19-21, 08:45 AM
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Wheels in that price range are a big waste of money for those who don't race. I recently read about how the deep profile area of some enve wheels can get pressurized and blow up the rim. The arbitrary 1500 gram weight limit is interesting. Disc brake bikes weigh quite a bit more to start with. I'd be less concerned with the weight, since it's the aerodynamics that's supposed to be most important feature of deep profile wheels. If your body weight isn't at the minimum within 100 grams, a little more wheel weight won't kill you.


I've recently built up my first two disc bikes. Even with 200 gram lighter frames, they weigh considerably more than the rim braked bikes they replaced. Even though I weigh 133-138, I chose Michelin 28mm tubeless tires, so I could try the low air pressure of 62/64 psi. I must say that they ride and roll well. I've hit 55 mph on some descents with no problem. I chose low profile fulcrum racing 3 wheels because I can get into some nasty cross winds in the mountains. I really wanted rims that don't require rim tape with tubeless. So far they've worked great.

This company gets a lot of positive feedback at the paceline forum. They custom build whatever you want. https://btlos.com/road-bike A carbon wheelset with DT hubs, under 1500 grams can be had for about $1065.

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Old 03-19-21, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
Wheels in that price range are a big waste of money for those who don't race. I recently read about how the deep profile area of some enve wheels can get pressurized and blow up the rim. The arbitrary 1500 gram weight limit is interesting. .
Definitely not a pro racer, but tailoring my purchases on what I think is a good compromise. I consider this a mid-range build using somewhat shallow carbon wheels. I did read about the "wheel pressurization" issues, and don't know if they are exclusive to Enve; but either way, Enve has addressed it with their pressure relief widget on their wheels, so not a terrible concern. 1500 grams is indeed arbitrary, but I figured I should just come-up with guidelines to pare down the options.
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Old 03-19-21, 10:00 AM
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I love my 4.5 ARs.

I think everything you're looking at is hookless which means you can only use tubeless tires even if you use a tube. You can't use GPs on the Enve rims (unless that's changed recently). This has been the one downside to mine, but there are excellent tubeless tires available and once I found ones I like this stopped being an issue.

There's a placebo effect where being on really good gear makes you push a little harder and think you're faster because of the gear. Pushing a little harder because you're getting a little more speed makes you a little fitter. 🙂
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Old 03-19-21, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
You can't use GPs on the Enve rims (unless that's changed recently).
It hasn't - Conti isn't doing hookless at this time. Plenty of good options out there, though.
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Old 03-19-21, 10:20 AM
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Yes, they are hookless except for the standard 3.4 SES wheels.
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Old 03-19-21, 12:25 PM
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The Enve's and the 303 FC, according to each manufacturer, cant run 25mm tires. I just went through this with my SL7. Ended up with a set of 5.6's and a set of 303 FC. The Zipps were purchased for my gravel bike and occasional road use when super windy/climbing.
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Old 03-19-21, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Hapsmo911 View Post
The Enve's and the 303 FC, according to each manufacturer, cant run 25mm tires. I just went through this with my SL7. Ended up with a set of 5.6's and a set of 303 FC. The Zipps were purchased for my gravel bike and occasional road use when super windy/climbing.
Then you know my pain; except I don't have a gravel bike and want to only purchase one set of wheels. Not opposed to being stuck on 25mm tires, but just want to make sure that I'm not missing out on the 28mm wide rim hotness. If they are truly better for overall riding.
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Old 03-19-21, 12:38 PM
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Hunt makes a wide rim with hooks. May be other options but that is the other option I was considering .
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Old 03-19-21, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Hapsmo911 View Post
Hunt makes a wide rim with hooks. May be other options but that is the other option I was considering .
Bontrager has a few new wheelset options with wide, hooked rims, too.
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Old 03-19-21, 12:44 PM
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Really, at that price range, there are no bad options. Zipp, Enve, Hed, Roval, Bontrager, I9... They're all good.

I suggest going with whichever set best matches the look of your bike - e.g. decal colors, colored hubs, colored spokes...., whichever meets your budget or whichever is in-stock when you need it.

(And yes, most of the bike stuff we buy is a big waste of money, even for those of us who race. But if it makes you happy, just enjoy it.)
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Old 03-19-21, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by RichLV View Post
Then you know my pain; except I don't have a gravel bike and want to only purchase one set of wheels. Not opposed to being stuck on 25mm tires, but just want to make sure that I'm not missing out on the 28mm wide rim hotness. If they are truly better for overall riding.
Are you sure the 3.4 ARs can't do 28mm? I thought that's what they were optimized for?
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Old 03-19-21, 09:58 PM
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Yep, the 3.4 ARs are optimized for 28-32 mm
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Old 03-20-21, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
Wheels in that price range are a big waste of money for those who don't race..
Pretty much sums it up for me.
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Old 03-20-21, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by RichLV View Post
Then you know my pain; except I don't have a gravel bike and want to only purchase one set of wheels. Not opposed to being stuck on 25mm tires, but just want to make sure that I'm not missing out on the 28mm wide rim hotness. If they are truly better for overall riding.
How heavy/light are you? What tires are you running now?

I'm at ~180lbs, so not small by road cycling standards, and really enjoy the low pressure that I can run with 28s and the 303S (+/- 60psi). If I were 150lbs, 28s wouldn't matter as much to me.

That said, the other thing that you need to keep in mind is that all of these modern tubeless/hookless 28s are much smaller than the typical 28s from one tire generation ago and are often more in line with the 25s that you may be used to.
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Old 03-20-21, 07:00 AM
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I have been running hooked carbon wheels up until recently, when I bought ENVE Foundation 45s for my new bike. I ran Conti 5000TLs exclusively until now as I can't on these wheels. Running ENVE SES tires in 28mm and I freaking love them. The grip is insane, the wheels are fast and hold speed. I am very impressed with the setup and although tire choices are limited, there are fantastic tires to select from. Interestingly enough, the 28s on my wheels look like 25s lol. I couldn't imagine running 25s on them although ENVE says this wheel is optimized for 25 and 28.
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Old 03-20-21, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
Wheels in that price range are a big waste of money for those who don't race.
Waste of money is completely subjective. Sometimes those who don't race, just want premium parts, premium bikes and enjoy premium builds. Whether or not the added benefits are lost on a rider because they don't race can be debated all day long, but especially in ENVEs case, the wheels are quality, they are premium, and they have a fantastic warranty and lifetime protection program.
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Old 03-20-21, 10:47 AM
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FWIW, the new Michelin 28mm tubeless tire measure 29mm wide on 19mm internal width rims.
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Old 03-23-21, 03:25 PM
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I just went through a similar debate with myself and I just ordered 4.5 AR Disc.

Cant post a link but its one of only two threads I have made, I got some good replies.

I won't race but I do like being the best I can and to me these were the best all-round wheels for me and they are expensive but you only live once! I seem very heavy for a cyclist at 98kg and pretty lean so the lower PSI, 28 will be good for me!
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Old 03-23-21, 07:11 PM
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Bontrager Aeolus Pro: 37mm deep, 28mm wide, 21mm internal width, dtswiss 350, 1505g, $1300.

I'm using these wheels with 28c Addix Pro 1 TL tires and it rides 👌
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Old 03-23-21, 10:23 PM
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I cut one of my tires pretty good. I have a brand new one somewhere, it wasn't cheap, and I can't find it. Had to order a new one (and two more for next time) and I'm riding my backup wheels. Haven't been on them in a while. They're good wheels but the difference between HED Ardennes and 4.5 ARs is very obvious. It better be for the price.
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Old 08-07-21, 04:19 PM
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InvertedMP Are you still enjoying your ENVE Foundation 45's? I am having a hell of a time deciding between the ENVE Foundation 45 and 2021 Firecrest 303. Leaning towards the ENVE because they allow the smaller tires. But I like the idea of being able to more easily take the Firecrest on gravel (that being said, I really don't do a lot of gravel exploring now).
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