SES Disc Brake Technology

The SES Disc wheel family represents the combination of the latest SES aero technologies and ENVE mountain wheel technologies to create the fastest, most stable and durable, disc brake specific aero road wheels in the industry.

SES Disc brake wheels are:

  • Developed to deliver real-world speed and stability
  • Optimized for use with disc brakes and not simply repurposed rim brake rims
  • Designed for use with modern disc brake road frames and higher volume tires
  • Guaranteed to deliver unprecedented reliability and durability through advanced carbon engineering and manufacturing techniques

Rim Shape and Aerodynamic Benefits

With the requirements a rim braking surface removed, we took on the task of reevaluating rim shape to determine what aerodynamic gains we might achieve. Over the last year, we tested dozens of disc brake specific rim concepts that included unique shapes, textures, and trips in the wind-tunnel. Ultimately, we found that a subtle change in the curvature of the rim shape provided the best improvement to the airflow. Additionally, the improved tire and rim interface created by the new rim shape creates a more stable wheelset in strong and variable wind conditions. All of the SES 3.4 Disc, SES 4.5AR Disc, SES 5.6 Disc and SES 7.8 Disc provide class leading aerodynamics in their respective depth classes.

ENVE Composites Road Disc

The SES Disc family of wheels feature dissimilar rim depths, widths, and shapes front to back like the second generation SES rim brake model 4.5 and 7.8. While the first generation SES wheels featured dissimilar rim depths and widths from front to back, the rim shapes were identical. With the newest generation SES rim and disc brake models, the front rim features a different profile and curvature than the rear rim. The reason for this change is to improve stability and dynamic response compared to the first generation SES wheel models. On the road these changes in rim shape amount to quicker feeling acceleration and amazing stability in variable wind conditions.

The SES 3.4 Disc, SES 4.5AR Disc, SES 5.6 and 7.8 Disc model wheels carry the torch of SES real-world performance and ensure that no matter what disc brake road, time-trial, or triathlon frame you ride, you’ll achieve more speed and stability when rolling on ENVE.

Disc Brake Optimized Structure – Strong, Light, Stiff

ENVE’s roots run deep when it comes to disc brake carbon rim technology thanks to nearly a decade of carbon mountain rim development. The introduction and proliferation of disc brakes on road bikes created a new reality where the constraints of a heat-proof full-carbon braking surface are eliminated and the optimal construction and design of a road wheel can be reconsidered. With the challenge of heat management removed, material can be removed or deployed elsewhere to improve performance metrics of the rim such as impact resistance, lateral/torsional/vertical stiffness, and weight.

ENVE Composites Road Disc

The SES Disc wheels were developed for disc brakes from the ground up and are completely different rims than their rim brake counterparts. For starters, SES Disc rims are roughly 30-40 grams lighter than an equivalent depth rim brake model. While wheelset weights will remain basically identical between rim and disc brake wheelsets, the disc brake wheelset will feel quicker when accelerating and more responsive when changing direction or braking because the mass has been shifted from the rim (higher rotational inertia) to the hub (lower rotational inertia) with disc brake wheelsets.

ENVE Composites Road Disc

Wider Rims and Tires

Across disciplines of cycling there is a strong trend towards wider tires and rims; and the road race market is no different. Larger tires provide improved rolling resistance (i.e. you go faster w/ less effort), comfort, stability, and confidence when cornering. When the first generation SES wheels were developed road cyclists were primarily running 23mm tires for racing pursuits and triathletes were still coming off of 21mm tires. Today the story is much different, and road racers and triathletes alike are primarily running tires labeled with sizes between 24mm and 28mm because of the performance advantages listed above.

Frames, like tire volume are evolving as well. It used to be that many road and triathlon frames had limited rim width and tire clearance. For a wheel to perform at its maximum aero potential, there needs to be healthy spacing between frame surfaces and the rim and tire. If the spacing is too tight, airflow is inhibited resulting in increased drag. As such, we’ve always been sure to design our SES wheels to work in a broad range of frames so that aero performance is maximized.

ENVE Composites Road Disc

Disc brakes present the opportunity to design bike frames with more rim and tire clearance which opens up the design window for wheel development. As such, SES Disc wheels are wider and optimized for tires with branded widths of 25mm.

ENVE Composites Road Disc

By going wider, aerodynamics are not only improved, but tire volume is increased as well resulting in reduced rolling resistance.


Disc brakes, large volume tires with low rolling resistance and weight, and wide rims like the SES 3.4 Disc, SES 4.5AR Disc, SES 5.6 and 7.8 Disc have helped accelerate the otherwise slow adoption of road tubeless technology and here is why.

  • Tubeless road rim and tire systems require tight tolerances in order to achieve the seal that allows these tires to lock onto the rim and maintain air pressure. Disc brakes make tubeless systems more reliable because they remove the challenge of heat management from the equation.
  • Tire volume is a big deal when it comes to tubeless. More tire and rim volume means easier tubeless tire installation, inflation, and removal. Disc brake optimized road bicycles generally feature more tire clearance than their rim brake optimized counterparts. This means that if your next bike or current bike is disc brake optimized, you likely have the option to run up to 30mm tires on a race bike and even larger if your bike falls into the gravel or all-road category.
  • Rim volume can also be amplified on bikes with disc brakes because the width of the rim is no longer limited by the capacity of a brake caliper, for this reason you’ll notice that the SES 5.6, 7.8, and future SES Disc models are and will be wider than our first generation SES models.

For more on road tubeless technology, click here.


The SES 3.4 Disc, SES 4.5AR Disc, SES 5.6 and 7.8 Disc model wheelsets usher in a new era of real-world SES aero technology with rim geometries specifically optimized for disc brake equipped road and triathlon bicycles. This makes the SES SES 3.4 Disc, 4.5AR Disc, SES 5.6 and 7.8 the only carbon fiber aero wheels that have been completely developed from the ground up to accommodate for the inevitable rise of disc brakes.

The result of these most recent SES aero developments are two wheel systems that outperform rim brake optimized rims of similar geometry in drag reduction, stability, stiffness and weight.

For more information, visit your local ENVE Retailer and ask about trying a set of demo wheels.