by James Chen
ENVE are always the innovators and are constantly looking at improving their wheel game.
The ENVE 3.4 Disc clincher wheelset represents the shallowest rim depth for disc specific wheels. They have some claimed aero benefits over a traditional box rim but are still extremely light weight.
They are an unmatched pair with the front wheel being 38mm and the rear 42mm. This seems to be the trend these days with the front shallower to allow better handling and the rear deeper for more aero benefits. Rated at around 1400g for the wheelset depending on the hub, these are built to be high-end climbing wheels. It's funny; I always thought deeper section wheels was better. But why would I bother battling cross winds on a long weekend ride? Your roadie is meant to be versatile and reliable. The ENVE 3.4s fit this perfectly.
These rims are tubeless-ready out of the box and come with tubeless rim tape and valves to get you going. For me, the future of wheels is tubeless and ENVE have the right idea by giving you everything you need. I've set up a few tubeless rims in my lifetime and used all sorts of rim tape. I can unequivocally say that the red rim tape that comes with the ENVEs is the best tubeless tape I've used for two main reasons:
- They are flexible and conform to the rim shape.
- They are thin and only require one layer, allowing notoriously tight tubeless tyres more space for an easy mount.
The disc rotors are pretty standard centrelock. The tubeless valves are also sublime and feel super premium. I believe they are silca branded.
The final piece in the puzzle is the valve core remover. Now the traditional valve core bit is a pain because it's so small I always tend to lose it. The ENVE one is actually dual sided so one side can be used to remove the valve core and the other side is threaded so it can be screwed onto your valve for easy and secure storage. Awesome.
I slid on a pair of Schwalbe Pro Ones which I could do by hand, and was able to bead the rims using my usual track pump. The rims are quite wide with a 21mm internal measurement and optimized for 25mm tyres. From what I can see the Schwalbes match perfectly with very little gradient of height difference between tyre and rim.
Only one minor gripe is that the wheels have internal spoke nipples. This means that if your wheel for whatever reason goes out of true, you'll need to remove the tyre and rim tape to re-true it. However, I've been over plenty of potholes and they seem to have remained true 5000km later. At least to the eye.
While I don't have a wind tunnel to measure the aero gains of the 3.4's they did feel much easier to climb with compared to my old alloy wheelset, most likely due to the reduced weight. There's no noticable flex with disc rotors staying in place even when out of the saddle.
On the flats they are smooth. Almost too smooth -- the double bump up in smoothness from carbon rims (being able to absorb shock a little better) and tubeless setup (lower PSI) means even the rough roads around my area feel like smooth tarmac. On a completely non-scientific note they did feel faster.
At this point I've clocked about 5000km on them on two different framesets and have had no issues in regards to keeping them true. I have had zero issues with the standard ENVE alloy hub either; it's remained smooth throughout.
On a side note the tubeless setup has meant I've had very little in the way of punctures. Occasionally I see some sealant on my frame but thats about it. I've had one catastrophic failure where I ran over some sheet metal early in the morning, tearing both tyres beyond repair. But that was my own fault really.
How could you not like them? The logo, the carbon. Not much to say here but I personally think they look awesome.
Lightweight is the new aero. Road cycling is all about fun and exploration. Save the 80mm rims for TT race day. The 3.4s will be more than aero enough for group rides -- I mean, the NTT pro cycling team frequently use the 3.4s on their bikes. Enjoy the nimbleness that comes with a pair of lightweight hoops and stop having to fight your handlebars during cross winds. The 3.4s have been nothing but bliss for the time that I've been riding them.
One warning though is they are expensive. On the flip side, if you are an MX member you get access to an excellent discount, so good in fact that it more than makes up for the price of membership!
Honestly it's a big purchase but it's an endgame purchase. I do not see myself needing or even wanting to get a new pair of wheels after riding on these.
- aesthetically pleasing
- no issues with hubs
- aero enough
- tubeless ready with everything you need coming with the wheels
- did I mention the amazing valve core remover tool
- can customize hubs on checkout
- Price (but alleviated through MX membership and partner discount)
- internal spoke nipples