What’s The Right Wheel For Me? G23 and SES 3.4 AR Go Head To Head
One of the things we pride ourselves on at ENVE is the fact that we produce a vast number of purpose-built wheels to deliver key features for specific customer riding needs. Some might think we’re splitting hairs between some of our models, but when you manufacture 100% of your rims in-house it allows you the flexibility to offer a line of such depth.
Two of the more recent wheel additions, the SES 3.4 AR introduced this past April, and the G23 that debuted at Dirty Kanza in 2018, consistently garner many questions about which one might be the better choice for gravel and all-road riding. One represents a truly purpose-built design, while the other blends two segments of the sport as a do-it-all type wheelset.
So how do the two wheelsets compare to one another, or an even better question is, which is the right one for you? Let’s take a look at what each wheel model prioritizes in its design.
SES 3.4 AR
HEAD TO HEAD
At just over 1,300 grams for a wheelset, the G23 is the outright lightest tubeless rim we make. The 25mm rim depth plays a big part in that, whereas the 3.4 AR’s 39/43mm rim depths means an increase in overall weight. At 1,415 grams for the wheelset, it is still the lightest in its category, but not to the same level as the G23.
The intent of the AR line of wheels is to create a rim profile aerodynamically optimized for a high volume road tire. With 28-32mm tires, the 3.4 AR is going to deliver a wattage savings of up to 10 watts at 20 mph over the G23 with the same tire. That doesn’t tell the entire story, however. As tire width increases beyond 32mm, the 3.4 AR’s aero advantage diminishes. Going up to a 40mm tire, the two wheelsets would essentially be aerodynamically equal.
Pinch Flat Resistance
Both wheelsets offer a version of our patented Wide Hookless Bead. This is a design element at the leading edge of the rim which provides a surface that when impacted, will reduce the likelihood of pinch flatting a tubeless tire. The G23 will deliver a greater level of pinch flat resistance due to a Wide Hookless Bead that mirrors the shaping that we use on our M525 mountain bike rim, whereas the 3.4 AR uses a design that’s 1.5mm narrower to keep the outer rim width in line with what’s needed to maintain its aero profile.
The overall rim volume of the 3.4 AR, when combined with high-volume road tire, has the ability to deliver a comfortable ride quality with the appropriate tire pressure. For the G23, one of the design intents was to create a compliant rim that’s purpose-built for riding off pavement on a bike that likely does not have suspension. Deriving comfort from the rim itself was something we deemed critical for the wheel’s intended use.
What’s right for you?
That really depends on what you prioritize with your bike. Are you a gravel rider that spends some time on the road? Alternatively, are you a road rider that spends some time on the dirt? The two wheels share some technologies, such as the Wide Hookless Bead, but overall they each have a unique design intent. A rider wanting to maximize their gravel experience through ride quality and pinch flat resistance would have to take a good look at the G23, which has set the bar for all gravel wheels on the market. Those placing a higher priority on versatility, namely an aerodynamic advantage, look no further than the 3.4 AR as a do-it-all wheel that is highly capable on any surface.
To learn more about how we categorize gravel and the specific wheel and tire options we recommend, see our Gravel Guide.