When we decided to focus on long-term reviews, we didn’t necessarily have the ENVE SES Aero Bar in mind. Our extended review process allows us to really get a feel for what owning a particular product is like, and then we do our best to explain that experience to our readers. In the case of the SES Aero Bar, this extra time became very important – we ended up with a much deeper appreciation of it than we otherwise would have. What do we mean? Allow us to explain.
One of the biggest complaints you’ll read about in our First Ride had to do with the pursuits. To us, it seemed as though they could only be ridden as bare carbon, as their shape didn’t seem to lend itself to wrapping. ENVE reached out to us and explained that they in fact could be taped up, and after trying it, we can confirm that it is absolutely true. Although bar tape does, to our eyes, reduce the beauty of the bar somewhat, what a difference it makes to the comfort of this bar! When bare, the hand fatigue on longer rides was a very real thing, and required changing hand positions frequently to make it bearable. With the bar tape, we can cruise all day out of the aero bars without problem.
But why spend time on the pursuits when you don’t have to? We also mentioned the arm cups in our First Look article and how they lacked middle ground when it comes to width—they’re either very narrow or very wide. While the pads themselves could be mounted either inboard or outboard of the extensions, there was no additional width adjustment beyond that. We prefer narrow extensions, so we ended up with our pads on the widest setting of the ‘narrow” configuration, which just wasn’t comfortable for anything longer than a Sprint race’s bike leg. The pads themselves can be canted inward or outward by about 15 degrees, which is incredibly useful if you’re just on the cusp of being comfortable in the narrow position. However, we just couldn’t suffer through 112 miles the same way we could 20 miles, with the fire in our arms creeping up into our shoulders and back. Luckily for us, ENVE came to our rescue with what they’re calling a “chip,” and the rest of us would describe as a pad width extension plate, for the SES Aerobar. It slips under the pad and has two settings (12.5mm and 25mm), for an added total maximum width of 50mm. That may not sound like a lot, but an extra 5cm of total width, especially for the narrow position, makes an enormous amount of difference in comfort over longer distances. Coupled with the ability to angle the pads, the chip takes a bar that could be constricting, and turns it into an experience not unlike a performance luxury car: gorgeous, fast, and still, somehow, plush.
For now, the chip is an order-only item, and we would recommend you carefully measure the cockpit you’ll be replacing to determine if you’ll need one or not. If you decide to wait and see how the bar works for you without it, the good news is that it installs simply by removing the arm cups and bolting onto the extension risers. Total installation time is perhaps five minutes.
When it’s all considered, the ENVE SES Aero Bar is an impressive cockpit. It is comfortable, fast, and extraordinarily configurable, especially since it does all of this with just a single model. This one kit does it all, no matter what extension type you prefer, how you mount your bars, your hand position, or the amount of stack you ride. ; not only is their passion for the sport evident in the things they produce, but their passion for doing things the right way is, too. If you’re looking for a new cockpit for your next build, or spec’ing out your latest dream bike, take a look at the SES Aero Bar. We’re pretty sure you’ll like it just as much as we do.