'Custom Road' programme is the first bike from ENVE and offers impressive integration.
ENVE has today launched its first ever bike, the Custom Road. Available in either race or all-road geometry options, with maximum tyre clearances altered to suit, each bike is bespoke-built to suit every customer’s fit using a modular tube-to-tube construction. Every bike is also given a custom paint job.
Prices start at $7,000 for a frameset, rising to a whopping $12,500 for a top-end Shimano Dura-Ace or SRAM Red AXS eTap-equipped bike.
Until now, ENVE has focused solely on producing wheels, forks, finishing kit, tyres and a handful of other parts.
Unlike most custom bike builders, this background puts ENVE in a unique position, offering – with the exception of the groupset – a full ‘in-house’ build, with a level of integration that is pretty much unmatched in the custom carbon road bike market.
Why has ENVE made a bike?
ENVE has experience in producing frames, having collaborated with brands including Parlee, Independent Fabrications, Santa Cruz and Cervélo to develop one-off bikes and prototypes.
The brand also supplies individual tubes and forks to custom frame builders (and will continue to do so).
Building on this experience, ENVE revealed that the inspiration to build its own bike came primarily from customer demand, and a desire from within the company to expand beyond components.
The bike is available in two geometry options.
The actual decision to pursue a road bike was said to have come during testing of the brand’s SES AR wheelsets on the Carrefour de L’Arbre (a famous cobbled secteur of Paris-Roubaix)
That particular wheelset is designed to optimise aerodynamic performance when used with wider tyres, which can offer a smoother and faster ride on rougher roads.
ENVE points out that, back in 2016/17 when the wheelset was released, there were few true ‘race’ bikes with clearance for tyres wider than 28mm, hence the inspiration to design the bike.
With that in mind, the ENVE Custom Road (and, to be clear, it is called the ‘Custom Road’ – no fancy model names here) is an all-round road bike with moderately aero features.
ENVE Custom Road geometry
Each bike is built around a rider’s specific fit requirements.
The bike is available in two overall geometry options: race or all-road.
However, as all of these bikes are custom-made to order, there may be significant changes in geometry for each bike made.
In summary, though, the race geometry has a shorter wheelbase and a steeper head angle to give “archetypical aggressive and responsive crit geometry”. The bike is designed to use 25 to 28mm wide tyres.
The all-road geometry is slightly longer overall, with a slacker head angle and increased rake to keep the trail similar to the race geometry when using tyres up to 35mm wide. That generous clearance puts the bike firmly in ‘gravel-adjacent’ territory, to use our favourite phrase of the moment.
Establishing an optimal bike fit is done via a consultation process that covers a rider’s current and past bikes, any bike fits, and special circumstances (such as injury).
An extensive table of five stock ‘fits’ for either geometry option is then consulted based on a rider’s ideal stack and reach. The bike is then custom built to order from this point.
There are no specific claims made about the aero performance of the bike.
The Custom Road has been wind tunnel tested and features all the modern tropes of a do-it-all aero-optimised bike, including a smooth transition between the head tube and fork, flattened profiles on either side of the down tube, and fully-hidden cables.
There are no specific claims made about the aero qualities of the bike. However, ENVE added an interesting tidbit in its press briefing, stating that the “custom fit will allow riders to be in a more [aerodynamically] optimal position, achieving greater efficiency”, which is absolutely true.
Though most riders will be able to achieve an aerodynamically efficient and comfortable fit by swapping stems or handlebars, such changes may be to the detriment of handling.
If aerodynamic efficiency is your key goal, a fully custom frame will allow you to fit into a long and low position without sacrificing handling. Conversely, if you want a more upright position, this can also be accommodated.
How is the ENVE Custom Road frame constructed?
The bike is constructed using tube-to-tube modular construction.
Each frame is constructed using a modular tube-to-tube construction at ENVE’s headquarters in Ogden, Utah. In ENVE’s words, this style of construction allows the brand to “build a frame with virtually any frame stack and frame reach configuration”.
ENVE clarifies that the custom element of the bike relates only to fit – the goal of the programme is to get a perfect fit, rather than custom-speccing a bike to fit each customer’s needs.
With the ENVE Custom Road, the brand aims to bridge the gap between true high-end stock bikes and those offered by artisan builders who typically only work in steel or titanium.
There are other brands out there that make similar bikes but, as an all-in-one fully-integrated ‘system’, the Custom Road stands apart.
ENVE (rightly) points out that there are diminishing returns when it comes to weight, and achieving low weight was not a key goal of its custom road bike programme. Excessively lightweight bikes “suffer in terms of ride quality and long-term durability”, according to the brand.
The Custom Road could hardly be described as lardy though, ENVE says “the weight of each [bike] will vary depending on the size of bike and paint, but an unpainted 56cm frame weighs roughly 850g”.
The bike offers a level of integration that is pretty much unmatched by any small-batch builder.
The bike is based around ENVE’s new one-piece SES AR cockpit, which has been developed to match the bike. This was first teased at the ENVE Builder’s Roundup in July of last year.
ENVE has also worked with Chris King to produce the all-new Aeroset headset.
Like many modern fully-integrated bikes, the Custom Road routes hoses and cables down the side of the steerer tube through holes in the headset and the top bearing. The Aeroset is a suitably premium option for such a premium bike.
The bike is built around an integrated seat mast. These often raise an eyebrow when used on a ‘stock’ bike because they limit fit options (and you only have one chance to get it right!) and can make resale a nightmare.
Given each bike from ENVE is custom-built to a customer’s specifications, which involves a full bike fit, we’re willing to drop our eyebrows to a standard height here.
The seat mast is topped with ENVE’s seat topper, which offers 35mm of vertical adjustment. This should be an ample range of adjustment, even if you make significant changes, such as switching pedal systems or saddles.
Mudguards – glorious, glorious mudguards
We will never, ever get mad at mudguard mounts.
We are genuinely thrilled to see the bike specced with mudguard mounts as standard. Shockingly few carbon road bikes feature mudguard mounts, let alone high-end road bikes like this.
The mounts are neatly integrated as threaded sockets on the back of the seatstays.
Looking at this example and numerous other recently-released bikes, I think we can all safely and finally agree that having well-designed mudguard mounts doesn’t detract in any way from the performance or aesthetics of a high-end bike. Long may the trend continue.
ENVE Custom Road paint options
The available paint options swing from the austere to the truly fabulous.
The bike is available with four different paint templates and a mix of 38 standard colours and two finishes. The colours range from the truly lairy to more subtle options – there really is something for everyone.
There is also the option to choose from four different funky colour-shift ‘speciality’ finishes, which command a $500 premium.
Custom paint-matched bottle cages are also available for $400.
Finally, for those who must have something unlike anyone else, fully custom paint jobs start at $1,500.
Speccing your custom build – including paint visualisation – is done via an online app that is similar to Orbea’s MyO or Trek’s Project One programme.
Each bike ships in its own case.
Every bike is delivered in a custom Scicon bike bag that allows it to be packed without turning the bar. It also accommodates the bike’s seatmast without having to lower the saddle (though ENVE has not specified across what size range).
ENVE has also worked with Selle Italia and K-Edge to supply a custom saddle and out-front mount to match the bike.
ENVE Custom Road price and build specs
Prices start at $7,000 for a frameset.
The ENVE Custom Road is available as a frameset that includes the saddle and cockpit, a rolling chassis including wheels, or as a complete bike. The bike is only compatible with electronic drivetrains.
As you might expect, both the chassis and complete bikes are based around ENVE’s various wheel options – in brief, it will pair SES AR wheels with wider tyres and standard SES or Foundation wheels with tyres up to 29mm wide.
Cheaper Foundation wheelsets are also available, knocking roughly $1k off the price.
- Frameset: $7,000
- Rolling chassis (SES wheelset): $9,500
- Rolling chassis (Foundation wheelset): $8,500
Complete bike costs
- Shimano Dura-Ace or SRAM RED AXS eTap build with SES wheelset: $12,500
- Shimano Ultegra or SRAM Force AXS build with SES wheelset: $10,900
- Shimano Ultegra or SRAM Force AXS build with Foundation wheelset: $9,950
No international pricing is available because the programme is currently only offered in the USA.
$12,500 is, obviously, an eye-watering amount of money that is outside the reach of 99.9 per cent of riders. However, given this bike is custom built to each rider’s spec and includes a bespoke paint job, you could reasonably argue it, somewhat astonishingly, presents better value when compared to something like an equivalent-spec stock Specialized Tarmac SL7 – but maybe that’s being generous.
Original article: Bike Radar