ENVE today launched its very first bike, the Custom Road. Available in race or all-road geometry options, with maximum tire spacings adapted to the needs, each bike is tailor-made to meet each customer’s fit using a modular tube-to-tube construction. Each bike also receives a custom paint job.
Prices start at $ 7,000 for a frameset, going up to a whopping $ 12,500 for a premium Shimano Dura-Ace or SRAM Red AXS eTap-equipped bike.
Until now, ENVE has focused solely on producing wheels, forks, finishing kit, tires and a handful of other parts.
Unlike most custom bike builders, this background puts ENVE in a unique position, with – with the exception of the groupset – a complete ‘in-house’ construction, with a level of integration virtually unmatched in the custom carbon road bike market. .
Why did ENVE make a bicycle?
ENVE has experience manufacturing frames and has partnered with brands such as Parlee, Independent Fabrications, Santa Cruz and Cervélo to develop one-off bicycles 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 stemmed primarily from customer demand and a desire from the company to go beyond just components.
The actual decision to chase a racing bike would have come during testing of the brand’s SES AR wheelsets at the Carrefour de L’Arbre (a famous cobbled Paris-Roubaix section)
That particular wheelset is designed to optimize aerodynamic performance when used with wider tires, which can provide a smoother and faster ride on rougher roads.
ENVE points out that in 2016/17, when the wheelset was released, there were few true ‘racing’ bikes with clearance for tires wider than 28mm, hence the inspiration to design the bike.
With that in mind, the ENVE Custom Road (and just to be clear, it’s called the ‘Custom Road’ – no fancy model names here) is an all-round race bike with moderately aerodynamic properties.
ENVE Adjusted road geometry
The bike is available in two general geometry options: race or allroad.
However, as all of these bikes are custom made, there can be significant geometry changes for each bike made.
In summary, the race geometry has a shorter wheelbase and a steeper head angle to give an ‘archetypically aggressive and responsive crit geometry’. The bicycle is designed for tires from 25 to 28 mm wide.
The all-road geometry is generally slightly longer, with a softer head angle and greater lean angle to keep the trail similar to race geometry when using tires up to 35mm wide. That generous clearance places the bike firmly in ‘gravel-adjacent’ area, to use our favorite expression of the moment.
Determining an optimal bike fit is done through a consultation process that covers a rider’s current and past bikes, any bike fittings, and special circumstances (such as injuries).
An extensive table of five standard ‘passes’ for both geometry options is then consulted based on a rider’s ideal stack and range. The bike will be custom made to order from this point.
Wind tunnel tested, the Custom Road has all the modern features of an all-rounder, aerodynamically optimized bike, including a smooth transition between the head tube and fork, flattened profiles on either side of the down tube and fully concealed cables.
There are no specific claims about the bike’s aerodynamic properties. However, ENVE has added an interesting tidbit in its press briefing, stating that the ‘custom fit allows riders to ride in a more [aerodynamically] optimal position, thus achieving greater efficiency ”, which is absolutely true.
While most riders will be able to get an aerodynamically efficient and comfortable fit by changing the stem or handlebars, such changes can adversely affect handling.
If aerodynamic efficiency is your main goal, a fully custom frame allows you to fit in 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?
Each frame is constructed using a modular tube-to-tube construction at ENVE’s corporate headquarters in Ogden, Utah. In the words of ENVE, this style of construction allows the brand to “build a frame with virtually any frame stack and frame range configuration.”
ENVE clarifies that the custom element of the bike pertains only to the fit – the goal of the program is to get a perfect fit, rather than specifying a bike custom to meet the needs of each customer.
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 that make similar bikes, but as an all-in-one fully integrated ‘system’ the Custom Road stands out.
ENVE points out (rightly) that there are diminishing returns when it comes to weight, and achieving light weight was not a major goal of the modified race bike program. Extremely light bicycles “suffer from long-term ride quality and durability,” the brand said.
However, the Custom Road can hardly be described as lardy, says ENVE “the weight of each [bike] will vary depending on bike size and paint, but a 56cm unpainted frame weighs about 850g ”.
The bike is based on 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 last July.
ENVE has also partnered 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 top bearing. The Aeroset is a suitable premium option for such a premium bike.
The bicycle is built around an integrated saddle mast. These often frown when used on a ‘standard’ bike because they limit fit options (and you only have one chance to get it right!) And can make resale a nightmare.
Since every ENVE bike is custom built to a customer’s specifications, which means a full bike fit, we’re willing to drop our eyebrows to a standard height here.
The seat mast is covered with the seat fabric of ENVE, which can be adjusted 35 mm vertically. This should be a wide range of adjustment, even if you are making major changes, such as switching pedal systems or saddles.
Fenders – glorious, glorious fenders
We are sincerely pleased to see that the bike comes with fender mounts as standard. Shockingly few carbon road bikes have fender mounts, let alone high-end road bikes like this one.
The brackets are neatly integrated like threaded bushings on the rear of the seat stays.
Looking at this example and countless other recently released bikes, I think we can all safely and finally agree that having well-designed fender mounts in no way detracts from the performance or aesthetics of a high-end bike. May the trend continue for a long time to come.
ENVE Custom road paint options
The bike is available with four different paint templates and a mix of 38 standard colors and two finishes. The colors range from really lairy to more subtle options – there really is something for everyone.
There is also the option to choose from four different funky color shifting ‘special’ finishes, which will gross you in at a premium of $ 500.
Custom bottle cages with matching paint are also available for $ 400.
Finally, for those who need to have something different from someone else, fully custom paint jobs start at $ 1,500.
Specifying your custom build – including paint visualization – is done through an online app similar to Orbea’s MyO or Trek’s Project One program.
Each bike comes in a custom Scicon bike bag that allows it to be packed without twisting the bar. It also accommodates the bike’s saddle mast without having to lower the saddle (although ENVE has not specified which size range).
ENVE has also partnered with Selle Italia and K-Edge to provide a custom saddle and pre-mount to fit the bike.
ENVE Custom Road price and build specifications
The ENVE Custom Road is available as a frameset including saddle and cockpit, a rolling chassis including wheels or as a complete bike. The bike is only compatible with electronic drivetrains.
As you’d expect, both the chassis and complete bikes are based on ENVE’s different wheel options – in short, it combines SES AR wheels with wider tires and standard SES or Foundation wheels with tires up to 29mm wide.
Cheaper Foundation wheelsets are also available, cutting about $ 1k off the price.
- Frameset: $ 7,000
- Rolling chassis (SES wheelset): $ 9,500
- Rolling chassis (basic wheel set): $ 8,500
Complete bicycle costs
- Shimano Dura-Ace or SRAM RED AXS eTap built with SES wheelset: $ 12,500
- Shimano Ultegra or SRAM Force AXS built with SES wheelset: $ 10,900
- Shimano Ultegra or SRAM Force AXS built with Foundation wheelset: $ 9,950
No international awards are available as the program is currently only offered in the US.
Of course, $ 12,500 is an eye-watering amount that’s out of the reach of 99.9 percent of riders. However, given that this bike is custom built to each rider’s specs and includes a custom paint job, you could reasonably argue that it offers, somewhat astonishingly, better value compared to something like an equivalent-spec stock Specialized Tarmac SL7 – but maybe that’s generous.