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It’s been a little over a year since carbon component manufacturer Enve produced its own ultra-premium custom road bike and teased that there was more to come. Well, the first of the ‘more to come’ has arrived.
Today Enve announced its entry into stock geometry production bikes with a high-end performance road bike named the Melee.
More aero than the Custom Road
Enve’s first bike, the Custom Road, uses an array of uniquely moulded carbon components to allow for a great amount of customisation while still producing a modern frame on all fronts. By contrast, the Melee’s stock geometry means Enve is able to use a more common monocoque construction method. The result is a lighter frame that’s more aero and yes, cheaper to produce (although I wouldn’t classify the Melee as cheap in any way).
The Melee is a modern integrated performance disc-brake road bike that aims to span across a range of formerly separated categories. It’s pretty light, with a painted 56 cm frame weighing a claimed 850 grams. It has room for up to 35 mm tyres, ready to be treated as an all-road bike (the geometry is optimised for 27-31 mm). And according to Enve, it’s competitively aero compared with the fastest road bikes on the market.
In recent years Enve has become a key player – even a trend-setter – in the aero wheel game. And so that aero claim shouldn’t be all too surprising given that wheel and frame aerodynamics work hand-in-hand as a package deal. A fast wheel in the wrong frame shape is no longer a fast wheel. Enve optimised the Melee to complement the company’s recently revamped SES road wheels. After all, if you’re buying an Enve bike, chances are you’re keen on the wheels, too.
Furthering that aerodynamic claim is the wholly integrated design. Of course, the cables are hidden, but it’s done on Enve’s terms with the fork, stem, handlebar and even headset (this one isn’t from Chris King) being of their own creation. Enve’s SES AR is the intended (and provided) handlebar, while the stem is the new integrated Road Stem which features a no-gap face plate and shares the same inline K-Edge computer mount with the Aero Road stem.
The internal cable routing runs through the handlebar, stem, and headset. The Melee can be used with the latest wireless (and older Di2) shifting from Shimano and SRAM. Surprisingly, it can also be used with Shimano mechanical drivetrains. However, the frame does require full-length housing for the front derailleur, so Campagnolo fans are out of luck unless you wish to run Ekar (1x).
Enve has created its own D-shaped Aero seatpost, held in place with an integrated wedge. Down at the bottom bracket you’ll find a T47 threaded bottom bracket shell (internal bearing type).
Stock geometry with options
With its set geometry, the Melee will be offered in a choice of seven frame sizes. However, Enve still offers more customisation than what you may expect for an off-the-shelf bike.
Most notably, there are five different fork rakes used across those seven sizes, all with the intention to provide Enve’s desired handling characteristics for each size (related thought: the head angles vary by a surprising amount throughout the size range. Remind me to do a podcast with Enve about their approach to steering geometry.)
From a fit perspective, it’s up to the customer to select the stem length, handlebar width, and seatpost set-back with each frame chassis. To help with the choices, the American manufacturer aims to release an online fitting calculator soon. The goal is for the customer to input their fit coordinates, and the tool will spit out information such as the recommended frame size, stem length, and spacer/stack height.
Just the one colour
You may expect the Melee to come in an exciting array of paint options, and it does … if you like metallic grey. Yes, that’s right: the geometry is set, and so is the paint (at least for now).
Where Enve does let you get creative is with the decals. And just like the program offered for its wheels, you can add a splash of individuality by changing up the decal colours.
I mentioned earlier that the Melee is cheaper than the Custom Road. It is, but a chassis – which includes frame, fork, headset, handlebar, and stem – is still priced at US$5,500 / €5,500. That’s a US$2,500 saving over the custom-geometry and custom-painted Custom Road.
Enve is being selective with who can sell its bikes. Those keen on the Melee will need to scout out one of Enve’s “Ride Center” partners or one of the few selected online retailers.
The elephant outside of the room
Place of manufacture is often talked about enthusiastically when it’s perceived to be of selling benefit. Colnago makes a big deal that its C-series is Made in Italy, and Allied Cycle Works isn’t shy to tell you that its frames are Made in the USA. Like its rims, Enve makes the Custom Road bike in-house at the Ogden, Utah factory. And given the somewhat small price difference between the Melee and the Custom Road, you’d think they share an oven. I certainly did, and yet, that assumption is incorrect.
“The Melee is built overseas in the same factory that Enve has worked with for years to produce forks and handlebars,” explained a representative from Enve. “The frame was entirely designed, engineered, tested and iterated in Ogden (they even build their own tooling). Then exact specs were sent for production.” Some of these are steps in the process that a huge number of brands in the industry don’t do, rather relying on the contracted manufacturer’s experience with the final design.
Enve is seemingly following a tried-and-true approach of creating enough things in its home country to make people assume everything else is made there. Zipp does the same with many of its products. Pinarello, Colnago, De Rosa, and most other iconic names in cycling have at some point made the same move. And Enve is even joined in the custom bike scene, with the likes of Parlee and FiftyOne continuing to offer homemade custom and Asian-made production bikes.
Only you can answer whether the place of manufacture is a deciding factor for you. It isn’t for me (all of my personal bikes were made in Asia), and yet, I can’t help but admit that it changes how I look at this bike. On paper Enve has seemingly created a bike that should go toe-to-toe with the very best on offer from the Specializeds, Treks, Pinarellos, and Cervelos of this world, the question is, is that who they want to be compared to?