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Reviews Enigma Elite

Enigma Elite

You’ll have to part with £3k but will the Elite prove that steel bikes can be light and racy?

Sussex-based Enigma rightly believe that the heart and soul of any bike is the frame. Every length of tubing is individually selected, precision cut, mitred and then lovingly fitted together by a master frame builder. Working with the highest-quality titanium and steel, their bikes already have a formidable reputation for performance and quality.


Fortunately with Enigma, you get to choose your paint scheme as the urban faux oil splats on white didn’t do it for us but, looking beyond this, the level of craftsmanship is stunning. The Columbus triple-butted tubing is probably one of the best steels available and the welding is unbelievably neat.

Look even closer and slightly geeky details such as a beautiful front mech braze-on and a wonderfully understated headtube badge show how much skill and care have been put into this bike.

The geometry is certainly on the racy side and, with a compact design and an internally routed rear brake, definitely not stuck in the past. The full carbon fork will complement the frame and enhance handling, and we’re delighted to see a Chris King headset holding it in place. With a frame this good, it’d be a crime to spec poor wheels but the £600 Campagnolo Neutron Ultras are perfect and should be flyers.

Fourth in Campag’s six-groupset stack, Athena forms the bulk of the components and includes the very bling-looking Ultra Torque chainset and their 11-speed rear cassette.

Gearing is a sportive-friendly compact up front and the extra cog at the rear means less of a jump on the wide-spread block. The only disappointment at this price is a Veloce front mech, but we assume this was only fitted to our test bike as it was all that was knocking about in the workshop. Bars and stem are both Enigma’s own alloy, and the own-brand carbon seatpost is topped by a Fizik Arione saddle.


So, steel-framed bikes aren’t light? Steel-framed bikes can’t be racy? Try telling the Elite that. Straight from the off, you’re wanting to get down low on the drops and give it some gas. The handling is instantly nimble, responsive, precise and puts some carbon flyers to shame. Put the power down and that steely liveliness propels you forwards with a satisfying spring.

On the flat it hums along efficiently, and although the positioning is fairly aggressive, you don’t feel overly stretched on the hoods and a full day in the saddle wouldn’t be a problem for most riders. Contributing to its mile munching potential is the fact that rough roads are just smoothed out for you and fatiguing vibrations are kept to an absolute minimum.

It’s when the tarmac tilts uphill that the Elite really turns on the style, though. Light wheels and light overall build make for a very tasty climber. You can easily sit and spin on it, pace your climbs and arrive at the top fresh and ready to go again, but where’s the fun in that? Give your mates a look, shift up a couple of gears and blow your group to bits.

You’ll fly and, if needed, you’ve got the gears to sit and recover before going again and dishing out some more pain. It rewards confident and competent descending and, although occasionally it can get a little flighty near its limits, this just adds to the racy fun and thrills.

Contact : www.enigmabikes.com

Profile image of Matt Baird Matt Baird Editor of Cycling Plus magazine


Matt is a regular contributor to 220 Triathlon, having joined the magazine in 2008. He’s raced everything from super-sprint to Ironman, duathlons and off-road triathlons, and can regularly be seen on the roads and trails around Bristol. Matt is the author of Triathlon! from Aurum Press and is now the editor of Cycling Plus magazine.

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