Renowned for its high-performance wheels, ENVE jumps into the world of complete carbon bike builds.
ENVE started producing carbon wheels and components in 2007, and the Utah brand quickly earned high praise from both consumers and custom frame builders for its innovation, quality, and durability. Its wheel offerings are lauded as some of the most aerodynamically efficient hoops ever to grace the roads.
Fourteen years later, ENVE surprised us all today by launching the “Custom Road program” — two custom versions of road frames hand-built in its Ogden, Utah, facility. With its wheels, components, tires, bar tape, bottle cages, and other offerings, a frame makes sense. And according to company documents, many have asked them to build these for some time.
But it was still a shocker to many, including us, because of the large and loyal legion of frame builders that ENVE supplies.
The ENVE Custom Road program blends all of the brand’s knowledge, experience, and expertise in carbon manufacturing and technologies. The product: a chassis with integrated wheels and cockpit components, optimized for efficiency, comfort, and durability.
From the wheels to the headset, ENVE designed every part to work in concert, with the aim of producing a cycling experience like no other.
ENVE Custom Road Frame: Not the First Time
Although most cyclists think of wheels, stems, and bars when they see the ENVE logo, the brand has been deeply involved in frames since the beginning. It has collaborated with several builders and brands with carbon production, including Parlee, Santa Cruz, Cervelo, and Independent Fabrications.
But it strikes us as odd that it would potentially upset these collaborative relationships — or the numerous frame builders that adorn their creations with ENVE wheels and components. But a call with an ENVE representative revealed continued cooperation between these brands.
To help keep the peace, ENVE shared one of its frame engineering feats. The Custom Road frame uses an intricate and amazingly integrated handlebar, stem, headset configuration that not only enhances aerodynamics, but also makes internal wire and hose routing as simple and straightforward as possible.
This design required a holistic approach that included specialized headset spacers. And ENVE passed this knowledge to its partner brands.
How Is ENVE Custom Road Different?
One huge advantage of the ENVE Custom Road frame is that it was designed and surfaced to pair with ENVE’s SES line of wheels. The build leverages more than a decade of in-frame aero wheel development to produce aerodynamic efficiency with a balance of weight, stiffness, and ride quality.
This level of total integration has not been possible until now. Wheels have been designed separately from frames, as no single brand has designed and built both side by side.
ENVE also didn’t throw all the design efforts into a single bucket. The Custom Road isn’t “all aero” at the cost of road feel, or “stupid light” at the expense of durability.
ENVE used its deep understanding of carbon fiber constructions to refine laminates, using the most advanced composite materials, to create its version of the optimal blend of stiffness, compliance, aerodynamics, stability, weight, and durability.
Then, there’s the custom fit. Each Custom Road Frame is built to order, with the ENVE Best Fit Calculator. This online tool aligns a rider’s physiology with a frame geometry, headset spacer stack, and stem length.
ENVE considers other factors, such as likes and dislikes from current or past bicycles, data from professional fits, and even injuries.
Two ENVE Custom Road Bike Choices
ENVE formulates the custom fit from two baseline geometries, Race and All Road.
ENVE Race Geometry: Prioritizes Agility and Responsiveness
- Shorter wheelbase
- Geometry tuned for 25-31mm tires
- Maximum tire clearance of 35 mm
- For road/criterium racer who wants an aggressive and responsive ride, and who is often out of the saddle
ENVE All-Road Geometry: Prioritizes Stability and Control
- Longer wheelbase
- Geometry tuned for 29-35mm tires
- Maximum tire clearance of 35 mm
- For the endurance-oriented and mixed-surface racer who wants a smooth and flowing ride, and who stays mainly in the saddle
All frames have disc brakes and an electronic drivetrain only.
Whichever frame the customer chooses, ENVE massages nine unique carbon parts to deliver a custom road feel. It combines a mix of unidirectional carbon fiber, spread-tow fiber, and other advanced materials. The ultimate goal is to provide the best ride experience through science and insight.
How Fast, How Light?
All this sounds great, but how aero is it, and how much does it weigh?
Aerodynamics has been an ENVE strong suit for more than a decade. The brand threw all past and present knowledge to deliver a frame and wheel package built for efficiency, while still maintaining feel.
Computer modeling of surfacing and shapes gleaned from SES wheel development, and integration of these wheels with the frame, were all confirmed with wind tunnel testing.
SES wheels can make any bicycle faster, but the Custom Road marks the first time a frame is specific to wheels. This promotes additional drag reductions. The Custom Road is designed to be as fast as possible, but still retain a balance of aero efficiency, crosswind stability, and weight.
The average 56cm frame weighs 850 g, which isn’t the lightest. However, the Custom Road maintains performance and durability characteristics that may not be present in other ultralight frames. And — it’s custom.
ENVE Custom Road Bike Conclusions
We all want to know, nervously, what all this costs. Because the Custom Road program integrates so many components, prices revolve around a rolling chassis.
In a twist, ENVE adds a premium Scicon AeroComfort 3.0 TSA travel case that allows safe stowage with nothing but wheel removal.
Chassis-only cost. Frame, fork, SES AR bar/stem combo, seat topper, saddle, bar tape, Chris King integrated headset, axles and hardware, travel case: $7,000.
Adding ENVE wheels and tires adds another $1,500-2,500, depending on the wheels chosen.
Complete builds run from $9,950 all the way up to $12,500 with several available combinations of Shimano Dura-Ace or Ultegra, SRAM AXS Red or AXS Force, and with or without power meters.
And, as the images show, stunning custom paint schemes can be had for an additional $500 to $1,500.
I have not ridden a Custom Road bicycle yet, but I want to — badly. I have been on ENVE wheels and cockpit components across all my bikes for a long time.
If I judge by the performance of these products, I predict I will eventually give in and sell a significant asset to gain a Custom Road of my own.