Enve launches the Melee, its first mass-produced frameset that comes in stock sizes, one colour and costs $5,500
US brand follows up last year's bespoke Custom Road with a Far East-made, off-the-peg option that's only marginally more affordable
Enve launched itself into the frame game last year with the Custom Road, a super-high-end, bespoke bike that was made to measure in the USA for a suitably premium price upwards of $7,000 for the frameset only.
A year on it has unveiled the Enve Melee, which is a monocoque frame that comes in stock sizes, is made “overseas” according to the press release and is marginally more affordable but still costs $5,500/£5,300. In US currency that’s exactly the same price as the Specialized S-Works Aethos (in the UK the Aethos is cheaper at £4,450) and more expensive than the Colnago C68(£5,069.95).
And whereas the Custom Road was available in a myriad of different colours and finishes, including full custom paint, the Melee comes in just one colour - ‘Damascus’ (silver).
Enve explains the Melee thus: “When we decided that the time had come for Enve to expand into bicycle frames, we knew that we needed to make our first bike here in Ogden, and that we wanted it to be custom. At the same time, we understood that due to the nature of custom, availability of the Custom Road would be limited. Our US manufacturing facility provides us the unique opportunity to design, prototype, and iterate at a much higher rate than we can overseas – especially over the past several years. The Custom Road is the result of this process, and it established a sound foundation upon which we have been able to iterate and create the Melee,” stated VP of product and brand, Jake Pantone.
Enve describes the Melee as “a no holds barred modern race bike built specifically to meet the performance demands of the discipline.”
According to Enve, whereas the Custom Road, while capable of racing at the highest level, prioritised customisation and personalisation over specific race performance metrics such as weight, stiffness, and aerodynamics, Melee features a monocoque construction which allowed Enve to refine the tube shapes, reduce weight, and increase overall efficiency.
There was no claimed frame weight quoted in the press release but we were told at the media presentation that it weighs 850g, which is considerably more than the sub-600g S-Works Aethos.
Enve has followed the modern trend for bigger tyre clearances, with the Melee able to fit a maximum of 35mm but geometry and handling are “optimised” for 27-32mm.
As you’d expect, it’s aerodynamic, with Kamm-tailed tube shapes and full front-end integration. Enve says it has designed the Melee’s tube shapes to complement its own SES rim profiles: “As a result, airflow transitions from wheel to frame surfaces [are] in harmony to ensure a composed and stable ride experience in variable wind conditions.”
As for its construction, the Melee is made using “various forms of uni-directional carbon fiber following Enve’s Material Optimized Design (M.O.D.) process.” Enve explains that this means designing and manufacturing products that play to the strengths of carbon-fibre, with the materials, fibre weights, and fibre angles used in the laminate selected and manipulated to achieve zone specific performance within the part. As for the carbon, according to Enve “we use the best we can get our hands on, but ultimately the process it is subjected to makes it an Enve product.”
The Melee is available in seven frame sizes, with five unique fork rakes to ensure the same handling across the sizes.
The geometry itself looks like classic race geometry, with the size 56’s seat and head tube angles around 73 degrees and a stack/reach ratio of 1.44.
The Melee is available as a “Chassis Only” which includes the frame, fork, headset, handlebar, stem, and seatpost. The bar, stem, fork and seatpost are proprietary to the Melee and can be selected à la carte to ensure that customers get the exact fit spec they need from the start.
Using Enve’s Best-Fit Calculator, which pairs a rider’s fit stack, fit reach, and saddle position numbers with a frame geometry, stem length, stem rise, spacer stack, and saddle offset, the customer, along with their fitter, can determine the ‘best-fit’ option.
Although the Melee is available in one colour, it's possible to use Enve’s custom decal configurator - as with its wheels - to create your own. Once the custom decal order is complete, the kit is delivered direct to the customer with tools and instructions for installation.
CW video manager Sam Gupta's take
Cycling Weekly’s Sam Gupta was at the media presentation of the Enve Melee at Sigma Sports in Hampton Wick. This is what he made of the new bike.
“On the face of it, the new Enve Melee doesn't appear to offer much to get excited about. In a line up against its other rivals on the market, it looks like just another very expensive frameset to buy. There aren't too many distinguishing features that really set it apart from other bikes designed to do a similar job.
"I think the biggest issue Enve will come up against will be that they have little to no history as a full frame builder. Sure, they've made forks and rear triangles but to make the step to building a full bike is not a small one.
"Having said that, everyone has to start somewhere. Nobody becomes Colnago or Pinarello overnight. Enve have demonstrated that they're pretty good at making wheels and components out of carbon, so why not frames too?
"Whatever you think, the Melee sure does make a nice home for all the other components Enve make - which are all optimised around each other so should in theory complement each other very nicely. This includes their brand new stem to ensure all cables and hoses are able to be neatly tucked away from sight."
We've got a Melee on order and will bring your our first impressions as soon as we get our hands on it.
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Simon Smythe is a hugely experienced cycling tech writer, who has been writing for Cycling Weekly since 2003. Until recently he was our senior tech writer. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
- Sam GuptaVideo Manager
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