Enigma make no bold claims of all-terrain, continent-crushing, four-season brilliance for their 2019 Evade. Instead, it’s billed as a bike ‘engineered for fast, smooth endurance riding’. Which marks it out as a very special sportive machine, or something perfect for Sunday best. You’re certainly going to stand out on the club run…
The overall feel of the Evade is that of a relaxed, more upright ride, thanks to its short reach combined with a set of 420mm bars on our size 52 bike, and 35mm of spacers stacked beneath the stem. You could achieve a more aggressive riding position by moving the spacers, but endurance riding isn’t necessarily about getting your chest on the stem. It all bodes well for a comfortable loop of our local lanes.
On the road
Once away from the opening suburban miles of our test route, the Evade shows its hand. The predictability and stability it displayed when shimmying through traffic calming measures early in the day develop into a feeling of the utmost confidence in the Enigma doing what you ask of it. Its comfortable riding position allows ample scope for seated or out-of-the-saddle climbing, with no danger of bashing the steerer with your knees (often an issue with short-reach, short top tube sizes, regardless of your leg length).
We relished short climbs, not least because the bike’s minimal weight affords it an instant advantage over the likes of the Ribble here. Beyond this, the choice of gear ratios is wider, with an 11-34 cassette at the rear offering a smallest gear of 34-34. You could climb all day on that ratio.
Rolling roads are despatched with something approaching glee, as the Hunt rims pickup and hold on to speed with ease and relish, power input travelling from crank arm to rear hub in as lossless and instant a fashion as some of the best race bikes we’ve tested. The fitment of a 31.6mm seatpost adds a degree of stiffness to the feeling at the rear, but because it’s a carbon item, the intrusion of vibrations that you might feel with alloy in this component are largely eradicated.
The steering geometry of the Evadeis slap-bang in the ‘endurance’ sweet spot, with a 71.6° head angle guaranteeing a rate of turn that’s neither sharp nor ponderous; instead, you get out of the bike exactly what you put in. Lever it into a sweeping downhill corner on the drops and the Evade tracks a line in confidence. We’d have appreciated a narrow diameter handlebar on this size 52 bike, for more instant steering input, but there’s still plenty of feel available for what the front end is doing.
Michelin’s Krylion tyres are fitted to the Hunt wheels, which could be a trick missed. Although the puncture resistance of these relatively budget-conscious tyres is high, and they offer ample comfort at lower pressures, the outright grip isn’t there when compared to even something like a Gatorskin.
Thankfully, there is a world of choice out there for replacement tyres, but when you’re spending upwards of three grand on what’s otherwise a very special bike, you’d expect flawless rubber. This aside, we’d recommend the Enigma to anyone looking for an alternative to homogeneous carbon sportive bikes. Not only is this bike the equal in performance to many high-end carbon road bikes, but it’s also a hundred times more exclusive.
Fashioned from identical grade titanium to the other three bikes here, the Evade benefits from a classic round tubed construction, both aesthetically and in terms of performance. The 44mm oversized downtube is designed to increase lateral stiffness, and the ride reflects this; the Enigma rockets along when you ask it to. The cabling is routed externally, which does make maintenance far easier than if they were inside that chunky downtube, but you will want to make sure that grit and other road debris doesn’t affect their operation.
Inline adjusters allow you to fine-tune their operation whilst riding. Given that full-length Flinger mudguards are fitted front and rear, it goes without saying that the frame has eyelets to accommodate this foul-weather-friendly bolt-on.
The more road-focussed build of the Evade is obvious, too, from the frame clearance available; our bike is wearing 28c tyres, and Enigma claim this is as wide as you can go with this frameset. Worthy of note is that Enigma can actually create a frameset to your unique dimensions, through their ‘Signature Build’ program, to ensure you’re getting something created to your precise personal requirements and taste.
The Evade is packing the latest incarnation of Shimano’s Ultegra groupset, with a 50/34 chainset and wide-ratio 11-34 Ultegra cassette at the rear. That’s an impressive array of ratio options, but the downside is a sizeable jump between the bigger cogs. Ultegra rim brakes are employed, and bite hard on the aluminum braking surface of the supplied wheels. Sure, the fine metering of input isn’t quite on a par with disc brakes, but did we worry about that before the disc revolution? Other benefits include reduced overall weight and what some would consider to be more ergonomically appealing brake hoods.
Enigma’s own 6061 aluminum alloy components make up the cockpit, with a set of 420mm compact drop handlebars matched to a 110mm stem. The 31.6mm carbon seatpost isolates road vibration with aplomb, while the Enigma Ellipse saddle is a comfortable place to spend a day; flex and support are supplied in just the right mix.
Hunt’s Race Aero wheelset has a performance edge, offering relatively low weight allied to versatility of application and tyre fitment. The rims themselves are able climbing partners, and allow you to demolish flat and rolling roads (no excuse for not taking your turn on the front with the Hunts on your bike). Their 18mm internal rim width is designed to accept road rubber from 23c all the way up to CX knobblies of45c. Michelin’s Krylion 28c tyres don’t do the wheels justice, but are perfectly fine for all-weather road riding with little fear of punctures halting progress.
Frame: Double-butted 3AI/2.5V titanium frame, carbon forks
Groupset: Shimano Ultegra
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
Chainset: Shimano Ultegra, 50/34
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra, 11-34
Bars: Enigma, alloy
Stem: Enigma, alloy
Saddle: Enigma Ellipse
Seatpost: C-Six, carbon, 31.6mm
Wheels: Hunt Race Aero
Tyres: Michelin Krylion, 700 x 28
|Size tested: 52||Chainstays (C): 420mm|
|Weight: 8.64kg||Head angle (HA): 71.6°|
|Top tube (TT): 522mm||Seat angle (SA): 75°|
|Seat tube (ST): 470mm||Wheelbase (WB): 999mm|
|Stacks (S): 546mm||BB drop (BB): 69mm|
|Reach (R): 371mm|