Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Enigma Eclipse review

Sussex-based Enigma specialise in titanium and steel. There aren't too many titanium framesets which sneak under the £1,000 mark, but choose the Enigma Eclipse and you'll get a pound in change. Our test bike, with Mavic wheels and a Campagnolo Athena groupset, would set you back £2,099. There's no sign of corner cutting either.

  • Highs: The beautifully finished frame shows no sign of being entry-level (for a Ti bike). Comfort and speed combine in one easy-to-live-with package.
  • Lows: Very little. The best carbon fibre race bikes at this price do a better job of transferring power to the back wheel, but we're nitpicking.
  • Buy if: You want one bike to do a bit of everything, and keep doing it for a long time to come.

Tubing is straight-gauge not butted, but the down tube flares when it reaches the head tube and bottom bracket to add stiffness where it's needed. The quality of welding and finish is as good as Enigma's top-end frames, which cost nearly twice as much, though our mechanic did spot imperfect dropout alignment. The Eclipse splits the difference between aggression and comfort. It strikes a good balance, and makes this bike equally at home in the local racing league or tackling an Alpine epic.

The rather minimal saddle is more comfortable than it looks. In fact, there's nothing we'd want to change about this bike before taking on a 100-mile-plus sportive. The carbon seatpost helps subdue road buzz at the back of the bike, while the thickly padded own-brand bar tape does the same up front. We're fans of Enigma's handlebar, too, which has plenty of room for large hands on the drops without being too deep. It should suit most riders most of the time. In fact, you could say that about the Eclipse, full stop. It's a good all-round bike with good all-round kit.

Mavic Ksyrium Equipes are light, quality wheels. They spin up to speed quickly, and although there's some flex from the bottom bracket, only those with tree trunks for quads will complain. You'll need a finely calibrated backside to tell the difference in comfort between the 24mm Continental Grand prix tyres and the 23mm tyres fitted to most of the Enigma's rivals. Whether or not the cycling world needs to split the difference between 23mm and 25mm rubber is a moot point, but there's no doubt the supple feel and low rolling resistance of the Continentals contribute to the Enigma's willing ride quality.

Since you can spec the bike any way you want, there's no need to go for Campagnolo Veloce as here, but we'd be tempted to. Gear changes are crisp and the unpainted metal chainset looks just right on a titanium bike.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.

By: Road Bikes & Gear

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