The Engima Excel is a real show-stopper. It’s one of those bikes which, when pulled out of its box having arrived at RoadCyclingUK HQ, immediately turned heads.
Does it ride as great as it looks? We’ll be taking to the Excel this month to find out – but first let’s look at the spec.
Enigma have a rich history of building British-designed titanium and steel frames and the Excel is the firm’s top-of-the-range ti model. Most titanium bicycle frames are made from 3AL-2.5V tubing but the Excel is made from 6Al-4V.
Grade five titanium, as 6Al-4V is also known, is notoriously hard to work with as it’s a harder, less pure metal with a composition made up of six per cent aluminium, 4 per cent vanadium and 90 per cent pure titanium.
Enigma have previously used 6Al-4V in the headtube of their Echo and Etape titanium models to improve stiffness but this is the first time they’ve used it for a full frame. The result is a frame which Enigma say is 17 per cent stronger, eight per cent stiffer and ten per cent lighter. Frame weight for the Excel is 1,250g which, while not super-light, is still very respectable and our Campagnolo Record EPS-equipped bike (more on that later) weighs 7.7kg on the RCUK scales.
The Excel’s geometry is the same as the popular Echo sportive bike at its critical points, with a 51cm seattube, 56cm toptube, 16.5cm CNC-machined headtube, 40.9cm chainstays, and 73 degree headtube and seattube angle on our size 56cm machine. Engima describe it as a fast, efficient and sporty ride, good for both sportives and racing, but more comfortable than a frame with a more aggressive geometry.
Enigma run two production lines. Off-the-peg frames like our test model are manufactured in the Far East, while custom frames are built at the company’s East Sussex HQ. Lead times for a custom frame are, on average, four to five months.
Titanium is exceptionally strong so this should be a frame for life, and the craftmanship is excellent throughout. The brushed finish also means you can buff out any scratches on the frame.
Engima’s website describe the Excel as “reassuringly expensive and very exclusive, the Excel is the embodiment of the Enigma titanium ideal” – and it has a price tag to match. The frame (frame only, no fork) costs £1,950 in any of the five stock sizes, or add £325 for a custom frame.
You can also spec your dream bike using Enigma’s custom bike builder tool. The choice of components is very good, with groupsets ranging from SRAM Apex to Campagnolo Super Record EPS and wheels on offer from Fulcrum, Campagnolo and Mavic, alongside handbuilt hoops.
It’s fair to say our machine is something of a dream build, equipped with a Campagnolo Record EPS electronic groupset, Enigma Electron full carbon fork, Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL 52mm deep-section wheels wrapped in Mavic Yksion Comp tyres, Enigma finishing kit (carbon handlebars and seatpost, aluminium stem), Enigma Ellipse saddle and two Engima carbon bottle cages for £6,350.