It’s not every day (or year) that a new British brand is launched, but last year Enigma did precisely that. Behind the company is Jim Walker, the man responsible for building the successful distribution company of the same name, although it is now under a new owner. When setting up Enigma,Jim took on board the designers behind the respected-but-defunct Omega.
Enigma is all about titanium, and the five bikes they’ve launched with will suit all wallets and different ride styles. Bikes are available off the shelf in various sizes, but their USP is offering a custom fit for no extra cost.
We first spotted Enigma at the 2006 London Cycle Show, where we immediately put our name down for one. We’ve been riding their Eulogy, their top end race bike, for a few months in which time we’ve really been able to give it a thorough test. Read on to find out how we got on…
The Eulogy up close
Based around compact geometry, a double butted EST (Enigma Shaped Tubing) 3/2.5 titanium tubeset is employed. The down tube is huge and slightly ovalised at both ends for increased contact with the head tube and bottom bracket areas, while the top tube is oval at the head tube, fattening out towards the seat tube. All very standard fare so far, but the most striking feature is the integrated seat tube: the concept is nothing new but is popping up more and more on carbon bikes from Giant, Look, BH and more. But this must be the first titanium frame with an integrated seat tube we’ve seen before. It certainly looks striking and had many inquiring glances every time I was out on the bike.
As we said, Enigma works solely in titanium. But with the Eulogy they’ve thrown in a little carbon to the mix with the intention of adding some additional stiffness to the frame. Both the seat and chain stays are made from the black stuff, and where the carbon joins the titanium frame we find some really neat bonding. The seat stays follow a very slight curve down to the drop outs; while the chain stays are flattened and ridged for heal clearance and stiffness. All very nice so far.
Now, while you can buy an Eulogy off the shelf – of which there are three sizes to choose from – the company are keen to promote the fact they have the capability to provide a bespoke frame at no extra cost. They’ll take your measurements and go away and draw up a frame to perfectly fit you. The company states they want to “make every effort to ensure your new bike fits you perfectly, more enjoyment and better performance are the goal. No more aches and pains as these can easily be attributed to bad sizing and poor fit.” And we certainly found this the case with our sample. The frame we tested had a 56cm top tube coupled with a 73/73 head/seat angle, which kept handling neutral. Propping up the front end is an Enigma branded carbon fork, there is an upgrade to a Reynolds UL fork for £75 available, but there’s really no need as the Enigma item handled just fine.
Build quality is excellent, and closer inspection reveals the welds to be extremely neat and tidy. In fact, the overall finish, with the smart decals, gives a very classy look to the whole package and it certainly looks the price tag. It’s without a doubt one of the most beautiful titanium bikes we’ve ridden and has proven to be quite a head turner, whether in the office or out on the streets. It’s that integrated seat tube getting most of the admiring glances though.
With a frame like the Eulogy, it’s only fitting to spec some top components on it, and we weren’t disappointed with a full complement of 2007 Campagnolo Record. This was our first chance to put some miles into the new groupset. The Ultra Torque cranks not only looked fantastic, but transferred power and resisted flexing well, and shifting was excellent. The brake callipers have been completely redesigned this year, and proved ample stoppers when needed – though the pads seemed to wear rather quickly.
Wheels came in the shape of a pair of Fulcrum Racing 1s, which looked great with the fat blade spokes, milled out rims and bold red and white decals. They’re as fast as they look too, with 16 spokes at the front and 21 in the back. They suit the ride characteristics of the Eulogy well, but are perhaps just a touch too wooden for our tastes. Vittoria Diamante Pro Light 23mm tyres were grippy most of the time, but a couple of rides (and one race) in the wet showed them lacking grip in the rain– they also seem to cut up rather easily too.
ITM provided the 101 carbon monocoque stem and a 101 Classic bar – we really liked the shape of these bars , which will appeal to anyone who can’t get on with anatomic bars. The seatpost, or what was left of it, was a USE Alien Carbon clamping an SLR saddle in place. Finally, Enigma brand carbon bottle cages finished off the package.
Defining the ride of the Eulogy is pretty simple. It’s fast; damn fast. It thrives when being pushed hard and keeps asking for more of the rider. It’s not a demanding bike, but if you’re willing to put a lot in, it rewards you. Braking hard and late into corners reveals the bikes excellent cornering ability. And exiting corners reveals how those carbon stays amplify any power input into huge forward velocity. Climbing, thanks to the low weight, is a cinch. And beating your buddies to every town sign and summit just becomes far too easy. This is a fun bike to ride. It’ll make you twice the rider you actually are, which a lot of bikes aren’t able to manage. But the downside is that it all asks a lot of your fitness.
Questionably another downside is that those carbon stays and that integrated seat tube result in a loss of comfort compared to a lot of titanium frames we’ve ridden. Some of that classic sought after titanium ride quality is lost, but is instead replaced by a frame that snaps from corner to corner and there’s no unwanted flex in the rear triangle which can hinder some titanium frames. And if you like to be able to feel just the right amount of road underneath the tyres, the Eulogy will be right up your street. In fact, if you want a classy bike that is as fast as you’ve got legs for, the Eulogy won’t disappoint. We were sad to see our Eulogy depart the RCUK office…