For as much as Enve went from being a noted carbon component and wheel maker to an actual bike brand with last year’s introduction of their American made Custom frame, that evolutionary step is now official with the release of their second frame.
Our first look at Enve’s new Melee road bike came at Enve’s open house event in June which was soon followed by the bike’s official launch party held during last week’s EuroBike show in Frankfurt, Germany. The Melee is a bold departure for the American composite brand due to the fact that unlike their wheels and current Custom frame that are all American made at their Utah factory, the Melee’s monocoque frame is made in China.
Where the price for a Custom Road chassis currently retails for $8000, the Melee chassis (frame, fork, stem and seatpost and handlebar) will sell for $5500.
WHAT DOES NEIL SAY?
As soon as we got home from EuroBike we gave a call to former RBA editor Neil Shirley who is now Enve’s Director of Marketing to chase some additional info on the bike.
The Custom debuted just last year and now the Melee has arrived. Had they been parallels in the development calendar?
You could say that the Custom was a works project for us. This was the bike that helped us understand the frame building process and it was through those learnings that enabled us to jump into the Melee. It was important for us to understand each step of the building process through and through, versus just handing over some blueprints to a factory.
What does it mean that “the Melee’s tube shapes to complement their own SES rim profiles”?
It’s a subtle thing, but when the Melee was being designed in CFD (computational fluid dynamics) all the shaping was done following the ideals of our SES designs. What we were looking at was how they would work most efficiently versus just standard tube shapes.
What are the actual differences between the two frames?
Beyond the place of manufacture and the price difference, the Custom frame uses tube-to-tube construction whereas the Melee is a monocoque frame. And that monocoque construction allows the frame to be slightly more aero due to the lack of overlay at the joints. The Melee frame is also about 100 grams lighter, although most of that is in the paint.
“The Melee will be available in seven stock sizes which includes a choice of forks with five different rakes”
Of course, each Custom frame is made to order with custom geometry, while the Melee will be available in seven stock sizes which includes a choice of forks with five different rakes. The Melees will only be available through Enve dealers and not on the website.
How are you defining a “modern race bike”?
The Melee is a road racer, but in recent years the concept of what that is has evolved. Having room to run bigger tires is just one example. Actually, I think a good example of what we’re talking about is seeing Alexey Vermeulen use a Melee to win the Belgian Waffle Ride in San Diego, and then after switching out his Kenda tires, using the same bike and wheels to race at the US Pro road nationals.
And what was that about the handlebar spec?
Right now the frames will be sold with our AR because it is the only handlebar we make that has a rear window for cables/hoses to run through. By the end of the year we will have more handlebar choices available.
Speaking of the components, there is now an Enve branded saddle made by Selle Italia?
That’s right, the saddle is available now with either carbon or titanium rails.
Okay, you’re stuck on a desert island and get to choose only one bike – Custom or Melee?
The Melee is designed to be a quick-handling race bike and I like that about it, but for me, the Custom is the best of the best and it also has room to run up to 35mm tires.
INTRODUCING THE ENVE MELEE
ENVE is pleased to introduce the Melee, a purpose-built road racing bicycle designed and engineered to meet the high-performance, and versatility demands of today’s road racers. In 2021, ENVE launched their first complete bicycle, the Ogden, Utah-made Custom Road, and manifest their intention to evolve the brand from aftermarket wheel and component specialists to a full service bicycle brand. Unlike the US-made Custom Road, which is fully customizable, the Melee is offered in seven stock frame sizes from 47 to 60 cm and manufactured overseas at ENVE’s factory.
“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.
“The Melee features a monocoque construction which allowed us to refine the tube shapes, reduce weight, and increase the overall efficiency”
“The Melee is a no holds barred modern race bike built specifically to meet the performance demands of the discipline. The Custom Road, while capable of racing at the highest level, prioritizes customization and personalization over specific race performance metrics such as weight, stiffness, and aerodynamics. The Melee features a monocoque construction which allowed us to refine the tube shapes, reduce weight, and increase the overall efficiency of the Melee,” continued Pantone.
While mixed surfaces have nearly always had a presence in road racing, it hasn’t been until recently that all surfaces could be tackled on one bike. Versatility has come to define the modern race bike. ENVE’s Melee features a generous max tire clearance of 35 mm with the geometry and handling characteristics optimized for tires between 27 and 32 mm.
Along with ample tire clearance, aerodynamic performance and integration are the expectation. ENVE’s Real-World Fast aero philosophy and technologies guided the development of the Melee. Real-World Fast as defined by ENVE means that the Melee has been designed with a holistic approach to performance. The tradeoffs of any one performance variable, be it aerodynamics and weight savings, or stiffness and compliance are balanced to ensure a fast, efficient, and confidence inspiring ride.
“ENVE has designed the Melee’s tube shapes to complement their own SES rim profiles”
In practice, the Melee features all the aerodynamic trappings expected to achieve top-of-class efficiency
– minimal frontal area, Kamm-tailed tube shapes, and full front-end integration. Additionally, ENVE has designed the Melee’s tube shapes to complement their own SES rim profiles. As a result, airflow transitions from wheel to frame surfaces in harmony to ensure a composed and stable ride experience in variable wind conditions.
In terms of construction, the Melee is made using various forms of uni-directional carbon fiber following ENVE’s Material Optimized Design (M.O.D.) process. “In simple terms, Material Optimized Design means designing and manufacturing products that play to the strengths of carbon fiber. The materials, fiber weights, and fiber angles used in the laminate are selected and manipulated to achieve zone specific performance within the part. Carbon is the key ingredient, and we use the best we can get our hands on, but ultimately the process it is subjected to makes it an ENVE product,” stated Pantone.
Fit and geometry are another area that ENVE has paid special attention to with their new bicycle. The Melee is available in seven frame sizes, with five unique fork rakes to ensure that riders of all sizes will have the same responsive handling the Melee is intended to deliver.
When ENVE introduced the Custom Road in 2021, they introduced the ENVE Chassis. Simply, an ENVE Chassis is the canvas upon which you can assemble your dream bike. An ENVE 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 selected à la carte to ensure that customers get the exact fit spec they need from the start.
To aid in the fitment process, ENVE has created the ENVE Best-Fit Calculator. “Your road bike needs to be an extension of your body and we want people to achieve that seamless feel from the first pedal stroke. Our calculator aims to simplify the fitment process for the fitter and customer alike. The calculator functions simply by pairing 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 output provides the rider with several frame and component configuration options that the rider along with their fitter can analyze to determine the rider’s ‘best-fit’ option,” stated Pantone.
For additional personalization and tuning, the Melee customer can then select their ENVE SES or Foundation wheelset of choice. A customer may choose ENVE’s SES 2.3, for maximum weight savings. For versatility, a pair of SES 3.4, and a rider seeking top aero performance may select the SES 4.5 or SES 6.7. Finally, by working with the local ENVE Ride Center or retail partner, drivetrain components and accessories are selected, and the build completed.
COLOR AND PRICING
The Melee is available in one color, Damascus. Like their custom wheel decal program, ENVE gives customers the option to design a personalized decal kit for their Melee using ENVE’s Custom Decal Configurator. Once the custom decal order is complete, the kit is delivered direct to the customer with tools and instructions for installation.
The Melee is available now in select sizes and markets around the world. The ENVE Melee Chassis retails for USD $5500, € 5500, £ 5300, and includes the frame, fork, headset, stem, handlebar, and seatpost.