Enigma Esprit £2699

Titanium beauty

BikeRadar score 5/5

Enigma's Esprit distils the spirit of titanium into one of the most efficacious race machines available. With its light weight and classic proportions, it makes you feel part of a new titanium renaissance.

Ride & handling: Like a champion pugilist, the Esprit is light and quick on its toes but remains rock solid in the face of any threat

Out on the road, the Esprit is magic. Light and nimble, it dances on its toes. It does reveal a bit of flex, but not in a bad way, and squats down nicely in fast corners. Exhibiting the best of Italian-style handling, similar to a De Rosa or one of its cousins, the Enigma is perfectly dialled.

You’ve got the ideal geometry – a classic setup based on 73 degrees parallel and a generous top tube – creating a perfect position for going fast. When you stand up on the pedals to put the power down, you’re exactly where you want to be for a launch to the finish line or digging into a steep climb.

What’s more, the high level of comfort on offer makes this a truly multi-purpose bike – ride to work then head to the evening crit series and maybe pick up a prime before dinner. Or make it the cornerstone of your future racing career. Whether it’s all-out racing or just riding for fun and fitness, the Esprit definitely catches the spirit of titanium and delivers sheer cycling pleasure in abundance.  

Frame: Proves there’s still some life left in the classic square layout; low weight and beauty make this a real winner

Founded about five years ago by UK bike business veteran Jim Walker, Enigma draw on decades of collective experience while concentrating on hand fabrication of bespoke and off-the-peg titanium and steel bikes. Dependable 3AL-2.5 V manipulated tubes are the name of the game on the Esprit, starting with a subtle horizontally ovalised top tube.

The seat tube is an oversized 32mm diameter, requiring a somewhat rigid 31.6mm seatpost, but it’s the price you have to pay to add muscle to the bottom bracket area and help defeat pedal-induced flex. If you really want a bit of extra ‘give’ in the seatpost, you could always specify a more flexible, skinnier 27.2mm seatpost in your custom build and add a shim to make up the difference.

A conventional head tube anchors a sturdy down tube, which is shaped to maximise weld area at the bottom bracket and minimise overall movement, while a traditional rear triangle made of modestly proportioned full-length tubes brings a high level of comfort to the back end. The distinctive Koski-styled dropouts have been hollowed to save weight, while the right side is provided with a replaceable gear hanger.

Equipment: Athena impresses with its solidity and beauty, Campagnolo wheels are light and fast, and Enigma finishing kit doesn’t put a foot wrong

Enigma have their own brand of badged components for finishing kit, which prove highly effective. Drivetrain duties are provided by the excellent Campagnolo Athena 11-speed, a robust yet light choice that never misses a beat.

Particularly effective and very quick to accelerate, the Campagnolo Neutron wheels sharpen up the overall feel of the bike while adding an extra turn of speed – a superlative set of hoops with super-thin stainless bladed spokes and offset pull at the rear. Their wide lacing stance and sufficient spoke numbers keep them laterally rigid, with none of the annoying rim slap on brake blocks you tend to get with fast pre-builts trying to go aero.

High-speed buffeting is kept to a minimum thanks to relatively normal sized tube sections and shallow rims presenting a low surface area. Hanging onto someone’s wheel by an inch as you work your way up through a twin-column rotating echelon couldn’t be easier, despite the gale force winds that are par for the course during northern European summers.

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