Friday, October 5, 2007 11.00pm
By Paul Vincent, Cycling Plus
Enigma's titanium frames provide riders who appreciate the liveliness traditionally found in steel with an alternative to going down the carbon fibre route.
Nine hundred pounds may sound a lot for the Enigma Eclipse frame, which weighs 1,538g in the large size, but titanium frames are judged to be tougher than the more popular carbon. Enigma uses the widely adopted 3AL/2.5V grade tubes (alloyed with 3% aluminium and 2.5% Vanadium) and they are very nearly as neatly executed as the more expensive American-made frames from Merlin and Litespeed. There are four frame sizes available, with top-tube lengths from 53cm to 59cm. When built up in the spec we tested, the bike retails for £1,599. The frame alone goes for £899.
The Enigma's Campagnolo Veloce 10-speed is the most workmanlike of all the groupsets within the Campagnolo range. It's affordable and functional but if there is one criticism it's that the specification has remained unchanged, while Shimano Tiagra has nudged ahead in terms of finish and build quality, albeit without the 10th gear. The Veloce Ergopower levers shift smoothly and sweetly, with a distinct click that is all but absent from Shimano Tiagra.
The Enigma's Campagnolo Vento wheels felt better than expected. The mass of the rim surface area makes you think it will be slow to respond to sudden efforts, but in practice it works about as well as can be expected for a wheel that is one notch up from entry level. The 3G spoking pattern has proven long-term to provide good mechanical resistance to the forces exerted on a wheel and both wheels remained true throughout testing. The Michelin Krylion tyres lack the suppleness of the best 23mm tyres but have a great reliability record.
The titanium framed Enigma has a character more suited to the rider who appreciates the liveliness of a steel frame. It will leave those wanting a dampened ride wishing that they had chosen a Specialized Roubaix, but if you like to feel the pulse of every pedal revolution transferred into a creamy smoothness as the tyres zing over mixed surfaces, you'll love the Enigma.
Titanium frames have a habit of holding up well against the more technically advanced carbon fibre frames and the Enigma has done nothing to change that idea. Enigma could have shaved weight by using a plain head-tube instead of one that is compatible with a fully integrated headset, but the Eclipse reminds us once again of why cyclists rave on about the exciting ride qualities of a steel or titanium frame. Its relative weight counts against it on long climbs, but if you are the kind of person who factors-in titanium's resistance to the hard knocks of club racing, this is a clear winner.
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