Enigma Ecroix ST review£3,250.00

Can Sussex-built steel match foreign-manufactured titanium?

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Enigma introduced the Ecroix ST this year, and while the frameset only costs £192 less than its titanium Ecroix, your money gets you a premium all-rounder with an impressively tight and lively ride, handbuilt and painted in Sussex, England.

We can’t really fault the package Enigma supplied us with, featuring Shimano Ultegra and Hunt 4 Season wheels

The £1,250 frame (£1,680 with fork and headset) uses a mainly Columbus Zona Nivacrom double-butted main-tube and rear stay set, stiffened and lightened with a Life Niobium seat-tube. At 1,950g it’s light for a steel frame designed to handle off-piste hammering and you’re not looking at a big weight penalty over the titanium or aluminium bikes here.

The ring-reinforced 44mm head-tube takes a tapered, colour-matched carbon cyclocross fork and for an extra £37 you can get a colour-matched stem. A custom-painted carbon seatpost adds £45 and we reckon the effect is well worth it.

All Enigma’s Signature series frames are immaculately handmade in Hailsham with very neat TIG-welding. Cables are kept external and mostly naked for easy servicing and the monogrammed bottom bracket shell uses durable external bearings. There’s a slight curve and flare to the chainstays but while the A-frame seatstays run straight that still leaves space for 28mm tyres and mudguards or 35mm rubber without guards.

Our sample came with a quick-release rear axle, while new bikes will get 142x12mm thru-axles. To keep the tubes as clean and strong as possible Enigma produces dedicated Di2/EPS/eTap frames. After consistency issues with third-party painters Enigma created its in-house ‘Paintworks’ and two colours are included in the basic price. Full-custom paintjobs and custom sizing/geometry are also available and you can even make a lugged and brazed version of the Ecroix yourself on Enigma’s week-long frame-building course.

Precise handling means the Ecroix feels equally keen and alive through the handlebar
Precise handling means the Ecroix feels equally keen and alive through the handlebar

Enigma doesn’t offer complete builds on the Ecroix ST but apart from a slightly high £3,250 overall price we can’t really fault the package Enigma supplied us with, featuring Shimano Ultegra, an Enigma-branded cockpit and Hunt 4 Season wheels. The titanium-railed Enigma saddle on top of its sleek laid-back carbon seatpost was a nice finishing touch.

The 31.6mm post creates a firm position for pedalling, which is totally in keeping with the rest of the ride. The stiffness of the fork, oversized 44mm down-tube and straight stays is also obvious when you’re climbing full tilt out of the saddle. And though at 9.5kg it’s no lightweight, you wouldn’t know from the way it responds. Precise handling from the 72-degree head angle means it feels equally keen and alive through the handlebar, encouraging you to push the lean angles as hard as the pedals.

The downside of its stiffness is that over rough rubble it chokes up momentum and compared with smoother bikes we were also testing, rides over moorland tracks were pretty miserable in places. On better surfaces adding pace transforms that slap into a springy skim, which is another good reason to open up the throttle. That means that as long as you’re not regularly pushing the Ecroix into mountain bike territory you’ll see why quality steel is still alive and very firmly kicking as a frame material.

  • US Price: $2,250 for frame / fork / headset

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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