The optional Union Jack-painted front end of the Enigma makes a striking visual statement, but the frame and fork it covers are what confirm the Elite HSS ST’s combative character.
- Highs: Excellent balance of smoothness and speed with full commitment handling and collar and cuffs style options
- Lows: Complete bike prices are slightly high
- Buy if: You want your steel with smooth performance position swagger, easy speed and fresh styling
Frame and equipment: muscular looks and classic touches
The stocky head tube gives room for a full-size tapered fork with hidden Columbus ceramic bearings. The fork base width means the head tube can be kept low for an aggressive ride position rather than perching you up high for pottering.
The carbon Enigma fork has been chosen to produce the right blend of precision and palpable small bump absorption. It’s so good that, given the visual similarity, we actually asked Enigma if it had fitted an ultra-expensive ENVE Road 2.0 under the coordinated paint job rather than its own unit.
Enigma follows up the contemporary front end with a gently sloped top tube and tight rear that keeps the metal needed to a minimum. That gives the Elite HSS an impressively low claimed frame weight of just over 1500g for the smallest size. Tube shaping’s minimal too, relying on the classic round profiles of the triple-butted Columbus Spirit tubing to join the tapered head to the conventional screw-in bottom bracket shell.
The brazed-on tab for the front derailleur is a neat touch, and the sudden pre-dropout taper of the stout chainstays reminded us of the classic enhanced stiffness Max OR tubeset that Columbus developed to combat the rise of alloy frame popularity in the 90s. The cowled dropouts also give maximum contact area for the rear stays to complete a muscular looking frame.
Enigma offers Ultegra-based 1.1 or Dura-Ace-based 1.3 complete bike options or can build you a custom spec bike like the Campagnolo Chorus stop and go/Zonda wheel sample here. Enigma has its own paint shop, with several two-tone options as standard on the Elite and a range of custom finishes including colour-matched Enigma stem and seatpost for £299+.
Ride and handling: easy rider with plenty of zip
While the frame and kit looks great it’s how it works on the road that makes it clear why Enigma’s owner Jim Walker often rides one himself rather than one of his more expensive titanium frames.
While the relatively relaxed head tube gives a stable base feel, the steep seat angle pushes weight and authority onto the front tyre. There’s enough give in the frame to keep tyres glued better than you expect, so you can really rip the low front end through corners, clipping apexes and straining your neck for the fastest exit.
The low front end encourages a little aggression
The stout tubes are punchy enough to make going full gas a rewarding experience on climbs or sprints and help you churn a fading gear over the brow of a hill and spin straight into the attack. Even with the relatively low bar position it’s forgiving enough for a lazy summer ride.
The Enigma feels as classy and coherent to ride as it is to look at and its easy yet enthusiastic character is a great example of why steel still deserves consideration if you want more from your riding than clinical speed and mass market value.
|Name||Elite HSS ST (15)|
|Available Sizes||53cm 55cm 56cm 57cm 59cm|
|Rear Wheel Weight||1560|
|Top Tube (cm)||53|
|Standover Height (cm)||77.4|
|Seat Tube (cm)||49|
|Bottom Bracket Height (cm)||26.5|
|Stem||Enigma 3D, 120mm|
|Rear Tyre||Continental Grand Prix 4000S II, 23mm|
|Bottom Bracket||Campagnolo EPS|
|Rear Derailleur||Campagnolo Chorus|
|Headset Type||Columbus Ceramic, tapered|
|Handlebar||Enigma Compact, 420mm|
|Front Wheel Weight||1030|
|Front Tyre||Continental Grand Prix 4000S II, 23mm|
|Front Derailleur||Campagnolo Chorus|
|Frame Material||Columbus Spirit Niobium|
|Cranks||Campagnolo Chorus, 50/34|
|Cassette||Campagnolo Chorus, 11-28T|
|Brakes||Campagnolo Chorus Skeleton|
|Frame size tested||53cm|