Enigma Ex CR review

Hand-built British beauty

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £3,250.00 RRP | USD $5,133.05

Our review

Classic styling and a great ride proves that steel still has loads to offer
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The words ‘made in Britain’ aren’t seen on many bikes these days – or much else, come to think of it. But there are still pockets of high-quality engineering across the country, including Enigma, who still make all of their frames by hand in their Sussex workshops.

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Their new Ex CR shows that there’s still a place for steel at the top table of frame-building materials. It’s durable, strikingly stylish and comfortable enough for day-long rides – as well as being light – and it’s not bad value for a bike that should provide you with a lifetime of riding pleasure.

Ride & handling: Doesn’t hang around on the flat, climbs well and descends surefootedly

Pedalling off on the Enigma is a positive experience. The handling is immediate, snappy and responsive, the bike doesn’t hang around on the flat, climbs well and descends surefootedly.

It may not have the all-round suppleness of titanium, but the combination of the steel frame and carbon seatpost still means even after a few hours in the saddle you’ll likely be smiling rather than suffering. But the frame is also stiff enough to make sure you’re not wasting energy when you’re pedalling.

As for any weight penalty, forget it. Our test model weighed just 7.68kg, a shade under 17lb. With more exclusive equipment, this could be reduced to a level that would worry the UCI.

The finish on the enigma is spot on: the finish on the enigma is spot on
Paul Smith

Frame: Classy steel frame with tidy welds and a spot-on finish

Enigma have recently added titanium to the materials from which they build bikes, but the Ex CR is made from Columbus’s stainless steel XCR tubing. Italian companies Cinelli and Pegoretti have both produced XCR frames, but in the UK Enigma have the sole rights to use this material for the next year.

At a time when complete carbon fibre road bikes are available for as little as a grand and Enigma’s titanium frames less still, why would you splash out on a steel bike, especially considering the rarefied frame-only price of a grand-and-a-half, which doesn’t even include the forks?

One of the great qualities of stainless steel as a bike-building material is its corrosion resistance and its resulting longevity. As with titanium, a well looked after steel frame should last as long as its owner.

A second reason is the striking looks of a hand-built, custom-finished bike. The Enigma’s paintjob is understated, but of all the bikes that we’ve ridden recently, this is the one that has garnered the most praise. The combination of red, cream and polished stainless steel proved a winner, while the super-smooth welds are as tidy as it’s possible to make them. 

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Finally, the price includes custom building – the Ex CR is custom-built only – by Enigma’s frame-building maestro Mark Reilly. Bike delivery is therefore expected to take six to eight weeks.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Ex CR (10)
Brand Enigma

Available Colours Custom
Available Sizes Custom
Bottom Bracket Campagnolo
Brakes Campagnolo Chorus
Cassette Campagnolo Chorus
Cranks Campagnolo Chorus 11-speed
Front Derailleur Campagnolo Chorus 11-speed
Handlebar USE
Headset Type Evolution
Rear Derailleur Campagnolo Chorus 11-speed
Rims Zonda
Seatpost Enigma
Stem USE
Weight (kg) 7.68
Weight (lb) 16.93