The Enve Custom Road is here, the debut frame offering from the Utah-based composites specialists. A sleek and stunning road bike that blends finesse and technology that meets and exceeds any flagship performance bikes out there, with the care and attention to detail of a bespoke handcrafted machine. Made to order in the US to each rider's exact fit specifications, these extremely limited Enve bikes are really something special. More than the technologies and features though, we were keen to learn the history that led to the creation of Enve producing bikes.
Ahead of the Custom Road’s launch, we got a chance to speak with Jake Pantone and Neil Shirley of Enve, to learn more about how the bike came to be. Jake, Enve’s VP of Brand and Product, has been with the company since the early Edge days. Any product that Enve has released, it’s safe to assume that Jake has had a hand in the process. Nei is Enve’s marketing manager and has been with the company for the last three years. Both Jake and Neil are incredibly gifted riders, a common thread amongst Enve employees, so given their accolades on the bike as well as their deep involvement in the bike, we were excited to pick their brains on the process of bringing the Custom Road to fruition.
A Bike Was Always on the Table
Officially the Custom Road has only been a project since 2018, however the reality is that a bike has always been on the table for Enve. Back when Jake started in the Edge days, nearly 15 years ago, he remembered an early conversation where Enve’s founder Jason told him, “Hey you know, we’re going to develop a frame and your experience at bike shops and your understanding of bikes is something that would be a natural fit for you to take on and manage our bike program.”
Jake's old custom bike from the early days named "Simon," followed by an early Custom Road prototype he tested, and finally his personal production ready Enve Custom Road.
Jake was actually put to work learning the whole carbon lay up and manufacturing process so he could apply that to his extensive bike knowledge, and eventually manage the development of a bike frame. As things progressed with their wheels and component offerings, the company ultimately had to put their focus there, and the frame project went on pause.
Dark 6, the special projects zone at the Enve facility where the Custom Road was developed.
While the frame development was on hold, Enve were still working with numerous different frame builders, helping manufacture tubes, building forks, and other pieces. Even though they weren’t making their own frame, they were essentially putting their touch and expertise into all kinds of other bikes on the market. All the while, Enve engineer, Kevin Nelson, had the side project of building custom frames. Jake has one himself and it has been the road bike that he has put the most miles on to date. Collectively, that had all temporarily satiated their desires for building bikes.
The Building Years
In 2016, Enve was acquired by Amer Sports, also the parent company to Mavic. With the two brands under the same umbrella, that brought on talks to combine their knowledge into a bike project. Several ideas were thrown out, even the possibility of an e-bike, and as exciting as those ideas were, the timing just wasn’t right. Enve had moved into a brand new facility, and through 2016-2017 had spent time smoothing out their processes and working out the kinks.
“Those years were really building years. Anytime you move or change a composite manufacturing process, it’s basically like a complete redevelopment all over again. You know, carbon manufacturing can be a bit finicky,” Jake recalls.
Light at the end of the Tunnel
Eventually, they were able to improve their efficiencies, and that’s when projects like the Foundation series wheels were born. As time went on, they’d gotten to a point where their systems were dialed and they were at a place where they had the time and resources to once again look seriously at working on a bike project. In the fall of 2018, the Custom Road project officially kicked off.
“We’d worked through our efficiencies, new building processes, and scrap reduction to the point where we actually started to see the light at the end of the tunnel... As wheel production got more streamlined, we were able to go back and say, ‘Hey, you know what? I think we’re finally getting to the point where we could introduce something like the Enve bike that we’ve wanted for so many years.”
All of this, this history and background, is to say that the Custom Road has been a long time coming. Leveraging that wealth of experience—developing premium carbon components, mastering aerodynamics, and working hand in hand with frame builders—along with their state of the art manufacturing facility has enabled Enve to put forth the custom carbon road bike we see here today.
Will You Get A Custom Road of Your Own?
We’ve been riding with Enve since their beginnings, and over the years have had the pleasure to see them progress, overcome growing pains, and navigate the ever changing seas of the bike industry as a relatively small player. So to see this project finally come to life has truly been a treat, and we’re quite honored to be among the short list of Enve partners to be able to pair these exclusive machines with riders.
And by exclusive, we mean really exclusive. Enve only plans to be able to build a modest 200 units of these bikes through the year. To be among the select few riders to have one of these built for you, make sure to put down your deposit here to secure your spot in line!
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