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So far it’s a solo ride.

Five Minutes With Jake Pantone, Enve's VP of Product and Brand

Peter Harrington |

Jake Pantone knows Enve. As he should, you might say. But Jake was there even before it was called Enve. As the VP of Product and Brand, he's been involved with some of the company's most consequential launches, from the SES wheel series to the Custom Road project and the inception of the Enve bike line.

Recently, we hosted Jake as our guest at AC for an evening of all things Enve. And we followed it up with a sweet gravel ride the next morning. For the evening affair, we printed Q&A cards from an interview we did with Jake before the event and dotted them around the shop. The little anecdotes and insights they contained went down well, so we decided to put all the Q&As in one place as a journal entry. Some are pure fun, some are more product-focused. Apologies for the lack of sushi and fine wine. For that, make sure to attend our next event.


Which Enve product is the result of your best bathroom thinking?

Ha! I don't think many products started life like that. Can we say our best in-saddle thinking? I'd say, what was the 4.5 AR and the concept of a wider aero rim, purpose-built for 28/30 mm tires. The idea came while we were riding the cobbled sections at Roubaix. They're short but decisive, and we realized that if we could make a wheel that solved the aerodynamic problem while allowing you to master rough ground, we'd have something pretty special.

Enve is based in Utah. For anyone who hasn’t been, what’s great about Utah?

I’d say the access to outdoor recreation - it’s second-to-none. We can be on dirt within a 10-minute pedal from the office, so it’s awesome for gravel and mountain bike riding. And there’s also plenty to keep roadies entertained, too. There are also a lot of world-class ski resorts, which helps to mix things up in the off-season. Ultimately, it’s a great place to test products!

Complete the sentence: Enve is the best place to work because:

Ha! Easy - because we get to ride bikes every day.

On the road, are you for or against shaved legs?

Probably for, but I don’t do it; I ran out of time. Three kids will do that!

A gravel ride that eclipsed all others.

Oh man, there’s been so many good ones. But if I had to pick, it would be a ride Neil Shirley (Director of Marketing at Enve) and I did on Skyline Drive in Utah. It’s one of the highest roads in the US, I believe. Overall, we rode 120 miles, 80 of them above 10,000 feet. Both our daughters had their high school mountain bike race in a town down south, so we made a ride out of going to see them. It was incredibly memorable. From filtering mountain water to ensuring we had everything we needed in case of an emergency, it had all the ingredients of an epic gravel adventure. I’d highly recommend it.

What’s the product you’re most proud of, and why?

I think the Custom Road bike is one I’m most proud of, mainly because it was an authentic way for Enve to be introduced to the world as a bike brand, not just a wheels and components business. It really encompassed everything great at Enve, from design, engineering, aero, and carbon fibre expertise to in-house manufacturing. As a single product, the Custom Road embodies the heart and soul of the company.

One Enve product that never made the light of day.

One product that stands out is a water bottle cage that had this feeling of trying too hard. It has this fancy way of using our logo to wrap the bottle. It was a cool concept from a design perspective; it just didn’t translate to reality.

Where did the concept of Enve’s ‘Real World Fast’ mantra come from?

That came together quite organically when we started working with aerodynamicist Simon Smart. He’d consistently get feedback from triathletes and racers that revealed a huge gap between wind tunnel optimizations and riding on the road. For example, athletes would head out to Kona and complain that they couldn’t stay in their aero position even though things had flown in the lab. So, we developed a holistic approach between stability, aero, the road and the wind tunnel. Ultimately, great metrics don’t amount to much if they compromise ride feel.

When asked how he drove so fast, the Finnish F1 driver Mika Häkkinen once replied, “Maximum throttle, plenty oversteer.” Is that the sort of nuanced feedback you get from Enve-sponsored cycling pros?

Ha! Well, some athletes are more equipment-driven than others. Tadej Pogačar is a great example. He’s super in tune with every detail, and he’ll often send us ideas that might help refine a handlebar shape or the stiffness of a wheel. Naturally, you have to see that feedback through a certain performance lens, but we’re not in the business of sponsoring and closing our ears or minds to feedback. We don’t ride Grand Tours, so we listen when someone like Tadej has a thought.

In the past, it has felt like the pro road cycling scene has consistently driven consumer-level product development. How have things changed today?

It’s the opposite. For the past five years, I’d say what the average rider wants has pushed development more than the pro scene. For example, the pros were still riding tubular when the rest of the world had moved to clinchers. Then the pros moved to clinchers, but with tubes, when everyone else had already started gravitating to tubeless.

What would you be involved with in other life, if not bikes?

Probably winter sports. You can’t live in Utah and not love the snow.

The one Enve product every road cyclist should own.

Oh, that’s tough. Ok, I’ll say the SES 4.5. It’s the ultimate bang for the buck. It does everything well. Our pros pretty much only race on the 4.5. Even on the mountain stages, whenever there’s a fast, rolling build-up to a climb, Tadej will choose the 4.5 as its aero performance trumps any weight saving another model might give you. It’s a special wheel.

The one Enve product every gravel cyclist should own.

On the high-budget side of things, I’ll say the MOG gravel bike. It’s a beautiful silhouette that, like the Custom Road, brings together so much of what Enve excels at. If I can mention another product, I’d say a dropper post. It’s very regional, but if you’re descending for a long time or frequently traverse singletrack, a dropper post on a gravel bike is a game-changer.

What’s your favorite gravel event in the US?

I’ve got to mention our Grodeo, haha. But outside of that. I’d have to say Unbound in Kansas. The Flint Hills are pretty beautiful, and as long as you can wrap your head around riding for several hours, possibly under challenging conditions, you’ll have a great day on the bike.

Where would you go if you could pack your bags and fly off for a road ride anywhere in the world?

Valencia, Spain. The people are friendly, there’s not much traffic, and outside the city, there are some incredible mountains and canyons. It’s a lovely winter escape.

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