A lightweight, stiff, compliance-boosting bar and stem that perform as promised, but the price is hard to swallow, and others go lighter for less
- Hyper stiff when it comes to power transfer
- Vibration damping is as good as it gets
- Not the lightest in class
The Enve Road stem and handlebar range are unmistakably premium-level components reserved for nothing but the very best road bikes - as has long been synonymous with the Enve brand as an entirety.
With the handlebar retailing at $350.00 / £340.00 / €365.00 and the stem at $265.00 / £260.00 / €300.00, the combined total is more than many people will ever spend on an entire bicycle in their lifetime. In the sport of cycling, we all know that a premium product will regularly command a premium price, but even in the realms of lightweight cycling componentry, the Enve road bar and stem are pushing the boundary in this regard.
For comparison, Bontrager's XXX VR-C handlebar is approximately 10 per cent cheaper, Zipp's SL 70 Ergo bar is approximately 20 per cent cheaper, and Specialized's S-Works compact bar is almost half the price at £185.00.
Bontrager's XXX Stem is 30 per cent cheaper for UK customers at £189.99 but actually more expensive to US customers at $275.00. The Zipp SL Speed stem retails at the same $265.00 and a slightly cheaper UK price of £245.00. Specialized's top-level lightweight stem is made from aluminium, and as such, is considerably cheaper.
Design & Specifications
The road handlebar is available in a plethora of variations. The compact drop shape is available with widths ranging from a svelte 38cm to a monstrous 46cm, then there's a standard drop which has a more restricted choice of 40, 42 or 44cm. All of which are flared by approximately two centimetres from the hoods to the drops.
Internal routing is made available for access to the Di2 bar end plug junction box only, while brake hose and gear cable integration goes only as far as a groove built into the underside. In an age of integrated cockpits and hidden cabling, this might be an offputting factor to some, but the ease of maintenance is appreciated at Cyclingnews HQ.
Enve pitches the road handlebar to riders looking for lightweight componentry. It claims to weigh 216 grams for a 40cm wide bar with compact drop - our test sample tips the scales at 227g with the Di2 integration uncut, suggesting a reasonable degree of accuracy. While we don't have them here to gather exact weights, the 42cm Enve bar claims to weigh 220g. The comparable option from Zipp claims 205g, Specialized claims 200g, and Bontrager claims 181g.
The stem comes in lengths ranging from 80mm to 140mm, all of which have a +/- 6-degree rise and standard 1 1/8 steerer compatibility and 31.8mm stem clamp diameter. Claimed to weigh 137g in a 130mm, our sample actually comes in three grams better off at 134g.
Again, to compare, Specialized claims a 110mm S-Works SL stem weighs 115g, whereas Enve's 110mm is claimed to weigh 129g. Both Zipp and Bontrager claim a 100mm stem weighs 120g (to Enve's 124g).
Both the Enve Road handlebar and Enve Road stem offer a brilliant ride quality and stiffness to match aero-specific cockpits with an undoubtedly lower weight. Over long, rough-tarmac days, the vibration damping is noticeably more fatigue-reducing and sprint efforts feel just as responsive. As one would hope at such a premium price, the Enve components are some of the best I've used.
I've not tested Zipp or Bontrager's lightweight offerings in the real world, but comparing the Enve to the S-Works combination, there is a small - but noticeable - difference in stiffness when really pushing the limits, likely due to the difference in stem material.
Anyone with the Enve Road components bolted to the front of their bike will be far from disappointed in how the components ride, but the product is marketed towards weight weenies, and it would be hard to swallow knowing you could've spent less on a lighter weight front end. That is assuming other brands' claimed weights are within the same margin of error.
For most cyclists, myself included, the majority of ride time remains at gradients below six per cent - the point at which reduced weight is said to trump better aerodynamics. Therefore, if it were my money, I'd be saving up my pennies for a little while longer and putting the extra investment towards Enve's Aero cockpit components.
- Handlebar weight: 227g
- Handlebar price: £340.00 / $350.00 / €367.00
- Stem weight: 134g
- Stem price: £260.00 / $265.00 / €296.00
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