As our team works to develop an authority on what the best road bike is, we test all kinds of bikes. Like any buyer’s guide, we try to have a range of products at different price points that fulfil different needs. That means while we test the kinds of bikes that most people buy, we also test bikes that most people would refer to as superbikes.
Among those that I have tested is the Enve Melee. It’s a bike that I said made me feel young again and what I meant was that it was a fun bike. After that I tested the Cannondale Supersix Evo Hi-Mod, then the BMC Teammachine R, and to cap off 2023 I’ve been spending time on the latest Look 795 Blade RS. Each time I test one of these bikes, there’s a distinct personality.
That distinct personality is at odds with the common perception that all bikes at that level are the same. The reality is that bikes are not all the same, no matter what the price point is, and I find that an interesting concept. A collection of carbon fibre race bikes at similar price points that feel so different feels almost impossible. I wondered where that came from and I set out to find an answer.
Given that their headquarters isn’t far from me, I started with Enve. Even beyond the ease of doing a deep dive with the brand, the nature of the bike’s personality had me the most curious. My experience of the bikes is that Cannondale is the efficiency king, the BMC is excellent at straight and fast, and the Look is a very stiff stiff bike for those that like to climb. Of those personalities engineering an ephemeral feeling seems the most difficult and I was curious to hear how the brand accomplished it. Here’s what I found.
According to Enve, when you think about the feeling of the Melee, it comes from two different directions. The first piece is that it’s simply an intentional choice. I spoke to Design Engineer, Kevin Nelson at length about what I thought about the bike and if that matched up with his intentions. Short answer, yes it does.
Nelson talked about how Enve looks at bike products as being on a continuum. One side is all about speed even if it’s only a little bit and no matter what the cost. Leaning in this direction is why the BMC Teammachine R specs the DT Swiss ARC 1100 Wheelset. That wheelset is technically fast but with a narrow profile, those wheels give up a lot for that speed. On…