Author Topic: Enigma, with footnotes


Enigma, with footnotes
« on: May 21, 2012 »
Some people buy titanium for the magical ride quality. Others want a frame that will last forever. I like ti because I don't have to think about what colour to paint it.

or do I

Magical? Maybe. Eternal? Unlikely. Even the finish is complicated by having to decide between brushed, satin (think Moots & Sabbath), or mirror polished.1

Last summer I took delivery of an Enigma Esprit. More or less. It was a custom job, with old-fashioned round tubes rather than the doubtlessly more structurally maximised biovalised design offered by frame maker Mark Reilly on the standard model.

The first thing you do when buying an Enigma, after justifying it to yourself and/or whoever it is in your life that keeps your wilder impulses in check,2 is hand yourself over to Mark and his measuring rack. It's not as painful as the credit card authorisation machine across the room.

These numbers are fed into a computer and before you know it you're looking at a CAD drawing of your bike-to-be. Don't like the height of the headtube? Tweak. Happy now?

You then hand over a deposit3 and begin the wait. They would prefer you don't spend the three months or so waiting in their office, so you go home and ride one of your other bikes. If you're the sensitive type you ride it with a tenderness that prepares it for its new place in the pecking order.

When mine was finished I had Enigma build it up, sourcing the forks, handlebars, and seatpost from their own brand4 offerings and the rest from the outside world. I could've put the pieces together myself, most of them at any rate, but wanted to ride the bike out of their workshop so I could ride it right back in again if there were any issues. There weren't.

A day or two later there were. The carbon seatpost developed a mysterious creak. I returned it and after an unsatisfying trawl in the shops cannibalised my Langster,5 which had come with a nice quiet carbon laminate. A few months after that the rear mudguard, so neatly installed, started cracking, so I broke out the electrical tape. It finally split in two. Still works, if one doesn't mind the fact that the rear section is now only being held on by the bracket alone.

That is the sum total of my problems these past 10 months. I haven't even gotten a puncture.

I could try to describe the ride quality using the template of phrases installed on the computers at bike mags, but I've never found those particularly helpful.6 Nor will this be to you: It rides great. YMMV.

Cost of frame: £1500
Parts: £1000
Labour putting the bike together: £100 (talk about splurging)

It's not important I inform you that since this picture was taken the mudguards have been dispensed with and those water bottle cages should be photoshopped out.

1. Suitable for lifting prints should it get stolen.
2. aka The Committee of Ways and Means.
3. One of the things I liked was that they didn't require the full amount up front.
4. Though the Enigma logo isn't objectionable, I requested tattoo removal. This involved repainting the handlebars against strenuous objections ("I won't sue you if it slips!" I promised), and stripping the forks and seatpost. Components sourced elsewhere include just about the cheapest wheels Shimano do. I ordered the cranks from Japan around the time of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, prompting me to wonder if they would be glowing when they arrived.
5. The Langster is a brilliant bike at about 1/10th the price (got a good deal). Thank god this rides better.
6. Confession: I wasn't uninfluenced by the stellar review Cycling Plus gave it. I didn't read far past their score.