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ENVE Fray: The right choice for modern road riders

ENVE continues their evolution within the cycling industry, and what started as an aftermarket wheel and component specialist is now a full-service bike brand, with today’s launch of the Fray as the best example. This highly versatile road bike is capable of tackling mixed surfaces and thus address the needs of modern road riders.

Earlier this week, we tested this bike, together with brand representatives and the regional distributor Mohawk’s, on the final kilometers of the course of Paris-Roubaix, a day after the elite men’s race. We have a love-hate relationship with cobbles but, given the characteristics of this new model, we were able to enjoy the ride and understand why ENVE’s portfolio needed a bike like the Fray.

When asked about the target population of the Fray, Jake Pantone, VP of Product and Brand, stated that “it is the bike that 90% of ENVE customers should be riding”. In line with the all-road concept, the Fray is the right choice for everything except pure gravel events or road races. Designed for long rides, including sportives and Gran Fondo’s, it is performance-oriented and not conceived as a comfort road bike. Depending on the region it can be used for off-road purposes, but ENVE stressed that they are not positioning it as a gravel bike.

After their initial Custom Road, the road racing model Melee, and the gravel-focused MOG, this new model fills the remaining gap in their drop bar bikes portfolio. The Fray inherits features from all the predecessors but is much closer to the Melee than to the MOG. Using a 56 frame size to compare it with the more aggressive model, the Fray is the stack is 2,0 cm higher and the wheelbase is extended by 1,6 cm.

This bike is optimized for 31-35 mm tires, with clearance up to 40 mm if equipped with a x1 chainring. The new ENVE SES tires are the optimal choice for any Fray build. We tested an x2 SRAM build with the recently launched 35 mm SES Road Tire with a pressure of 2,7 bars, which allowed us to surf over the cobbles of the Carrefour de l’Arbre. We thought it would negatively impact the speed and overall performance of the bike on paved sections, but it rolled very fast and the stability was great even when facing varied gusts of wind.

Regarding the novelties introduced with this new model, the Fray features a new fork design and a redesigned front tube with a reduced frontal area. The seatpost is the same as we can find on the Melee, but based on the feedback of tall riders that want to ride a small frame, they are introducing a 400 mm version of it.

If you look at the downtube you will spot the ENVE Cargo Bay, an in-frame storage solution that can be configured to carry tools and extra clothing. Each Fray comes with two cargo bags constructed of neoprene which serve to protect your stuff while preventing unwanted rattling in the downtube. This system is attached to the tube with four points of contact, and a Teflon layer inhibits the potential consequences of dripping liquids over it. Following on the features intended to address the inherent needs of long rides, you can also find mounts on the top tube and below the down tube.

During the bike presentation at the velodrome of Roubaix, we were also introduced to the mixture of medium, high, and super-high modulus uni-directional carbon fibers that the Fray is made of. “The right fiber for the right application”, as Jake said. A specific type of fiber may be good for a seat tube but not for a down tube.

Thanks to not only the seven frame sizes to choose from but also the four fork rates that ENVE offers to its customers, the handling of the bike is similar across all valid combinations. This is perfectly shown by the trail of the bike, which remains constant across different frame sizes. Other brands are not able to offer the same number of distinct fork rakes, but ENVE take advantage of the investment they made to put their initial Custom Road model in the market and now they benefit from a unique process in fork molding.

The Fray was ready to be launched already one year ago, but back then the market conditions were not promising enough. This delayed launch has allowed them to offer the bike in more colors. More concretely, ENVE the available colors are Ash, Salt, and Venom. The latter is a daring novelty, which we think will attract a lot of attention from potential customers as it stands out from the rest.

As with the previous models, ENVE offers the Fray as a “chassis” which includes the frame, fork, headset, handlebar, stem, and seatpost. The bar, stem and seatpost are selected à la carte to ensure that customers get the exact fit spec they need from the start. Then it is the task of the retailer to work closely with the customer and ensure the parts and wheel selection is best suited to their riding needs.

Photos: ENVE