When in 2021 ENVE launched their first complete bicycle, they wanted to put a stake in the ground and say “now we are also making frames”. They have always wanted to be a full-service brand, and as soon as their capabilities expanded, they continued evolving. After the Custom Road, they now introduce the Melee, a purpose-built bike.
We were able to test the Custom Road during the latest edition of Among the Giants, and back then we thought that it was as aggressive as a bike of its type can be. Nonetheless, when we compared both bikes side to side during our meeting with ENVE at Eurobike, one could see that the Melee is visibly more aerodynamic.
The origin of a new phase
Although the Melee is being launched one year after the Custom Road, their conceptualization started in parallel. They wanted to get the ball rolling with a full custom model that, despite being inherently scarce in availability, could allow them to design, prototype, and iterate at a higher rate than with stock geometry frames.
Now, with the purpose of providing a more affordable stock geometry and high-performance race bike to a greater number of customers, the Melee has just been introduced and will surely meet the demands of today’s road racers.
At the same time that the Custom Road was being launched in the US, the takeaways from its production were already being applied to the Melee, with a more aerodynamic bike as a result, even with a completely different building process. “The Custom Road, while capable of racing at the highest level, prioritizes customization and personalization over specific race performance metrics such as weight, stiffness, and aerodynamics”, stated VP of Product and Brand, Jake Pantone.
Unlike the Custom Road, which is fully customizable, the Melee is offered in seven stock frame sizes from 47 to 60 cm. Whereas its predecessor is made locally in Utah, the Melee is manufactured overseas, which will guarantee its availability in the rest of the world.
“The Melee takes design cues from ENVE’s own Custom Road, but where the Custom Road prioritizes customization, the Melee is purpose-built for speed”
The two bikes share the same fork, but the Melee features a monocoque construction which allowed ENVE to refine the tube shapes and reduce weight. We were told that this frame is about 100 grams lighter.
The tire clearance allows for tires ranging up to 35 millimeters, with the geometry and handling characteristics optimized for tires between 27 and 32 mm. Nowadays there is an agreement that 28 mm tires are not only versatile but the fastest option available, and at ENVE they are aware of that.
In addition to the wide tire clearance, the Melee is compatible with all drivetrain brands, models, and configurations on the market if they are wireless or wired with continuous housing from shifter to derailleur.
Different parts with the same purpose
Now that they are in complete control of the behavior of the full bike, they have designed the Melee’s tube shapes to complement their own SES™ rims, and the air flows from wheel to frame in a way that stability in variable wind conditions is optimized.
Within the different stock options, there are five unique fork rakes to ensure that riders of all sizes will have the same responsive handling the Melee is intended to deliver. This is different from the rest of the market, as most brands have only three fork rakes.
Handlebar width, stem length, and saddle offset are additional parameters that can be modified ahead of its delivery to try and mimic the full personalization of the Custom Road. Both the stem and seatpost are new and optimized for the characteristics of the Melee. In the future, it will also be possible to choose among different handlebars.
The ENVE Melee is being launched as a “chassis” which includes the frame, headset, handlebar, fork, stem, and seatpost. While we were being shown how these different parts looked together, we found in the split spacers a very good addition to allow cables to pass through and allow to drop the front of the bike without cutting brake hoses
Only one color, Damascus, is available for this bike. Like their custom wheel decal program, ENVE gives customers the option to design a personalized kit for their Melee using ENVE’s configurator. Once the custom decal order is complete, the kit is delivered to the customer with tools and instructions for installation.