September 6th, 2017
Enigma Escape £3,999.00
- Attention to detail
- Versatile and adaptable
- Not much to mention
The Escape boasts a revised geometry that has lowered the bottom bracket a touch over the outgoing Ecroix and made the angles a little less road orientated and more relaxed for the conditions that its aimed at. It’s aimed for exploring – and exploring a wide array of paths, trails, roads and tracks.
I rode the Escape on lots of really mixed terrain rides – some places where a mountain bike would be happiest and others where a road bike would be best. I found the Escape never really lacked at its core – whilst at the boundaries of where you may take it, there would be a degree of ride compromise, for example, more conservative line choices off road and slightly slower feeling accelerating and rolling speed on the road, I was really impressed with its capability and improvement over the older Ecroix model. The sure footed feeling offroad was assisted by the excellent Schwalbe One tubeless tyres – I frequently thought I’d found their limit off-road, but not one puncture despite my best flint and rock finding on the Sussex Downs. The large volume tyres and small knobbly tread was excellent in dry and slightly intermediate conditions, and in anything vaguely muddy or soft, things got a little lively and lacking in grip. On any made surface – gravel and road – the tyres are tough and capable.
I enjoyed the feeling of being very much ‘in’ the frame, as opposed to a more road focussed geometry that can place you feeling more ‘on’ top of the ride. The slacker angles and lower bottom bracket keep the weight centred and better balanced – I was riding a model at the upper limits of what size I’d ride and it still felt planted and responsive. I did drop the stem a good 15mm to help the weight down and forward on the front wheel, this was great for descending on the drops off and on road. Climbing is effective, and the low weight of the bike, with the direct transfer of power helped it skip up climbs. On more technical offroad climbs, hovering over the saddle, the bike felt sure footed and only limited by the rider and tyre grip.
The frame material titanium is often given a some what elevated status with ‘magical’ properties – it is undoubtedly a resilient and excellent material for bike frames, tough and light. But the compliance and ‘feel’ of the frame are mostly from the butting and shaping of the frame tubes – the double butting reduces weight a little and adds stiffness at the ends of the tubing. The seat post is 31.6mm, which coupled with the 44m head tube makes for a tight and exacting ride, without an especially harsh feeling. The large volume tyres obviously help dampen out a lot of low-level trail or road vibrations.
An obvious input into the ride feel is the fork, and the new own brand C-Six CX-DSC is an excellent pairing. The UK designed full carbon fork uses flat mounts and has 12mm through axle. There is a confident and comfort inducing amount of flex in it, with out it being wet noodle like, an unusual touch is the axle clamp being on the disc side, as per a traditional QR. The tyre clearance on both fork and frame is good – it has to be noted this isn’t a pure off-road machine, but you could run some 33mm cross tyres and have a good amount of clearance on the rear. There is a small chain stay bridge, near the chains that will catch mud, but its not something that should be an issue unless you really push the Escape out of its capabilities.
Built from Grade 9 3AL 2.5V double-butted titanium, its beautifully welded, with consistent stacked penny welds. There are some modern features across the frame, with some really aesthetically pleasing and well functioning parts. The test model I rode was full Ultegra Hydraulic groupset, with the exception of the Hunt wheels, which did a sterling job for the test period. The test bike came with a 700c x 40mm set up, and the maximum is 43mm. There is also the option to run 650b (27.5) with up to 50mm tyres – I didn’t get a set to swap out to try this but could see advantages for more off-road adventures.
The rest of the of the bike is fitted out with Enigma own brand finishing kit – saddle, seat post, bars, stem, headset and seat clamp all own branded and of a good finish and quality. The 22-speed Ultegra groupset was another nod to classic or more traditional functions – but a 1x would have moved the bike just as well, with just the slight compromise on gear range. Looks wise, it’d have reduced the cables and refined the look even more, but I don’t feel it had any bearing on the bikes capabilities, as gears are a personal choice. Functionally the brakes and shifting are superb, as you’d expect with this level of Shimano equipment.
The 12mm bolt through drop outs are of a classically cowled shape – which looks excellent and also work by allowing a really good contact area for the weld, also saving the shaping tubing further, which can be a costly addition with titanium. It’s simply not as easy to manipulate as steel or aluminium.
External cable routing is used for the reasons of versatility. The positioning of the cable stops on the downtube is really cleanly executed, and this makes home (and shop) maintenance easier. The frame also has mudguard and rack mounts and 3 bottle cage mounts.
Whilst being designed and finished in Great Britain, it is built overseas in Taiwan. There is no issue with an overseas build, as the quality control used is exceptionally high in line with the standards Enigma deliver. The Escape is a highly adaptable and capable bike – and is built and finished to really high standards of detail and attention, and the core of the bike, the frame is the epitome of this attitude. The Escape will handle all that you can throw, and whilst not a mountain bike, its got plenty of clout off road, and this could be improved with some more off road capable treads. Elsewhere, the bike is fast – perhaps not race fast, but it never feels hard work or that it will hold you back.