Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.
Some cyclists are content to ride the same loop week after week, year after year. Others get creative, linking unusual roads, trails, and paths. Enigma’s Ecroix is meant for the second type of rider.
Of course, anyone could enjoy riding this hand-built steel bike. However, this bike is all about versatility, with the option to run anything from traditional 700c road wheels and tires to 650b gravel tires as wide as 50mm. Aboard the Enigma, we found new and unusual routes close to home, and it was also ideal for a road trip out to Giro’s Grinduro event, which has everything from high-speed pavement to rocky singletrack.
The Ecroix we tested came with 650b wheels mounted with 42mm WTB Resolute tires. Riders who dabble in singletrack connectors or rough dirt will probably prefer the extra air volume and cushion these knobbies afford. For smoother dirt or more frequent forays onto pavement, 700c wheels are probably best. Enigma says this bike fits up to 40mm tires on traditional-size wheels.
Measured alongside a 700c wheel with a 38mm tire, the 650b setup on this test bike is about 85mm less in circumference (i.e., rollout). Its circumference is nearly identical to a 700×26 wheel/tire combo. This measurement, combined with the extra rolling resistance of the wide tires makes for a slower feel on true road rides. But the wheel size seemed right for a do-anything bike like this. Smaller wheels also lend a bit of zip to the handling.
We liked the stock geometry: A 72-degree head tube angle paired with a 73-degree seat tube angle. It’s confident and stable. The chain stays measure 425mm and the bottom bracket drop is 65mm. Its 150mm head tube affords a relatively upright position for steep descents. As is the case with smaller frame builders, geometry can be customized to suit any rider’s size or preferences. You can also opt for a different paint scheme. The Union Jack look stands out, but it commands an $875 upcharge due to the extensive masking required to get those lines perfect on the Columbus Zona frame.
We rode the Ecroix on everything from rocky singletrack to fast, paved roads. It was capable in each setting, but the versatility comes with compromises. It goes without saying that you wouldn’t want this bike for a true mountain bike race, or a road race, for that matter. Like many gravel bikes, this bike shines brightest when it is cruising through fast sweeping corners with confidence and stability.
Beyond the fundamentals of wheel size and frame design, Enigma smartly built this bike with SRAM’s affordable Rival single-chainring group. Combined with house-brand cockpit parts, this is a relatively affordable bike among hand-built options.
The parts show a lot of attention to detail as well. For instance, the hand-built wheels have two blue nipples around the valve hole on the WTB Frequency rims. They’re tubeless-ready, a must for gravel. The K-Edge chain guide is a bit of insurance on rough terrain. We were content with the 42-tooth chainring, paired with the 11-46t cassette, but Enigma included a 40t option in case we needed easier gears. Plus, they shipped matching bottle cages, bottles, socks and a matching Union Jack K-Edge Garmin mount as well.
Maybe you want a 650b gravel bike (or at least the option to go that route with different wheels). Perhaps you’ve settled on a custom steel bike. If so, there are a few practical considerations, based on our experience with this Enigma.
Between the steel frame and the affordable parts build, the Ecroix weighs 22.5 pounds. That’s much heavier than most road bikes but lighter than most mountain bikes. Again, this bike is a compromise on wheels.
Tire clearance is also a bit snug on the Ecroix. For the rear wheel, the steel tube shapes make it difficult to fit a super-wide option. The fork is Enigma’s own carbon model from the C-Six line and it is also a bit tight. You can’t go full-on monster-‘cross with the Ecroix — it won’t fit mountain bike tires. Fortunately, we were hard-pressed to find the limit to this bike’s capabilities with WTB’s 42mm tires.
Finally, if this were our own custom bike, thru-axles would be preferred. Enigma went with quick releases since this particular bike was a demo.
If you live in a place that encourages exploring new routes — somewhere with rough Forest Service roads, gravel paths, trails, or other fun connectors — a bike like Enigma’s Ecroix is a fun way to mix things up. This bike’s versatility goes a long way to making those rides possible, but if you’re not one to venture off the pavement, well, Enigma makes a whole host of road bikes that could work for you instead.