Enigma Escape 2020

8
£3,899.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Fast, compliant, capable and versatile titanium gravel and adventure bike
Silky smooth
Great handling and ride quality
Versatile
Competitive price
Weight: 
9,620g

The updated Enigma Escape is a compliant, capable and versatile road, gravel and adventure bike that offers all the magic ride quality and durability titanium is renowned for. It's a fair bit cheaper than quite a few rival titanium offerings too, making it a good choice in a crowded market.

Ride and handling

If you want to escape into the countryside and ride over everything that comes your way, the Enigma Escape is a grand choice. It offers all the compliant and fluid smoothness that titanium has become highly regarded for over the last couple of decades, and combined with the 38mm wide tyres it feels planted and calm on any sort of surface, be it rough country lanes or gravel tracks.

> Buy this online here

Smoothness is a key attraction of a titanium frame – but steel frames are also silky smooth. There is a difference, though, as I found by riding the Enigma Endeavour steel bike at the same time as the Escape: the Escape feels more flighty than its steel sibling, more agile and responsive.

The steering is well judged and a delight, neither too fast nor too slow, and the Escape is right at home carving corners, mixing tight switchback turns in the woods with quick corners on the road. When you get on the pedals it shows a proper turn of speed.

Enigma Escape - riding 2.jpg

Thankfully, the Shimano RX800 hydraulic disc brakes are powerful enough to bring things under control. The new groupset offers a more usable spread of gears for riding off-road or using the many accessory mounts, and the shifting quality is flawless.

Enigma Escape - front mech.jpg

Tyre choice is personal and terrain-dependent, but the Panaracer Gravel King tyres cut a fine balance on road and dirt, a suitable fit-and-forget tyre, for sure.

At 9.62kg the Escape is light enough to help you clamber up steep climbs, and while sprinting performance might be lacking compared to lighter and stiffer carbon rivals – I'm thinking the Open Wide and Cervelo Aspero here – it's by no means tardy when it comes to making rapid progress. It feels less a bike for hustling and more for cruising, taking in the views and enjoying the refined ride quality.

Enigma Escape - riding 3.jpg

Enigma says it wanted to create a drop bar bike without limits, and while that's probably stretching the truth a little bit, this sort of bike is less limited than most other drop bar bikes. It's right at home on the road and more than capable of handling some root-infested, mud-covered woodland singletrack, which is probably the realistic breadth of riding terrain such a bike needs to cater for.

For my local roads and off-road tracks, the Escape is highly suitable. It's comfortable and fast enough for dispatching all the road miles and it's not intimidated by a bit of gravel or dirt.

Frame details

I have to say, it does amaze me that titanium still has such a draw for cyclists despite the advance of more modern materials.

Enigma Escape - top tube.jpg

Enigma has been plying its trade with titanium for many years now, and that experience shows in this frame. It's both made to a very high standard and complete with sensible details that'll make it easy to live with.

Enigma Escape.jpg

The frame is made from 3AL 2.5V titanium tubing, size-specific for this second-generation model. Using different diameters of tubing for each frame size allows Enigma to better tune the ride quality and reduce weight. This move to size-specific frame tubing is something we're more inclined to hear about with carbon frames, or very high-end bespoke frame builds, so it's good to see Enigma offering it on the Escape.

Enigma Escape - seat tube.jpg

It has also improved the standover clearance on smaller models.

Increased tyre clearance was the main update with this Mk2 Escape. The frame and fork now take 700x45mm tyres or 650Bx50mm which should keep it abreast of current tyre width tastes.

Enigma Escape - seat stays 2.jpg

A new fork was developed to create the extra space, and the chainstay spacing increased.

Enigma Escape - clearance.jpg

That new carbon fork is called the CSix and comes in two versions, with or without Anything cage mounts. Each fork has internal routing for the brake hose and a dynamo hub, so it just comes down to how much carrying capacity you want. A fork with an uncut steerer tube weighs a claimed 435g.

Enigma Escape - fork.jpg

You get external cable routing which makes it easy to build a bike, and sorting cables out in the middle of nowhere is a cinch compared to internal routing. The front disc hose does go inside the carbon fork, though, and there's internal routing for a dynamo up front.

Enigma Escape - cable route.jpg

Also external is the threaded bottom bracket, and there are eyelets for a third bottle cage, rear rack and mudguards.

Enigma Escape - bottom bracket.jpg

With the Anything mounts on the carbon fork, you could load the Escape up for long adventures.

Enigma Escape - fork detail.jpg

It's flat mount callipers for the disc brakes, and 12mm thru-axles at both ends.

Enigma Escape - rear disc brake.jpg

Build and equipment

The bike tested here retails at £3,899 with the latest Shimano RX800 groupset, with a 2x mechanical setup and hydraulic disc brakes.

Enigma Escape - drivetrain.jpg

Standard builds start at £3,499 with Shimano GRX600, or if you prefer you can plan your own build by buying the frameset for £2,186. The reality is, all Enigma's bikes are built to order, so it's possible to spec whatever you like – if you want SRAM's latest Force eTap AXS 1x groupset it'll cost you £4,799 – custom geometry, features and paint are all available for extra charges, offering a reasonable level of customisation that isn't available from many mainstream titanium brands.

Shimano's latest GRX groupset, its first offering to the growing gravel and adventure market, has been well received and quickly embraced by bike brands. There's a host of gearing options to suit a broad range of requirements.

This GRX800 is the top-end mechanical shifting setup with hydraulic disc brakes. It offers accurate gear changes from the newly shaped lever blades, which are easier to reach from the hoods or drops. The hydraulic disc brakes are as solid as we're used to from Shimano, with one-finger application of the lever all that is ever required, even in the most hairy situations.

Enigma Escape - lever.jpg

The choice of one or two chainrings is entirely down to personal preference. I found this setup a good option for the road and off-road riding the Escape is so well suited to. Changes between the two chainrings are effortless and there was the right gear for most occasions.

Enigma Escape - crank.jpg

Away from the groupset to the rest of the build and we find a nice pair of Hunt 4 Season Gravel Disc wheels fitted with 38mm wide Panaracer GravelKing tyres. Hunt is a brand that needs no introduction to regular readers of road.cc, and this affordable aluminium wheelset with its wide profile rim is the ideal base for the fat gravel tyres this bike is going to spend its life fitted with. The shallow rim profile means you don't get pushed around in strong winds, and off-road they aren't so massively stiff that you'll be rattled to death on anything rocky. They're also durable enough to take a big blow to the rear wheel when you get a bit too eager launching off a drop.

Enigma Escape - rim.jpg

The GravelKing tyres are well liked and for good reason. They strike a good balance of rolling speed on harder surfaces with just enough tread to find grip on wet and loose stuff. I've clocked up thousands of miles on these tyres on various test bikes, and used them at Dirty Reiver, with no complaints.

Enigma Escape - tyre.jpg

Contact points are always critical on a bike, and here Enigma's own Ellipse saddle is a nice shape with generous enough padding that I didn't need to instantly swap it out.

Enigma Escape - saddle.jpg

The PRO Discover handlebar is made from aluminium with a light flare to the drops. This puts your hands further apart in the drops than when on the hoods, and increases the feeling of control over the bike when descending. I'm not personally a fan of some of the massive flares currently available – this handlebar is just enough.

Enigma Escape - bars 1.jpg

An Enigma branded aluminium stem and carbon seatpost rounds out the build, which on our scales comes in at 9.62kg (21.2lb).

Enigma Escape - stem.jpg

Value

Titanium isn't the frame material to choose if you want the best value for money. Prices might have come down from the heady days of the 90s, when it was an exotic space-age material, but it's still a pricey proposition. That said, the Enigma is cheaper – a lot cheaper – than some.

Another UK brand, Kinesis, has the GTD (Go The Distance) for a very comparable price of £2,200 for the frameset, and like the Escape, it has adventure and bikepacking versatility in its sights. 

Another new entrant in the gravel market is the J.Laverack GRiT, but it costs more at £2,500 for the frameset. It's not a bike we've ridden yet. 

There's also the Mason Bokeh Ti, which, if it's anything like the aluminium Bokeh I tested, should offer a very good ride. But at £3,450 just for the frameset, it makes the Escape look like a bargain. 

> Buyer's Guide: 12 of the loveliest titanium road bikes we've ridden

> Buyer's Guide: 22 of the best gravel and adventure bikes

One comparable titanium gravel bike that is less than the Enigma is the Reilly Gradient, which comes in at £1,699 for the frameset. I was impressed with it back in 2017, and the frame has been updated since then so it should be even better. 

If performance is what you crave, the Cervelo Aspero is a serious contender, but you'll need to find quite a bit more cash for the £5,299 asking price, and it isn't nearly as versatile as the Escape. 

Then there's also the Enigma Endeavour for £3,699 you could consider, which is beautiful to look at, with a ride to match.

Conclusion

Titanium gives a ride quality that is less muted and more alive than a steel frame, and is enough to justify the premium price tag for many people. In the Escape, it offers impeccable ride manners and performance that shines on any road or off-road surface, and the abundance of mounts ensures it's ready for any adventure, big or small, you might have planned.

Verdict

Fast, compliant, capable and versatile titanium gravel and adventure bike

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Enigma Escape 2020

Size tested: 56cm

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Enigma lists this spec for the GRX600 1X model – our test bike has the Shimano GRX810 2X groupset and Hunt 4 Season Gravel Disc wheels.

Frame Escape 3al 2.5v

Frame Finish Hand Brushed

Logos Satin Bead

Axle142x Rear Bolt Thru

Seat Collar Enigma Alloy

Carbon Spacers 3x 10 1 x 5

Fork C-SIX GRV Full Carbon

Headset Enigma Evo TK036A

Stem Enigma Alloy

Handlebar (O-O or C-C!!) Pro Discover Handlebar - Gravel

Saddle Enigma Ellipse

Seatpost C-Six Carbon 31.6

Rims Shimano RS370 Clincher

Tyres Panaracer Gravel King 700x43c

Tubes Conti

Chainset Shimano GRX FC RX600 GRX 172.5mm 40t

BB Shimano BBR60B

STI Shimano GRX ST-RX600 11spd

Rear mech Shimano GRX RD-RX812

Brake calipers Shimano GRX BR-RX400 flat mount

Brake Rotors Shimano SM-RT800 140 & 160

Cassette Shimano CS-M7000 SLX 42t

Chain Shimano CN-HG601

Tape Enigma Embossed

Frame Technical Information

Material 3al 2.5v titanium

Frame Weight TBC

Bottom bracket 68mm British Thread

Seat tube (internal) 31.6mm

Seat tube (external) 34.9mm

Front derailleur attachment 34.9 band on

Headset TBC

Dropout arrangement 12x142

Maximum tyre clearance 45mm (700c) or 50mm (650c)

Brake type Disc - Flat Mount

Extras Eyelets for rack & mudguard fittings

Cable Routing Suitable for Mechanical, DI2, EPS and ETAP

Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Enigma says: "The Escape is a highly adaptable and hugely capable all terrain titanium adventure bike. It's equally at home munching mile after mile of tarmac on an ultra endurance road event or some back of beyond forestry bridleway for those seeking for a bit more solitude. Whatever you throw at the Escape it handles it with ease.

"It's beautifully constructed, supremely versatile with handling that inspires confidence and encourages you to push the boundaries of your riding.

"The primary focus of the Escape is for mixed road/offroad, and touring use. It's also quite at home on audax rides, endurance racing, commuting, gravel, allroad, singletrack and more. It sits in our core range as the model most suited to offroad use. If you're interested in something a little more road focussed we recommend you take a look at the Etape."

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

It's the company's only 'Adventure, Gravel & Touring Bike'. Framesets start at £2,185.99; full builds from £3,499.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

The finish on this frame is extremely good.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Escape 3Al 2.5V hand brushed titanium.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

Enigma says, "The geometry is intended for to make the Escape good for mixed road/offroad, and touring use. It's also quite at home on audax rides, endurance racing, commuting, gravel, allroad, singletrack and more. It sits in our core range as the model most suited to offroad use."

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

I found the fit perfect with no changes necessary.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

The titanium frame is very compliant, helped by the big volume tyres at low pressures.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

It doesn't flex unduly when you're sprinting or climbing but it's not savagely stiff like a carbon race bike.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Power transfer is adequate for the sort of riding this bike will be used for.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

None.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

Tyre choice will impact the ride and capability, but these Panaracer Gravel Kings work well just about everywhere.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Wheels and tyres
Rate the wheels for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Controls
Rate the controls for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10
Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It undercuts a few British titanium rivals by a bit and some by a lot, and there are only a few cheaper options.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

Titanium is never going to be the cheapest offering, but if you want a compliant, capable and versatile bike for all your cycling adventures, the Escape is a very good choice, and though the price tag is hefty, it's cheaper than quite a few rivals.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

Latest Comments

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