With the wide variety of drop bars available these days, it can be difficult to decide which one to pick up for your next bike build or upgrade. When it comes to handlebars, little things make a big difference and that’s absolutely true with the ENVE Compact Road Bar. It does so many little things right that it’s an easy winner.
ENVE Compact Road Bar Features:
- ENVE carbon fiber layup
- Integrated endcaps
- Slight upsweep in the tops
- Reach: 79mm
- Drop: 127mm
- Weight: 215 grams (actual)
- Widths: 40-46cm (44cm tested)
- MSRP: $350
Not all bars are created equal
In reality, ENVE is still a relative newcomer to the bike industry. While they are young, their wild success has been achieved in their mastery of carbon fiber. With this wonder material, it pays to know your stuff — and ENVE doesn’t mess around.
Take these seemingly-simple drop bars, for example. Heck, they don’t even have a real name (ENVE Compact Road doesn’t have much flare to it), but it does describe what they do and I guess that’s all you really need to know. These are drop bars of the highest caliber and ENVE keeps them simple to let the performance do the talking.
The reach and drop here is on par with typical compact bars. Zipp has embraced ultra-short 70mm reach on their new offerings, but 80mm is typical these days. Looking at the shape, there’s nothing out of the ordinary until you look closely. The curve of the drops is pretty standard without any flat spots — just a smooth, consistent shallow curve. With that, I’ve found that my hands can reach the levers a touch easier than bars with flatter drops (Easton EC90 SLX, for example).
What sets these apart?
Some of the unique features of these bars are the integrated endcaps and the slight rise in the tops. The flip-over endcaps really are nifty. It makes starting bar wrap much easier since you can just start at the end and begin wrapping — no need to leave excess tape to tuck inside the plug. Once the job is done, all you have to do is flip it back over for a clean, integrated look. I wasn’t so sure how it would work initially, but I’m digging it now. And, no worries, should the endcaps ever get damaged, they can be replaced.
While I don’t spend a ton of time on the tops, the slight rise makes things a bit more comfortable and natural. (You can see the slight upward rise in the first photo above.) This hand position does come into play on extended climbs and on long flats when you just want to take a break. Additionally, the tops are slightly ovalized with more surface area to rest your palms.
Cable routing is external with cable placement grooves on the front/back of the tops. Since I’m running SRAM Red eTap HRD, all I had to run was a single hydraulic cable line on the front groove of each side. If you do have to run front/back cables for mechanical setups, you’ll be just fine too.
On top of all this, ENVE has cooked up some magic with the layup utilized here. That home cooking results in a bar that checks off all the boxes that anyone looks for: stiffness, comfort and damping. Never did I feel like the bars were noodly, but the smoothness was always there. The ENVE Compact Road Bars really do have the secret concoction for delivering that perfect road feel.
Sprinting in the drops yields ample wrist clearance and dancing around is a cinch. I can quite easily move both hands at once from the hoods into the drops or back again. The bars just stay out of the way and clearances are spot-on for easy transitions.
The only real negative here is the lack of adjustment marks in the clamping area for the stem or brake levers. You’re kind of on your own in that regard with lots of eyeballing and guessing if the bar is centered and the hoods level.
- Perfect mix of stiffness and damping
- Excellent compact shape
- Slight upsweep offers comfort in the tops
- Integrated endcaps are quite nifty
- Really easy to move hands around
- Always responsive to input
- No markings to help center the bars or align hoods
The Bottom Line: ENVE Compact Road Bars
With hundreds of bars to choose from what makes ENVE’s Compact Road Bars so special? Without riding them, you’d never know that the shape is really nice or that the carbon layup is Goldilocks. Take my word for it — these bars are superb and offer just the right balance of stiffness, comfort and responsiveness.
Buy Now: Available from ENVE