Enve are best known for their American made carbon wheels, but they also manufacture carbon bars, stems, forks, and other accessories at their Ogden, Utah, facility. The M7 series handlebar and stem are new additions to the lineup, the first components from Enve with a 35mm clamp diameter.
Just like with their wheels, Enve make several different carbon bars, each with a different construction that is engineered and tuned for an intended application. With the M7, the objective was to create a 35mm bar for aggressive all-mountain/enduro riding that has the same flex tune as the M9 - Enve's DH bar. The M7 bar is 800mm wide and can be cut down to 780mm and is available with 10mm, 25mm, or 40mm of rise.
The M7 carbon stem is designed to be lightweight, strong, and appropriate for gravity applications. It's made to pair with the M7 bar for the all-mountain/enduro rider looking for the "best in class cockpit" - at least according to Enve. The stem comes in 35mm, 50mm, and 65mm lengths.
The 230g handlebar sells for $170 USD and the 92g stem (50mm) sells for $280 USD.
Enve M7 Handlebar Details
• Construction: carbon
• Clamp: 35mm
• Rise: 10mm, 25mm, 40mm
• Sweep: 8-deg
• Tip: 4-deg
• Colors: black
• Weight: 240g
• MSRP: $170 USD
Enve M7 Stem Details
• Construction: carbon with titanium hardware and alloy faceplate
• Clamp: 35mm
• Lengths: 35mm, 50mm, 65mm
• Weight: 85g, 92g, 99g (respectively)
• Rise: 0-deg
• Colors: black
• MSRP: $280 USD
The M7 bars are designed to be stiff, but Enve don't recommended cutting the bar any shorter than 780mm because it will further increase its stiffness and create a poor ride quality. Therefore, Enve argues that the M7 bar may not be for everyone, especially "lighter riders who don't need an 800mm wide bar and super high levels of strength." For those riders, the M6, at 780mm and with their smaller, 31.8 clamp may be a better choice.
Enve's carbon M7 is their only 35mm-clamp stem. They say that it was challenging to make a stem from carbon, and then making one for all-mountain / enduro applications made it even more challenging. The carbon stem is a one-piece construction with titanium hardware and a cold-forged aluminum faceplate. The carbon layup is designed to mute out more vibration than an aluminum stem would.A Deeper Look
I'm sure there are plenty of people wondering exactly why they should even consider spending $450 on a bar and stem, among other things. So, I reached out to Jake Pantone, Enve's VP of Product and Consumer Experience, with a few questions that may be helpful and clarifying.
What is involved in Enve's engineering process? What about it is unique to Enve?Jake Pantone:
Enve's development process always involves riders. The main reason we sponsor athletes is to collect feedback and validate the paths we are taking with product development. For example, the M9 handlebars were developed initially with the Syndicate and then with our current WC DH team, Intense Factory Racing. So, initial testing happens in the lab, of course. We'll have several different laminate designs/stiffnesses and after they pass safety requirements, we'll send them out to our teams and other test riders for feedback. When we were developing our first line of DH bars, we took delivery of 200 bars that met our weight and safety/impact requirements, but through the test riding process, we collectively decided they rode awfully and proceeded to cut them all up and go back to the drawing board.
We always take the approach of, "How do we get the absolute, no holds barred, best combination of characteristics that we want from the product," which ultimately results in a component that is more expensive to produce. Why? Time, materials, and labor. For example, let's say you want to produce a handlebar. You can say it needs to be 800mm wide, 6-degree sweep, 250g...whatever you want. You can send a drawing to the factory and they'll produce you a bar that meets those requirements. They'll test it for strength, tell you how stiff it is, and say that it's good to go. You can take some samples for testing where you may ride them and love them, if you do, you go to production. If you hate them, then it will cost you time and money to change them. You could also knowingly hate them and go to market anyways with them.
We never have to deliberate what path we'll take. We always will do what's best for the product and ultimately, the end rider.
In developing a handlebar, what is Enve's ideal balance between weight, stiffness, strength, and ride quality?
There are always tradeoffs, so it is our job as a design team to prioritize the goals and make those decisions. For example: you want an 810mm bar with "X" stiffness profile and strength rating at 225g? You'll either have to make it less strong, more narrow, or add weight and sacrifice the 225g goal for, say, 250g. In terms of ride quality, we're looking for a bar that is both compliant, but also sharp and responsive in terms of handling and reacting to rider inputs. This is where the art of designing carbon fiber laminates comes into play and also why carbon is a superior material for handlebars.
Enve has both "trail-rated" and "DH-rated" handlebars. Is there a specific metric used to determine what makes one different from the other, or is it more of a general "recommended use" for each bar?
The differences are all-encompassing. The intended use dictates the flex tune and stiffness profile, ultimate strength, and weight. For example: the M5 is our XC race rated bar. It remains a 31.8mm clamp to ensure we could achieve the flex profile and weight we targeted. The M5 and M6 are going to be far better bars for light riders, less aggressive terrain, or short travel bikes. These bars have a specific tune, strength, and stiffness profile which is optimized for the widths they come in . The gravity rated bars are for hard chargers on big bikes and terrain. They are for riders who ride more over the front of their bikes and need more control through bigger hits. The M7 are 35mm clamp bars and M9 are 31.8 - both the M7 and M9 have the same ultimate strength and flex tune. The gravity bars are ride tuned for bar widths of 780-810 so cutting one of those bars down to 760mm will adversely impact the ride quality by making it feel harsher and overly stiff, causing rider fatigue.
What were the biggest challenges in constructing the new M Series bars?
There was a lot of pre-work to determine the geometries we would target with the handlebar lineup. We did trips to team training camps and collected feedback, face to face, with our pro riders. For example, the M9x50mm rise is the bar that Jack Moir wanted. The rise options available in the M7 lineup were based on the direct feedback from the Orbea and Alchemy EWS teams. The biggest challenge of course, is making everyone happy.
Is carbon the best material for a handlebar or is it just another option for someone looking for a specific feel?
In short, yes. Carbon is the best/ultimate material for a handlebar. Aluminum simply isn't as tunable, it fatigues, and the ride quality of aluminum pales in comparison to a properly constructed carbon handlebar. Sure, aluminum is less expensive, but carbon, when done right, is lighter, stronger, more durable, and more compliant without sacrificing response and control.
What makes a stem cost $280? What really sets it apart?
First, a stem is a no-compromise component. It can't break catastrophically and therefore every measure is taken to ensure that it is up to the task. This means cost isn't a consideration for Enve when we're designing the laminate. Given that it's a small part with a lot of small pieces, the bulk of the cost is associated with the manufacturing process. To give context, there are over 50 different pieces that go into each mountain stem. Each piece needs to be cut, plied, and laid in the mold. After it's molded, it needs to be finished. That means a fair amount of sanding to clear the parting lines caused by the molding process off of the stem in order to prep for paint.
When you compare the process to that of a forged or machined alloy, you can see how much more complexity is involved in a carbon part vs. alloy.
Dispelling or confirming some myths about carbon bars - What considerations need to be taken when putting controls on the bars?
There is a lot of misinformation on the internet as well as bad experience as related to carbon bars on the internet. Some warranted, some not. There have been many questionable products produced over the years, but that was then and this is now. The bike industry has learned a lot and reputable carbon manufacturers are making great products. Like any product, special care specific to the construction material of the product should be considered. When installing a carbon handlebar and controls on the bar, USE A TORQUE WRENCH. At Enve, I can count the number of broken handlebars I've seen in my 10+ years here on two hands with fingers to spare. Of those broken bars, 100% were related to controls being over clamped or a bar being damaged in a crash and not replaced.
So, what if someone crashes and damages the bars?
If you're the original owner and you happen to damage or break a bar while riding/crashing, we'll replace it. If you overtightened your controls and didn't follow the installation instructions, we have a 50% off replacement option. We don't want people jeopardizing their safety by riding a bar they've crashed on because they can't afford to replace it.
When does a carbon bar get to the point where you say, "okay, don't use this, it's unsafe" from a crash, abuse, etc?
Anytime a bar has been scratched to levels beneath the paint, we suggest the rider consult with Enve or a local Enve retailer or distributor. A sure indicator that your bar is unsafe and damaged beyond safe usage would be if the impact creates a soft spot (you can push in on the bar and feel it give with your finger) or if you tap on the bar at a point of impact and the resonance changes to a dead tone. This means you likely have compromised the laminate. In general, if you have a question, just ask us.Performance
I mounted up a 25mm rise M7 bar with a 50mm M7 stem on my Rocky Mountain Instinct test mule. It's the bike I ride the most and therefore have established a great baseline as to how specific parts behave on it. It previously had a 35mm-clamp, 780mm-wide aluminum RaceFace Turbine R handlebar, and an aluminum stem. I've been riding a mix of carbon and aluminum bars on all of the test bikes I've had lately, with the carbon bars ranging from Specialized's 31.8mm S-Works DH handlebar to RaceFace's 35mm SixC. I typically run my bars at 785mm, and I weigh 150-155 lbs (68-70kg) and ride fairly light on trail, rather than straight-line smashing and plowing.
There are a lot of products that are hard to tell a difference between, especially when we're talking stiffness and compliance, but this handlebar and stem combo is an exception. It is noticeable right away how much more stiff it is than the RaceFace bar that I previously had on the Instinct, and every other bar I've ridden in recent memory. From standing up and pedaling to turning, to riding full gas down rough and technical sections of trail, this bar is incredibly stout. The first ride I did with the M7 duo was a mix of high-speed chunky hits, roots, and erosion on Pisgah's Bennett Gap trail, which is one of my "go-to" testing rides. At the bottom of that first ride, I felt that I had been worked over by the front end of the bike. Noticeably stiffer than most any other bar out there, no doubt.
As I continued to put more and more time in on the M7, I became accustomed to the ride. What seemed harsh at first translated into my being able to pick up on little trail nuances that I don't typically feel with other setups. Every input that I made was immediate and responsive. Even though I wasn't initially a fan of the increased feedback, I've come to appreciate and like the way it rides.
Now, the bar at $170 is by no means inexpensive, but the $280 stem is three times the price of Race Face's nicest alloy stem and close to half the price of a season pass for the Whistler Bike Park, all for a few dozen grams. I don't believe that it will offer near the difference in performance that the M7 bar does, however, it is an upgrade over most other stems available. It's handcrafted in Ogden, Utah, and as Enve claim, "It's maybe not for everyone but for those looking for the absolute best cockpit they can put on their bike, pair the M Series bar and stem" - a statement with which I agree.Issues
This isn't as much of an issue as it is a word of caution to anyone considering buying the M7 bar/stem. The M7 combo isn't for everyone, and even Enve will attest to that. It's made to be really stiff and strong, and if you want to cut the bars down, it's only going to increase that characteristic. Aggressive riders who weigh at or above 150lbs (68kg) and who are looking for a very stiff, responsive, well-made and matched combination won't be disappointed with the performance. The price is another story... A lot of riders, however, would be better served by going with Enve's M5 or M6 handlebar/stem that's going to be a little more compliant. Personally, I am on the line. While I've grown to really like the M7, I also think I could be very happy with the slightly more compliant ride of the M6.Pinkbike's Take