For the last piece of the “Do It All” project bike, I’ve saved something really cool. One of the big things that I wanted to do on this bike, and one of the big things you’ll likely want to do on any project bike, is lighten things up. And the Enve 1.0 Fork is the perfect candidate.
You’ll hear a lot these days about how aerodynamics is actually more important. I think that’s probably true, it makes a lot of sense to me, but it’s also a bit immaterial when you actually interact with your bike. If you’ve got a good aero frame, you might notice a bit of a difference when watching your power meter, or you might notice things feel a little bit faster when you are really moving, but when you’ve got a light bike, it just feels great in your hands. Every time you take your bike out for a ride, you pick up a nice light bike, and it just feels great.
As with everything, though, there is always a bit of push and pull. When you make things light, you run the risk of making them flexible, and in terms of this project, there is also a certain amount of weight weenie-ness that just doesn’t make sense. One big place you can make a serious dent, though, is in the fork. The Enve 1.0 road fork has a claimed weight of 295 grams, and the stock Cannondale fork on the CAAD9 weighed in at 583 grams. Taking over 250 grams off the bike is substantial. It’s not the kind of weight saving that’s easily found.
That’s not the only reason to take a look at the Enve fork, though. Another big reason I recommend upgrading is comfort. The whole selling point of Cannondale using a carbon fork to start with is that it cuts down on vibration. The Cannondale fork, though, isn’t carbon all the way through. As is common with lower end carbon forks, they’ve only used carbon on the blades, and the rest of the unit is metal. I haven’t closely examined a fully metal fork, so I can’t say how much better the hybrid approach actually is, but if you take the Cannondale fork and tap the end of it, the whole thing resonates kind of like a tuning fork. That same thing is happening all the time when you are riding. Meanwhile, the Enve fork absolutely kills vibrations. It feels rock solid in your hands. It manages to pull off being both super light and great for vibration and comfort while also being much stiffer than the stock Cannondale unit.
In use, the combination of the Enve fork and the Time bars absolutely transforms the whole front end of the bike. As I’ve said before, I’m not the most confident corner carver, but when you are riding the bike, what really makes it feel great, is how solid and direct it feels. All those little vibrations give the sensation of chatter in your hands, like you just don’t have as good a grip. When it all disappears and you’ve got this great direct connection to the tire, it really contributes to the feeling of being connected to the machine.
The way Enve manages such a light fork while also keeping things stiff is becoming more commonplace. It’s actually the same approach that many of the frame manufacturers have begun to take themselves, at least on the more high end bikes. Enve has just been doing it for a lot longer. The 1.0 fork is moulded in one piece from the top of the steerer to the dropouts. This means there are no secondary bonding operations. In fact, not only is it one piece, they even mould in the brake bolt hole. The traditional way forks are manufactured is by drilling out the brake hole and bonding the lower legs to the steerer. This usually makes the crown area heavy and solid. Instead, Enve forks are hollow through the crown, and the brake bolt hole is moulded in.
The fork is a true one-piece design, and this makes for a strong, efficient structure with no cut fibres. Enve also uses a removable bladder system where the bladder, used to mould the carbon, is 100% removed so as not to add weight to the final product. Add everything together, and Enve is able to save weight without sacrificing strength, and that contributes to a lighter and stronger fork. And for those who are wondering, the 1.0 is lighter than the 2.0 fork due to the use of strategically placed higher modulus fibres that aren’t used in the 2.0 forks.
While I’m on the topic of road bike forks, I do want to take a little bit of space to discuss some common threads and questions I ran into while researching the Enve forks. One big thing you’ll find in seemingly every discussion forum is a discussion of how you’ve got to get the right axle to crown length for your bike. Road bike forks generally have the same basic dimensions because they mostly use the same size wheels. I looked at three or four different forks, admittedly in a somewhat random way, after I’d received the Enve 1.0, and I found every single one measured the same axle to crown length.
The dimension that was important, and turned out to be wrong, was the rake. I checked everywhere to be totally sure that I was getting the same rake as the fork I was replacing. Everything I found said 45mm. Then I pulled off the fork, and sure enough, it was marked 43mm. I’m guessing Cannondale varied it by frame size, but it doesn’t say that on any of the geometry charts. I also saw a ton of discussions specifically referencing the Enve 1.0 and asking, or guessing, where it is produced. It’s not produced in the US. I don’t personally consider that an issue, but if you are interested, that’s the official word.
The bottom line on the Enve 1.0 Fork is that it’s one of those products with no real downside. It’s stiff, it’s a big weight saver, and it’s something you’ll definitely feel on your bike. It’s not going to make you faster, but it’ll make the bike feel better when you are riding it. It’s also definitely one of those items that adds some real bling to a nice bike. Do what you will with that, but it stands out on the bike and it definitely grabs attention. The Enve 1.0 runs $489, so I don’t think it’s the first thing I’d change out, but once you do, you won’t be disappointed.
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