Saddleback Staff Rides – George's ENVE Melee

09 March 2023

By George Wise

Our Marketing Manager, George Wise, recently bit the bullet and invested in his own ENVE Melee race bike. But is it as good as the industry hype suggests? Read on to learn about his personal setup choices and overall impression.

For the 2023 season, I decided to step away from my trusty S Works Tarmac SL7 and try out the new ENVE Melee.

From its launch, I’ve been a huge fan of the ENVE Melee’s aesthetics and customisation potential. It delivers super clean looks, plenty of tyre clearance and the option to spec the frame chassis with a bar, stem and seatpost to match your bike fit and personal preferences.

I’ve always found it really frustrating to spend a huge amount of money on a frame, and then have to purchase a separate touch point to make it fit, adding a substantial chunk to the final cost.

The push that made me get one was the incredible feedback lavished on the bike from some of the industry’s most reputable journalists. Its superiority was only reiterated when it was crowned ‘Performance Bike of the Year’ by Cycling Plus.

Starting with the frame, I’m using a size 56cm with an inline seatpost, 130mm stem and a 37/42cm SES Aero Road Integrated Handlebar. I’m just under 6ft and run an 810mm saddle height, which, as with most other brands I’ve tried, is towards the limit of the frame.

The Damascus Grey that the Melee frameset comes in as standard is stunning in the flesh, however, since a few others at work also own Melees, I decided that a custom paint job was in order. I reached out to Lucia at Velofique to see if she could do this simple pearlescent finish, which is looks incredible when the sun comes out.

Wheelset-wise, I opted for the new SES 4.5s on ENVE alloy hubs, with custom decals. It’s the perfect set of wheels for all round use, whether racing or going on a mountain trip, being really easy to handle, super-fast, light and incredibly comfortable. Whilst it might not be as light at the 2.3s, or as fast as the 6.7s, it’s a great Rouleur wheelset.

I’ve got a pair of ENVE Tyres in a 27c size, which is on the lower limit of recommended sizing, given the 25mm internals of the rims. I might swap these out for something wider in the future, but for the moment I’m happy with them.

These tyres are set up tubeless, using Silca’s tubeless sealant. I’m not going to lie, I was getting very frustrated with going tubeless on the road bike and was close to throwing in the towel and going back to tubes. However, this Silca sealant has been a gamechanger for me, revolutionising the whole tubeless experience. I’ve had multiple big punctures where the sealant has done its job within seconds, so that I’ve only lost a few PSI. Incredible stuff.

For the gearing, I’m using Shimano’s new Ultegra R8170 Di2 Disc Groupset, paired with the ever-reliable Stages Power L meter for the Shimano Ultegra R8100 crank. As the finishing touches, I’ve fitted my favourite Fizik Antares 00 saddle and some ENVE bar tape, which is so far proving to be really comfortable in all weathers.

In addition to the components, I’ve tried to squeeze out marginal gains by using Silca’s Hot Wax on the chain, which I will 100% continue to do going forward.

For me, the ENVE Melee is hard to fault. It rides the way a race bike should, being agile and responsive, and I’m particularly impressed by how it combines performance with comfort. It seems to glide over our rough roads, with noticeably less chatter than my previous bike, which makes you realise just how well the team at ENVE has designed the frame.