There is not a lot cooler than being invited by one of your industry partners to work on a new bike project. As you might have seen a few weeks back, our friends at ENVE Composites debuted a new frame that takes everything they know about carbon fiber manufacturing, combines it with what we know about bearings, and delivers one of the hottest bikes you’ll lay eyes on this year.
The ENVE Custom Road is an aerodynamic dream, from its sculpturally molded frame tubing to its internally routed wiring. Our task in the larger project was to design a headset that would take the wiring and brake hoses from the one-piece bar/stem system and pass it through into the frame.
It took us a long time to design and refine the Aeroset. These things always take longer than you think, even when you’ve spent more than four decades designing headsets. This is the first we designed to make way for cables to pass through, and in this case, the ENVE bike needed four 5mm channels machined into it. Any time you put holes in a piece of metal, you reduce its strength and fatigue life, so this was enormous engineering challenge.
How you integrate the cabling, stabilize the frame/fork interface, and preload the bearings is a complicated puzzle, but with the gorgeous ENVE frame as the final destination, we needed to rise to the aesthetic challenge of the bike too.
The top of this headset is the nexus of a number of forces, up from the wheel, in from the bars, and so we are building a headset for maximum strength, reliability and durability. As always, we have to preload the bearings, and in this case we have to gently grip the carbon fork steerer to avoid damaging it. Wear is a major issue when so much functionality is integrated into such a small space.
The way the cables and brake hoses emerge from the ENVE handlebar are specific. They have a singular orientation configuration. So we engineered to that orientation, putting the 5mm channels exactly where they needed to be, with tapers and angles that preserve as much metal in the headset’s core as possible, prolonging its fatigue life, as well as making it easier to install.
Eventually, the Aeroset will make its way to the wider market, with configurations for a panoply of bikes. We expect most composite bike builders to follow ENVE’s cue with full internal routing. But for now, it’s only available from ENVE and on this beautiful bike.
To make sure we got one of our very own, our friends from Utah built us a jaw-dropping green one for Chris himself to ride, so look for photos of that on our social media channels in the days and weeks to come.