Frame – FiftyOne Steinès
Fork – ENVE GRD
Wheels – ENVE G23
Tires – Panaracer Gravel King SK 38mm, tubeless
Hubs – Chris King R45D CL
Handlebar – ENVE Aero Road Bar, 46cm
Stem – ENVE Road Stem, 120mm, with Computer Mount
Seatpost – ENVE Seatpost, 400mm
Saddle – Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon FX
Bartape – Fabric Hex
Groupset – Rotor Uno
Crankset – Rotor Aldhu, 50/34
Cassette – Shimano Dura-Ace 11-30
Pedals – Garmin Vector 2
Bottle Cages – Elite Ciussi
Weight – 7.86kg / 17.3 lbs (inc pedals)
To mark the launch of the G Series wheels, ENVE collaborated with our old friends FiftyOne to create the Steinès, a gravel racerfor the mountains. Led out by this show bike, the Steinès will be a run of 10 individually-tailored bikes combining gravel geometry and tire clearance with the lightness and performance for which FiftyOne is known.
Following its debut at the Eurobike show – where it attracted huge media attention – and subsequent studio shoots, it has finally hit the dirt and the ride is nothing short of phenomenal. The Steinès is a squirrel in the woods and a tank on fast, loose descents; it’s granite under power and butter over bumps. The light and compliant G23 wheels contribute significantly, not least by allowing optimal tire pressures with no fear of pinch-flatting.
The bike is named after and inspired by the story of Alphonse Steinès, assistant director of early Tours de France. Two months before the 1910 Tour, he made a trip to recce the Pyrenees, and in particular the Col du Tourmalet, the highest pass and at that time a gravel road.
His car struggled and became stuck. He continued on foot, got lost in the dark, fell off the mountain into a snow drift, nearly died in the cold, and was lucky to be rescued by a search party at 3am. He immediately sent a telegram back to Henri Desgrange: “Crossed Tourmalet. Very good road. Perfectly feasible.”
The telegram is reproduced on the toptube, partly because its pioneering, challenge-seeking optimism resonates, and also for more literal reasons. While race fans think of the summit of the Tourmalet as being the road’s 2,115m high point, to the north is a gravel track that climbs beyond 2,600m. With the right bike – this bike – it becomes ‘perfectly feasible’.
The first rider over the Tourmalet in 1910 was Octave Lapize, walking. Famously, he screamed at the officials “You are assassins!”, for concocting a 326km stage with seven mountains, ridden on heavy, singlespeed bikes. Lapize went on to win both that stage and Tour, and there is a large monument to him atop the Tourmalet. There is only a plaque to Steinès, though, so it was only right that this bike carries his name.
Out of empathy to Lapize, and the suffering that is certain to take place aboard this bike in future, the downtube features the poem Invictus, by William Ernest Henley (reproduced below in full). It’s about fortitude in adversity. Henley wrote it from a hospital bed with tuberculosis, but it’s relatable for any cyclist on those days when you’re getting your head kicked in, be it by rivals or the terrain. It’s a thought to set the jaw, narrow the eyes and push on.
The paint scheme features a honeycomb visual texture which, along with the matching Fabric Hex bar tape, also pays tribute to the Tour de France – “L’Hexagone” is a nickname the French use for their country, after its shape. The grey stripe, of course, represents the gravel road ahead.
The ENVE G23 wheels are mountain-strong and road-light (1,342g on Chris King R45D CL hubs). They’re engineered to offer increased compliance and exceptional pinch-flat resistance thanks to ENVE’s patented Wide Hookless Bead design. ENVE also manufactures the tubeset for the front triangle of the Steinès, so this is an especially close collaboration. With our gravel bar in the final stages of development, this bike runs an Aero Road Bar in the widest 46cm size, its flare appreciated here for added control rather than aerodynamics.
The groupset is Rotor Uno, ideally suited here not only because it’s the lightest disc-brake groupset but also because hydraulic shifting makes a lot of sense on gravel – no electronics to rattle to bits, no cables to fill with dirt. The 50/34, 11-30 gearing is closely stacked and performance-focused.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.