ENVE M7 Review
Cons: Stiff, may be too stiff for some, causes hand fatigue
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Our Analysis and Test Results
ENVE set out to design a bar that complied with the modern standard of 35mm clamp diameter, had the same flex and control as their DH bar (M9), but was better suited for trail, all-mountain, and enduro riding. Lightweight, strong, and stiff are the hallmarks of the M7, though it lacks the balanced feel and vibration dampening qualities of its carbon fiber competition in this review.
Stiffness & Compliance
This bar creates a knife-edge, where individuals are on either end of the love it/hate it spectrum. Few riders will be neutral with regards to how stiff this bar is, but if you have incredible forearm strength and the grip of a monkey, you'll likely love how these bars feel. The stiffness only adds to how quick these bars react but will take a toll on anyone unprepared to tame these bars as you would a wild stallion. Don't expect forgiveness in the sense of compliance or vibration dampening, but do expect to fly through rough sections of trail and rail corners like never before.
Too much of a good thing can be bad, which is why we downgraded these bars in the scores for stiffness and compliance. Sure, they are ultra-stiff and super precise, but they don't dampen vibration much, if at all. Testers found themselves shaking out their hands after long descents more often when riding the M7 compared to other carbon bars. If you are aiming for EWS or other enduro glory, you should consider these and train to be able to handle them. If you are looking for a bar for every day riding or you simply aren't built with the upper body strength of Tarzan, we suggest looking to something more forgiving.
Stiffness can have a large influence on control, which is why once again, this bar's score got a little hurt by being as stiff as they come. The control is fantastic until your hands and forearms wear out and you are left catapulting over the bars as you can't grip anymore. If you can tame the beast, these are about as surgical in terms of control as bars come, if you aren't up to the task, they will buck you as they gallop into the sunset.
Again, these bars are super precise and respond instantaneously to rider input. The 35mm clamp diameter and 800mm width give you all the leverage you could ever need for trail, all-mountain, and enduro riding. If you seek or you can handle the uncompromising stiffness of the M7, then you will be impressed by the control they deliver. If you like to feel every bump in the trail, then this is your bar. If you don't have super strong hands or forearms, this bar will likely put your hands to sleep on rough trails or long descents. Want control without having to train in the gym? The Santa Cruz Carbon and RaceFace Next R are your answer; providing the stiffness, light weight, vibration reduction, and control you are likely in search of, without the overly stiff build.
Carbon = light, it's science. At a measured weight of 241 grams, these will lighten up your cockpit and overall bike build more than many other component swaps. Keeping things stiff while reducing weight up front helps with letting the front tire dance through technical sections at mach speed, and will allow for easier cornering and weight shifting.
Aside from the RaceFace Next R and the Santa Cruz Carbon, there aren't any bars we tested lighter than the Enve M7.
Style & Design
Making quality items entirely in the USA at a competitive price is easier said than done, but ENVE set themselves to the task and came away with a winner of a bar for the intended purpose. The styling, finish, and overall quality is stunning; however not much can be said for industry-changing technology other than setting a Made in the USA example. That said, ENVE has been a leader and innovator in carbon fiber mountain bike components, and they have more experience than most when it comes to design and production.
The M7 bar has an especially clean look with subtle graphics, a matte finish, and nice lines. The finish quality is superb, and we feel this is a bling-y upgrade to anyone's cockpit. We can't specifically identify any unique or innovative technology, just straight up stiff carbon fiber. The M7 comes in an 800mm width with a 35mm clamp diameter. They have applied some texture to the stem clamp area to prevent unwanted twisting of the bars, as well as measurement lines on the ends of the bars to help with the task of trimming them down. Interestingly, ENVE recommends not trimming these narrower than 780mm or risk them being stiffer than they already are. They come in three rise options, 10mm, 25mm (tested), and 40mm.
It's rare that anything Made in the USA comes at a price equivalent to the same thing made in Taiwan, but the M7 is right on par with the other carbon fiber models in this review. This is quite impressive and you can feel good about the quality and your decision to support American laborers. While we appreciate the value of these bars, we think that they are only a great value to the consumer who seeks the absolute stiffest of handlebars.
The M7 is a lightweight and STIFF handlebar that is made in the USA by ENVE. This is a great option for the rider with the preference for this type of uncompromising stiffness in their cockpit, and is willing and able to handle the trail feedback that comes along with it. If you are on the heavier side of the scale or race fast and technical courses this could be the bar to solve all of your issues. On the likely chance that the above doesn't describe you, we would suggest looking at other bars in this test or ENVE's more compliant options like the M5 or M6.
— Dillon Osleger