Enve's brand new carbon fibre Cross Fork Disc – as the name suggests, a disc brake-specific fork for cyclo-cross bikes – offers low weight, high stiffness and a 12mm thru-axle, but it isn't cheap, with a hefty £460 price tag. It's probably the best cyclo-cross fork money can buy, though.
The fork has an all-carbon construction and weighs, with an uncut steerer tube, 461g. The main update over the previous Cross Disc fork is the change to a thru-axle, and here Enve has taken a punt on 12mm becoming the thru-axle standard of the future.
It's probably right, but right now a lot of bikes are still shipping with 15mm thru-axle forks. If you're upgrading or building your own bike, there are now plenty of wheelsets that come with interchangeable axle endcaps catering for both 12 and 15mm, so there should be no concerns about future compatibility.
The fork is beautifully made. You lift it gently out of the box and admire the high-quality construction. I've been to Enve's factory in the US and seen first hand the meticulous attention the company pays to the manufacturing of every single component that leaves in an Enve branded box. And it's clear to see with this fork, it really is a thing of beauty.
It's made using a one-piece moulded carbon construction, with continuous unidirectional carbon fibres extending from the dropouts to the steerer tube. The fork legs are hollow and, unlike some carbon manufacturers, Enve removes the redundant bladders after they've served their purpose.
Installing the fork is a cinch, merely a case of cutting the steerer tube, inserting the neat steerer tube bung, dropping on a bearing race, and sliding it into the headset.
Tyre clearance is huge: there's space between the curved fork blades for up to 45mm tyres on 700C rims or 50mm tyres on 650B wheels. That means a 33mm looks a bit weedy, but there is massive mud clearance.
The fork is clearly designed for cyclo-cross, but with that high level of tyre clearance, the Enve Cross Fork Disc would find a good home on any of the growing number of gravel bikes coming to the market at the moment. While Enve does have the gravel-specific GRD in the pipeline, the Cross Fork Disc might be a more suitable option, especially if you want a slightly taller front end. It also depends on what length fork the frame you're fitting it to has been designed for; the Cross Disc has a 395mm axle-to-crown measurement, the new GRD is a touch shorter at 382mm, while a road fork is 367mm, to give some comparison.
Going thru with it
As mentioned, the new fork uses a 12mm thru-axle. While there's no agreement in the cycling industry about whether disc brake bikes should have conventional quick release or mountain bike inspired thru-axles, it's clear Enve is keen to offer a thru-axle option for the many new frames and wheelsets now going down this route. A lot of the newest disc-equipped cyclo-cross bikes are going that way as well, such as the Specialized Crux we've just reviewed.
Why even use a thru-axle at all? According to Enve, the benefits include 'better tracking and braking front end. We also like our rides to be quiet, so the addition of a thru-axle means less rotor rub and caliper adjustments'.
Slotting into the dropouts is an axle with a 6mm Allen bolt on one end rather than a quick release lever, which would have been much handier but would add more weight. It's unlikely you'll need a quick wheel change – if you're racing cyclo-cross you're more likely to just swap bikes. I've not had any issues with it and not had to remove the wheel once during testing, so it's not been a problem. A quick release option would be nice though, Enve.
The disc mount is where you find the only metal on the fork, with two small threaded inserts. It's natively compatible with a 140mm disc rotor – you'll need an adapter for a 160mm disc. The disc hose is held in place on the fork leg with a simple carbon fibre clip-on band. It's maybe not as elegant as internal cable/hose routing, but it works simply and saves having to disassemble the front brake when fitting the fork, which is handy with a hydraulic system.
The fork offers impressive performance, and it lives up to is its promise. Steering stiffness is very impressive, and it has a more solid and secure feeling whether on a high-speed road descent or tearing down a rough and bumpy off-road trail littered with roots. The fork isn't so stiff that it provides a harsh ride, and it certainly appears to damp impacts just enough. The ample clearance is a bonus in really muddy conditions.
Another noticeable performance benefit is the lack of disc rotor rub, especially when heaving on the handlebar out of the saddle. There's no twist or squirm from the fork at all. It's also really easy to fit the wheel, as the hub and rotor locate straightaway with no desperate wheel waggling required. Under heavy front wheel braking, there's no judder or noticeable flex.
The new Enve Cross Fork Disc is a great upgrade for any cyclo-cross or gravel bike, or a fine addition to any new bike build – if your budget can stretch to it, because at £460 it's twice the cost of other carbon cyclo-cross forks.
Lightweight, strong and stiff, it's probably the best carbon 'cross fork money can buy, but it comes at a premium
road.cc test report
Make and model: Enve Cross Fork Disc
Size tested: 1 1/2in tapered steerer tube, 12mm thru-axle
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Enve says: "Simply put, we love cyclocross racing and gravel road adventures. Like all ENVE products, this fork was developed from a desire to improve the ride experience. In this case we knew that a thru-axle would make for a better tracking and braking front end. We also like our rides to be quiet, so the addition of a thru-axle means less rotor rub and caliper adjustments. Because the majority of our time isn't spent riding under UCI rule, we made this fork compatible with high volume tires so we can run big tires for more adventurous endeavors. This means that you can run 45mm (1.9") tire with a 700c wheel and up to a 50mm (2.0") tire if you are running 650b."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Material: Carbon Fiber
Steerer Tube Length:350 mm Tapered
Axle to Crown:395 mm
Axle Compatibility:12 mm
Max Rotor Size:160 mm
Max Tire Clearance:45 mm
Crown Race Diameter:1.5 Tapered
Top quality construction with fastidious attention to detail, which you would demand at this sort of price.
It doesn't disappoint, the performance is excellent. Steering stiffness is sharp and the thru-axle keeps your bike's front end very solid and reduces brake rub.
No concerns with its durability yet – Enve forks are popular on a lot of bespoke bikes and I've ridden many of them over the years, and they've never caused any concern regards durability.
It definitely scores well here.
Very definitely a stiff fork, and does a decent job of damping impacts.
Hard one to judge here. It's undeniably expensive and won't be for everyone, but if you want the ultimate upgrade or are building a top spec bike, this will probably be on your list. It works hard to justify that high price tag, that's for sure.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Top-notch cyclo-cross and gravel bike performance.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The full carbon construction, thru-axle, low weight and neat brake hose clip.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? If I could afford it.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Yes it's expensive but if you want the ultimate full carbon fibre cyclo-cross or gravel fork with a 12mm thru-axle, this is one of your few options right now. It's also one of the best.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180cm Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.