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December 15, 2017
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  • BRK

    Great read. Thanks.

  • Dave Edwards

    Really disappointed with this review. I’ve ridden a Belgie Spirit a lot, and in all manner of tough conditions, from long road rides, to long alpine climbs and descents, to cobbles, to gravel, to really bad gravel, and I feel I’ve had enough experience on the bike to comment. The comments about the handling from my experience are not only slightly off-course, they are flat out incorrect. I’d maintain that the handling on descents on this bike in particular is one of it’s best assets. It can rail big corners, or skip along on twitchy gravel slopes easily.

    The review also spends a lot of time speaking about it not being perfect in conditions it’s not made for. You mention that it didn’t handle really gnarly track well, but then say that bigger tyres are what is needed. So why mention it? The bike doesn’t go well on a velodrome either, because it’s not what the bike is for. The article also compares the bike against two other titanium bikes, saying it doesn’t stack up. Those two bikes are full custom, racing geometry bikes, being compared against an endurance geometry, off the shelf bike. Not close to an apples for apples comparison.

    Which is the ultimate point really. All of the flaws and comparisons seem to be comparing it to, or testing it against bikes and conditions that are not a like-for-like comparison. That leaves the negative points really void, and the article overall pretty irrelevant. I may well be wrong, but the article has a strong tone of bias against either Curve, all-road bikes or metal bikes.

    • @disqus_EnEf2yWuHu:disqus you are wrong, this review was not prepared with a bias against Curve, all-road bikes, or metal bikes.

      I’m interested to know what size Belgie Spirit you have? I was using a 54.

      • Dave Edwards

        I ride a 56. I ride it with 32c tyres as standard, as they suit an all-road bike the best.

        I really can’t understand your comments about handling. The Spirit descends so well, it would be a reason for me to suggest to people to buy one.

        • I found the 54 to be very stable when descending but it was the nature of the steering that I found a challenge, which was slow and heavy, even on paved roads. The 56 has a significantly steeper head tube angle (72.5 vs 71.5 for the 54), which I’m sure accounts for the difference you experienced.

          This is a point that I’ve always felt undermines any bike review, namely that it is almost always limited to a single frame size. I find it pretty unlikely that the impressions for the steering, handling, and overall balance of a bike at any given frame frame size will translate well to the other frames sizes on offer, especially those at either end of the spectrum. In an ideal world, at least three different frame sizes (small, medium, large) deserve to be tested to gain a better feel for what’s on offer and highlight any size-specific issues.

          In this instance at least, your feedback indicates that larger Belgie Spirits promise better handling, which is exactly what I’d predict based on the Curve’s geometry table. This is something that I commented on in passing in the text above, chiefly because it wasn’t something that I could prove, so thanks for taking the time to share your impressions. This is why we always leave our reviews open to comment.

          • slowK

            HI Matt,

            I too was interested in this bike, but I’d need a 46 or 49cm. These have even slacker head angles. I think the fork only comes in one rake. This would accentuate the slow handling characteristics you noted?

            Bit of a risk if a test ride isn’t possible.

            • The steering appears to get worse as the frames get because of the slacker head angles. I believe its possible to buy the frame only from Curve, in which case you’ll be able to buy a different fork with more rake such as Columbus Futura Cross, which offers 52mm of rake and generous tyre clearance (47mm). That will sharpen up the steering a lot (eg. for the 49 frame the change in fork would reduce the trail from ~72mm to ~64mm, depending on tire size) but it’s still some way from the kind of steering a typical road bike will offer (trail <60mm).

              • slowK

                Thanks Matt. An added benefit for smaller sizes is that more rake would also increase the front-centre/reduce toe overlap, especially with bigger tires.

          • Some of that may depend on the terrain and riding style too. Some sketchy descents have few big bumps but bad traction. Stabile handling is advantageous on that sort of terrain, as the bike is less likely to be thrown far off course if you drift a bit, and the rider is less likely to overcorrect. Other sketchy descents have tons of pot holes, washboard stretches, etc…and you need to hunt and peck your way to find the smooth ribbon of road that (hopefully) threads between all that. Faster, more nimble handling will tend to be advantageous in this sort of situation. Also, riding style can vary, with some riders liking to just choose a straighter line and have the stability to blast over the terrain irregularities, and others preferring to prioritize the smooth line rather than the straight line. Long story short, there are a lot of both terrain and rider variables in the mix, even when you are talking about something seemingly clear cut like how suitable the bike is for “sketchy gravel descents”.

    • Velt

      How can you be accusing this site of having a bias against curve? If anything, up until this review I got the opposite imoression.

  • I am disappointed as well but simply because I wanted one before this review and I now I am totally turned off by it. Handling is one of my top priorities and I wouldn’t want to sacrifice that. I am basically looking for a titanium road bike with discs that can handle bigger tires (33c), feels comfortable but still has a bit of race bike in it. I was hoping thats the Curve but it doesnt look like it. I’d even be a 54 too. Oh well…

    • I’ve yet to encounter a bike that can handle bigger tyres and is comfortable that also has a bit of race bike in it. Indeed, I think those two ideas sit at opposites ends of a spectrum. Trying to marry the two is perhaps impossible. I can see Curve tried to achieve it for the Belgie Spirit, but they couldn’t pull it off. If you want a race bike, buy a race bike. If you want big tyres and comfort, buy something that isn’t a race bike.

      • Flavio Melo

        Have tried the Jamis Renegade Elite or Expert version? Swap wheels ,1 for road with 25 or 28 mm tires or wider wheels for up to 40 mm tire and you have 2 bikes in one. Comfortable and fast when it needs to be. To me the handling it is just a good medium between road and gravel

        • No I haven’t. Nice set of numbers for the frame. The 54 has the same head tube angle as the Belgie Spirit but a 53mm rake fork.

          • Flavio Melo

            The trail used in the 54 is the same as in the 56 (the one I have). When using a 25 mm tire the trail is 57.9 mm, and when using a 38 mm tire it is 68.8 mm. So like I said, you change the tires and you have two different handling bikes. I like that it has a “slower” handling on gravel because if it acts like a road bike on gravel, it makes it ease to lose the front, since it reacts too fast the conditions. I used it on mountain bike trails with no problem turning it around. Actually, MTBs, even XC bikes have “slower” handling than described with much bigger trail number.

            • thunder thighs

              The more I read about the Jamis Renoagade the more I like it – just a shame it looks so bloody ugly.

    • Ryan Flinn

      I suggest you come and test the spirit with the correct tyres then mate. It’s rare up to 32c no more… perhaps why the steering was “sloppy”… in actual fact I have no idea why cx tyres were tested or tyres that Curve doesn’t consider fit for the bikes design. It also isn’t a race bike, nor is it trying to be one. Again the technical editor seems to be confused as to what this bike actually is, this is particularly evident when he compares them to two titanium race bikes… ah well, not everyone gets it. Matt certainly doesn’t.

      • J P

        Some times its best to just take criticism on the chin, learn from it and make a better bike next time.

        It’s a less than flattering review, and I’m glad Cyclingtips is publishing honest reviews and not just promoting brands.

    • Dave Edwards

      I would very strongly suggest you still look at one, as from a lot of experience, I rate the handling as outstanding. Probably the biggest plus of the bike. The things you describe you are after, are the features I best like about the bike.

      • What turned me off the most was the slow steering. What do you think of that, considering that I’d be riding a size smaller than you? I am riding a Giant TCR as my main road bike and sure its handling cant be matched by such a bike (and I wouldn’t want it to) but I also dont want anything that feels sluggish or slow or cumbersome. Friend of mine is riding a No.22 and he couldnt be more happy.

        • Dave Edwards

          There is nothing that would leave me to suggest that the steering is slow. I rode mine down the Azami Line of Mt Fuji in japan last year, and being super steep, and very technical, was about the best test of handling I could think of. I rode with a friend on a BMC Road Machine, and not only kept pace with him, I got the KOM for the descent (total brag). The point is, I was extremely comfortable when pushing the Belgie Spirit very quickly down a sustained, steep and technical descent.

          • This bike seems well suited to sustained steep and technical descents. There is a reason track bikes and crit bikes for flat courses use steep geometry, traditional road race bikes are slacker, and MTB downhill bikes are super slack. The more challenging and varied the terrain and the higher the speeds, the less twitchy you want the handling, as the risk of getting knocked off line and/or overcorrection is greater than the risk of not being able to get the bike to turn.

            • Sean Doyle

              Except that track bikes generally have steep head tubes but smaller fork offset. Resulting in a slightly longer than road bike trail numbers. eg. neutral road race is 56ishmm. track bike with 74 deg head tube and 36 fork offset is getting closer to 59ishmm.

          • Durianrider Vegano

            @@disqus_EnEf2yWuHu:disqus What sort of training are you, sam and james doing for #IPWR2018?

            Off topic but didnt CT fund your everesting holiday last year? Seems a bit ungrateful to be on here trashing them now because they dont share the same opinion on a bicycle as you or I have. #thoughts?

  • Rodrigo Diaz

    This is useful. I’m working with my local builder on a titanium road disc frame mainly to be used on pavement and road races (already own a CX bike that gets used on rough roads), so the comments on handling are welcome on my end so I focus on the effects of head tube angle / rake to achieve agility.

    As for those that consider this is a “hatchet” job on the Curve, take a couple of extra seconds and check the differences between the Spirit and the conventional Belgie. I know I did and know what to look for when speccing my (semi) custom frame. Thanks Cyclingtips!

  • Hmmmmmm I think the ratings need another review. Based on the negatives, I’m not sure how function came out at a 7.0 (to give an overall score of 7.5)… I’m not being like Dave Edwards and trying to say the comments are valid or not, but looking at the ratings, and your description of such, I can’t put it above 6.0, and could easily argue it could be five (again based on your summary and how you say you rate).

    • Those negatives were most apparent when the bike was used on unpaved roads, but since it is marketed as an all-road bike, I had to balance those shortcoming with the performance of the bike on paved roads. Under those conditions, regardless of tyre choice, the bike wasn’t nearly so demanding to use.

  • jackseph

    I for one love the look of this bike, but I also appreciate a review that doesn’t just follow the ‘laterally stiff, vertically compliant’ line. I accept that Curve and some customers might not appreciate some of the reviewers comments, but they should be able to give their honest impressions, regardless of whether others agree with them or not. If you are going to buy a new bike / frame, a test ride should be mandatory. Maybe the Belge works for you’re than this reviewer?
    Again, thanks CT. A great site.

    • Sean Doyle

      I’d have to agree. Bike feel and handling response is such a subjective personal thing. What Matt feels may be a completely different response for another rider. Weight, position and riding style all have influences on how a frame handles and the feedback you get. It could be if Matt changed his position on the bike. ie. CoG movement either forwards or backwards would suit that particular bike better. Going through the frame numbers for the 54 I would have expected to see what Matt was describing. The trail and front center doesn’t quite suit the rear end To get the same trail as the 56 you’d nee to go another 6 mm offset on the fork. That’s a big jump.

      Curve could spec a 50mm offset fork and get similar ride characteristics. I’d also go out to 425 or 430 on the chainstay length depending on what changes were made at the front. Of course different tire sizes will yield changes in the front as well. Smaller tires will make the trail shorter and a bit more lively and the biggets tire possible will push it out even further on a too long trail already for the intended use.

      So I reckon what Matt feels about the bike is what would be expected. Looking at the 56 geo I am not surprised that Dave has a completely different animal.

      • George Darroch

        It’s a really slack geometry, so what he got is to be expected.

  • Carytb

    Interesting that they’ve put Sram etap on it as the clearance between the front derailleur and a 35 mm tyre would only be, according to Sram, 3mm. Not a lot for an All Road Bike I would have thought.

  • Peter Chesworth

    4 weeks is a good time to get impressions. Always hard to call it as you see it. Takes courage, ask BQ. But if you are laying out big dollars, you’d take it for a ride yourself beforehand. Me? I’d probably buy the fatter tyre model, and would base my decision largely on the looks ????????

  • oak

    good honest write up keeps you guys credible. Nice bike with some “character”

  • singlespeedscott

    Why do curve tout the awesome properties of Ti and then go and slap on a terrible riding, one size fits all, carbon fork.

    To me, carbon forks just make no sense for this style of frame. A steel fork would be more compliant, offer more clearance and can be raked appropriately for each frame size thus allowing a better head tube angle.

    430 mm chain stays would be be a better choice for loose climbing traction. Just stiffen them up to give the rider a sway free bottom bracket. Combine them with thinner seat stays for comfort.

    And what’s with the steep seat tube angle?

  • Iain Treloar

    Looks like the rear wheel dishing is a bit off to the non-drive side – was this a conscious/necessary move to give more tyre clearance around the eTap battery, or is something else going on?

    • Ryan Powell

      i saw that too but im guessing its camera angle. at least i hope its camera angle but it does look very biased.

  • Tony Guttmann

    I ride a 52cm Belgie Spirit and have not encountered slow steering or unpredictable handling. I’ve moved from a Lynskey 240 road bike and find the handling quite similar, but the bike a little more comfortable on long rides. For the record I run a very light wheelset (Curve G4 carbon clinchers, 25 front/35 rear, on Tune hubs with Grand Bois Cerf tyres), Tune 95mm stem and the same Sram Red groupset and discs as on the review bike. With a 71.3 head angle this should feel even slower/more unpredictable c.f. the review bike. It doesn’t.
    I recently rode the Great Vic Bike Ride and despite being a nervous descender (at 72 years of age I find I don’t bounce as well as I did when I was 30) I was pretty much always the fastest descender on the many hills, and the bike felt rock solid and confidence inspiring (at least up to 65kph which is about as fast as I went). I was average or slower on the ascents, but that is a function of the rider, not the bike! I have not used the bike in serious off-road conditions, and wouldn’t with my choice of tyres.
    My bike, ready to ride, with pedals, lights, bidon cage, pump, bell, rear pouch with tube/gas canister, allen keys, tyre levers weights in at 8.57 kg, so likely under 8kg in the traditional no pedals etc. configuration bikes are usually misleadingly quoted as.
    My recommendation to anyone contemplating this bike is to try one out, and not be put off by the review.

  • Luís Ferreira

    What Fabric saddle is that one?

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