Cell have sent us their new Brunswick Cyclocross Bike. It has been designed in-house by Cell and is well spec'd to handle the commute, some weekend CX racing and to go on tour... all for $1,399. Check out our full review now!
Cell Bikes has been around for over 10 years now after starting as a one man shop operating in Rockdale, NSW. In 2002 Cell Bikes went online and since then have grown at a frantic pace. Cell are all about providing quality bikes at reasonable prices, with the slogan being 'ride more for less'.
We've been riding the Cell Brunswick CX bike, one of the latest additions to the Cell range. Prior to our test, we spoke with Cell's in house designer and Engineer Dave Musgrove about the Brunswick. The Brunswick continues Cell's move to bikes that are fully designed in-house and built to their specifications, a welcome change from Cell's earlier 'bought' designs.
Cell have worked hard on the Brunswick, with the aim of creating a multipurpose bike that can handle a range of uses. So, how does it go? Well, after a few weeks with the Brunswick, we have got a lot of good things to say about it.
Online or in-store options
Of course you can head into one of Cell's stores in Stanmore NSW or Fitzroy North Victoria, but if these stores are out of your way, you can purchase the Brunswick online. To see how this works Cell set La Velocita up as an online customer. The Brunswick was delivered from Sydney to La Velocita HQ in Melbourne less than 24 hours later.
With an online purchase comes a DIY bike build and Cell have done a great job keeping the self assembly very simple.
Dave Musgrove from Cell gave us the low down on the pre-delivery process. Basically all bikes shipped to customers by Cell are fully built up by Cell's in-house mechanics, tested and then repackaged, removing the minimum parts required to get the bike into the bike box.
The Brunswick arrived very well packed and protected. Instructions for the build were simple and we had the bike ready to role in about 30 minutes from the time we cracked open the box. To get riding you'll need to attach:
- Front wheel and quick release
- Handle bars
- Saddle and seat post
- Pump tyres
- Attached bell/reflectors etc as required
- Pedals (not supplied)
We'd recommend that you use a torque wrench when building the bike up. It's important to get the right load on the bolts holding the handlebars to the stem, and when tightening the carbon fibre seat post as they can be easily damaged. If you don't have a torque wrench you can pick one up from about $60. It will help keep you safe and make adjustments a piece of cake.
We ran over all the bolts on the Brunswick with our torque wrench and found them all to be spot on, the gears and brakes were also dialled in perfectly out of the box.
Quality and Style
You won't find many CX bikes at this price point. Saying that, Cell has not scrimped on the Brunswick. The paint looks good and the overall look of the bike is great. Outings on the Brunswick to local club rides etc. resulted in loads of positive comments.
Although it's a personal thing, people we showed the Brunswick to liked the understated look and commented on how the Brunswick looked like a big jump forward from Cell in the CX market and from an overall design perspective.
After putting the Cell through some good riding, a quick wash had it looking like new.
Overall the Brunswick offers all the stiffness you would expect from an aluminium frame, most riders won't lose power through flex. The geometry provides a position somewhere between 'race' and 'comfort', and still allows you to get the power down. Carbon forks and seat post do a good job of keep vibration down.
We tested the Brunswick in the following ways...
We put the Brunswick through its paces, running a commute route through Melbourne that incorporated bike paths, railway crossings, main roads, side streets, speed bumps, climbs and descents, cracked roads, roads with poor surfaces, gravel paths, curbs, grass, car parks and painted surfaces. We even took it in lifts and carried it up stairs. We ran the test commute route of 10km on ten occasions in wind, rain and sunshine.
Overall the Brunswick was pretty close to perfect for the commute. The position is just right and spacers allow you to drop the bars if you want, but we did not need to. The low reach-drops still allow good visibility over cars if that's how you like to ride. The Vittoria 700x32 tyres add a bit of rolling resistance compared to slicks. The ride is good on all surfaces, the bike is light enough to carry and accelerates well with multiple stops at lights.
It's on the commute that you get the most benefit from the Carbon forks and seat post - we never felt like the vibration was too much. The Avid brakes and SRAM group set were great and got the job done flawlessly.
The only minor concern we had with the Brunswick was that with our set up there was a small amount of toe overlap with the front wheel. Adjusting cleats a small amount sorted things out. Those with smaller feet should not have a problem. We also found our heals occasionally clipping or rubbing the chain stays, which flare out a lot as a result of disc brakes and a design that reduces chain slap.
This time we took the Brunswick to the 'Fields of Joy' cyclocross track close to Essendon Fields, just North of Melbourne.
Awesome fun. Need more explanation than that? Yes, you'll get better performance out of a lighter more race bred bike, but for $1,399 the Brunswick was great. At over 9.6 kg for a medium it's not a featherweight, but it's by no means heavy for a bike of this price. When we tested in dry conditions we had no trouble with gearing or grip. With the toe overlap issue removed, we found manoeuvrability was great, brake performance was solid and in the no mud conditions the SRAM Apex worked well.
Finally we loaded up the panniers and went for a ride through some of the hills in Melbourne's Dandenong Ranges.
While this was not a full tour, getting out on the road for a 60km ride with the Brunswick was great fun. We could gladly live with it on the road for a longer period of time. Getting up some of the longer climbs could have been made a little more pleasant with a bigger sprocket option and if you were going for a full four panniers plus other gear for a longer tour, we'd upgrade to tougher wheels and tyres.
Frame - Cell has obviously spent some time getting the Brunswick construction and design right to make it a true 'all-rounder'
The Brunswick's frame is made from hydroformed, lightweight 6061 aluminium tubing with three different thicknesses throughout each tube (triple butted). This keeps weight down while keeping the Brunswick stiff and strong. There's a carbon fibre tapered steerer fork, further reducing weight while taking away some of the vibration that aluminium frames are prone to.
We really liked the use of sealed cables on the Brunswick. The cables all run along the underside of the down tube keeping the top tube free of cables. The real benefit for the every day user is that there are less points for dirt and grime to get into the cables. The result is better braking and shifting performance in muddy conditions and less servicing in the winter months for commuters or tourers.
The Brunswick comes with rack and mud guard mounts, two bottle cage mounts and clever reflective logos. This sets the Brunswick apart from many other CX bikes, adding practical features so the bike can easily be used as a commuter or tourer.
Gearing and Brakes - SRAM and Avid components get the job done
SRAM gets the Brunswick's gearing moving. Cell have used SRAM's Apex parts together with a slightly higher quality SRAM Rival rear derailleur. Although Apex sits at the bottom end of the SRAM gearing range it still gets the job done well and gave us no issues throughout the test.
Gearing is a 36/46 crankset and 11-26 rear cassette. We liked these ratios as they give a good range for racing, road commuting and touring. If you are going to be doing some serious touring up big, long climbs with a fully loaded bike, or racing some courses with some steep sections, you might want to look at a couple of extra teeth on the rear cassette.
The Bruswick is stopped by Avid BB5 Mechanical Disc with 160mm rotors. We really liked the brakes as they gave excellent feel and performance for a mechanical discs and worked well for us, even on long descents carrying extra weight on the bike.
Wheels - A good all rounder with sealed bearings and Vittoria tyres
The A-Class wheels are a good wheel at this price point. They come with sealed cartridge bearings which is a good option on a bike like this that is going to get dirty, dusty and wet over and over. They roll well and offer a reasonable weight-to-strength ratio. If you have got big tour aspirations or are on the heavier side weight wise, you'll likely want to go for a stronger wheel set.
The Vittoria tyres work for the commute/road but still handle off road reasonably well. If you start getting more serious about racing there are more CX specific tyres available.
Finishing kit - Carbon seat post is a great addition
The Brunswick is finished with a carbon seat post, which does a good job of dampening some vibration from the road, which is a great addition to the Brunswick package. A Cell branded saddle, aluminium handlebars and stem and Cell bar tape finish the package.
The Cell Brunswick covers riders from 163cm through to 203cm
Four sizes - Medium / Medium Large / Large / Extra Large - Our tester was a Large and was perfect for our 188cm rider with plenty of room left to raise the seat.
At A$1,399 this bike is great value for money and if you order online postage is free.
Commute, race or tour, the Cell Brunswick gets it all done at a price that won't blow the bank.
The Cell Brunswick gets it all done. There is only a small amount of compromise in each area the Brunswick is designed to work in. It was a pleasure to ride and we were pretty sad to see it heading back to Cell! For $1,399 you'll be hard pressed to find a bike with this level of form and components that are so versatile. Great work from the guys at Cell!
You can check out the Brunswick here