The not-so-minor details
Cell Stromlo 2.1
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Well thought out parts.
Clean and neat build.
Love the name.
Tyres may not be up for loose trails.
Online sale or Sydney/Melbourne pickup only.
It’s easy to forget what it was like to ride your first mountain bike, we’re talking about bone-jarring rigid forks, tiny little 26″ wheels (gasp, the horror!) lacklustre rim brakes and seriously awkward geometry. We all started somewhere, but right now stepping into this somewhat daunting sport is a whole lot easier than it used to be, thanks to bikes like these.
$1000 can get you a whole lot of bike, and not just in terms of spec, but how it all ties together as a package. Cell Bikes are designed in Australia by real riders, and we’re sure they won’t mind us saying that they have come a very long way since we first rode their earlier mountain bikes.
Cell Bikes are sold online direct to consumer, alongside brands like YT, Polygon and Canyon they aim to keep costs down by cutting out the middle man and shipping bikes to your door. Whether or not this is the future, and will suit everyone it’s worth a look. All Cell bikes can be seen in the flesh at one of their two stores in Sydney or Melbourne (free first service included if picked up from one of the two Cell stores) or shipped Australia wide at no extra charge.
It’s worth noting that each and every Cell is unpacked in the Sydney headquarters by a mechanic, tuned and tested before re-packing and couriered to the consumer. Minimal assembly is required, just the front wheel, handlebar, pedals and seatpost need installing.
We have the $999 Cell Stromlo 2.1 on test, the aluminium frame 29er hardtail with a bit of an all-rounder look to it. While not billing itself as a hardcore mountain bike, the Stromlo should be just enough to get you started and enjoying the trails. We reviewed the higher end $1599 Cell Awaba 2.0 29er hardtail recently, check out our review of that one here: Cell Awaba review
No the name isn’t a coincidence, the Stromlo takes its name from the immensely popular mountain bike park in Canberra – Stromlo Forest Park. See, told you they were designed in Australia.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes the bike tick.
The Stromlo rolls on larger diameter standard 29″ wheels, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and a SRAM X5 30 speed (triple ring) drivetrain, and up front a simple Suntour XCR suspension fork takes the sting out the trail. Alex rims with eyeleted spoke holes are a nice touch, the eyelets will help the spokes retain good tension and make servicing much easier than non-eyeleted rims.
The fork has hydraulic lockout for commuting on tarmac and hydraulic rebound control to keep the coil spring under control when the trails are rough.
The SRAM X5 drivetrain is a good sight, especially for the money. Speccing the bike with such a wide range of gears will broaden the Stromlo’s usage, you won’t be running out of gears on the fastest roads or steepest off road climbs with 30 (so many gears these days!) gears to click through. The gear cables are concealed in full length outer casing too, keeping the mud out of the lines for longer lasting gear adjustment.
Our experience with any of the entry level Shimano disc brakes has always been excellent, and even before hitting the dirt the brakes feel solid and powerful, the larger 180mm diameter disc rotor up the front should help keep things in check when the descents are long or steep.
The low profile tread on the tyres will most certainly not be too great at gripping into loose dirt, but the rubber compound feels quite tacky so they should at least be fine on drier and harder surface trails. Perhaps they are an area for upgrading later on, it really depends on what it’s intended for.
The low and flat bars give the Stromlo a real mountain bike feel. Where you’d typically see bikes around this price point with a tall front end for ‘comfort’ this sacrifices cornering ability, the flat double butted aluminium bar will keep your upper body in a good position for negotiating the fun stuff on the trail.
So that’s it for now, we’ll be back shortly for our review of this entry level hardtail.