Star of our recent video, friend of G!RO and Curve convert Franco gives us the lowdown on his year with the Belgie, Curve's fun and fast, Road Centric Frameset. A bike designed by our mates at Curve to race, ride and fear nothing. Grab a brew and let Franco transport you through his experiences of the last year riding his Curve - and be sure to catch the video if you haven't already, where we join Franco for a dawn raid of London, to soak up the stillness of the city at dawn and enjoy stunning sunrise. For those of you keen to learn more about the bikes, for reference, Franco rides the complete spec SRAM Force Belgie Disc V3 with Red Powermeter upgrade and Curve's own G4T wheels! Enjoy!
My decision to purchase a Curve was one I look back on fondly, as one of the finest I have made on my cycling journey. It was the winter of 2019, I approached Jordan and asked to borrow and demo a Curve Belgie Disc V2. Fortunately my size (54) was available, and it was as easy as that, a few hours later I was riding the bike home and Jordan had given me the opportunity to sample it over a long weekend.
As a regular at the Café, with an already strong community of Curve riders, I had heard plenty of great stories and feedback about bikes and tales of grand adventures, some that stuck in particular were from Ryan Flinn (Rhino) and Matt Falconer (B!RDMN) a local Curve owner. Who recounted incredible sounding adventures over a beer at the Wheatsheaf, and how the bikes aided these journeys! With these words ringing in my ears, my first 10km ride home quickly confirmed this wasn't just hype, the showering of praises from the community quickly being echoed out on the road.
Having only ever ridden metal ‘mountain’ bikes I was sceptical about weight, stiffness, ride compliance and handling. How wrong was I...! The titanium frames are as stiff as any other frame with the comfort unrivalled by any other material when coupled with carbon components. Compliance is a word that gets used a lot in the bike and the motor industry and I didn’t really understand what it meant until spending some time away from my Carbon frames, riding the Titanium frame. I found, especially on the harsh older road surfaces of London and the South East and the UK in general, that it means you can ride the broken tarmac, cracks, change in surface and (not so) occasional pot hole in comfort as the frame has a way of dissipating the buzz, rattle and at times wincing bumps that you would feel more through my other bikes. The titanium offering a mild but effective sort of suspension, without compromising the confidence inspiring handling this bike delivers.
After 3 days of using the Belgie Disc (V2) I decided that this was the bike for me to use going forward, it is a frame that I can ride in every situation I'd find myself in. Whether it be solo into the hills, a summer sunset chain gang or an epic cross county adventure. Even taking the bike ‘off road’ for some gravel adventures or popping into town to meet friends for a coffee/beer, this bike can do it all and without compromise. It is durable and comes with a lifetime warranty, with the amount of waste in the world I wanted a frame that would stand the test of time both in the ride quality and looks department. Titanium ticking the box hereas it is both impact resistant and will never corrode. Leaving me with a frameset I could enjoy for years to come, just swapping in new components where necessary.
After riding the Belgie Disc (V2) demo and then owning my own, I had the opportunity to upgrade to the newer Belgie Disc V3! A development of the V2 and years of experience and research from the Curve crew, this was an exciting prospect. Gaining even more ‘compliance’, and what feels like even more speed with confidence in the handling to hold speed through corners and over rough surfaces. I also loved the small tweaks Curve made to improve the overall looks, like losing the rear brake bridge which is redundant for a disc brake bike, and integrating the headset allowing the lines to be as smooth as the finish to the frame.
This bike has been an absolute joy, as I ride almost daily, but if I had to pick out a true test of the bike - one ride this summer stands out to me. The ride that really tested the bike and how it performed over many kilometres and hours in the saddle, was the Attaquer Pop up shop Essex ride. This was a ride that started in the East end of London at the Famous Brick Lane market and involved a route out of London and through the countryside of Essex, somewhere I hadn’t previously ridden. A few of us started early doors around 6:30 am in Surrey to get into London for a Coffee and 8am rollout. I loaded the bike with a frame bag packed with tools, spares and snacks, lights and full bidons prepared for an epic 6+ hours of riding. I left the house, all prepared and excited, confident in the steed. I knew the Belgie was entering it's comfort zone here, and I had the bike setup to maximise this, running tubeless tyres at a slightly lower psi than usual on my Curve carbon G4T rims, and my SRAM AXS in sequential gear shifting mode, to ease the strain of grinding away, to ensure no wasted energy in what turned out to be my longest ride of 2020.
As we met up and headed towards Richmond park there was a friendly pace in the group, one perfect for a long bicycle tour, I knew though from experience that this wouldn’t be the pace all day! The park was glorious at this time of day, and the roads quiet and smooth, almost European, adding to the peaceful stillness of pre sunrise streets. As we exited the park and rolled towards the bright lights of the city, the pace ramped up... It was a Sunday, and still relatively early, so the roads were quiet, wide and open! There were long tunnels and flat straights that most have tackled on Zwift, but this was real life, and Paul couldn't resist making a break for it and nudging the pace up! In a split second, I reacted, and the chase was on. As I put the power down, The Belgie didn't hesitate... Responding instantly to my legs request for speed, and I was off. With little effort or noise I bridged across the void he'd made from the rest of the group, easily catching him and over taking for the last 100m before the sign we all knew was the finish line. I claimed the first, of many, sprint wins down the embankment. Impressed but unsurprised at the bikes ability to translate my power into forward motion, very quickly and stealthily.
We got to Brick Lane earlier than anticipated, partly due to a few more ‘KOM’ Sprints en route. There was quite a crowd forming, ready for the group ride into Essex, a wash with all the big brand bikes you’d expect. There were a few of us on Curve’s, and we silently acknowledged one another with a wry smile, knowing we had made the right choice. As we set off and headed through East London it was evident that there were some strong riders with local knowledge all ready to go full gas up every climb and sprint from every red light on their ‘Aero’ bikes. I tapped away at the pedals, unfazed by this, relishing the opportunity in fact as I knew the Curve hides a naughty turn of speed as I'd already seen that day, and is no slouch up the bergs and out of corners either.
The ride got quicker and quicker, and half way round I found myself leading the group, luckily with route pre-loaded on my Wahoo. Confidently, I took the reigns, I in no way felt fatigued or uncomfortable due to the characteristics of the bike, the compliance coupled with geometry engineered in a fashion that is both stunning to look at but functional in delivering on all ground taken to task. As we headed back into London after taking on the narrow and at times rough tarmac of Essex there was just about enough energy and fight left to have a few blasts as different groups merged into one with the strongest legs attacking from every Red light and roundabout, even with an almost full frame bag, a load of water still in my bidons and over 130km of mixed terrain in my legs, I still had the energy to give it a nudge, a few more times into Brick Lane for a much deserved beer and Bagel.
After the ride back home to Surrey I had ridden 180k's in 6hrs with 1500M of climbing, thanks to the curve I arrived home feeling fresh enough to spend the rest of the day playing with my young kids without any aches or soreness. And after a quick wipe of the chain and re-wax it was ready to go again such is the low maintenance, strength and robustness of each Curve build.
My choice to go for a titanium bike was confirmed the right one after reading and listening to many Cycling Journalists over the last few years, who would review the latest and greatest of the carbon bike world but when it comes to spending their own hard earned cash on a bike there was a recurring theme. They all own a high end Titanium bike, as is the nature of this material and the distinctive look that this material possess. I have now done approximately 4000Km on the V3 (yet to be named) with plenty of variety in the riding it has tackled. Everything from Local loops, chain gangs, pub runs, days out in the city, cross county epics and the occasional commute, and I am yet to find a fault with the Belgie Disc, this is a bike for life in that I can upgrade components at any time if needed in the future but the frame will remain the constant as I cannot see a need for anything else from a bike for the type of enjoyable riding I am looking to do. Just like many of my mates from the G!RO community and beyond have echoed, the choice was correct and I am pleased that I took that demo bike out from Giro. Franco x
Here's to hoping Covid restrictions are lifted soon and we can all get out to ride together again, we know Franco had an awesome trans-european adventure planned, one we are all hoping to join! If you want to demo a V3, get in touch with us today here at G!RO using the email email@example.com and we can get you setup, just like we did with Franco over a year ago now and send you out for a test ride. Who knows, you might be blown away, just like Franco!
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Here at G!RO we continue to share our ways of beating the global pandemic and keeping morale high! Jamie tells us how his year sampling a new style of riding on his Downrock has been a godsend in this unprecedented year!
Wow! It’s been nearly a year since that giant box, containing my new favourite bike arrived! It was March 2020, things were starting to head south globally and the UK was a few short days away from Lockdown 1.0, but spirits were high as me and head mechanic Danny tore into the box containing all the parts, and the beautiful Downrock frame Curve had just shipped us. Days were getting longer, weather was getting warmer, riding was getting easier and ignoring the global pandemic things were looking up… Except, how can you ignore a global pandemic... That’s right, you can’t!!!