With design taking place in England's South West and construction in the Far East, Superavi aims to produce custom titanium frames that are super fast but also comfortable. The firm has plenty of experience making titanium road frames but the Celer is Superavi’s first foray over the grass verge and into the off-road scene.
As with all of its bikes, geometry is almost entirely customisable using anthropometric measurements taken by the customer with the guidance of Superavi engineers. Your measurements are then recorded using a proprietary FFIT (Frame Fit and Integration Template) system and, finally, your bespoke frame is born.
It’s a pretty neat little process if you’re after something truly individual. Our test frame was a standard medium build for riders not vertically gifted – me, for instance.
The attention to detail is immediately apparent in the neat welds, a beautifully hand-cast aluminium head badge and the elegantly formed round tubes of the mainframe. The brushed finish on our test bike sets the Ti off wonderfully, giving it an almost mirror-like effect right from the stout tapered head tube, down the slightly kinked down tube, past the neatly braced seat and chainstays, and finishing at the handsomely machined dropouts.
In short, the Celer is quite a stunner, apart from the oddly placed triangular gusset welded between the top tube and seat tube junction. According to Superavi, this increases strength at the juncture as well as providing a convenient and neat area to place the bike’s name, but in our opinion it spoils its otherwise clean lines.
We’re not sure what this brace does for either the Celer's form or function…
To keep things simple and reliable, the bottom bracket is of the 68mm variety, threaded for extra pleasure.
The name Superavi has an Italian origin, meaning to surpass or exceed, and Celer is Latin for speed. With our test frame’s relatively steep 70-degree head angle (with 100mm fork) and 73.5-degree seat angle, joined to rather long 450mm chainstays, the Celer’s urges for maximum velocity were apparent from the outset.
This intention is further compounded by the RockShox SID carbon crowned fork and very narrow 19mm internal width XT wheelset on our test rig. Fortuitous really, as tyre clearance with a wider rim and slightly more aggressive tyres could become an issue.
Light and controlled, if not particularly stiff, the SID is rarely seen
On our all-day mission riding the Celer on some of Wales’ finest bridleways and singletrack we found there was some inherent tyre buzz from wheel flex when cornering hard, which is likely exacerbated by the standard 9mm QR axle. Superavi has however confirmed that 2016 models will come with a 142mm bolt-thru option, which should help reduce this.
Turn the cranks hard though and the Celer takes off. Factor in the very reasonable (though could be built lighter) full bike weight of 11.5 kg (25.35lb) and you have the recipe for an XC hooner.
A QR back-end isn’t such a common sight either…
Something that was very clear was how little trail buzz we felt through the Celer – it even took the sting out of the odd unavoidable square-edge slap, a trait often found when using titanium. It still felt taut through the mainframe when forcing hard into corners, and there was no sign of torsional twisting when pushing a big gear out of the saddle, while remaining compliant enough for us to sit there most of the day with relative ease. Tight, more technical cornering was slightly tougher than we’d have liked, probably in part due to the narrow bars and relatively long back end.
Untapped trail potential
The SID World Cup forks with their hydraulic bar- mounted lockout soaked up all but the biggest hits, and could then be locked with ergonomic ease for powering out of corners and up any out-the-saddle power pinches with barely any loss in momentum. The 1x11 Shimano XT setup on our Celer is our preferred setup these days for even the longest XC missions, though a band-type front derailleur can be fitted to the seat tube should you require more winching ease or want to conserve more energy on the flat for marathon expeditions.
We reckon a few tweaks – not to mention an incoming thru-axle upgrade – could really unleash the Celer's inner trail beast
Despite doing what this particular Celer was built for with absolute prowess, we couldn’t help feeling that its build of skinny wheels, super narrow 680mm bars and race spec forks were caging the frame’s real potential to be a more versatile trail bike. With a reasonably low bottom bracket at 310mm and steep 70 degree head angle, there’s plenty of room for a portlier fork giving a slightly slacker head angle, increasing its ability to descend confidently without reducing the Celer’s need for speed and comfort for all-day cranking.
If a niche cross country race bike is what you’re after, it’ll do that convincingly, but given the opportunity we’d like to make some adjustments and unleash its inner Mr Hyde!
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.