The Curve Belgie Spirit (we’re not totally convinced about the name, but it sounds less ridiculous in an Australian accent) is a titanium ‘all-roader’ — which is to say an adventurous road bike with reasonably large clearances and an eye on comfort.
Although I tested a complete bike, Curve is a custom brand, and so the spec is entirely up to you. A frame alone costs AU$2,799 Australian (approx £1,667), while a frameset that includes the Curve carbon disc fork, a headset, a titanium seatpost and seat clamp, and thru-axles costs AU$3,599 (£2,143).
Extra mounts for mudguards, racks or additional bottle cages can be added for a small charge. Curve even offers paint options, if the raw look isn’t to your liking.
The frame is bold and sturdy looking, with an assertive ‘Red Bull can’-style head-tube with a large external lower headset cup (Chris King, naturally — there are no half measures here) to accept the tapered carbon fork.
The standout feature when viewed in profile is the way the ‘Compound Curve’ seatstays take a wide approach to the cowled rear dropouts before heading straight down to meet them. As well as creating extra clearance for the rear brake caliper inside the frame, this is designed to add spring to the back end.
There’s an argument for making an adventure bike as easy to work on as possible, and Curve keeps things utilitarian with fully external cables and brake hoses, as well as a threaded bottom bracket shell.
My test bike sported the sort of dream spec we’d all opt for given the chance: Shimano’s RS685 hydraulic levers, Dura-Ace shifting components and Curve CC 24 disc carbon clinchers.
The wheels are anchored by thru-axles at both ends and mine came shod with winter Continental 28mm rubber. (There’s room for anything up to a 32 according to Curve.)
The Belgie Spirit’s ride is classic titanium — it really lives up to the stereotype by being impressively compliant and pleasingly springy. We took it along lumpy canal/river paths and potholed lanes and found it delightful throughout. The stiff Curve wheels are a great complement to the frame, adding a little edge and keeping things precise without compromising the bike’s floaty ride.
With 374mm of reach and 574mm of stack (including the headset) on our size 54 bike, the Belgie Spirit is very much an endurance machine and it excels in this role. It’s moderately stiff laterally without being obnoxious, but more importantly, the combination of ride quality and liveliness is extremely well judged. It won’t batter you on poor road surfaces, but it never feels dull or sluggish.
The Belgie Spirit isn’t stunningly light (most metal bikes with discs aren’t) and it isn’t ground breaking in its design, it’s just a really likeable, fun-to-ride example of its type.