Cell Bikes Akuna 1.1 Review

Cell Bikes Akuna 1.1 Review

People keep calling the Akuna an “entry level bike”. I don’t understand this because the only thing entry level about this bike is the price. In one sense, however, it was definitely entry level for me since this was the first fully carbon fibre bike I’ve ridden. It may seem weird, given the ubiquity of carbon bikes, but as a big boy with a tight budget and the need for a reliable bike, I shied away from carbon. But I know bikes, so I’m an ideal candidate to represent the ‘my first carbon fibre bike’ buyer and I’m really glad the Akuna was my first carbon experience. I’m sold on it.

The Akuna 1.1 is the latest in a line of new models from Cell Bikes which includes the Omeo 2.0 (with Ultegra Di2 for less than $3,000) and the Omeo 1.0 (with traditional Ultegra, for less than $2,000). These full carbon road bikes are joined by the Lapa aluminium framed road bike as well as the Yarra and the Stromlo mountain bikes. Notice anything about those names? You’re right, they’re Australian names (the Lapa is for La Perouse in Sydney, google the rest) and they indicate that these bikes have been created for Australian cyclists.

Cell Akuna

From my perspective it means that Cell are actively changing their image. When I was “born again” to cycling many years ago, Cell produced budget category bikes that were… budget category. The new range of bikes have raised the bar and are on par with bikes from many other brands. Cell seem to be actively taking notes from Australian riders and creating bikes they want to ride.

The technical specifications for the Akuna 1.1 are best read from the Cell website, but they’re easy to summarise: the Akuna has a full Shimano 105 10-speed groupset (with the exception of the cassette, which is Tiagra, and the chain, which is KMC), the wheels are Mavic Aksiums [1], the headset is FSA, and the cables are Jagwire. That’s a pretty good collection of branded components on a Cell branded frame with Cell branded handlebar, stem, seat post (full carbon), and saddle. To produce a bike for the Akuna’s price, you’re going to have to make some compromises in the components, but I think the compromises they made are sensible and I don’t think the quality of the bike suffers from any of them.

Cell Bikes Akuna 1.0 Road Bike

The Akuna 1.1 arrives boxed and mostly assembled – you merely have to put in the seat post, which has the saddle attached, bolt the handlebars to the stem, and attach the front wheel. Add some pedals, pump the tyres, and the bike is ride-able with the brakes and shifters dialed in and requiring no adjustment. The seat post is the only carbon component on the Akuna that you have to tighten yourself, so I borrowed a torque wrench because I’m ultra-paranoid about adjusting carbon components.

While I had the wrench I gave the bike a once-over, which is what I do to all of my bikes every once in a while anyway, and I’m glad I did. While the majority of the components were tightened to spec, the bolts that connect the stem to the steerer, ones that should have been tightened at the factory, were little more than finger tight. I gave the handlebars a sideways jolt and the stem moved around the steerer – which would have been very dangerous if it happened while I was riding. If you buy any bike in a box, from anybody, either check all of the components yourself or have a bike shop do it for you. Now that the public service announcements are over, let’s get back to the Akuna, because the worst is behind us.

Cell Bikes Akuna Seat Clamp 5nm

The Akuna is a pretty bike to look at. The colour scheme and graphics are clean, the components match well, and the Cell logos on the frame look more like geometric patterns than advertising. The frame itself is chubby with an over-sized down tube and head tube which contrast against a ‘traditionally’ sized seat tube and stays. The bike won’t be winning any awards for aerodynamics, but it’s not aimed in that direction.

I’ve seen the Akuna described as an “endurance” bike and I suspect that’s to do with the length of the head tube and top tube. The bike doesn’t have the shortened reach and aggressive angles of serious racing bikes, but it doesn’t have the slack angles of a cruiser either. The long head tube raises the handlebars up so you can reach them more comfortably without having to raise the stem up, but there are plenty of spacers on the steerer if you do want adjust the stem height to get a better fit.

Cell Bikes Akuna Race Bike 105

I chose the bike size based on the top tube length and the seat to handlebar reach of my other bikes. Luckily, only the seat height needed to be set to get my ideal fit. I rode the large sized Akuna and, surprisingly, there is a larger frame still. I’m 190cm (6 ft 3), so I’m taller than about 96% of the population, but a good number of that remaining 4% will be comfortable on the XL Akuna. I suspect the person who designed this bike was thinking of the Australian market.

Despite being a full carbon bike, the Akuna isn’t a super-light weighing in at around 9.5 kg with pedals and a bidon cage in the large sized model. It certainly doesn’t have a heavy feel, and with a wheel upgrade (maybe some Swiss Side Francs), the overall weight can be quickly dropped. I don’t feel that I’m missing out, however, since a lighter bike isn’t going to make a significant difference to the type of riding I do (or many MAMILs do), but I still appreciate the benefits riding full carbon. We’ve all seen the horror photos of broken carbon bikes, but the Akuna simply doesn’t seem fragile. As a newbie to carbon, the generous sized tubing gives me a bit more confidence while riding.

Cell Bikes Online Store

Riding this bike was indeed a revelation. Firstly, it was instantly comfortable, as comfortable as my commuter or touring bike, but with its short-ish chain stays it moved like my Columbus tubed racing bike. Secondly, as mentioned in the introduction, I had never owned a full carbon bike before (though I do have an aluminium frame with carbon forks) and if you’ve never ridden carbon either, I suggest you give it a go. I wont spend the rest of the review talking about carbon fibre’s ride characteristics, but I will say that it’s surprisingly smooth even though the bike is very stiff. Dare I say it? It almost feels better than top quality steel, and it certainly beats the hell out of aluminium.

The Akuna was smooth and responsive while riding with excellent cornering performance. Even though I was riding a large bike, often while wearing a backpack for commuting, the bike didn’t feel unbalanced or awkward even at very low speeds. The geometry of the bike puts the rider in a good handling position and coming out of the saddle to accelerate or climb wasn’t a chore with your center of gravity sitting over the center of the bike rather than forward over the front wheel. The Akuna was also a very stiff ride and no matter how much force I put into the compact cranks, there was no overt movement in the bottom bracket that I could feel, nor could I feel any over flexing of the stays. I suspect this is a feature of the frame material more than the frame design, but I liked it.

Mavic Aksium Wheelset

While I used the Akuna mainly for commuting,  I did a number of long recreational rides as well. In the review period I tallied around 500km on the bike and mixed up my riding duration and routes to make sure I gave the bike a good workout. To say that I enjoyed it is an understatement. This is a great bike and I felt that I should have started riding carbon sooner. The reasons I didn’t are two-fold: I’m a big guy, around 100 kg, and carbon fibre bikes are expensive. The Akuna takes care of both of these problems – it’s solid enough and it’s cheap. I’m not going to break the bike and I’m not going to break the bank.

Of course, with any bike there are some things you like less than others. With the Akuna the most immediately dislikable thing was the saddle. I hate it. I kept it on for the duration of the review, and I did get a little more used to it as time went on, but I still don’t like it. It does look good with the bike and its suitability will vary from person to person since saddles are a very personal thing.

Cell Bikes Akuna Bay Saddle

The Shimano 105 cabling created a challenge as the shifter and brake cables were both routed along the handlebars. Although it removes the clutter from the cockpit, which is great, it creates a common problem among modern road bikes of increasing the effective bar diameter which interferes with the mounting of lights and other devices. In my case, my preferred bike light wouldn’t fit so I had to channel the spirit of MacGyver to find an alternative solution.

Cell Bikes Parts

The most serious niggles I had were with some of the compromises they’ve taken with the frame design to make it more affordable. Cell have done a great job in putting quality components on the Akuna, but a close look at the frame reveals the differences between a 105 equipped Akuna and a 105 equipped “big name brand” bike. The cable stops, for example, are riveted to the frame rather than integrated into it (with internal cable routing), and the front derailleur is a clamp-on rather than a braze-on.

Brazed Riveted Cable Runners

The biggest issue I had in this category was that the front derailleur cable passes through a drilled hole in the frame (behind the seat tube) after it goes around the bottom bracket. It gives the impression that the frame was put together and someone went “whoops, guess what I forgot?”, then decided to drill a hole to fix it. I’m sure it’s not going to affect the bike structurally, but it looks sloppy and I’m concerned about water getting into it in the rain.

Update: Cell have confirmed that it is not ‘simply drilled’, and there is an internal PVC tube which is securely set in place and means that it is easy to re-cable, and that water, dirt, and grime can’t get into the frame.

Derailleur Drill Hole

The gear cables go though the frame as well, at the headtube, but these holes are merely “tunnels” for the cable which are then routed externally along the length of the downtube. Internal cable routing through the frame is a feature you expect with pricier bikes; it is neater and makes it easier to clean the bike. While the riveted cable stops are not elegant, in this price category this is a cost effective production option which doesn’t significantly impact upon the functionality.

Cell Bikes Akuna Shimano 105

So who is this bike for?

If you want a solid all-round road bike, the Akuna could fit the bill. If you are taking your first step into road cycling, the Akuna gives the advantage of a carbon fibre frame (over an aluminium frame) with the reliable Shimano 105 groupset. If you are a serious rider with the latest weight-weenie frame, the Akuna could be the backup training bike that you won’t be afraid to ride in the rain. If you want a fast commuter bike and are willing to forgo racks and mudguards, the Cell Akuna cost less than car registration (in New South Wales).

I test rode this bike for 4 weeks, but is 4 weeks enough time for a comprehensive review? At BNA we aim to produce honest reviews in order to provide you with the information you need if you are considering buying. Cell Bikes agreed to a long term review of the Akuna for 6 months, to see how the Akuna stands up to my 100kgs, riding 5 or 6 times a week in all weather for commuting, recreation and racing. Cell Bikes certainly have faith in this bike and I am looking forward to taking this journey as it has been an enjoyable bike so far.

The Cell Akuna 1.1 can be purchased for around $1,200 from Cell Bikes and includes free delivery to certain areas. There is also an Akuna 1.0 version for $1399, but stocks are limited.

[1] The Cell website has the Akuna 1.1 spec’d with Shimano R501 wheels, however the model sent to me has the Mavic Aksiums, which are the wheels spec’d for the Akuna 1.0. ($1399) I would advise checking with Cell before purchase if the wheelset difference is of concern.

Read the original review here: Cell Bikes Akuna 1.1 Road Bike review


facebook WIN A BIKE AKUNA 1.1


Four weeks, four bikes, four winners!

Thanks to all of you who entered, participated, shared and commented on Facebook! We are so happy to be giving a Cell AKUNA 1.1 road bike away to:

Paul Guarrera of Mt Gravatt East QLD
Paul Guarrerra

When the road is rough and unrelenting, the Akuna will propel you forward. Its endurance geometry, full carbon frame, carbon fork and seatpost combine to provide comfort wherever you ride.

Paul, please contact (mark@cellbikes.com.au).




Three weeks, three bikes, three winners!

Thanks to all of you who entered, participated, shared and commented on Facebook! We are so happy to be giving a Cell LAPA 2.0 Women’s road bike away to:

Lynda Van Dyk of Oatley NSW

Our top selling Lapa alloy road bike has been tailored to meet the specific requirements of those who want to push the limits of their legs, lungs and heart. Confidence inspiring endurance geometry, lightweight frame and components finished off with a comfortable saddle; the Lapa Women’s is ready for recreational rides, your next triathlon or your first crit race.

Lynda, please contact (mark@cellbikes.com.au).

We’re still giving away 1 more bike leading up to the Tour de France, so if you didn’t get lucky this time, there’s 1 LAST CHANCE!

Please have a look on Facebook at our next giveaway and let us know why you deserve the AKUNA 1.1 carbon road bike with Shimano 105.

Sharing is caring, tag friends in Facebook so they have a chance of winning as well.

TOUR DE FRANCE Stanmore Store Workshop Specials

The Tour de France is coming! To celebrate, we’re offering discounted workshop rates Limited Spaces!
Tour de France Stanmore Workshop Specials

Discounted Rates:

General Services are now $49 for a limited time.

Premium Services are now $99 for a limited time.

Complete Overhauls are now $199 for a limited time.

If your bike has been sitting in the shed, alone in the spare room, or collecting dust in the garage…now’s the best time to get it running again!

Call Us Now! Limited Spaces!


Lapa 2.0 FB Win A Bike Banner


Thanks again to everyone who entered, participated, shared and commented on Facebook! We’ve chosen 1 lucky Winner for our second of four bikes being given away.

Congratulations to:

Matthew J Parker of South Melbourne

Named after the renowned ride through Sydney’s eastern suburbs to La Perouse, the Lapa 2.0 is designed for tough conditions on Australian roads; providing comfort, reliability and performance and we can’t wait to get Matthew on one!

Please contact (mark@cellbikes.com.au).

We’re still giving away 2 more bikes leading up to the Tour de France, so if you didn’t get lucky this time, there’s 2 more chances!

Please have a look on Facebook at our next giveaway and let us know why you deserve the Lapa 2.0 Womens Model with Shimano 105.

Sharing is caring, tag friends in Facebook so they have a chance of winning as well.




Thanks to everyone who entered, participated, shared and commented on Facebook! We’ve chosen 1 lucky Winner for our first of four bikes being given away.

Congratulations to:

Matthew Johnston of Mortdale

Whether it be adding a few km to his weekly road ride with mates, making goals or getting a Strava PR on his daily commute, the Cell Lapa 1.0 is ready to help Matthew tick these off. Named after the renowned ride through Sydney’s eastern suburbs to La Perouse, the Lapa 1.0 is designed for tough conditions on Australian roads; providing comfort, reliability and performance and we can’t wait to get Matthew on one!

Please contact (mark@cellbikes.com.au).

We’re still giving away 3 more bikes leading up to the Tour de France, so if you didn’t get lucky this time, there’s 3 more chances!

Please have a look on Facebook at our next giveaway and let us know why you deserve the Lapa 2.0 with Shimano 105.

Sharing is caring, tag friends in Facebook so they have a chance of winning as well.


Strava Club Winner


We established the Cell Bikes STRAVA club to encourage and reward people with their inspirational efforts and support for great causes.

Congrats to George Mihailides who is doing both, and his attempt to climb the height of Mount Everest in a single bike ride by going up and down the same hill repeatedly until he’s ascended 8848 meters.

George, please email me at (mark@cellbikes.com.au) to claim your reward!



Last Weeks Leaders


George Mihailides

George Mihailides 
On Saturday May 24, 2014 I will be attempting an Everesting.

Basically this means I will be trying to climb the height of Mount Everest in a single ride by going up and down the same hill repeatedly until I’ve ascended 8848 meters (if you are curious to learn more about Everesting, you can go here: http://www.everesting.cc/).

I have decided to dedicate this ride to the street people of Australia and have established a charity in support of Swags for the Homeless.

Unfortunately we live in a world in which some people literally have to sleep on the street every night.

If you work in and around the city centre, you’ll know whom I’m talking about. They are the folk in raggedy filthy clothing carting around a worn out piece of luggage that contains all their worldly possessions. They are the folk whom we pretend don’t exist; whom we often callously
ignore and say to ourselves that they only have themselves to blame.

All I can say to that is, there but for the grace of a higher power goes me. I was once very nearly one of them.  It could be you one day.

Any amount of suffering I endure on Saturday pales in comparison to the circumstances of these people. So I ask, if you have the capacity and can find the generosity of spirit, please donate to Swags for the Homeless by following this link:

In return, I thank you, sincerely, and hereby commit to giving my best on Saturday.

All donations will go directly to the charity (i.e. not to me personally) and amounts above $2.00 can be kept out of Joe Hockey’s fat and growing coffers.

For anyone wishing to provide moral support on Saturday, I will be attempting to climb this segment 253 times:

It will be a 255KM journey which I hope to complete inside of 18 hours commencing 5:00AM.

You will be most welcome but to be honest, I would much rather you donate to my chosen cause.

I will post a ride report next week.

Thanks for reading.

Continental Grand Prix 4000S vs Vittoria Rubino Pro — which is best? (Blog Review by REX)

Continental Grand Prix 4000S vs Vittoria Rubino Pro — which is best?

Which rubber to ride on your bicycle is a very subjective choice. Vittoria Rubino Pros have been a long time favourite bike tyre of mine. I recently put a set of Continental Grand Prix 4000s tyres on my Wabi Special bicycle. This article is my subjective comparison.

Following is a quick snapshot of the differences between the bike tyres.

Continental Grand Prix 4000S Vittoria Rubino Pro
Manufacturer summary Top choice of serious race bike specialists all over the world, and has been for many years. High mileage tyre designed for long service life; the perfect all rounder.
Weight (claimed) 205 g 225 g
Pressure 110 psi (recommended), 120 psi (max) 100-145 psi
Threads per inch 330 TPI 150 TPI
Price (A$ Cell, 16/5/14) $58.99 $41.14

It is perhaps a little unfair to make a comparison as to these two bicycle tyres: the Vittoria Rubino Pro is marketed as an all-rounder; the Continental GP4000S is marketed as a race tyre. Nonetheless, that is what I am going to do. A fairer comparison is possibly the Vittoria Diamante Pro vs the Continental GP4000S; or the Vittoria Rubino Pro vs the Continental Gatorskin.

Vittoria Rubino Pro

Vittoria Rubino Pros have been my reliable bicycle riding partner for more than 7,000 km; probably closer to 10,000 km actually. I have had one 700 x 25C tyre, and five 700 x 23C tyres on three different bikes, including a multi-gear Fuji Absolute 3.0 flat bar road bike running a Fulcrum Racing 5 road wheelset, and two Cell Bikes fixie/singlespeeds, one of which runs Halo Aerorage track wheels. I have only worn out one tyre; the rest are still in use. I have only had one puncture when a shard of glass penetrated the rear tyre.

Vittoria Rubino Pros sound and feel fast. They roll really easily, and I have completed two Brisbane to the Gold Coast charity cycle rides on them — 100 km averaging more than 30 km/h.

As the tyres get to more than 30 km/h, they begin to get a high speed tyre sound — it is a nice aural accompaniment that makes me feel like I am riding fast.

Around corners, I do not get inspired by their grip — in fact, I am somewhat tentative around corners on these tyres.

The outstanding feature about these tyres is how long they last. When tyres last this long, why skimp on cheap rubber?

Vittoria Rubino Pro on my Cell Bikes fixie/singlespeed
Vittoria Rubino Pro on my Cell Bikes fixie/singlespeed

Continental Grand Prix 4000S

When asking my bike riding buddies about tyres, Continental GP4000S tyres are always popular. When I got my Wabi Special, I decided to try them out. (Note that there is a newer version of this tyre, the Continental GP4000S II).

The Continental GP4000S are almost silent in comparison to the Vittoria Rubino Pros. The give very little feedback in a straight line as to how fast you are going — they just get on with their business quietly and efficiently. While their lack of feedback makes them feel almost wooden, I think that the reality is the reverse, they are a very fast rolling tyre.

When I initially fitted the tyres, they appeared to be coated in a tacky silicone compound similar to that found on new motorcycle tyres. As with new motorcycle tyres, they need to be used for a few rides before this coating scrubs off. During this time, the tyres felt squirrely; not actually losing traction, but feeling as if they might. With the coating scrubbed off, the tyres are confidence inspiring. Around corners, the GP4000S emits the sound of rubber clawing at the road. The tyres inspire confidence with aural feedback as to what the tyres are doing.

I have only done about 500 km on these tyres so far, so I can not comment on longevity. Needless to say, I have not yet had any punctures.

Continental GP4000S on my Wabi SpecialContinental GP4000S on my Wabi Special
Continental GP4000S on my Wabi SpecialContinental GP4000S on my Wabi Special

So which tyre is best?

They are both great bike tyres, but excel at different things.

Having ridden the Continental GP4000S, I can see why amateur bicycle racers love it. The tyre is fast in a straight line and grips like glue in the corners. A great combination for outright speed freaks!

The Vittoria Rubino Pro has been my trusted training companion for many years, and will continue to be so. The tyre has low rolling resistance in a straight line, high puncture resistance and seems to last forever. A great go-to tyre for most uses!


Strava Club Winner

Our latest Cell Bikes Strava winner has a Gran Fondo Trophy for their 338.1 km effort.

Their average distance ridden for the last 4 weeks is a very respectable 143 km.

STRAVA Winner Hilary King

Congrats to Hillary King!

Please note, prizes are awarded to riders based on many factors, including great efforts, personal achievements, most improved and other factors.

Personal milestones and rides that inspire others are all in the running, feel free to share with the rest of the club if you’ve reached a personal goal or found an inspirational ride that you would recommend to others. Simply make a post in the Club’s discussion section.

Please contact Mark (mark@cellbikes.com.au) to receive your Promotion Code Voucher.



Billy Slater at Cell Bikes Melbourne Fitzroy North Store with Manager Paul

Our Melbourne Fitzroy North Cell Bikes store recently had the pleasure of having a very prominent guest stop by today (Friday 4th April).

This guest is a well known NRL player with two premierships, five State of Origin series wins, three club best and fairest awards, 14 Test caps, and the coveted Golden Boot Award as the Rugby League Player of the Year.

He is regarded by many as the finest full back of any era and some are now pondering if he might be the greatest player the game has seen.

A 'Kid' and his Cell Phantom Carbon city bike.

A ‘Kid’ and his Cell Phantom Carbon city bike.

The Cell Phantom Full Carbon City Bike with a Champion! Who is it? Go to our Facebook page with your answer and one lucky person gets a voucher!

Why do Champions visit our Melbourne Fitzroy North store?
Expert advice, world class service and VIP treatment of course!
And you don’t need to be a professional athlete to get the VIP treatment, everyone’s a VIP at Cell Bikes Fitzroy North.

Drop in and get the same service as Melbourne Storm’s finest!

Address: 256 St Georges Rd
Fitzroy North VIC 3068

Opening Hours
MON: 09:00 – 17:00
TUE: 09:00 – 17:00
WED: 09:00 – 17:00
THU: 09:00 – 17:00
FRI: 09:00 – 17:00
SAT: 09:00 – 16:00
SUN: 10:00 – 15:00