Clearly the Omeo marks something of a strategy shift for Cell Bikes which began as a one-man bike shop in Rockdale in 2002, as the business makes a genuine play for more of the ever-burgeoning bicycle market. Not the very top, mind you. Rather, that juicy bulge in the bell curve that sits just one or two gear-shifts down.
The way I see it, the very fact I’m even reviewing this bike is significant. Not so long ago Cell’s bicycles seemed confined largely to the lower end of the market; certainly a step up from the bikes on offer at the major discount retail chains, but not by much. Nothing wrong with that of course, there’s plenty of money to be made there; I bought one myself for commuting about six years ago and still have it.
Retailing at a whisker under $2,000 and promoted via Cell’s social media with the hash-tag #aeroisaffordable, it’s a compelling price point that’s sure to attract plenty of interest, particularly from those looking to upgrade to their first full carbon road bike. So what can you expect from the Cell Omeo 1.0 if you’re amongst them?
For starters, you’ll get a bike that definitely looks the business. I first saw the Omeo about a month ago at Cell’s Parramatta Road store in Sydney. I was there buying something else but it was impossible not to notice its dark silhouette strategically parked close to the front counter – sleek, aggressive, recessive branding, internal cable routing. It sure looks like an aero-inspired weapon. In fact, at first glance I thought it was another highly credentialed and far more expensive brand that’s also been pretty active with the matt black stealth look of late.
Assembling the Omeo 1.0 out of the box the finishing was solid if not spectacular which, if you’re in a hurry and want to stop reading right now, is essentially my view of the whole two-wheeled ensemble. From a design perspective, Cell has certainly tapped into the current trend towards harder, more angular lines and the Omeo is noticeably geometric, even blocky in places. The best example of this is the down tube, which is somewhat reminiscent of an aerodynamically moulded length of 4×2. Painted black, of course.
Now as any truthful road cyclist will admit, looks do matter. However if a great-looking bike handles and rides like a complete dog, well that’s going to be problem regardless of the price tag. Accordingly I couldn’t wait to throw my leg over to discover whether the impressive form of the Omeo 1.0 is matched in equal measure by its on-road function.
Cell spruik the Omeo 1.0 as being suitable for everything from riding like the wind to all-day epics. I’m not so sure about that last bit. Yes, the superbly esoteric ‘Directly Homogenised for Energy Activation (DHEA) mixed moduli full carbon aerodynamic frameset’ is stiff and pretty spritely as a result. Handling and cornering is good. Climbing is okay. But hand on my heart it’s not the most comfortable bike you’re ever likely to ride. The low front end equates to a reasonably aggressive riding position, even on the hoods. Coupled with the rigidity of the frame, I can’t imagine it would be overly comfortable after several punishing hours in the saddle. 60km? Absolutely. 150km+? I seriously doubt it. That said, I guess it all depends what you’re comparing it to and how you intend to ride it.
Out on the open bitumen I found the Omeo 1.0 a more than capable road bike. Whilst not quite as balanced or smooth as I’ve become accustomed to in recent years, it was certainly agile enough for weekend bunch rides and mid-week paceline training and I felt confident putting the power down both in and out of the saddle. My only real qualm was a persistent squeaking coming, I think, from the bottom bracket (don’t they all?). It sounded almost as if a small bird was trapped in there somewhere. Certain gear ratios were also a bit clunky which I found a little distracting at times. But to be fair, not being my own bike I was loathe to start messing with the limit screws and/or cable tensions which may have been all the situation required. If the same thing happens to you, chances are your LBS will silence it in a jiffy.
Specification wise, the Omeo 1.0 packs plenty of bang for your buck. It comes with FSA handlebars, headset and stem, FSA SL-K carbon seatpost with an integrated seat clamp, Fi’zi:k Arione saddle and an 11-speed Shimano Ultegra groupset which is clearly a major attraction at a price point where you’d often be settling for the equivalent of Shimano 105. The Ultegra Pro Compact 36x52T crankset is a logical appointment as is the Mavic Aksium S wheelset – nothing flash or fancy but as solid as the day is long, again allowing Cell to keep the price down. Weighing in complete at just 7.8kg, the Omeo 1.0 is also light and sure to feel like a feather compared to the bikes of many who buy it as an upgrade.
The Cell Omeo 1.0 is all about performance for a price point. Sure, it’s not going to appeal to everyone. But what bike does? At a time when more and more of our equipment originates from the same places, it’s a shrewd move to attract the not insignificant portion of cash-conscious riders who care more about value for money than monikers with decades of history and prices to match. If you’re a self-confessed brand snob, forget it. But if you want a full carbon road bike with solid spec and aggressive styling, all for less than you could expect from most of the more established brands, check it out. You might be very glad you did.
For an extra $800 Cell also puts out the Omeo 2.0. It’s around 300 grams lighter and comes with Ultegra Di2 and a Mavic Ksyrium Equipe S wheelset.
Summing Up: The Cell Omeo 1.0 is likely to be a polarising bike. It’s safe to say cycling stalwarts and brand snobs won’t be caught dead on one. But I doubt Cell will care one iota, because that’s not who it’s designed for.
Performance: Stiff, spritely and surprisingly agile. Not as comfortable as Cell might lead you to believe, but certainly more than suitable for the majority of bunch rides those in this price bracket are likely to undertake.
Value for money: Excellent. If you want to get the maximum spec for your money, the Omeo 1.0 is hard to beat.
Overall: In a few years we might look back at the Omeo 1.0 as a genuine game changer for Cell. Plenty of Aussies are going to buy it and when they do they’ll be getting a great-looking bike with great spec and have plenty of cash left in their pocket for other things; and as every cyclist knows there are always other things.
Frame: OMEO DHEA Mixed-Moduli Full Carbon
Fork: OMEO DHEA Tapered Full Carbon
Headset: FSA No.42 CF/ACB
Handlebar: FSA Team Issue Aero Compact UD Carbon/AL6061, 31.8mm
Stem: FSA Team Issue UD Carbon/AL6061, 31.8mm, 6 Deg
Seatpost: FSA SL-K UD Carbon, 27.2mm
Saddle: Fi’zi:k Arione
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra 22sp
Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra 11sp
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra 11sp
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra dual pivot
Brake Levers: Shimano Ultegra
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11-25T, 11sp
Chain: Shimano Ultegra 11sp
Crankset: Shimano Ultegra, Pro Compact 36x52T
Bottom Bracket: Shimano BB71 Press Fit
Wheelset: Mavic Aksium S
Tyres: Mavic Aksion, 700×25
Weight: 7.73kg 56cm
Distributed by Cell Bikes