Undoubtedly one of the highlights at the London Bike Show, held at the Excel centre in London last week, was the Cervelo R5ca you see looking splendid before your eyes.
It’s the latest in a succession of finely crafted products that push at the boundaries of bicycle design. We first got a sneak glimpse of this new frame when details leaked out of the company about a stunning 648g frame. Yes that’s not a typo, 648g!
The new frame came from Cervelo’s California lab where the company has the necessary equipment and facilities to try out new manufacturing techniques and experimentations in carbon layup. It has allowed Cervelo to easily and quickly try out new ideas, with frames are pieced together by hand with the level of control you just can’t get from outsourcing. The result of this is one of the lightest production frames currently available.
On display at the London Bike Show last week, the R5ca was drawing a lot of attention, being the first time for many it’s been sighted away from doing service between the speeding legs of Thor Hushovd. What makes the frame special is that headline grabbing sub-700g weight. That’s quoted weight for a 54cm frame, and includes the paint (what little paint there is), derailleur and bottle cage mounts and the seat collar.
This impressive lightness has been achieved partly due to honing the layup of the individual carbon fibre layers to a higher degree than the R3. One only has to look at these photos of the various parts of the frame to see just how little material there is in the seat stays, for example.
There’s also some key new features on this frame that make it stand out from the previous offerings like the venerable R3. It’s the first Cervelo to adopt a tapered head tube, a standard rapidly becoming commonplace across the board. That, and a new fork ensures the front end is plenty stiff enough, whether it’s you hooning around Richmond Park or Christian Vande Velde racing through the Alps in the Tour de France. But unlike some manufacturers who are using a 1.5in lower bearing race, Cervelo decided a 1-1/4in to 1-3/8in setup gave the frame the desired balance of stiffness and ride comfort they were seeking.
Another key development is BBright. Like the tapered head tube, it’s the first time Cervelo have gone large on the bottom bracket. But instead of using the regular BB30 setup, they’ve tailored it to yield a 40% stiffness increase. There’s still a 30mm diameter spindle but it’s longer and the bottom bracket shell is asymmetric – on the non-driveside the axle has been extended by 11mm, while the driveside is narrower, so the cranks sit closer to the frame for an improved chainline and, says Cervelo, more balanced stiffness when pedaling.
Another benefit of this BB is that the chainstays have been increased in width and both the seat tube and down tube can be made larger as a result of the wider bottom bracket shell, contributing to an increase in stiffness while importantly keeping the target weight in sight. Yet it’s another standard to get your head around, BBright is compatible with Campagnolo, FSA, Rotor, SRAM and Zipp cranks, and Shimano cranks with an adaptor (Shimano of course don’t offer a BB30 crank. Yet).
Look out for the frame under the guise of the new Garmin-Cervelo team this season.