New 667g Cervelo RCA Road Bike Delivers Less Weight, More Tech, Same Stiffness

2014 Cervelo RCA ultra lightweight road bike

With the original R5ca, Cervelo pushed the lower weight boundaries of a production frame to an average 700g. Now, they’re pushing it again, while maintaining the high frame stiffness and bringing in some interesting new technology.

Coming in at a claimed 667g (size 54, with paint and hardware no less), this frame went through 93 different frame shapes and 279 FEA sessions to become the Rca. When Cervelo put their standard Squoval (square oval) tubed bikes in the wind tunnel, they say it performed surprisingly well given aerodynamics were never a major consideration. So, they decided to see how far they could push it without giving up the stiffness and comfort they already had. And, per usual, they wanted to make it lighter.

Both took a lot of computer aided help, using custom FEA software that considered each and every ply of carbon’s size, placement and orientation. Then, it required some new materials, too. The result? An insanely lightweight bike that carries an equally insane $10,000 frameset-only price point…

STRENGTH-TO-WEIGHT IMPROVEMENTS

Compared to the R5ca, they’re claiming a negligible 3% increase in torsional stiffness and 3% decrease in bottom bracket stiffness.

Cervelo RCA road bike aero claimed frame weights by size

The claimed weight is an average, with a +/-20g allowance. They’re using the 54 as their callout since that’s the size used by most of the Garmin team riders.

2014 Cervelo RCA ultra lightweight road bike

The frameset uses two new technologies to get the weight down without sacrificing strength and stiffness. Within the frame, they incorporated 3M PowerLux resin system into certain parts of the frame, which puts “nano-silica” into the resin to reinforce the space between the fibers. This improves interlaminar shear and compression strength, and allows for less material at the same strength.

2014 Cervelo RCA ultra lightweight road bike

The fork gets a Integran/PowerMetal Nanovate treatment – a coating of nano-fied grains of nickel on the steerer tube that increases both strength and ductility without adding weight.

AERODYNAMIC IMPROVEMENTS

To improve aerodynamics, the leading edge was rounded on the downtube, headtube and seatstays and tweaked the trailing corner radii. The new shape is called Squoval 3.

The shapes, though, are not universally applied. Using lessons learned from the P5 TT/Tri bike, “AeroZones” were used to selectively maintain the original Squoval shape higher on the downtube where it’s closer to the front wheel, and the new shape is further down where the wind hits it more directly. They also turned the ellipse shape by 90º at the bottom of the seatstays, putting the plane more inline with air flow.

Overall, this leads to improved airflow over the complete bike as a system, and they claim it sheds 74g of drag from the R5ca frame, equivalent to 7.4 watts. It’s important to note that the aero improvements are at yaw angles up to 20º, not just straight on.

FRAME DETAILS

2014 Cervelo RCA ultra lightweight road bike

Like the original Project California, these are hand-made one at a time in CA.

2014 Cervelo RCA ultra lightweight road bike

Cable and wire ports are universal and future proof. Just pop different stops into place and you’re ready for whatever. They click into the frame to hold tight, and running everything internally keeps the airflow clean.

Mechanical stops are quite nice looking, too, and they’ll have plugs for hydraulic lines, too.

Another weight saving trick is the hollow carbon fiber dropouts. Normally, carbon dropouts are solid pieces made from chunked up carbon pieces pressed into a mold, then they’re bonded into the stays. Cervelo took an opposite approach, making them hollow and inserting the stays into the dropouts. This saves a bit of reinforcing material on the stays (saves 5g) and lets them run the wire/cable directly out the back for a streamlined look.

The frame design and stop placement minimizes cable bends, which should improve shifting, and internal cable guides aid installation without having to remove any other parts.

2014 Cervelo RCA ultra lightweight road bike

A strong neodymium magnet is molded into the frame, totally flush, on the driveside of the bottom bracket shell, positioned to pick up the signal from most popular power meter cranks. It uses their 79mm-wide BBRight press fit bottom bracket standard, which uses an 30mm spindle that’s 11mm longer than a standard BB30 crankset.

2014 Cervelo RCA ultra lightweight road bike

In addition to the material updates, internal frame reinforcements support the thinner walls in high stress areas, namely:

  • down tube at head tube
  • seat tube at top tube
  • above the bottom bracket shell

They say this provides the same benefit as thicker tubes but saves a few grams. Their trademark pencil thin seatstays combine with “ComfortPly” layup design to add a bit of vibration and bump absorption.

2014 Cervelo RCA ultra lightweight road bike

On the downtube and other key areas, more material is placed on the sides of the tubes to resist lateral stresses.

The framesets will retail for $10,000 and start shipping March 18. Sizes are 48/51/54/56/58/61. Full geometry and more info should be up on Cervelo.com soon.

Comments

Rob - 03/14/13 - 10:56am

Well it looks good!

That stack of headset spacers though…….

Guy - 03/14/13 - 11:08am

Or you could buy a Cannondale EVO for less than half price, same weight and lifetime warranty…. Just saying

Sardinian Rider - 03/14/13 - 11:24am

10K $ uh ? ..wait…doesn’t that look like that 300$ chinese frame ?

mudrock - 03/14/13 - 11:24am

aluminum steerer? What?

roadglide - 03/14/13 - 11:31am

When you get the correct frame size head tube spacers should be minimal as these head tubes are longer than most. In the event you do require numerous spacers, which will adversely affect the beauty of this beast, aesthetically speaking, you might think about starting a reasonable flexibility program. Otherwise, athletically you don’t deserve to be riding this level of equipment. Forget that you can afford it, if you can. It will just look stupid with more than 2cm of spacers. My .002 worth. Nice job Cervelo!

ChrisC - 03/14/13 - 11:36am

So they’re copying Scott’s FOIL tube shapes and calling it Squoval 3…

At least it might still have the completely uninspiring handling and utter lack of road feel that every other Cervelo has had.

Vince - 03/14/13 - 11:41am

Looks like they took the Cannondale Evo and put on Madone/Foil tube shapes.

tommy - 03/14/13 - 11:43am

@ChrisC

Lack of road feel? Right…..because none the carbon you’ve ever ridden feels like a riding wooden horse. Your tastes are so much better than the rest of us. Can you enlighten us in your ways?

Charlie Best - 03/14/13 - 11:53am

Wow! lots of hate!

these bikes win races. Simple as that.

Aluminum steerer? Did you read the article.

Lou - 03/14/13 - 11:53am

I don’t disagree that this isn’t revolutionary, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t insanely lust worthy. I’ve ridden the EVO and the Scott, and if they can do the weight of the EVO and the tubing of the Scott without compromising ride quality, then it may be revolutionary.

That price though…wow. I wonder if this will trickle down into their next gen top frame as with the last CA.

mudrock - 03/14/13 - 11:53am

I was intrigued that Cervelo’s spare-no-expense frame has an aluminum-steered fork, so I scan their website. No mention of the reason behind it, but they do brag about making the steerer stronger.

http://cervelo.com/en/engineering/technologies/integranpowermetal-nanovate.html

mudrock - 03/14/13 - 11:55am

ok, so it’s just a coating. my bad.

Roadhlide - 03/14/13 - 12:09pm

ChrisC- Have you been under a rock for a few years? Cervelo created the squoval design. Scott’s air foil is new to market. Come on now. You don’t have to like Cervelo’s but they are pretty incredible bikes. You would be hard pressed to find any bad reviews of these R series bikes. Now 10 grand is another world, but handling and ride are top notch.

brian - 03/14/13 - 12:12pm

Does anyone make a BBRight powermeter to be used with that integrated magnet? Is the asumption to use an adapter’ized other standard, therefore negating any benefits of the BBRight? The frame looks nice as a blank canvas for a nice metallic flame fade paintjob!

notmikeb - 03/14/13 - 12:18pm

I can’t afford it, therefore it sucks and so does anyone who can buy one.

and @ brian – Direct from Quarq’s website http://www.quarq.com/faq ;
Quarq and SRAM BB30 power meters work with BBright frames. You must remove the pre-load adjuster and small spacer from the spindle, and reassemble the crank with the wave washer against the non-drive arm, and the large 13mm spacer on the drive side. The wave washer is included with the PressFit30 bearing assembly kit.

FM - 03/14/13 - 12:22pm

I’ve yet to see an EVO that had a sub 700 gram frame weight.

The squoval 3 doesn’t look that much like a truncated airfoil. Just a slightly rounded front instead of flat. The shapes that scott and trek are using are more aggressive than this. From this armchair “expert” I don’t doubt squoval 3 is more aero than the original, but I’d hardly call it an aero share.

ISaac - 03/14/13 - 12:28pm

Dear Bikerumor please don’t be offended by my piggybacking and mockery.

http://sundaymorningmoustacheride.blogspot.com/2013/03/review-of-new-cervelo-r5-california.html

brian - 03/14/13 - 12:31pm

@ notmikeb. Thanks, i had never heard the detail you pointed out. I sold my old BB30 Quarq a year ago because of GXP noncompatibility. If i knew, i may have ended up with a different TT frame.

Matt - 03/14/13 - 12:31pm

That is a beautiful bike, but is it really that much, if any better, than a Sworks Venge or Tarmac at $3500?

vectorbug - 03/14/13 - 12:42pm

no threaded bottom bracket = preorder cancelled.

notmikeb - 03/14/13 - 12:46pm

No downtube shifter bosses or pump peg = preorder cancelled

Ripnshread - 03/14/13 - 12:55pm

Cool bike. Wicked expensive. Guess that’s what you get for made in the USA by your engineering department.

@Roadhlide and others…the design is based on the Kamm tail, a truncated NACA airfoil that was first found to produce a negligible difference in aerodynamic efficiency over true full tail airfoil shapes in the 1930′s. No matter what Trek, Scott, Cervelo or others want to call it, the R&D on this idea has been done and redone over and over. Take a look at Toyota’s Prius Hybrid for a common example. Its sweet, it works, but its nothing new or groundbreaking.

Champs - 03/14/13 - 1:30pm

I’d hate the bike, and the guy who had one of these, too. Unless it was me.

The stem situation, though… way too high. Should have gone with a quill design for reviewers. Consider my preorder canceled.

Eyal - 03/14/13 - 1:37pm

Why is the seatpost collar flipped around, Honestly, I don’t know, no sarcasm.

ChrisC - 03/14/13 - 1:40pm

@tommy – 03/14/13 – 11:43am

I can’t enlighten you as to what I like and what I don’t…

To each their own, but I think every Cervelo I’ve ever ridden has felt awful TO ME. I really prefer the ride qualities of a Ridley Helium or Excalibur; a Cannondale SuperSix; or even a Pinarello Dogma. FWIW, I think Felts ride like crap too, but that’s my subjective opinion.

No carbon bike feels like steel or titanium, but the majority of carbon made in the last 10 years rides better TO ME (I can’t stress that enough) than any aluminum I’ve been on during the same time period, with the possible exception of a CAAD9.

Good for you =/= good for me

Eyal - 03/14/13 - 1:50pm

The funny thing I have two very expensive amazing Ti bikes. I just bought this Chinese bike FM066 http://chivelo.com/frames/fm066-frame – Cost is $700 size 50 is 762g

Using the same wheels/tires, same seatpost, same saddle. I tried the SuperSix Evo and my two Ti bikes, The FM066 is every bit as good as all those bikes. I’m not sure if this bike will be any better.

WillS - 03/14/13 - 2:11pm

While I find the frame itself a bit underwhelming, the fork is intriguing. Beyond speculation, can anyone comment on the manufacturing process? At first, I thought it was some sort of PVD onto the steerer itself, but I don’t know how they would be able to do a heat treatment to reduce the Ni grain size without ruining the carbon substrate…

Thoughts?

RS - 03/14/13 - 2:41pm

@ChrisC
“…every Cervelo I have ever ridden…” Which ones have you ridden? I have ridden most and, I agree, the older ones (prior to R3) rode like the old Grand Tour bikes, long distances, slower turning, stable, etc. The newer bikes, S5, R5, R5ca have much quicker handling and I race my R5ca in crits…yes, it handles that well. My thought is that they softened up the ride on the new Rca for the grand tour riders. I am very happy with the BBRight BB, no flex, instant acceleration, they got it right on the R5ca…cant wait to try out the new one!

mudrock - 03/14/13 - 2:48pm

My all-time fav road bike was a R2.5 I got in ’05. round carbon tube-and-lug design. Stiff and light but not dead-stiff. then it was recalled (DT would pull out of head lug). Got a free R3 and I was psyched, but didn’t like the ride. Too stiff, no feedback from the road or pedalling. That’s fine for racers, i like some flex tho.

Joe - 03/14/13 - 3:01pm

This is Cervelo’s top shelf bike built for pros and already UCI approved. They have to sell to the public in order for pro use and another website reported a limited number available for purchase. All bike companies have a full range of bikes for all body types. So pick your favorite brand and go ride.

Joe - 03/14/13 - 3:03pm

PS, if I could afford it, that’s how many headset spacers I would need.

R5VwdRider - 03/14/13 - 3:08pm

I really like the interchangeable cable routing stops. I wish my R5VWD had that.

I don’t understand what powermeters would need the neodym magnet. But I know I would love to have an integrated ANT+ cadence and wheel sensor in the chainstay like Trek has.

I’m really sad about the design though. It’s exactly like the Cannondale Evo Black just not baby blue type. I loved the old stealth black R5Ca with the glossy decals look so much and I was thinking about getting one now that the prices came down a bit.

tirider1 - 03/14/13 - 4:29pm

Thank you Joe, well said and that’s how my spacers look as well.
GO RIDE folks

Alex - 03/14/13 - 4:43pm

The EVO Nano weighs less and probably rides better for a less than half that price.

dale - 03/14/13 - 5:42pm

Short legged people never understand the spacer and body proportions thing. And they are awesome at cartwheels too.

A. - 03/14/13 - 8:09pm

I’ll take a Parlee instead, thanks.

double0derek - 03/14/13 - 8:20pm

Check out the launch video for this bike (if you haven’t seen it yet):
http://youtu.be/arehyOYsFUo

jon jon - 03/14/13 - 11:04pm

Cannondale Super 6 EVO Hi-Mod > Any Cervelo, anyday. period.

Paul - 03/14/13 - 11:23pm

There are 3 levels of Evo with the only one competing with the above being the $13k Supersix Evo Black. It does not cost half as much, and we do not know if it has a better ride.

The standard Evo frame is 950g in a 54.

ctopher - 03/15/13 - 1:34am

You don’t know anything about it until you ride it. The Rca is awesome.

Kris - 03/15/13 - 2:40am

Haters are gunna hate aren’t they!

Need some popcorn to watch the muppets throw there two cents in on a brand they will never ride anyway

Good things aren’t cheap, cheap things aren’t good.

Eric - 03/15/13 - 2:56am

Trek was the first with truncated airfoil. Speed Concept time trial frame. Scott did it first on a road bike, but Trek did it first “on a bike”.

David French - 03/15/13 - 12:17pm

@Kris… Amen ;-)

This looks like a beautiful frame, I only wish that I made the kind of money needed to buy one! I’d love to see one with some of that ‘Vapor Coat’ finish that Trek use because their claimed weight is about 25g lighter than the claimed weight of paint on one of these Cervelos.

MaLóL - 03/15/13 - 1:27pm

you also have r3 and r5, so why look for cannondale or a specialized or a trek…. i mean… get an alchemy or a parlee and go custom. unless you are some kind of britney spears, averga joe with no clue bout cycling culture, then you should get a fancy lance trek, of course!!! ;-)

Andre - 03/19/13 - 2:44pm

I prefer to buy a complete and good road bike (4k), a complete and good MTB (3k) and a complete and good Triathlon bike (3K) on ebay with 10k.

Nik - 08/15/13 - 1:39am

My 2008 Cervelo R5 SL ‘Sastre’ (White-Yellow TDF) frame weighs 670G. Stiff and fast with my SRAM Red group and Zipp 202s. Picked it up used from a good friend who is a mechanic at my LBS for almost half the price. The bike is mint. Keep searching for the deals out there and you will find them. Especially in this economy!

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