First Look! Prototype Calfee Road Bike w/ Soft Tail Suspension, Hidden EPS Battery & More!
Poking around a company’s manufacturing plant almost always yields a few peeks at what’s in the pipeline, and my tour of Calfee’s factory didn’t disappoint. A full factory tour will be posted after Sea Otter’s put to bed, but this new bike just couldn’t wait!
This is a prototype (albeit a rideable, pretty finished version) of a new frame that’ll be available in Pro (road), Adventure (gravel/endurance) and Cyclocross build options.
Craig Calfee says it’s the first time in 20 years he’s been able to take all they’ve learned from so many years of developing their systems and molds and tooling and start with a complete clean sheet, and he seemed pretty excited telling the story:
It was born at Interbike in 2012. They were hanging out at the Praxis booth, which was next to Look Cycles. Thierry, Look’s general manager, offered them the opportunity to use their proprietary ZED2 one-piece carbon cranks, the first time anyone other than Look has been allowed to sped them. They put the first set on the massive bamboo road bike shown at NAHBS, and this is the second install.
The opportunity was serendipitous. It gave them a reason to use a massive bottom bracket shell, which gave them an excuse to use a massive downtube. All of this solved their inability to otherwise hack and hide the Campy EPS battery and electronics. Sales & Marketing Manager Michael Moore said Campy’s electronics are more complicated than Shimano’s Di2, so rather than develop a seatpost battery like their Di2 option, they took the Campy bits out of their casing and coated the circuit board.
The bike will come only with ZED2 cranks, which they took the liberty of chiseling down by removing the 130BCD bolt holes. Praxis chainrings were mounted to the remaining 110BCD holes. Look makes an adapter that spaces the massive 65mm diameter BB hole down for standard cranksets, too. The bike is also made only for electronic drivetrains, no cable stops to be found.
The battery is “friction fit” into the bottom of the downtube, just in front of the BB shell, then the one-piece crankset is slipped into place.
Up front, they liked the curved legs of Easton’s carbon fork both for aesthetics and ride quality.
In the back, they gave it 10mm of rear suspension via a non-damped elastomer. Mike says its not an “old man” comfort thing, it’s a go-fast option. It’s only 10mm and is designed to take the edge off and kill vibrations. He said you’ll only notice it when it’s not there.
The option can be retrofitted onto the frames afterward if you’re not sure, but most orders are with it so far. They’re still playing with elastomers (white spheres and black tube are a couple they had on hand), and each is easily swappable to fine tune the ride to different rider weights and preferences. All of the carbon and metal parts are made in house, and tubesets come from ENVE using Calfee’s own molds and layups.
To pull out the elastomer, simply unbolt the bottom of the seatstays and slide it all out.
Retail is TBD, but should be close to $4,500 for the frames. Frameset modules go up from there and include a Chris King headset, fork and the cranks.
The bike also had a nifty new integrated K-Edge Garmin mount on the bar/stem.
Head badge is waterjet cut 6/4 titanium.
The model doesn’t have a name yet, they’re still working on it. Got ideas? Leave ‘em in the comments!