First Look! Prototype Calfee Road Bike w/ Soft Tail Suspension, Hidden EPS Battery & More!

prototype Calfee endurance race road bike with micro suspension and hidden Campagnolo EPS battery

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.

prototype Calfee endurance race road bike with micro suspension and hidden Campagnolo EPS battery

prototype Calfee endurance race road bike with micro suspension and hidden Campagnolo EPS battery

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.

prototype Calfee endurance race road bike with micro suspension and hidden Campagnolo EPS battery

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.

prototype Calfee endurance race road bike with micro suspension and hidden Campagnolo EPS battery

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.

prototype Calfee endurance race road bike with micro suspension and hidden Campagnolo EPS battery

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.

prototype Calfee endurance race road bike with micro suspension and hidden Campagnolo EPS battery

To pull out the elastomer, simply unbolt the bottom of the seatstays and slide it all out.

prototype Calfee endurance race road bike with micro suspension and hidden Campagnolo EPS battery

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.

prototype Calfee endurance race road bike with micro suspension and hidden Campagnolo EPS battery

The bike also had a nifty new integrated K-Edge Garmin mount on the bar/stem.

prototype Calfee endurance race road bike with micro suspension and hidden Campagnolo EPS battery

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!


the dude - 04/17/13 - 1:59pm

the “hodgepodge”

Henry - 04/17/13 - 2:02pm

I love Calfee bikes and cannot wait for the full factory tour! Great stuff!

Steve M - 04/17/13 - 2:05pm

Love the frame- hate the electronic stuff

ChrisC - 04/17/13 - 2:17pm

I wonder how stiff that rear triangle will be… The chainstays *look* a little thin to be pared with a moving (and removable) set of seatstays. I realize it’s a quasi-comfort bike and I don’t doubt Calfee’s ability or engineering; I just wonder how much of a compromise has been made.

Matt - 04/17/13 - 2:18pm


drinkslinger - 04/17/13 - 2:26pm

“friction fit”? Is that officious mumbo jumbo for “shoved up in there”?

Dude what? - 04/17/13 - 2:31pm

Anyone else notice the tandem MTB in the background with effin’ ZIPPs on it? haha. Rad.

Will - 04/17/13 - 2:33pm

Interesting rear suspension idea, reminds me of Moots. I am in the market for a Trek Domane, which I still think is a better option because it will almost certainly have better power transfer out of the saddle, but I’m really glad road bikes are being developed with some give and I hope this pushes other brands to create other solutions.

SWijland - 04/17/13 - 2:35pm

First Calfee I like. A lot actually!

Chris - 04/17/13 - 2:45pm

I so want that bike in the gravel variety!! BTW what’s up with the rearward facing QR? Big faux-pas.

Tyler - 04/17/13 - 2:50pm

Drinkslinger – yes, that’s more or less what they’re doing, and they used the term friction fit with obvious tongue in cheek humor. There is a cushioning material between the frame and the battery, and Calfee knows what they’re doing.

Mindless - 04/17/13 - 3:03pm

Disk brakes please. It is 2013.

K11 - 04/17/13 - 4:34pm

looks nicely made. american designed AND built. would like to see pics of the cyclocross version.
name – amp_R, amp_E, amp_X (road,endurance,cyclocross)

morechorizo - 04/17/13 - 4:45pm

“Spiderman” because of the webbed lugs. Ditto on the disc brakes..caliper brakes are garbage in any form.

pmurf - 04/17/13 - 5:17pm

The Locust, in keeping with the insect theme. It’s a bit ugly, has a fat body, and eats everything in its path (ie road bumps)

satisFACTORYrider - 04/17/13 - 5:43pm


satisFACTORYrider - 04/17/13 - 5:49pm

i don’t think Tr. has it copyrighted ..CompletelyOptimizesCarbonKinetics…

1Pro - 04/17/13 - 6:08pm

good for craig for finally upping those tube diam’s. looks like that top tube is tapered too? nice.

randy - 04/17/13 - 7:19pm

All this “Tech” and no disc brakes.

Dan - 04/17/13 - 7:44pm

obviously I am not the intended traget for this product. Personally these frame/parts look very slopply made. the way the seatstays connect to the chain stay is just scary as well.

I do love the idea of a soft-tail road bike for the everyday rider. I also like the integration of items into the frame.

Ajax - 04/17/13 - 9:18pm

Great looking bike!

david j - 04/17/13 - 9:33pm

‘the ultimate black phantom ghost stallion’

Ventruck - 04/17/13 - 10:31pm

Not mind-blown by the idea, but that is typical nice stuff by Calfee. All in the finish. Some day…

bk - 04/18/13 - 12:19am

I wish I could attach a photo of my “integrated” stem/bar/garmin adapter. Mine is a lot lighter than the Calfee and uses the exact same step-by-step process only using different materials AND still allowing one to make adjustments.

Here’s how I did it:

1. Get your bike.
2. Get your black tape.
3. Start wrapping the black tape all around the stem/handlebar area, be sure to get the garmin mount under that tape too.
4. Once it’s sufficiently over done go out for a ride!
5. Best thing about my version is you can use different colored tape to suit your mood or match your bartape AND you can remove it, change stem lengths, bar position and bars!

Sark - 04/18/13 - 1:38am

Clearly hand made..rough..but just to judge this rig from its looks is unfair.
Never was a calfee fan..but the have street credibility…so the ride must be good i guess.
Discs or aeromounted brakes would have justified the “prototype” sticker a bit more.
Soft tail? Why not use flexy stays? They are carbon experts, are they?

Matt - 04/18/13 - 10:43am

Why do people always want disc brakes. I think these are people that have never used disc brakes. Disc brakes are a major hassle and are not going to work well in their current form on a road bike.

I can’t wait to hear the complaining by the roadies when they wake up for their long day in the saddle and find their brake lever with no tension in it. Just pump it up and trust it on that long descent – no problem. Or how about when that disc is dragging – which they all do. No problem on a MTB because you don’t notice it on that rocky climb, but for a roadie who is annoyed if people don’t wear a proper kit or keep their glasses on the outside of their helmet strap, that noise may kill em. Just saying.

NASH - 04/18/13 - 11:01am

@matt, I will wake up someday and with beach shorts on, SPD pedal shoes, sun glasses on the outside of my skate style helmet’s straps and with my dragging disks go for a ride- just to test your theory.

Jim C - 04/18/13 - 11:20am

Matt – really??!! ever notice that cars ranging from a Prius to F1 all suffer along with “unproven” disk brakes. And boy how all the MTB folks have abandoned them and gone back to Vbrakes. I look forward to LESS brake drag – as current rim brakes often contact the rim under hard efforts as the wheel deflects under a heavy load. Not to mention the freedom carbom rims builders now have as they no longer have to fear brake track heat buildup.

MMyers - 04/18/13 - 11:28am

Actually Matt, I suspect most people want disc brake because they HAVE used them, on their mountain bikes. They know that far superior modulation, less friction, and better poor-weather performance are all good things.

As to your scenarios; it would be equally foolish to ride a poorly bled brake off road too.

Nick - 04/18/13 - 11:37am

I’ve ridden mountain bikes with disc brakes for years and ridden road bikes for years as well. My XTR brakes always work and never drag. I would take a road version in a heartbeat.

Dave Schroeder - 04/18/13 - 11:53am

Sorry guys, no snarky comment. Slick bike. They should call it the “Nautilus” after their logo.

nh - 04/18/13 - 12:32pm

Those are Shimano levers and derailleurs. No pix of the actual campy install?

Matt - 04/18/13 - 5:52pm

Oh, they are great for MTBing. Not so much for road. Roadies will get their kits all in a bunch the first time they are coming down a long descent and the squealing noise starts with a little turkey gobble thrown in.

SimonPhilips - 04/19/13 - 7:47am

“Elastamur” or “Elastomatic” for the naming rights….

Dude - 04/19/13 - 4:03pm

Calfee’s work never fails to impress.
As far as a name, Abaci seems appropriate.

Jimmie Porter - 04/25/13 - 6:17pm

I’m all in on that ride who needs a mass produced bike made in Asia with 1-2 year warranty.

Ross - 05/11/13 - 1:05pm

Same “suspension” was introduced by Sunn on their mtbs over 10 years ago. They gave it up, don’t know why though!

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