GARDEN GROVE, CA (BRAIN)—Cervélo opened its Southern California R & D facility to a small group of journalists and retailers on Monday afternoon timed with the launch of its limited production R5ca road frame, the California team’s first release.
Tucked away in a nondescript industrial park in Garden Grove, Project California opened in late 2007 in Garden Grove to focus on new production techniques, building and testing prototypes and refining layup designs.
To that end, the R5ca represents two years of research, innovation and testing spearheaded by engineer Don Guichard and his team of 14 at Project California. The 700-gram frameset incorporates updated geometry with a zero offset seat tube, which was developed using real ride data collected from a strain gauge bike created by Cervélo.
The frameset also has a new bottom bracket design developed by Cervélo called BBRight. The open standard design is narrower than BB90 but wider than BB30. Rotor, FSA and Zipp have already made cranksets specifically for BBRight and adapters are available for Campagnolo and SRAM cranks. The system is also compatible with Shimano.
Guichard and Cervélo co-founder Phil White led a tour of Project California starting in the layup room where a large automated machine cuts sheets of carbon fiber from Japan in frame-size specific kits. The frames move through tooling intensive manufacturing process before undergoing a dozen tests for impact, alignment and fatigue.
The facility uses the same tools, techniques and machines as the factories in Asia, and although Cervélo will manufacture about 300 R5ca frames in California this year, that is likely to be the extent of Cervélo’s North American production, White said.
“We have the ability to do all the molds here, all the lay up development, then we can take it and transfer it to Asia or keep it here or develop another facility if we think that’s the way to go. It’s not a direction to move production to California, we’ve got some really good producers in Taiwan and China that we’re going to continue to deal with and this actually supports them in the development,” White said.
The R5ca frameset with Rotor crankset retails for $9,800 and will begin shipping in the next couple weeks.
Retailers who got an early look at the frameset on Monday were impressed with Cervélo’s craftsmanship.
“This ups it one notch, making limited production road bikes with this type of quality handmade process,” said Lloyd Taylor, founder of the Triathon Lab stores in Redondo Beach and Santa Monica.
Photo: Cervélo co-founder Phil White talks about the R5ca frameset while standing in front of the R5ca ridden by Cervélo Test Team's Brett Lancaster during last week's Tour of California.