TORONTO, Canada (BRAIN) — Cervélo on Thursday unveiled the second frameset to come out of its Southern California R & D facility, the Rca. The company previewed the limited-production frame to a dozen journalists last week during a two-day media camp in Malibu, California.
Cervélo co-founder Phil White said it’s the culmination of two years of materials work and frame analysis and showcases Project California’s intricate and engineering-focused development and manufacturing process.
“Project California gives us an opportunity to play — for engineers it’s a sandbox,” he said about the facility, which opened in 2007.
Engineers were tasked with taking the already light and stiff R5ca and making it even lighter and more aerodynamic while retaining stiffness. And at $10,000 suggested retail, the Rca is essentially a concept bike that allows Cervélo to unveil new technologies that it can eventually trickle down to other models.
The Rca comes in at a svelte 667 grams, about 30 grams lighter than the R5ca. Cervélo claims the new frameset also reduces aero drag by 7.4 watts compared to the R5ca and up to 10.2 watts compared to other road bikes on the market.
Cervélo was able to improve aerodynamics by tweaking its Squoval tube shapes. The frame also makes use of new materials that allowed it to manipulate its carbon layup and bonding for maximum stiffness and weight savings without compromising the frame. The carbon fork steerer’s clamping areas are coated in nano-nickel to increase strength.
“We know people don’t always use a torque wrench, so we’ve added nickel to make it stronger,” White said.
The frame also makes use of a new 3M nano-resin in areas subject to compression force including the headtube and downtube junctions and the seat tube cluster.
“It’s all in the details and the final result is a bike that has a lot of tweaking all over,” said Cervélo's David Killing, who worked closely on the Rca’s design. “It’s all around a faster bike than the R5ca.”
Engineers worked through 93 virtual frames in its software methodology to arrive at the Rca. Then about 80 prototype frames were put through real-life testing to ensure that the virtual design could be matched in a production frame.
The Rca features Cervélo’s asymetric oversized press fit bottom bracket — BBright — hollow carbon fiber dropouts, internal cable stops and integrated power meter magnet near the bottom bracket.
Cervélo will only produce 325 frames at its Project California facility in Garden Grove, California. The frameset will be available in sizes 48 to 61 with a suggested retail price of $10,000 and begin shipping March 18.
White said that while the Rca has been ready for a few months, they didn’t want to launch it until they had some in stock to ship.
“We’ve taken a beating for launching a bike without stock so we’re launching with production models,” he said.
Look for Team Garmin-Sharp, including 2012 Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal, to be on the Rca at the upcoming Giro d’Italia. Hesjedal has reportedly been testing the Rca since December.