Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Cervelo Project California - Press release

The R5ca frame showcasing Cervélo's Project California - research, development and manufacturing facility
26-May-2010 - Anaheim, California: Cervélo is pleased to announce the new R5ca road frame, the frame showcasing Project California, Cervélo’s research and development facility. The R5ca is also produced at the Project California facility.

Knowledge driven, not product driven
“We set-up the Project California facility in late-2007 to expand and enhance our capabilities in design and manufacturing of complex carbon structures, predominantly frames,” said Gerard Vroomen, Cervélo co-founder. “It is knowledge-driven, not product-driven.”

“The facility enables us to set up new production techniques, build and test prototypes and refine layup designs all in one location. This reduces our development time substantially and also allows more opportunities for product experimentation. In addition it provides much better protection for our intellectual property.”

New ways of looking at design problems
“Project California has provided us with a new way of looking at things,” said Phil White, Cervélo co-founder. “It’s given us the opportunity to see what we can do and how to apply this knowledge to our entire product line. To that goal we have been focusing on improving our lab tests to better reflect reality. The bike industry shows an increased emphasis on lab tests (especially in marketing). But if the tests do not reflect the real world, they are meaningless.”

By using a real-life testing model, Cervélo discovered that the lab assumptions, about where each tube on a bike frame carries the most pressure during certain ride conditions are not always correct.

To counter this, Cervélo created a “strain gauge bike” that measures the load and flex in various areas of the bike when ridden. They then compared the real ride data they collected with standard lab tests and determined that they needed to re-engineer their frames to meet real world needs.

Cervélo also learned how to improve their design process and production techniques with new layup design & ply analysis software.

R5ca Cervélo’s new R5ca frame showcases the result of the research and development processes developed at Project California and incorporates many of the layup and manufacturing learnings, including:
• Bottom Bracket Design (see BBright presentation).
• Updated geometry including Zero offset seattube (see R5ca Geometry presentation)
• Headtube bearing size.
• Details:
– BB cable guides
– Rear derailleur hanger
– Front derailleur mount
– Seattube collar

My Thoughts:

It's difficult not to be impressed by the weight of the frame, and I am no weight weenie. The question that crosses my mind in WHY, when he UCI stick to the 6.8 kg rule, what benefits does the rider get? The obvious place where this massive reduction in weight is a benefit is going up hill. But as Merckx famously said "what's the point in a bike being quick uphill if you lose all the time on the downhill?", and of course he is right. I am sure that the real benefits will come in the replacements for the R and S series bikes which are in principal 5 year old designs.

Hopefully how the bike handles (with the added UCI weights) still ends up being the experience they (the engineers) where looking for. As bikes can drop below the 6.8 kg barrier with some ease, the questions that always never gets an answer is 1. Why do the UCI not review this rule? and the other 2. Why do manufacturers still want to make lighter and lighter bikes, when the PRO's can't use them, but us mere mortals can. 


Uli said...

Hi Rich

Personally, I think it is still valuable to build lighter parts as long as they are reliable. That provides a chance to improve durability without compromising beyond the 6.8kg. I would love to see the industry going in this direction but I doubt it will given that they need to sell stuff. Maybe we need a few US lawsuits resulting from poor quality that makes the industry rethink?

Like your website, keep it up!


Rich said...

Uli, you make a good point and thanks for taking the time to post it.

I have always liked Keith Bontrager's thoughts on design, weight, price & durability. Although he went the way of the Trek Corp (like so many good American niche brands) at least his ideas remain alive with his process. I am still amazed that the Bontrager wheels are one of the few that don't have a weight limit, which for lsw suit USA is amazing.

And finally thanks for the nice comment on the site :-)