We don't ride strength - we ride stiffness. Until something isn't strong enough, it is. In contrast, stiffness comes in degrees: you might feel a difference between a stiffer or less stiff frame, but you'll never feel the difference between a stronger or weaker frame - unless it breaks.
So, normally, strength standards aren't very interesting, until you realize the minimum government standards apply to every bicycle sold. Imagine, even the least expensive bike with the least engineering still passes the minimum safety standards (at least in theory!). Is that strong enough for the riding you do? Do other frame makers think it's enough?
The Cervélo standard
Given that high-performance use is expected, we go beyond the minimum legal requirements for strength. In fact, in addition to exceeding industry standards, we’ve developed some of our own unique strength tests. Setting this prerequisite poses some engineering challenges. Every increase above the minimum potentially adds weight in the form of more reinforcing material. As well, some materials that are good for adding strength do not add stiffness. The easy answer to this engineering challenge is to choose “strong,” “stiff,” or “light.” To choose all three means a lot more research and development time. Of course, as engineers, that’s what we do. It's no small achievement to increase the strength standards for all Cervélo frames, and still make the lightest frame in the world (the RCA) as well as the lightest aero bike in the world (the S5 VWD).
Cervélo internal requirements are at least 20% above industry standards. Here are some examples:
Falling frame requirement is 150% higher than industry.
Head tube impact is 87% higher, plus we use a solid steel fork (twice as stiff) & solid bearings.
BB fatigue achieved is 2,000,000+ cycles (vs. 100,000 cycles standard).
All Cervélos meet these requirements.
So as a rider, what does this mean to you?
Security & peace of mind. Part of the exhilaration of riding is traveling at speed with ease and confidence. Our goal is to reinforce not only the strength of the frame, but your confidence as a rider.
Toughness & durability. Obviously, don’t go pounding on your Cervélo with a hammer. But we do want you to hammer away on the pedals knowing that you will not damage your frame.
Crash-worthiness (more, not absolute). You cannot ride hard enough to wear out a Cervélo. And you'll have to crash hard to break one.