Industry Standards part3

I noticed that every bike company claims to have the lightest, stiffest, and most aero bike. Everyone seems to measure these things differently. Isn’t there an industry standard to help me compare bikes?

Strength Matters

Strength standards

 

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.

Comments (11)
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  • Damon Rinard, Cervélo Engineer

    Hi Jack, The number is simulated pedal strokes, as you guessed. The force is, however, much higher. This lets us accelerate a lifetime of riding in the real world, into a few days in the test lab. Interestingly, this works because humans can't push on the pedals at maximum force all the time. Max pedal forces are about ten times greater than average pedal forces. As a result, average pedaling forces do virtually no damage to a frame, compared to the high-force pedal strokes. Cheers, -Damon

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  • Jack

    Can you explain what "BB fatigue achieved is 2,000,000+ cycles" means? I was thinking it might be crank arm revolution but that number seems far too low for that.

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  • Jake Miller

    I'm working on a senior design project for mechanical engineering that deals with bicycle frame design and testing, and I would really appreciate talking to one of your engineers about your fatigue testing. Would that be possible? Thanks, love learning about your bikes.

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  • Damon Rinard, Cervélo Engineer

    Hi Pete, At your height and weight, you are easily within our structural limits and can choose from any Cervelo model, and confidently ride it as hard as you like. We invite you to buy one of each please. ;-) Cheers, -Damon

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  • Damon Rinard, Cervélo Engineer

    Hi Ron, In your case a manufacturing defect caused the crack. That's why we replaced it to you under warranty - we take responsibility for our work. Making carbon structures can be either very simple or very complex, or in between. For as example of "simple", every kid I knew in high school had made a fibreglass surfboard in their garage. On the other hand, as an example of complex, Cervelo bikes are engineered to be simultaneously aero, stiff, light, strong and comfortable. The closer the structure gets to the complex end of the spectrum, the less margin you have and the more important every fibre becomes. This is why we are so careful making Cervelos, and why we stand behind them - in your case, by replacing the frame. Cheers, -Damon

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  • Pete

    I am 6'3" and 220 lbs. can you direct me to a Cervelo frame strong enough? Thank you, Pete

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  • Ron

    Hi Guys as a fairly long term owner of Cervelo carbon frame (SLC and S2) bikes. I have a question that intrigues me from a couple of directions and sort of fits this topic. I have had a frame replacement under warranty because of a hair line crack in the top of the top tube near the seat tube junction. I am by no means a heavy rider at 145 lb ( average height at about 5'11") and not all that powerful either. I take meticulous care of the bike which is why I even note these small cracks. So I am wondering what are the things (again exclude accidents, falls, or other accidental impacts), from a materials science and engineering point of view, that could cause these small cracks to form in the frame from normal use.

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  • Yang Yang

    My friend rides a 2010 R3 and crashed hard on asphalt and concrete, frame works perfectly. I got hit by a car on my 2013 S5 going 25mph, other then a bad knee the frame is fine except for the wheels.... I credit my Cervelo for saving my life LOL :')

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  • rjsmit1

    I ride a 2009 Cervelo RS, which is not Cervelo's state of the art work, but it is rock steady on 52 MPH descents, takes me solidly through fast hairpins and has provided me with tons of confidence to push harder. It's not one of the more noticeable bikes on the road, but it's a great piece of engineering, which is what attracted me to the brand. Keep up the terrific work.

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  • Damon Rinard, Cervélo Engineer

    Hi CVL, Thanks for writing about your great experience with your Cervelo! You're noticing exactly the technical performance characteristics we've engineered into your S5: speed and confidence. You're right about the gearing: mid-compact is about 4% higher than compact, and you've described the feeling well. I'm glad you're enjoying the speed and technology we've engineered into your Cervelo. Cheers, -Damon

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  • CVL

    Just recently purchased a 2013 S5. I immediately noticed and felt the difference in terms of stiffness comparing my S5 to my prior road bike. I accelerated faster, rode faster and felt comfortable with the handling chararcteristics of the S5. It maintained the line with cornering and really excelled in short uphill sprints up freeway overpasses! My S5 came with the mid-compact chainring set (Rotor). I did feel the difference a bit between my Sram Red 50/34 versus the 52/36 Rotor on hills with at least 6% grade but gained more speed on short sprints (flat and overpasses) and on long flats. I changed the rims/wheels that came with the S5 to Mavic's, which made a difference in terms of response, handling, and quality. I bought the Cervelo over other elite brands because of their R&D and innovation in bicycling technology. Lastly, the 2013 S5 looks great and it's made to go faster! Thank you Cervelo for a great product! CVL

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