Anyone who gets to meet David Killing will discover that he is passionate about design. The 28-year-old Queen’s University alumnus has found a great compliment to this passion during his past 3 years at Cervélo: cycling. On a recent trip to experience his latest work, the RCA, David found himself feeling at home on the long, scenic, winding climbs of California.
“A design should be driven by its functional requirements. And the best designs achieve these requirements in the most simple and elegant form,” says Killing. It is easy to imagine that David’s understanding of design developed at an early age, growing up in a Georgian Bay, ON community with a father who is a boat designer. Family influence works both ways, though. “Dad designs boats, but now he has been riding some Fondos and doing very well in his age group,” David claims.
David’s latest role at Cervélo was lead designer on the RCA. Since the project relied so heavily on research and development, his input became a necessity. “Once we decided that we almost have to start from scratch to understand what each part of the frame is doing, I really became involved,” states David. “The designer’s role is to figure out how we are going to approach a project and what needs to be researched.” David was involved in each of the 93 iterations of the frame in the development phase of the project.
David’s current ride is a far cry from his first road bike: a 1979 Peugot that was rescued from a dumpster in Barrie, ON. “A shop was throwing out bikes they didn’t want,” Killing tells me. “We [David and his brother] asked them if we could have them and they said yes.” This dumpster Peugot was his introduction to riding road bikes, equipped with the latest in 6 speed down-tube-shifter technology. His previous ride was a small wheel “chopper-style bike with ape-hanger handlebars” that David used to get around campus.
Since David has been working on Project California, it was only fitting that he get to be one of the first to test his efforts on the new frame. And what better location to ride than the place where the frame is made? The climb up Yerba Buena Rd from the PCH just outside of Malibu is among the longer climbs that Killing has been able to attempt. “It is also the most enjoyable climb I’ve done,” he states. With sections of rough surface and some steeper pitches, it is an ideal quiet stretch of road to test the attributes of the RCA. “Of course,” David adds, “the view didn’t hurt either.”
Even better was the winding fast descent down Dekker Rd after completing the climb. “I haven’t done a lot of descending in general,” David tells me with a huge grin, “especially where you can push it as fast as you are willing. It was a perfect place to experience the bike for what it was designed to do. You just don’t get the sense of the way it handles without these elements.”
Clearly, David is appreciating the efforts of the entire team that made the RCA happen. “I really enjoyed seeing all of the bikes together - as finished products - being ridden by some of the most knowledgeable and experienced riders,” David says of the California test ride. David is now seeking out some longer and more challenging climbs closer to Toronto where he can enjoy his RCA. “After all, the final stage in the development process is to see the rider interact with the bike.”