engineering redefined

As an engineering company dedicated to making all our riders go faster, we’re always testing new ideas and new processes. So when we want to engineer the lightest, stiffest and fastest bikes, we start with the toughest benchmarks in the industry: our own.

01. The Challenge

When it was launched in 2010, the R5ca set a completely new benchmark for light weight and stiff performance. Even two years later it was still the reference standard - 104g lighter than the nearest competitor and 32% stiffer (Tour magazine, Nov 2011). This was our starting point and the challenge was pretty simple: Make it even lighter and integrate the aero knowledge from the category-leading aero S-Series - all without any compromises to stiffness, ride and handling. In other words, engineer a bike that performed against all requirements: weight, stiffness and aero.

02. Project California

Our Project California facility is where we prove our leadership by engineering new manufacturing techniques and improved design processes. This is where we’ve created new bicycle-specific layup and ply analysis software to manufacture faster, stiffer, lighter and more comfortable bikes. This is where we push the composites R&D envelope. This is where we pushed our road bike engineering further.

03. Driven by Details

Our focus...

Our unwavering obsession with every single detail, from cable routing to bulkheads, allows us to raise the bar to a level never dared before. With all our F1 engineering design tools in-house (CAD, FEA, CFD), we are able to virtually test all aspects of frame performance… even before we begin cutting the moulds.

...on every detail...

The Rca showcases the best of our knowledge, testing, and industry-leading engineering processes: A lighter bike for easier climbing, optimum stiffness for increased efficiency and comfort, and our new aero profiles to make you faster.

...makes a difference

Each one of our limited edition Rca bikes is carefully hand laid up in Cervélo's Project California engineering lab, resulting in perfect quality control.

04. The Rca's Evolution

Our approach

Using our Concurrent Aero & Structural Engineering (CASE) approach we brought our Toronto and California teams together in a cross-disciplinary process. The goal: maximize the structural and aerodynamic performance of the final design.

Setting our targets

We performed 279 FEA analyses in a parametric design study evaluating 15 different parameters, such as downtube/seat tube fillet radius. This is the engineering preparation needed to begin the design of a Cervélo: It's doing our homework. A designer starts by designing, but an engineer first asks: if we change the dimension of this parameter, what effect does it have on performance?

Virtual optimization

Once we completed our homework, we started designing the bike. With optimum aero, stiffness, comfort and weight goals firmly in our sights, we began an iterative design process to create the first versions of the Rca’s frame shapes. This process was a cycle: design, virtually test, redesign, test again. Because we knew the effect of each parameter on every aspect of performance, with each iteration the new frame came closer and closer to the goals, step by step.

05. Innovations

Weight and stiffness

We’ve taken the lightest and made it even lighter while maintaining the optimal stiffness of the R5ca. Our ComfortPly™ technology actually removes unneeded fibres to reduce weight and vibration and improve ride quality. Average weight: 667 grams, size 54cm with paint & hardware.


We’ve developed Squoval 3™, giving our light weight tube shapes a new aero profile, and giving you 7.4 Watts less drag than the current R-series, a savings of over 100 kilojoules over a 5-hour stage. That's up to 10.2 Watts less drag than typical road bikes.


The Rca has already won the globally-recognised 2012 JEC Composites Innovations Award, because we use innovative engineering in every detail of our bikes. This includes: The right carbon in the right spot, 3M™ Powerlux™, and Integran/PowerMetal Nanovate™ nickel coating.

Hollow Dropouts Squoval 3 3M™ Powerlux™ Composite Integran/PowerMetal Nanovate™ Integrated Power Meter Magnet
Hollow Dropouts

A smart reversal of male and female coupling. Stays are bonded into dropouts instead of the reverse. This way we eliminate the sacrificial plies in the stays, saving 5 grams per frame. The hollow right dropout also gives the internal rear derailleur cable a straight shot through the chainstay and dropout, eliminating a source of cable friction.

Squoval 3

Stiff, light and now aero too. The first two generations of Squoval™ tube cross sections were engineered purely for high stiffness and low weight. Our new Squoval 3 frames reduce aero drag by a whopping 74 grams compared to second generation Squoval frames, without giving up any stiffness or gaining any weight. Now you can have your cake and eat it, too.

3M™ Powerlux™ Composite

3M’s nano-silica filled 3M™ Powerlux™ resin system improves interlaminar shear & compression strength, the first nano-resin to demonstrate real structural improvements in rigorous carbon fibre coupon testing.

Integran/PowerMetal Nanovate™

Used first in the Rca, PowerMetal Nanovate™ adds a strong, light coating on the fork steerer. PowerMetal Nanovate™ nickel increases yield strength by 7 times over conventional nickel, and results in higher ductility as well. Strength plus ductility is toughness, which is how we’ve been able to engineer a tougher fork without adding weight.

Integrated Power Meter Magnet

A strong magnet is laid in between the carbon fibre plies of the frame’s down tube near the bottom bracket, positioned at the perfect radius from the crank axis to be sensed by popular crank-based power meters.

06. From Paper to Pavement

Andrew Talansky

"The nice thing about the Rca is that it is vertically compliant to help smooth out the road, but laterally stiff, very stiff; and that’s what we need in cycling."

Ryder Hesjedal

"When I test a new bike, it’s not just about getting up on the pedals or being lightweight, it’s the way that the bike works with your body and responds; the stiffness the bike provides me. The Rca certainly makes a big difference in that regard."

Rohan Dennis

"The Rca's handling is awesome. There is obviously more technology put into this to be aero, but it's also stiff and light. You seem to get everything out of the bike that you put into it. It’s unlike any bike I have been on before."