When does a bike become more than “just a bike?” Most are simply a double-triangle structure with two wheels, a crankset, and an assortment of other components. So what makes one stand out from the rest? The answer isn’t easy, not by any stretch. Perhaps it isn’t the qualities of the bike or frame itself, but the story behind it. Or maybe that it sparks up conversation that goes beyond the quantitative aspects – “how much does the bike weigh?” “how much does the bike cost?” etc. It certainly is not what the frame is made out of – as evidenced by the reaction of anyone who’s ever seen a Pegoretti Ciavete built with Campagnolo Super Record, or Rob English’s award-winning TT bike – some of the most beautiful steel bikes. It can’t be the cost as there’s plenty of [insert European country here]-made frames that aren’t remarkable in any way aside from the price-tag they command. There’s no doubt that the caliber of a bike is a subjective matter. For me, THAT bike – or at the very least the frame itself – is the California-made Cervélo RCa.
As the owner of one of the original R5Ca Project California bikes, I’m admittedly a bit biased. On the other hand, I’ve had my fair share of bikes, none of which have outlasted my R5Ca over the last four to five years. It’s easy to get caught up in the tangible elements. After all, the first thing most people notice is how light the frame is. At sub 700 grams, a scotch on the rocks weighs almost as much as the RCa frame in its largest size. The incredible detail in the craftsmanship is hard not to notice. A trend setter, the first Project California R5Ca started what is now an all-too-common theme amongst high-end bikes, matte black on black paint. The subtle, gloss, clear-coat-over-carbon paint of the latest Project California showcases incredible detail in the lay-up. Detail that even the biggest steel or Ti enthusiast is sure to appreciate.
Most importantly, the Cervélo RCa is a time-stamp, but not in the way you’d think. Beyond any color-scheme or model year, it’s a bit of a historical bookmark as the company establishes the next generation of bikes. Cervélo has long positioned itself as an engineering-first company and the RCa is direct proof of that, way more than any white paper or marketing piece could ever be. Made in California by the engineers themselves, it’s the product of hundreds and thousands of hours of doing what the company has set out to do. Make the best bikes, period.