Cervélo is a brand that’s totally focused on racing and with it has a commitment to aerodynamics. Its S-Series bikes defined aerodynamic race bikes and inspired the likes of Trek’s Madone and Cannondale’s SystemSix.
Even its R-Series bikes, built for Grand Tour racing, combine lightweight and aero shapes, as does the Aspero gravel machine for a fully gravel-race-focused bike.
The Caledonia is a big departure then, with its primary design goal being to appeal to a wider riding audience and be a true endurance bike to compete with the likes of Giant’s Defy, Cannondale’s Synapse, Trek’s Domane and Specialized’s Roubaix.
However, this being Cervélo, with competition at its core, it still had to be a bike that serves the pros and racing on the tough roads of the classics.
Cervélo Caledonia 5 Ultegra Di2 design and geometry
For the Caledonia, Cervélo looked to its back catalogue for inspiration and the team-issue R3 Mud designed for Paris-Roubaix – on which Johan Van Summeren won the 2011 edition of the race.
The R3 Mud expanded tyre clearance to a massive, for 2011, 30mm tubular tyre when most riders were still using 23s and 25s for rougher days. The Mud edition also introduced more compliance than the standard R3, to improve comfort on the cobbles.
It’s an idea that carried forward onto last year’s Aspero gravel machine. In fact, the new Caledonia has the same stiffness character as the Aspero through the bottom bracket and head tube, also matching the R-Series bikes.
Where it differs, however, is Cervélo has built more compliance into the seatstays and seat tube to make the Caledonia a smoother ride.
The geometry also differs from current Cervélos. The Caledonia is more about providing stable and smooth handling than the sharp reactions found on the R-Series.
That has meant relaxing the head angle slightly to 72 degrees with a 50mm fork offset (the R-Series has a 73-degree head and 45mm offset), for a trail of 57mm on a 25mm tyre, rising to 60mm on a 30mm tyre.
What is trail?
Trail is a combination of head tube angle and the fork offset. This measure indicates the tyres’ contact point ‘trailing’ behind the steering axis.
A small trail measurement makes for a fast handling bike, while a longer trail slows down steering response.
In context, a 57mm trail is the same as very race-orientated bikes such as Cannondale’s SuperSix EVO, whereas 60mm is more akin to an endurance bike, or even gravel machine.
The seat angle remains a regular 73 degrees, while the chainstays run out to a longer 415mm (the R5 has 410mm chainstays).
|Seat angle: (degrees)||74.5||74||73.5||73||73||73|
|Head angle: (degrees)||70.5||71.5||72||72||72||72|
|Seat tube: (cm)||4.8||5.1||5.4||5.6||5.8||6.1|
|Top tube: (cm)||50.2||52.2||54.3||56.5||58.1||59.8|
|Head tube: (cm)||8.95||10.99||13.6||16.23||19.12||21.75|
|Fork offset: (cm)||5.9||5.3||5||5||5||5|
|Bottom bracket drop: (cm)||7.65||7.65||7.4||7.4||7.15||7.15|
My test bike comes with a 52/36 chainset combined with a wide 11-34 cassette, Cervélo AB09 carbon bar, ProLogo Dimension saddle, D-shaped Cervélo carbon post and the new Reserve 35 carbon wheelset (from the recently launched Reserve brand, itself a collaboration between Cervélo and mountain bike supremos Santa Cruz) that’s shod with 30mm Vittoria Rubino Pro TLR tyres
Weight wise, the Caledonia 5 is a claimed 936g for the frame and 370g for the fork – finished, painted, hardware fitted in a size 56cm – my 58cm complete test bike weighs in at 8.62kg.
Cervélo Caledonia 5 Ultegra Di2 ride impressions
The Caledonia is undoubtedly a great looking bike, the integration of the cables through the AB09 bar and Cervélo stem keeps the front end as clean looking as an aero bike, as does the smoothly interlocking frame and fork.
On the road, the Caledonia feels like a Cervélo; the rigid feel of the frame under load makes it as responsive as an S-Series bike. In fact, the whole experience feels very close to the S3 I tested as part of our 2020 Bike of the Year test.
That’s not that surprising when you take a look at the geometry size-for-size in a 58cm; the S3 and Caledonia share the same stack and reach numbers – 605mm stack and 396mm of reach
Stack and reach
Stack is the vertical distance from the top of the head tube to the centre of the bottom bracket – taller stack means a more upright ride position, lower stack means a lower (racier) position.
Reach is the horizontal distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the centre of the head tube – longer reach lowers your ride position, shorter reach means you sit more upright.
Those numbers are on the performance end of what you may find on an endurance bike, or conversely are more relaxed than the majority of out-and-out race bikes.
It does have significant advantages over the S3 for most (non-racing) riders. First, the the big volume tyres, along with a fairly compliant frame at the rear end and a quality carbon bar that helps nullify road vibrations up front, add up to a superbly smooth ride even on the poorest surfaces.
Second is the inclusion of removable mudguard mounts. Here, Cervélo has considered the end user of the Caledonia, especially those that share a similar climate to its Toronto HQ in Toronto – in fact, the Caledonia is named after a Toronto road infamous for its poor condition and tough surface.
These neat additions to the thru-axle caps integrate threaded bosses for full-length ‘guards and a removable bridge for the seatstays – the aero fork is drilled for a ‘guard mount on the crown.
Along with a rear light mount that replaces the bottom section of the saddle rail clamp, these additions are very well thought out and give the Caledonia year-round ride appeal without compromise.
As a result, the Caledonia 5 handles like a race bike yet feels as comfortable as class-leading endurance bikes out there, including Giant’s Defy and Cannondale’s Synapse, and without resorting to suspension tech as found on Trek’s Domane and Specialized’s Roubaix – however, the Caledonia can’t match either of these when the road gets really rough.
Cervélo doesn’t however seem to be able to fully commit to the pure endurance arena, as the Ultegra Di2 pairing of a pro-compact 52/36 chainset with an endurance-friendly wide 11-34 cassette attests.
It does mean that you have a fast chain-gang-ready set of gears at the taller end and low enough gears for solo ascents on steep slopes, though, so I approve of this slightly mixed approach.
Also, the bike’s handling, running on the 30c tyres and the longer wheelbase of 1,030.7mm on a 58cm makes for a bike that’s superbly composed especially when descending.
Although the head angle is kept regulation race, it doesn’t make the Caledonia feel dull when riding hard. It’s a fine achievement to put together a bike that’s this comfortable without losing the racing edge that so defines Cervélo.
Cervélo Caledonia 5 Ultegra Di2 kit performance
I’ve no issues with this £5,799 / $6,500 model’s specification. Ultegra Di2 is what I’d expect at this price and its performance, shifting accuracy and reliability is brilliant.
Cervélo hasn’t skimped or undercut any element of it either, so you get Ultegra Icetech rotors, a Shimano chain and an Ultegra grade cassette – all areas where brands often look to save money.
The Reserve 35mm wheels have a claimed weight of 1,449g and wide 21mm internal measure, perfect for the Vittoria 30mm tyres, and both come pre-taped and tubeless ready.
Sadly, the bike didn’t come set up tubeless, which would certainly drop a few grams in weight, and that did pose a problem when I flatted the front tyre on a test ride.
A tight fitting tyre, exacerbated by a thick inner tube, meant it was almost impossible to remove the tyre. So, I converted the wheel to full tubeless as soon as I got home and have had no issues since.
Elsewhere, the neat Cervélo ST25 stem and AB09 bar integrate cables smartly and the out-front computer mount keeps the front-end clean. It’s wrapped with quality textured all-weather bar tape too.
At the back, the D-shaped carbon post comes straight from the brand’s R5 bike and is topped with ProLogo’s well shaped short Dimension saddle, which makes for very well sorted contact points that all add to the Caledonia 5’s considerable charms.
Cervélo Caledonia 5 Ultegra Di2 overall
If, like so many bikes out there, it came set up tubeless rather than tubeless ready, I’d have very little to fault.
I have to admit to being somewhat enamoured by just how accomplished the Caledonia 5 feels. It’s not necessarily the bike that Cervélo fans desire but I think it’s most probably the Cervélo they should be riding. And, if you’re not a Cervélo fan, the Caledonia 5 could well be the bike that changes your mind.
|Price||GBP £5799.00USD $6500.00|
|Features||Accessories: Front mount computer mount, rear accessory mount, removable fender mounts|
|Available sizes||48, 51, 54, 56, 58, 61cm|
|Brakes||Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc|
|Cranks||Shimano Ultegra 53/36|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Ultegra Di2|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Ultegra Di2|
|Saddle||ProLogo Dimension TiRox|
|Seatpost||Cervélo SP18 carbon|
|Shifter||Shimano Ultegra Di2|
|Stem||Cervélo ST32 alloy|
|Tyres||Vittoria Rubino Pro TLR Graphene 2.0 30mm|
|Wheels||Reserve 35mm rims on DT Swiss 370 hubs|