Iconic British sports car maker Caterham is among the latest outsiders to venture into the cycling market, launching its gorgeous Duo Cali road bike at this year's Eurobike show. Built in Germany by AX-Lightness, the Duo Cali might not appeal to hardcore tech nerds but with its unique shape and what is sure to be extreme exclusivity, it's bound to land on more than a few wish lists.
Check out our video for Cycling Plus tech editor Warren Rossiter's first-ride impressions. All the original launch info before this 19 December update can be found below.
Given the formidable competition already present in the increasingly crowded cycling market, Caterham wisely didn't set out to create the lightest, stiffest, or most aerodynamic machine. Instead, the company aimed to build an utterly beautiful machine that offered very high performance in an aesthetically irresistible wrapper.
The Caterham Duo Cali is marked by absolutely gorgeously lines
The distinctly shaped Duo Cali is visually defined by the curving lines of the top tube and seat stays, and the down tube and chain stays, with each pair flowing seamlessly into the adjoining main tube. This isn't just a visual effect, either, as the Duo Cali is as close to a true monocoque as we've seen in recent memory. With the exception of the carbon fiber seat tube and CNC-machined aluminum dropouts, which are bonded in later, the entire frame is molded as a single unit.
Such a shape isn't possible with conventional two-piece clamshell molding methods, however, given the central channels built into the top tube and down tube. As a result, the Duo Cali requires a more complex five-piece mold. Although Caterham's composites division – the same group that handles the company's Formula 1 duties – took care of the frame's styling, lay-up, and tooling, the final tweaks and the actual manufacturing is contracted out to German outfit AX-Lightness.
The complex shaped requires a five-piece mold instead of the usual two-piece clamshell
Caterham says a raw 56cm frame weighs in right at 1,000g, although the elaborate paint job (which is sprayed by hand in Cologne, Germany) can add as much as 250g. The quick geometry was supposedly approved by ex-pro sprinter Marcel Wüst, but the very slightly extended head tubes are still meant to appeal to the 'everyday' rider.
Those 'everyday' riders had better like Campagnolo's EPS electronic drivetrains, however, as Caterham designed the Duo Cali to only work with those groupset. Shimano Di2 packages might also be possible but Caterham says it designed its frame with just EPS in mind, and mechanical drivetrains simply won't work.
It's Campagnolo EPS or nothing
So dedicated was Caterham to EPS that the flat bar-equipped Duo Cali Urban EPS model features Campagnolo Veloce controls with custom EPS shifters that Caterham engineered and built in-house.
Potential customers had also better have a healthy cash reserve on hand. The limited edition flagship model with Campagnolo Super Record EPS, Tune Airways carbon wheels, and a fi'zi:k carbon cockpit will command a whopping US$19,730 (approximately €15,000) – in homage to Caterham's founding in 1973. Framesets will sell for around US$5200 / €4,000.
Caterham will offer multiple build kits but all will feature Campagnolo EPS drivetrains and this green character line
Caterham will have 56cm framesets available around the end of the year with 48, 52, and 60cm sizes to follow in March.