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Bike at Bedtime: Cervélo Caledonia

Check out a new road bike that's designed to offer durability, light weight, and aero efficiency

Cervélo’s Caledonia is a thoroughly modern road bike, designed with a generous amount of tyre clearance and enough versatility to take on a whole variety of surfaces. 

2020 was a funny old year – funny-peculiar, not funny-ha-ha – and the bike launch season, which usually lasts several months, was condensed into about a fortnight in July. They were coming at us thick and fast for a while back there. The Cervélo Caledonia was one of the bikes to emerge during that period, an interesting design that didn’t get the airtime that it warranted.

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There has been a big move over recent years towards road bikes that can handle a bit of everything – tarmac, broken roads, potholes, dirt – and the Caledonia falls squarely within this genre. Cervélo labels this category ‘modern road’ although other brands go with ‘all-road’ or something similar. Let’s not get into a debate on terminology now, just as long as we all know what we’re talking about.

One thing that’s worth remembering, though, is that the Caledonia is still designed as a race bike – it’s just that the race in question is Paris-Roubaix. Cervélo says that it is intended to get across the pavé as quickly as possible.

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The range is split into two: Caledonia and Caledonia-5. They share many characteristics: they’re built around carbon-fibre and disc brake-specific framesets, and the geometry and levels of stiffness (222 N m/mm at the bottom bracket, 105 N m/degree at the head tube, if you’re interested) are identical. They’ll each take 34mm tyres, or 31mm tyres with mudguards.

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The main differences are that Caledonia-5 is lighter (936g frame, 370g fork, according to Cervélo, compared with 1,031g frame, 432g fork for the Caledonia without a ‘5’) and has completely internal cable/hose routing on model with electronic shifting, whereas the cables/hoses on the Caledonia are external between the handlebar and the frame/fork. The Caledonia also has a round bar, post, and stem while the Caledonia-5 has an R5 D-Post seatpost and is more expensive.

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Cervélo says that it has “applied knowledge gained from [its] extensive library of tube shapes to create a race bike that excels on variable road surfaces, striking a balance between durability, light weight and aerodynamics”.

Cervélo reckons that the Caledonia’s stiffness has been tuned to that of its Aspero gravel bike, while the geometry is designed to slow down the handling and make the rider more comfortable and confident and, ultimately, faster.

It hasn’t added extra elements, like elastomers, to soften the ride, claiming that the simplest solution is almost always the best, so it has used its experience of tube shaping to come up with a layout that achieves the level of compliance it was chasing. Cervélo says it has used lower modulus carbon in key areas to avoid the brittleness of high modulus carbon and so improve durability.

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The seat angle is similar to that of Cervélo's R-Series road bikes, but the head angle is a little slacker and the fork offset is larger. The chainstays are also a touch longer, increasing the wheelbase, and the bottom bracket is lower than on the R3. The idea of all this is to add stability.

Both the Caledonia and the Caledonia-5 use standard 12mm thru-axles and have a front derailleur mount that's removable so you can keep things tidy if you run a 1x drivetrain and don’t need it.

Each platform comes with removable alloy dropout mudguard mounts and a plastic seatstay bridge. There are also low-profile mount points at the back of the fork crown and behind the bottom bracket.

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The Caledonia is available in three different builds, starting at £3,190 (Shimano 105 groupset, Alexrims Boondocks 5-D wheels).

There are five different Caledonia-5 models, the most affordable of them coming in at £5,589 (Shimano Ultegra groupset, DT Swiss E1800 wheels).

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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