It’s always a good day when you get asked to review a new bike, especially when they drop the name Cervelo. In this case, I was asked to test the new Caledonia.
Some quick facts
Groupset: SRAM Rival AXS eTap.
Wheels: Fulcrum Racing 900 DB.
Tyres: Zafiro Pro G2 30mm.
Crankset: 48×35 Rival AXS drivetrain. 12spd.
Cassette: SRAM Rival 10×36.
Out of the box
First impression: What a fantastic-looking bike! I fell in love with the Glacier paintwork. It’s definitely eye-catching and looks amazing in the sunlight. I like the fact that manufacturers are slowly walking away from the all-black paintwork we have been seeing for too many years now. Although, yes, all black is an option in their colorway choices.
On the road
It takes me a few rides before I get a feel for a new bike and can make some decisions on what I think the machine is suited for.
This Caledonia is a tricky one. Don’t get this bike confused with the Caledonia 5. This bike is similar but different and also not in that price bracket.
Is it an entry-level road racing machine? Is it a gravel bike? After several days of testing, I came to the conclusion it’s a combination of both.
The ride feel is very smooth. The slightly longer top tube (56.5cm for a 56cm frame size) and more giving geometry make for a bike that you feel you will be able to ride all day with and not climb off totally buckled, as I have been on some of the latest racing machines. But maybe that’s old age.
I took the Caledonia on my usual 120km loop (around McLaren Vale, SA) with some gravel roads and around 1200 metres of climbing. It makes for a tough session and great bike testing grounds.
The Caledonia feels stiff enough and responsive on the climbs. The 12spd eTap shifting was flawless – never a miss shift.
At 8.8kg, yes, this build is not a climbing machine, but to be honest, on climbs less than 12 per cent, you don’t notice the extra few kilograms. I have found that even with an entry-level groupset (as the Rival AXS is SRAM’s entry-level groupset), I’m finding it more and more difficult to come across faults or a major difference between the groupsets that are double or even three times the price.
It may make a difference when you are racing at a pro level, but for most of us weekend warriors, I think if your ego can handle it, there is nothing to fault with an entry-level groupset like the Rival AXS.
The disc brakes had 160mm rotors which I found gave me plenty of slowing and stopping power. Although the brake pads, as they were new, had to be worn in for a day or so, and after that, I had flawless braking, no vibrations, or any squealing, even on the more difficult faster descents.
The gear ratio 48×35 – cassette 10×36 was pleasant. I often found that I could keep it in the big chain ring on most of the climbs, which I normally can’t do, and the biggest gear 48×10 was just big enough not to get dropped by the group on the descents.
The Fulcrum Racing 900 DB wheels (tubeless compatible) are noticeably a touch heavier than the wheelsets I normally use, but this has its advantages on the gravel roads I was riding on. With standard 30mm Zafiro Pro tyres, I felt I could have chosen even some rougher roads and still felt safe, comfortable, and in control. Keep in mind the frame clearance allows up to 34mm tyres, and if you were to use fenders, then 32mm would be the max tyre width.
The Caledonia is designed as an all-round endurance machine suitable for road and gravel. The head angle at 72 degrees (56cm frame) is a touch more relaxed than any of the Cervelo R series.
The seat tube angle is 73 degrees (56cm frame), and with the chain stays running out a little longer at 415mm compared to the R5’s 410mm chain stays, this package is designed to give the rider more stability on uneven terrain, and that’s what I found riding the local gravel roads down south of Adelaide.
The Caledonia has Cervelo’s compact-drop alloy bar and alloy stem, which has a faceplate-fitting GPS Mount that comes in handy. There’s no complete internal braking system on this machine; the brake hoses route internally at the fork crown and down tube instead of running through an integrated cockpit.
This makes life much easier for those of us who like to travel and need to take off their bars now and again. Also, a plus point, I think, is it delivers smoother braking compared to some internal cable routing systems I have used. Cervelo has snuck in top tube mounts (hidden behind a cover plate) should you want to mount a small top tube carry bag.
The Caledonia feels like a lively racing machine, although the gearing is more suitable for a gravel bike where it feels right at home as well. The extra few kilograms aren’t noticeable until you hit the super steep climbs, but then again, you get to enjoy more stable, comfortable descending. This machine is an all-rounder, a bike I would love to take to the Gran Fondo Tour of Flanders or ride on the roads of Paris – Roubaix.
An all-in-one machine for the rider that doesn’t want to own a road and a gravel bike. This Caledonia does it all.
Wheels are a touch heavy for my liking but that’s easily sorted.