First Look: Calfee Design's Ultra-Adaptable Cephal Hardtail - Pond Beaver 2021

Apr 14, 2021
by Daniel Sapp  

Calfee Design are known for their wild and custom creations ranging from tandems to bamboo bikes and beyond. The latest carbon creation from their La Selva Beach, CA, shop is called the Cephal (or Cephalopod) after the highly intelligent, agile, adaptable creature that takes on many shapes and forms to suit its needs.

Based on a standard design with a leaf spring rear end, the bike can be adapted to a variety of needs and situations thanks to a headset flip plate that allows for the head angle to be changed in 1 degree increments through a range of plus 4 degrees and minus 4 degrees. The Cephal frame also comes with an eccentric bottom bracket that makes it possible to change the bottom bracket height to accommodate varying fork lengths and tire sizes.


Calfee have four examples of how the frame can be set up: Enduro with bigger tires, MX wheel sizes, and a 160mm fork; trail with a steep seat angle, slack head angle and 140mm fork; XC with a lightweight build and 100-120mm fork; and big adventure with a drop bar set up. Calfee can also do fully custom geometry for riders who want something totally specific to their needs.




Enduro:


The enduro version is made to be aggressive as can be with a MX wheel setup. It's designed around a 160mm fork. Calfee states that the geometry is halfway to a full suspension bike but with the civility of a hardtail.




Trail:


The trail bike is built around 140mm and a long travel dropper post. It's designed to be ideal for most terrain. While the seat tube angle is slack for flat terrain, Calfee say riders can slide the saddle forward for more vertical conditions.




Cross Country:


The XC bike is made to be a classic hardtail race bike that can be built up lightweight. They believe the carbon leaf spring chainstays balance well with 120mm of front suspension. The bike is a balance of efficiency and capability. Small and XS frames are built around a 27.5"x 2.2" tire in this model but bikes can accommodate a small tread 29" tire as well.




Big Adventure:


The Big Adventure edition is made as an extension of Calfee's Adventure frame but designed around a 120mm suspension-corrected rigid fork. Calfee believe that the carbon leaf spring chainstays combined with wider 40mm-50mm tire widths help the bikes' capabilities. With a low seat tube clamp, riders can also run a dopper post. These frames are available in sizes XS to XXL and can be customized with bikepacking mounts. The geometry is made for fast stretches on pavement with technical prowess to go off-road.


For more information, visit calfeedesign.com




Pond Beaver 2021





105 Comments

  • 95 1
 Covfefe
  • 11 0
 I can't explain it, but your comment just fits this post remarkably well.
  • 4 0
 So much winning in that post...
  • 1 0
 A carbon bamboo composite material just hitting the market ... Carboo
  • 103 21
 Geez that’s ugly.
  • 21 3
 The fork does not look like its fully inserted in any of the pics. Yikes.
  • 2 0
 @ratedgg13: yeah, just crazy thick walls on head tube because of how they do their junctions with a continuously wrapped wet layup.

Here's an old bikerumor shop walkthrough, and this build approach shows up half-way down: bikerumor.com/2013/06/07/calfee-factory-tour-part-one-how-they-make-bikes
  • 33 0
 After watching the video I first checked if it's April 1st, then if it's really 2021 or 2001.
  • 33 0
 Why not call it: Bigfreecrossdurocountrytrailadventuremullet
  • 2 0
 Versatile Meek Salespitch
  • 16 0
 Wait.... the rear end is the same for a pavement bike packing bike as an "enduro" hard tail... I'm very skeptical....
  • 3 0
 I mean, I love an adaptable hardtail, but having a rear end compliant so it's comfortable for bike packing and expecting it not to be way too flexible when ridden hard is bs.
  • 9 0
 "They believe the carbon leaf spring chainstays balance well with 120mm of front suspension." This means that's all the other configurations do not balance well.
  • 1 0
 @Konyp: Yeah, I kept looking at the photos thinking there must be modular/interchangeable seat stays or something to adapt the bike for such different purposes.
  • 1 0
 @kcy4130: The bike packing compliance is not the same as the torsional stiffness that would make a rear end feel overly flexy. Nothing inherent about either property excludes the other from being different.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: You would be correct if the rear hub/axle/dropouts as a unit was infinitely stiff. It's not, thus more lateral flex on the rear wheel's contact patch is unavoidable if vertical flex is increases. Still, regarding the goal of getting vertical compliance without a huge increase in lateral compliance... we are WAY BETTER in this regard with thru axles that we were with qr dropouts!
  • 3 1
 you ride one track and voilà - you have two unicycles
  • 1 0
 @kcy4130: _Lateral_ flex is not inherent. Torsional, maybe; and yes the thru-axle is a large part of that. But the lateral stiffness, provided by those wide flat stays, will also help torsional stiffness: since a twist will also require the stays to bend a bit laterally (it's all triangles).
  • 15 1
 This is for people who live in really small apartments. Any Calfee is going to cost as much as 3 bikes, so you only go this route if you can't store 3 bikes.
  • 11 0
 Option for totally custom geometry? I can order a grim donut hardtail? With drop bars?
  • 1 0
 Drop bar dropper! More aero
  • 4 0
 might as well get a tioga disc wheel too...
  • 1 0
 @conv3rt: genius idea!
  • 2 0
 @ryan77777: can I say Cookie Dough tires?
  • 1 0
 @conv3rt: Presumably at the front - if you're going to go full fugly. . . .
  • 2 0
 @rodeostu: I like where this is going
  • 12 0
 That frame looks THICC
  • 10 0
 I’m really digging the mixed sidewall set up.......



Not
  • 6 0
 I actually really dig this. I can't think of a better way for people to experiment with geometry and see what they like. It's a fantastic education tool. The seat angle seems to be my only concern at the moment, and I'm curious what the reach numbers are.
  • 7 2
 Oh man, I really love calfee. I had a gorgeous ferrari red dragonfly pro with i9 wheels, sram red and absolutely stunning components for a while. Best road bike I've ever ridden. Looked like a vintage steel race bike, but weighed as much as an xs aethos. I definitely miss that bike.
  • 8 1
 So, can we get some reach numbers up in here? Also, is the TTL actual or effective.
  • 3 0
 TTL is effective. We'll get some reach numbers up as we measure a few configurations. And we're working on a tool that allows the user to compare the geometry of the bike of your dreams to how the Cephal can be set up to match it.
  • 1 0
 @CraigCalfee: Thanks for responding. I assume getting a geo table on a bike with 1 degree adjustable headsets (from 62.5 to 70) would be more tedious (like RM with their ride9 geo table). Since ETT, reach, WB, BB height, etc would all change as well.
  • 4 1
 I really like this idea but I see nothing about a WARRANTY. If the rear triangle is acting like a leaf spring then it will inevitably fatigue over time and crack. If they believe in this idea then they should sell it with a good warranty.
  • 5 0
 We're doing a ten year warranty on the frame. And a crash repair credit that will cover most minor crashes. And note thatit wouldn't make sense to offer this is we didn't have data showing the solid stays are way tougher than any carbon mountain bike stays on the market today. We've repaired thousands of frames and this is why we hadn't made a carbon mountain bike for many years.
  • 1 0
 @CraigCalfee: Ok, thanks for responding. That's a great warranty! I would love to see a video showing the rear flexing under load. How much compliance do you think it has at max? The videos are pretty fun to watch but they don't really tell anything about the technology of the bike which is what has me interested. It's a nice design and frankly I like the raw handmade look and all the geometry options.
  • 1 0
 @dirtdiggler: Good idea. We'll make sure to get that shot in the upcoming tech video.
  • 3 0
 Why bother doing the work to dial in your geometry when you can make it that adjustable and offer a custom version. Then it's all your fault when the bike rides terribly.

Also "the civility of a hardtail" made me feel ill...
  • 2 0
 The fun part is being able to make adjustments on the trail!
  • 6 0
 I'd be scared of the leaf spring snapping. Raw carbon looks good tho.
  • 4 0
 Hmm no reach numbers? Excessively long seat tube? 420mm on an XS is waaay too long

It could be a cool frame for but the geometry
  • 2 0
 Based on the rest of the dims I guess the reach will be short for each size. Seat tubes are pretty long as mentioned already. To be honest, even if you get used to the bulky junctions, it only looks normal in "trail" mode. The rest look like they weren't really meant to be built as they are. That said, big respect for building bikes their own way. I'm sure their customers love them, it's just that the aesthetic/price ratio make it hard to sell to most people. On the durability of the rear triangle, I'm pretty confident it will be fine unless it gets damaged by an impact of some sort. Designed and laid up to do so, a carbon leaf spring structure will be able to flex back and forth for a really long time.
  • 5 0
 Cheesiest promotion video of... the last century?
  • 1 0
 On purpose! April Fools!
  • 3 0
 You did it with an adjustable headset that places modifies the fork angle. Angleset placed in different positions depending on the intended use+.
  • 2 0
 Not an Angleset but the Quick Tune System carbon flip plates. Adustable +/- 4 degrees in 1 degree increments.
  • 4 0
 Can we get @Jason_Lucas to huck this to flat in the "Freeduro" configuration please?
  • 2 0
 Speaking of configurations, does MX = Mullet?
  • 1 0
 I just don't see many people going to all the work and expense of actually making major changes to a single hardtail bike to match their riding style. Then again I suspect their not expecting to sell these in massive numbers.
  • 1 0
 It's fun to take 5 minutes at the top of a climb to change the flip plate to a slacker angle for bombing the descent.
  • 1 0
 Typical pink bike comments, so easily influenced by marketing and big brands deciding the status quo. I don’t think these looks so bad, they look unique in their way, and who gives a flying f that they didn’t hire a video production company for 100k to do their promotional stuff.
  • 4 0
 If the frame is gonna be under £1.5k, shut up and take my money
  • 9 0
 Ultra-adaptable and ultra-affordable don’t seem to pair much
  • 4 0
 Cool concept, can I get it painted?
  • 1 0
 Yes, we have paint shop able to do pretty much anything.
  • 4 0
 This is not what I had in mind when I wanted a 'do it all' bike...
  • 5 1
 My eyeballs cant unsee that enduro setup, ugmo!
  • 5 3
 All this can be yours for $4,000. Calfee’s slogan should be: “No matter how high we price it, people still buy our crap.”
  • 3 0
 Calfee marketing: Proudly Handmade in California

They could've made a cool story about how the USAF polled their pilots to create an "average-sized" seat, after many of their faster and more powerful jets were crashing. Pilot error or not, it wasn't something that could continue. Turns out that the seat fit no one adequately, so they made the cockpit more adjustable. (google "USAF flaw of averages")
  • 1 0
 The video feels so homemade from the 90's, I can't really decide whether I like it or not.

Anyway instead of having a single frame for any kind of ride, I 'll stick with my N+1 philosophy.
  • 3 0
 Adjustable HTA based on size? That's umm.. interesting...
  • 3 0
 But it doesn't change on the XC build?

Too bad they didn't adjust the HTA on the "Trail" mode a couple degrees slacker. Only 1 degree less than the "XC" build? No thanks. My old 26" hardtail is pushing it with 67.5, 68.5 is NFG for a modern trail hardtail.
  • 1 0
 Yea, they got plates in the head tube, like GG does, to tweak the geo. They also have an EBB.
  • 1 0
 @Varaxis: Right, so why do the builds seem to use that adjustability in weird ways for the stock settings? Why does the enduro bike get steeper with bigger sizes, but the XC build stays the same? Why is the stock trail setting so conservative?

Also, are we supposed to assume the listed geo is in the center positions?
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: I presume it's because the bike was designed as an XC frame, and due to the longer fork's effect of jacking the front end of the bike up. A longer frame experiences less angle change.

I figure the Enduro changed so much compared to Trail because it went mullet too. Trail got a big change that the 120->140 fork travel doesn't account for.

Prob added an XXL after they did the individual measurements/calculations for the other sizes.

I dunno for sure. Just reading into the info here. They could've been more clear, as who knows how many people come to pinkbike with their brain turned off and come to the comments to get the gist.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: The geometry shown is just the tip of the iceberg of possibilities. The head tube flip plates are available in 0,1,2,3 and 4 degrees, plus or minus, so 8 degrees of total possible adjustment. Part of why we are doing this is to allow people to try some of the more extreme geometries - and then adjust if it's not quite what you want.
  • 3 0
 The video is a small piece of art!
  • 3 0
 You almost don't even see the oval chainring....
  • 1 0
 My bike can take on many shapes and forms already, it just depends on the magnitude of forces put through it when it hits various solid objects.
  • 3 2
 "CROSCOUNTRY"? At about 1:40.

In HUGE font too. Maybe a proof-read prior to release would be a good idea?
  • 2 1
 OK, so maybe it's a deliberate 'cool' spelling gimmick, now I see the 'TRAYL' option...
  • 4 2
 Enduro photo looks like something bicyclepubes would create
  • 2 3
 8 degrees of head tube adjust will effect the BB all by itself...

What's the adjustment range of the BB? What BB position are the listed measurements taken from?

Eccentric BB also makes for an easy singlespeed build :-)
  • 2 0
 The eccentric has 13mm range up, down fore and aft.
  • 2 3
 "the geometry is halfway to a full suspension bike"

What the hell does that mean? Did they model some full suspension design and pull numbers from 50% travel? Looks like just a good "hardcore hardtail" in that mode.
  • 2 0
 Really went all out on that PR Vid huh? Was that recorded on Super 8?
  • 1 0
 Mostly just cel phone camera since it was just an April Fools video. We're working on a proper 4K video now. Look for some big air in that one!
  • 3 2
 I vote we have Pinkbike huck to flat every one of these until no more exist.
  • 1 0
 What is harder to watch, the bikes or the unwanted throwback video about them...
  • 1 0
 Move over grim donut, this thing has a -4° headtube angle.
  • 1 0
 This is ugly and beautiful at the same time.
  • 1 0
 Cool, but add a chainstay length flip chip too
  • 1 0
 Only the 120 looks good The rest is pure wtf
  • 3 3
 I can put road bike tires on my fat bike aswell, but im not a fucking moron.
  • 2 1
 cool idea.... but 140mm fork with 68.5 degree head tube angle?
  • 2 2
 Hard no on those paper thin chain/seat stays
  • 2 0
 7mm is some thick paper! I'd be more concerned about the 1 mm thick wall on the bladder molded frames.
  • 3 2
 Master of none?
  • 2 2
 Can I get one that looks like it's actually finished? In metal as well?
  • 2 2
 I’ll pass. Cute though.
  • 2 1
 Enduro mode, STA what?
  • 1 2
 Rider blows through two stop signs in the first minute. Not to be preachy, but normally that's not in a promo video, lol.
  • 1 2
 That head tube area is a woody shrinking mess. That's what happens when you get too greedy with versatility.
  • 1 1
 Burn it with fire before it reproduces !!!
  • 2 3
 Jeez, a right plasticy looking thing. Horrendous
  • 1 2
 They spelled trail wrong...
  • 1 1
 Doesn't look superfly
  • 1 1
 gross...
  • 1 1
 Make it stop
  • 1 1
 Horrendous
  • 2 5
 for Greta and envo muppies
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