Sunday, February 2, 2020

Cervelo Aspero: Frame

One of the main features of a gravel bike is the large tire clearance, compared to a normal road bike. Otherwise, most of the geometry can actually be similar to a road bike.

There are quite a few gravel bikes available in the market now, but many of them are designed as do-it-all bikes, with a more relaxed geometry. This means a higher head tube, shorter reach, and sometimes longer chain stays for more tire clearance. There are also mounting points for racks or mudguards which I do not need.

However, this means that the gravel bike will ride quite differently from the road bike, which is not what I want. Previously, when I modified the Canyon Endurace to a gravel bike with wider tires, the riding geometry remains the same as the original Endurace road geometry, which is great. I had lots of fun on the Canyon Endurace gravel bike, but one of the limiting factors was the tire clearance. I wanted to use even wider tires, in order for more comfort and grip on off-road surfaces.

Maximum tire width possible in the Canyon Endurace is 700x35c.

Therefore, even though it was a good bike, I decided to get a new gravel frame, so that there is big tire clearance for wide tires. At the same time, the new gravel frame should also have a road bike geometry, so that I can swap back to my Reynolds road wheelset for faster road riding. It will be the same concept as on the Canyon Endurace, where I have two wheelsets for road riding and gravel riding. The only difference here is to use a different frame for wider tire clearance with the gravel wheelset.

I liked the Canyon Endurace geometry, so I looked for a suitable gravel frame that has a similar geometry as the Canyon Endurace. As mentioned above, many gravel frames have different geometry from road bikes which is not what I wanted. Only a few gravel bike frames have a road bike geometry.

Enter the Cervelo Aspero. It is a new gravel bike by Cervelo, and one of the key features is the race oriented geometry. In other words, it is a gravel bike that is designed to go fast. It does not have suspension or dampening features such as the Specialized Future Shock or the BMC Micro Travel Technology (MTT). Are those game changing features? Time will tell.

The Cervelo Aspero has a frame geometry that is almost the same as the Canyon Endurace, which is important to me. Another key feature is the awesome Teal colour of the Aspero frameset! It is a new colour which only became available in November 2019. It looks best under sunlight, not so under indoor artificial lighting.

The Cervelo Aspero has a similar frame geometry to the Canyon Endurace. Only the critical geometry dimensions are shown here. 


Finally, after doing some online research, and reading all the reviews about the Cervelo Aspero, I realised that there are no bad reviews at all! Practically all reviews of the Aspero talk about how good it is.

Teal coloured Aspero, shown here in GRX 1x setup.

My initial intention was to get the Apex 1x full bike setup, and strip off the components to leave the bare frameset. Then, I can transfer most of the components from the Canyon Endurace over to the new Aspero frameset. The price difference between frameset only and Apex 1x full bike was only about $500.

After checking with Bikes and Bites, I found that the new Teal colour is only available as a frameset or with the GRX 1x full bike. Other specifications such as the entry level Apex 1x is only available in Burgundy or Mid Olive colours.

Since I was insistent on having the Teal colour, my only choices were to get the frameset only, or the GRX 1x full bike. However, there was an indefinite wait for the frameset only option, while the GRX 1x full bike will cost quite a bit more, and leave me with a whole bunch of extra components that I do not need.

Finally, Bikes and Bites were able to work out an arrangement for me, where they would bring in the GRX 1x full bike (not a long wait), and they will sell me just the frameset after stripping off the components. This arrangement works for me and here is the frameset!

Cervelo Aspero frame! Looks dark green in this picture, as I was not able to get a picture with accurate colour representation using indoor lighting.

Here is a nicer stock picture from the Cervelo website.

Cervelo logo in a nice Teal colour.

This is how the awesome paint job looks like. Forest green paint with metallic flakes, with random splats of teal paint.

Very special paint job, looks best under direct sunlight. The spots of Teal paint are really random, which means that every frame looks different.

Aspero is under the A series, instead of the other R (road), C (endurance), S (Aero), P (Time Trial) series.

UCI certified for racing, and this frame is size 51.

Standard external seat post clamp, and it accepts a standard 27.2 mm diameter seat post.

Note the dropped chain stays, which allows big tire clearance while minimizing the chain stay length. Also note the cutout behind the seat tube for tire clearance.

Cervelo BBright bottom bracket shell, which uses the Press Fit 30 architecture with a frame shell inner diameter of 46 mm. However, there is one big difference, where the left side bearing is moved outwards by 11 mm, giving a total shell width of 79 mm.

Whole frame is asymmetric, with the left side frame being more outwards by 11 mm.

Asymmetric tube shaping all around the bottom bracket area.

Bottom of head tube, with integrated headset bearing cups. Bottom bearing size is for 1 1/2 inch steerer tubes.

Top of head tube also has integrated headset bearing cups, with the conventional 1 1/8 bearing size on top.

View of the inside of the down tube, seen through the head tube. Can you tell what molding process is used to make this frame?

Frame comes as a front single setup since it was a GRX 1x bike, with a plate replacing the usual front derailleur mount.

Since I will be using a 2x setup, the front derailleur mount was installed. This is provided together with the frameset.

Rear dropout, which also has the female threads for the rear 12 mm E-thru axle.

Cable entrance for the brake and shifter cables, or Di2 wires. Not sure why it is located in the middle, instead of at the side of the down tube.

The plastic cover can be removed to make it easy to thread the cables or wire through the frame.

Rear Flat Mount for the hydraulic disc brake calipers. Mount thickness is 25 mm.

Mount area is not painted to ensure flatness.

Rubber chain stay guard already pasted on the drive side chain stay.

To emphasize the gravel usage of the Aspero, there is a rubber frame guard under the down tube. The two bolts can also be used to mount a bottle cage or bag under the down tube.

Bottle cage bosses on the seat tube.

Three bottle cage bosses on the down tube, so that you can attach your bottle cage at the high or low position.

There are even two bottle cage bosses on the top tube! This is a new feature usually found on gravel bikes. Top tube bags (or bento bags) are usually attached using velcro straps, but a strong bolted interface such as this will prevent any movement.

I am unable to use this location to mount a bag as it will interfere with my normal cycling style, so it is covered with a plastic strip that is also provided with the frame.

The frame (inclusive of rear dropout, front derailleur mount, seat post clamp, bottle cage bolts, chain stay and down tube guards) weighs 1177 grams.

Based on the frame weight, the Aspero frame is quite porky compared to my Endurace frame. Even now, I am quite amazed by how lightweight the Endurace frame is, compared to even other high end frames!

The Canyon Endurace frame (Size XS) weighs just 807 grams, compared to this Cervelo Aspero (Size 51) which weighs more than 300 grams extra, at 1177 grams. I am not sure why there is a 300+ grams of difference, but hopefully it is due to a stronger Aspero frame for gravel riding. In fact, the weight of the Canyon Endurace frame + fork (1168 grams) is about the same as the Aspero frame only weight!

The harsh reality is that even if everything else (components, handlebar, seat post, etc) is kept the same, the new bike will already be 300+ grams heavier. That is one downside of the Aspero frame as it is not as lightweight as the Canyon Endurace frame.

2 comments:

  1. Yesterday I have received my Aspero 56 cm Burundi frameset and the weight was also a disappointment: 1400 gram including rear axle, front derailleur mount, seat post clamp, bottle cage bolts, chain stay and down tube guards. The uncut fork weighs 462 g. I was expecting 1110 and 450 g respectively (https://cyclingtips.com/2019/07/cervelo-aspero-gravel-bike-first-ride-review/)

    Frank

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    Replies
    1. For myself, the frame weight would include the seat post clamp, RD hanger, FD mount and cable management rubber grommets. I would not include the bottle cage bolts and thru axle.
      In this case of the Aspero, it would include the downtube guard and chainstay guard.

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