An Elevated Cephal is Versatility on Wheels

Bimotal Cephal by Calfee

An Elevated Cephal is Versatility on Wheels

Bimotal Cephal by Calfee

Adding the Elevate Electrification system is the easist way to make a great bike better

Calfee’s Cephal is one of the most advanced hardtail mountain bikes on the planet. It has a super-lightweight carbon fiber frame, Quick-Tune Steering, which enables you to adjust your steering angle up to eight degrees while out on a ride, and an eccentric bottom bracket, giving almost an inch of range in bottom bracket height.

That’s one heck of a versatile bike. So how do you make it better? Simple, you Elevate it! And that’s what we did: we installed a Bimotal Elevate bike electrification system.

The inquisitive reader might well ask how, exactly, putting an ebike motor onto a Cephal makes it better? That’s simple: Adding up to 750W of power enables a rider to enjoy this great bike on many more downhill runs in a day, and to start the descent with fresher arms and legs.

This transformation of the Cephal into an eMTB takes only 10 seconds, using two quick-connect fasteners, and comes at the cost of only 6lb (2.75kg) added weight on the bike, which is less weight than just about any other ebike system.

Despite Calfee’s Leafspring chain and seat stays, the Cephal is a hardtail, so the less weight you add to the frame the less you risk punctures and even rim damage if taking a big hit when it’s fast and gnarly. And as always, if you’re Elevating up a trail we recommend stowing the drive unit in your pack for the best bike performance on the more bumpy descents.

In more than a year of testing prototypes, Bimotal staff have found that for most descents suited to a full rigid bike like the Cephal, the drive unit and battery can remain mounted.

If removing the Elevate, the residual parts of the system that remain on the bike amount to less than half a pound, not much at all.

The Elevate, like the Cephal, is an innovative and advanced concept. No other quickly-removable system could be applied without significant modifications to the Cephal design. This brings us to the genius of the Cephal from a frame builder’s point of view, and the Elevate for that matter.

From left: Patrick Alvidrez, Craig Calfee, Lauren Duensing, Neil Flock (holding the Elevate drive unit)

To be profitable, a frame builder must limit the time spent engineering and manufacturing a frame. The Cephal is essentially a stock frame geometry that will meet the needs of most customers approaching Calfee for an off-road bike. With the Cephal, Calfee just eliminated long hours of engineering custom designs to fit unique needs. This approach makes good financial sense for a frame builder, and because the Elevate system requires no additional engineering, it’s a really great fit financially. Smiles all around!

Calfee, and his team, seemed impressed by the ease with which the Elevate system was installed on a bike. 

We simply changed the rear brake disc, added a mounting bracket above the caliper, and a bottle/battery cage, then we attached the wires and throttle, set the gear mesh, and it was good to go.

Bimotal engineer Neil Flock explains to Craig Calfee how the Elevate drive unit is installed

We like the Cephal because the strands of innovation and versatility in this bike align with Bimotal’s values, but it could have mounted just as easily onto any of Calfee’s bikes with an external rear disc brake.

For that matter, Elevate can easily go onto a range of other custom frames where existing ebike systems would look ridiculous or just wouldn’t work.

An Elevate system is the simplest, most aesthetic way of electrifying this single speed MTB made by John Castellano.

Bimotal’s founder and CEO, Toby Ricco, said, “Working with Calfee has made me realize how easily any custom frame builder could incorporate Elevate if a customer asks for an ebike. What’s really cool is that with Elevate, those sleek, elegant frames made with steel or titanium tubes can retain that timeless, slender beauty yet still have electric power. A mid-drive spoils the look with a big bulge at the bottom bracket. Hub motors are too heavy for off-road, they limit options on rim and spoke choice, gear type and drive method, and they restrict tubing spec of the chain and seat stays. Elevate is so much easier to incorporate, it truly unlocks electrification for custom frame builders.”

With a powerful motor, reasonable questions might arise about additional frame stress. Calfee, who has 10+ years of experience making custom ebikes, was confident that his frame can take it: the torque on a frame from an ebike motor is a lot less than from heavy braking.

The proof is in the riding. So far Elevate has functioned without problem on a range of steel and carbon fiber frames such as the Cannondale Jekyll, Santa Cruz Blur, Specialized Stumpjumper, Juliana Joplin.

Calfee’s Cephal is a distinguished addition to the list of great bikes we made instantly more versatile by quick-connecting the Elevate to the rear brake mounts. And we reckon with the Bimotal Elevate, the Calfeee Cephal just got even better too.

Photo credits in order: Mark Dawson, Lauren Duensing, Jessica Brandi Lifland

By Paul Skilbeck

Paul Skilbeck is an international consultant and writer in cycling and micro-mobility, with hundreds of published articles and a few books. He's organized events and journalists, and his advice to companies and organizations of all sizes has led to many successful outcomes. Paul enjoys life with his partner, his dog and several bikes in Berkeley, California.