Genuine. Innovative. Original. In 1991, Greg LeMond was searching for a bike fast enough to keep him at the very pinnacle of professional bike racing. Craig Calfee was busy forging a quiet revolution in carbon construction. Together, they changed the face of cycling. As the time line below will evidence, we’ve a broad body of work. Along those lines, the editorial team at Road Bike Action stated that, “There is likely no other name in the bicycle industry that has attached to it as broad and significant an arc of accomplishments as Craig Calfee.” Enjoy the complete article here. Towards further discovery of Craig Calfee and his namesake brand, you might also enjoy this radio interview that aired January, 2011 in a public radio program called the Outspoken Cyclist.
1987: First Prototype
Craig Calfee needed a bike frame after a spectacular head-on collision in Boston. Determined to make this frame as tough as possible, he built a bike using materials he had used at a job making composite rowing shells. He braided the tubes and laminated them together with tooling made on a drill press.
1989: Carbonframes Sapphire.
With a $10,000 loan, Craig hired a machinist to make the first production tooling. Professional bike couriers and amateur racers took to the streets of San Francisco to test the first frames. Adjustments were made and the frames were ready to sell to the public. Carbonframes became a corporation and debuted at the industry’s biggest bike show, Interbike, in 1989.
1991: LeMond Alpe d’Huez
Carbonframes filled a big purchase order from international cycling champion Greg LeMond who wanted 18 frames for Team Z. Carbonframes relocated to Reno after entering an exclusive licensing agreement with LeMond Bicycles. LeMond rode in the leader’s yellow jersey on his Carbonframe. Craig got his 15 minutes of fame with coverage on CNN, the Associated Press news network and National Public Radio. The companies parted amiably two years later. Enjoy this article in Cycle Sport which describes in great detail our formative years and early achievements at the highest level of the sport.
1994: Carbonframes Tetra Pro/Tetra Tri.
From its new headquarters in Santa Cruz, Carbonframes built a state-of-the-art production facility and continued production and sales of its superior frames. Professional triathlete Dave Scott rode his Carbonframe bike to second place at age 40 in the Hawaii Ironman World Championship triathlon.
1996: Luna Debuts
The Luna Pro and the Luna Tri were introduced as affordable frames for a mainstream public who want lower prices yet high tech craftsmanship along with longevity.
1997: Calfee Design.
A decade after building his first frame, Craig Calfee launched Calfee Design and proceeded to build topnotch road racing frames.
2000: Tetra Tetra Tandem
In 1999, a customer sends an email saying: “Can you build me a carbon fiber Tandem?” After a year of testing and refinement, Calfee offers a tandem frame that is 2 pounds lighter than the next lightest tandem on the market. But the smooth ride quality is what gets the tandem community excited. It is the first production carbon tandem!
After a three year period of substantial growth, Calfee Design is ready to raise the bar in bicycle technology. The two pound Dragonfly frame debuts in 2000 but it takes over a year to finalize the production and begin shipping in late 2001. Although the economy slows, Calfee Design continues growing.
2003: Carbon Repair Service
From broken top tubes to severed seat stays, Calfee’s expert ability to repair damaged carbon frames, and select components, has enabled over 8000 riders to return to the roads and trails. Calfee’s Carbon Repair business continues to grow year over year driven by validation and authorization from the world’s largest bicycle manufacturers.
2003: Stiletto and BarStem
Stiletto and BarStem. Two new products keep everyone busy. Production of the Stiletto recumbent proceeds apace. The BarStem debuts at Interbike, creating lots of interest.
2003: Coupled Carbon Frames
Calfee becomes the world’s first, and to this day only, bicycle manufacturer to couple carbon frames. Made by S and S Machine, these clever devices allow you to break apart the bike and pack into a suitcase for easier and much less expensive travel.
2005: Bamboo Bikes
Beginning as a publicity stunt in 1995, Craig’s bamboo errand bike evolves into a well-tested new model for the general public. 12 Bamboo bikes had been built for employees, relatives and friends. The feedback on the smooth ride quality was too good to ignore, so we decided to go into production.
2005: Lateral-less Tetra & Dragonfly Tandem
Bent on leveraging carbon fibers many advantages, Calfee introduces a revolutionary lateral-less frame. This design triumph succeeds in achieving a lighter frame, with superior power transmission and enhanced vibration dampening. These streamlined, carbon tandem frames set a new standard for form and function in this otherwise sleepy niche
2006: Bamboo Bikes in Africa
Back in 1984, when Craig was wandering around Africa, he noticed three things: 1. There was a lot of bamboo, 2. People used bikes and didn’t have enough of them, and 3. they needed jobs. Perhaps people could build their own bamboo cargo bikes. So he put a small notice on the website to see if there was any interest in the idea. Various organizations and individuals encouraged and funded Craig to go try it out. Now there are bamboo bikes being made in Ghana with more places on the way.
2008: Partnership with ENVE Composites
Calfee aligns with startup composites company ENVE, at the time Edge Composites. ENVE begins making all Calfee carbon tubing and the resultant bicycle frames are the very best Calfee frames ever produced. From ENVE; “We got our start making tubing and molded parts for the best frame builders…custom artisans who refuse to adopt the big box mentality. There’s no fluff. No flash. Just quality engineered components guaranteed to be the best you’ve ever ridden.” The marriage and success of these two innovative companies is forged in their shared commitment to product that is designed with form, functionality and beauty in mind.
2009: Carbon Drive Systems
All Calfee frames are Gates Carbon Drive compatible. Installed initially on Calfee tandems in January, 2009, the composite belts have found their way onto all bamboo and carbon frame models. Carbon drive systems are race tested, clean, quiet, smooth running, maintenance free, durable, lightweight and fun to ride.
2010: Di2 Internal Battery and Wiring System
Calfee creates and offers an elegant solution for the impressive Di2 electronic shifting system. The innovation starts with a custom battery system housed inside the seatpost. This solution is lighter and longer lasting, eliminates all external routing and mounts and is available on many Calfee models and also as a retrofit on most carbon frames. This system is compatible with both Dura Ace and Ultegra Di2.
2010: Full Carbon BarStem
Relationship with ENVE Composites bears fresh fruit with the further refinement of the original Calfee BarStem. Calfee marries an ENVE carbon stem to any oversize carbon bar at any angle desired. The resultant BarStem is the lightest integrated carbon handlebar and stem on the market and is the only product capable of personalization.
2011: Carbon Randonneuring Frame – “Adventure” Debuts
Motivated by the increasing popularity of brevets and the call for a higher-performance bicycle in this “steel dominated” category, Calfee introduces a new carbon frame with “long road” geometry. This model is highlighted by increased tire clearance, full wrap fenders, critical accessory mounts, long reach caliper or disc brake option and, in keeping with every Calfee frame, is durable, comfortable, super-light and extremely efficient in power transmission. Randonneurs rejoice!
2012: Carbon Randonneuring Frame – “Adventure” Revisited w/Dual Disc Brakes, 650x42mm Tire Clearance and Rack Fitment
Building on the popularity of the world’s only carbon “Adventure” platform, Calfee tweeks the tooling convention to allow the rider to easily change between 700c and 650b (27.5″) wheel sizes. This, the dual disc brake Adventure model, features tire clearance for 700x35c and 650x42mm; the rider need only swap wheelsets. Further optimization for the endurance road cyclist is manifest by Calfee laminating braze-ons to carbon fork legs to support a small rack (for example).
Opportunities and technologies coalesce to catalyze Calfee’s newest platform, the Manta (click here for geometry, features and photos). Available in Pro, Adventure and CX frame geometries, the Manta integrates numerous options; tapered forks, rear suspension, rim or disc brakes, electronic drive trains (only) and the exclusive opportunity to utilize Look’s amazing Zed2 carbon crank and bottom bracket. Consider this exclusive first-ride and review.
2013: Off Road Tandems, Front Suspension and Full Suspension
At the 2013 Interbike show, Calfee introduces two new Off Road tandem models; front suspension and full suspension. While we’ve already built a handful of custom Off Road tandems, we haven’t, until now, created a “stock” convention for these two platforms. Please consider geometry, features and pricing for our Off Road Front Suspension tandem and our Calfee Ellsworth Witness, Off Road Full Suspension tandem.
2014: Tetra Convertible Tandem
At the 2014 North American Handmade Bicycle Show, we introduced a new model in our line of performance tandems, the Tetra Convertible. This adaptable platform is wholly functional as both a tandem and single bicycle. Precisely located S&S Couplings allow for the easy removal/addition of critical frame sections. As well, component selection is optimized to support the very same. A tandem team would enjoy a pedal as a pair one day, and the very next, one or both riders as solo cyclists.
2015: Calfee Goes 44
With the inclusion of tapered steerer tubes on new forks and the desire for increased front end stiffness, we began offering our complete Calfee classic line up standard with a 1 1/8″ head tube diameter, now with a 44mm head tube & a larger down tube. The enlarged tube sizes livened up the feel of the ride and provided more efficient power transfer to each pedal stroke, while maintaining the smooth ride our classic models are known for. Please see the details of each model type; Dragonfly 44, Tetra 44, or Luna 44
2015: Bamboo DIY Kit
At the 2015 North American Handmade Bicycle Show, we introduced a do-it-yourself bamboo frame kit. Complete with all the necessary frame materials, tools, and Calfee designed blueprints, a customer was able to purchase a Calfee kit, follow a series of informative videos, and build their very own bamboo frame.
2016: Adventure Tandem
Due to the popularity of our adventure platform from our single frames, designing our tandems with these features became a natural progression. Tire clearance for 700 x 35c/650b x 42c options were added, along with an option for an integrated carbon front rack system.