Porsche and Cervélo Chart the Next Frontier in E-Bikes

The sportscar legend and the 2022 Tour de France–winning bike maker teamed up to create a tour de force of an e-bike that pushes the envelope for ingenuity, but may leave some riders in the dust.

Credit (all images): courtesy of Cervélo.

It’s been a challenging year-to-date for e-bike enthusiasts and curious riders. Lithium-ion battery fires and reckless riding behaviors sparked a number of scaremongering headlines and even conversations in New York’s City Council about whether the category should be licensed like cars. During the spring and summer, arguably the most enjoyable seasons to cruise on two wheels, it felt impossible to find one of CitiBike’s electric fleet in working order. Then, in August, VanMoof suddenly went bankrupt amid production and service delays. The “low maintenance” philosophy touted by the so-called “Apple of e-bikes” locked even tool-savvy owners and bike shops out of performing repairs. The company has since been acquired, but we wouldn’t fault owners for feeling like they’re  one balance sheet away from having a 44-pound, $4,000 paperweight on their hands.

Clearly not all e-bikes are made equal, and the recent past has revealed some of the worst this emerging transportation category has to offer. But what do you get when a Tour de France–winning bike maker teams up with one of the most vaunted names in sports cars? The answer, if the new Cervélo Rouvida is any indication, is a lightweight, fast, performance-oriented ride ready for city streets, paved switchbacks, gravel trails, and everything in between. The Rouvida is powered by Ride 60, the most powerful motor made by Fazua, a company known for its light and compact motors, which Porsche acquired in 2022. 

Five LEDs on the bike's top tube indicate battery charge and the current level of e-assist.

Kid-and-cargo haulers are favored by a subset of urbanites from Brooklyn to Berlin, but that’s not what the Rouvida was designed to do. “The general idea, written all over the building [at Cervélo], is making riders faster,” says Ryan Calilung, the company’s head of product development. “Maybe you can make your grocery run faster if you could run a basket [on this bike], but that’s not what we’re trying to do.”

The sentiment makes sense. The best thing about the Rouvida, which this editor recently took for a test ride in New York City, is that it still feels like an analog bike. The e-bike category is rife with options for those seeking to replace the family car or quietly acquire a parent-and-me motorcycle in all but name. Fazua’s Ride 60 tech runs lighter than nearly all, and quieter than most motor alternatives on the market. Conventional e-bikes can weigh anywhere from 44 to 80 pounds. A large Rouvida clocks in at around 27, and smaller sizes even less. Seemingly trivial design choices, like rotating the battery 90 degrees and integrating it into the frame, pay dividends in aerodynamics and push the boundaries of possibility in this burgeoning category of bike design. While the motor and battery add to its overall weight, it takes tight corners more nimbly and handles more fluidly than, say, riding a barge of a CitiBike.

Rouvida also shines in its lack of digital clutter. Though Fazua maintains an app where owners can tinker with their power preferences, setting parameters for things like how hard they want to work before more motor assist kicks in, they can also simply get on the bike and ride as they normally would—no extra screen time or software updates required. To cycle through levels of e-assist, riders toggle two buttons on the inside of the handlebars. A standard chain, cassette, thru-axel, and wheel make routine and daily maintenance a breeze. Electronic gear shifting and disc brakes are more complicated to maintain, but pay dividends in performance and user experience. “Most of our customers are riding because they enjoy increasing their performance and going fast,” says Jonathan Strack, the head engineer who brought Rouvida to market. “This is an opportunity for them to do that.”

A standard chain, cassette, thru-axel, and wheel make routine and daily maintenance a breeze.

So far, the bike has been a hit with older cyclists, or those recovering from an injury who still want to train while putting less strain on their bodies. It’s also charmed motorcycle racers: “They use bicycles in their pit,” Calilung says. “They ride pedal bicycles on the track because they can really feel the subtle little changes in the track.” Calilung and Strack’s coworkers, by comparison, use the company fleet to reduce their daily commutes up and down Southern California’s punishingly hilly streets, while Strack himself favors it on days when he wants to go farther and faster on a 40-minute lunch ride and not return to work feeling “destroyed” and unproductive for the rest of the day.

The Rouvida looks good, is fun, and with a top speed of 28 miles per hour, is also as fast as a top-shape athlete could expect to go on their own power. Unfortunately, it also leaves some riders in the dust. At present, the bike is offered in sizes small through extra-large. Anyone in the middle of the spectrum, or even the larger end, can expect to find their perfect fit or make a couple of modifications to get it nearly there. Those who would normally look for a size extra-small might be out of luck. “Battery size had ramifications for the Rouvida,” says Calilung, who explained that the drive unit, or motor, and battery pack are stacked end to end within the frame for the sake of aerodynamics. The resulting dimension is larger than an extra-small frame would allow. “We’re working with Fazua to reconfigure the packs for more packaging options,” he says. With the current model’s MSRP of $6,200 to $13,000, riders who can’t quite find their perfect fit might be better off saving that chunk of change—for now.

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