The redeveloped R3 and R5 get increased stiffness, thru axles, and the ability to accommodate wider tyres
Cervelo’s R series has been around for quite a while. The R3 was first launched in 2005, and since then, it has gone through several redesigns and a few different iterations such as the R3-Mud and award-winning Rca. Cervelo continues to push its technology further, and has made some major updates to the R series with the new R3 and R5.
The New Generation
The R3 and R5 have both been completely redesigned and brought up-to-speed with current trends. Instead of simply being differently priced bikes - with the R5 being the pinnacle of design and engineering - both the R5 and R3 are incredibly advanced machines, offered in multiple build/price options, with each bringing something unique.
The R5 is the World Tour bike, which is designed to be much stiffer (as requested by Cervelo’s professional teams), and deliver the most power possible to the road. The R3 is more focused on weight and its stiffness-to-weight ratio. The R3 is thought of by Cervelo’s design team as more of an expert-level race bike, the ideal candidate for one’s local Tuesday worlds.
Check out our American sister title Bicycling's overview of the Cervelo R5 here:
Cervelo wanted to ensure that each size bike has the same amount of stiffness, to “focus on the user, not a rider’s size.” A big takeaway from our few days spent with the design team is that they have worked hard to not only build on the race heritage that Cervelo has developed, but to also tie into the feel and emotional connection that people have with their bikes. Clean and aesthetically pleasing shapes are found front to back on the bike. The geometries have been changed to offer a more stable and comfortable ride while maintaining the performance qualities necessary for a pro tour racer.
The R3 and R5 are both unique, but also share some characteristics. Each is offered in multiple builds and as a frameset only. The R5 and R3 both have Cervelo’s “Squoval” tube shape, which has been redesigned in what the engineers call the “Squoval Max”. Both bikes are engineered to accommodate up to a 28mm-wide tyre without issue. The frames sport a nice-looking integrated chainstay protector designed to also alleviate chain suck.
The R5 has thru axles front and rear on all models, whereas the R3 only has thru axles on the disc brake version of the bike. The R5 has a cleanly integrated and hidden seat clamp, and the R3 has a traditional seat collar. With the integrated clamp, the R5 sports a seatpost that is unique to the bike as well. Engineer Graham Shrive said: “We wanted an opportunity to improve the aerodynamics and build our own post to make it more compliant, so we did. We were able to make a stronger and lighter interface by incorporating the clamp into the frame.”
Complete builds of the R3 and R5 come with Cervelo’s own stem and bars, making for a very clean, integrated cockpit. The AB06 carbon bar found on the R5 (there’s also an alloy version, the AB07 on the R3) has a forward offset, with the shape based on the back-sweep of the classic Cinelli 67 bar. The bars come in four sizes, from 38-44cm. The R5’s AB06 has space for the Di2 junction box inside and allows for internal routing in the stem. The stem and bar setup is sleek, and the front end of the bike looks exceptionally clean.
The team at Cervelo recently invited me to Northern Italy to hear about the changes first-hand and ride the R5 (DA 9100) in some of the terrain they designed it for. There was maybe a kilometre or two of flat land in the two days of riding; most of the terrain was moderately to extremely hilly. The mountain roads were narrow and filled with broken pavement, tight alleys, and moderate traffic. Riders needed to be able to manoeuver quickly for safety, and I found that direction changes on the R5 were quick and instinctive.
The bike felt balanced end-to-end and tracked well. Even when climbing sustained grades up to 18 per cent at times, the bike's stiffness was never an issue or even a concern; power went directly into the pavement. The ride quality was good, offering some leniency and forgiveness but didn’t let you forget that this was designed to be a stiff bike made for racing.
The R3 and R5 are undoubtedly some of the best bikes that Cervelo has ever made. The ride quality competes squarely with any other top brand and at a similar, competitive price-point. The DA9100 build that I rode, spec’d with Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels (other R5 builds have Zipp/ENVE wheels) is a home run for someone looking for a complete top-tier race bike that shaves some cost by coming with a stout set of training wheels. The variety of build offerings and choices in both R series models gives several options for a high-end race bike package.