From the race track to wild adventures, the Canadian manufacturer Cervélo have massively broadened their scope with the launch of the C3 and C5 models. Now as much as we’re prone to raving about the elegance of thoroughbred racing bikes, it’s a breath of fresh air to ride a bike that immediately clicks with you – so we’re stoked that Cervélo’s new models share qualities of their daily workhorses, but now reimagined in carbon.

Cervélo C3 SRAM Force 1X | 7,88 kg | 5.999€
Cervélo C3 SRAM Force 1X | 7.88 kg | € 5,999

After already exhaustively testing the C5 model with the Dura-Ace groupset, Cervélo submitted their slightly lower price point C3 with its carbon frame for our group test. The sleekest bike on test, the C3 immediately delivered a familiar sense of wellbeing on the bike. Mega comfortable with its low bottom bracket area and long wheelbase, the riding position got our approval – particularly for long rides, as it proved a genuine treat not only for our senses but also for our upper bodies. Satisfyingly simple, the C3 asked for nothing more than a pedal around the mountains.

GF-002-Vergleichstest-Grouptest-Action-Cervelo-C3-SRAM-Force-1-16

But before you proclaim that such comfort must result in a lethargic ride, forget it. Cervélo have always understood performance, and they’ve heaped it on the C3. Its frame is superbly efficient, and there’ll be no wasted energy. The C3 excelled on the test route’s nastier sections, and it urged each test rider to push their limits at the front of the group. In short: it’s a Ferrari with S class comfort, with the frame weighing in at just 975 g.

GF-002-Vergleichstest-Grouptest-Action-Cervelo-C3-SRAM-Force-1-10
GF-002-Vergleichstest-Grouptest-Action-Cervelo-C3-SRAM-Force-1-4 GF-002-Vergleichstest-Grouptest-Action-Cervelo-C3-SRAM-Force-1-5

But was its featherweight going to be its downfall on the descents? At 7.9 kg in total, the C3 demonstrated a masterclass in stability, fun, comfort and precision. The 28 c Conti GP tires come as standard on the production model, but there’s clearance for up to 32 c. The SRAM disc brakes defy the status quo, seeing Shimano take a backseat for once. In terms of performance, we’d put both systems on a par, but the SRAM braking set-up steals the win with its tidier finish.

Simple 1x: The SRAM Force 1 won our favour with its simplicity of use, although its gear ratio and steps will come down to personal taste.
Simple 1x: The SRAM Force 1 won our favour with its simplicity of use, although its gear ratio and steps will come down to personal taste.
Massive: This downtube protector is proof this bike isn’t purely for tarmac.
Massive: This downtube protector is proof this bike isn’t purely for tarmac.
Too small: We’d recommend a 42 for steeper mountain passes.
Too small: We’d recommend a 42 for steeper mountain passes.

Specification of the Cervélo C3

Drivetrain: SRAM Force 1 | 44, 11 – 36
Wheels: HED Ardennes Plus GP Disc
Brakes: SRAM Force Hydraulic Disc
Tires: Continental Grand Sport
Weight: 7.88 kg
Price: € 5,999
More info: cervelo.com

GF-002-Vergleichstest-Grouptest-Geometry-Cervelo-C3-SRAM-Force-1X K Kopie

The C3 is kitted out with SRAM’s Force 1×11 (our test bike had an 11-36 cassette), a decision that certainly polarized our test team. Certain riders were satisfied with 11 gears, largely thanks to the simplicity and performance, although if a climb went over 10 % then their tune changed slightly – either the ratio was too big, or they just simply needed more gears. Fittingly, the Cervélo also offers the C3 with the Ultegra groupset from Shimano.

Conclusion:

While lightweight, agile and fun aren’t the first words we’d associate with an endurance bike, the C3 has managed to nail these qualities, making this Canadian model one of the firm favourites on test. And that’s without any surplus technology, but a high price. The spec has a few minor downers (such as the FSA SLK components), which – given the price – could be improved. Unsurprisingly, 11 gears are that: 11 gears, and who knows if the bike world will ever reach a conclusion. Until then though, we’re happy to have the choice.

Strengths

  • super handling, comfort and position

Weaknesses

  • Expensive, the FSA-SLK components don’t match the high price

To get an overview about the bikes we tested, check this article: What’s the best road bike to conquer the Alps? 7 bikes on test

All bikes in test: Trek Domane SLR 7 | Specialized Roubaix SL4 Pro Disc Race UDi2 | Merida Scultura Disc 6000 | Giant Defy Advanced Pro 0 | Canyon Endurace CF SLX | Argon 18 Krypton XROAD Disc

This article belongs to the GRAN FONDO Issue #002. For the full interactive experience we recommend reading it in our magazine app for iPhone & iPad – it’s awesome – and free!

PS: Readers' Survey 2017 - Give feedback, win awesome prizes: We're giving away prizes worth €10,000 among all participants of our reader's survey! Win prizes from Open, Focus and Shimano! Click here to take part now!

Words: Thomas Seidelmann, Robin Schmitt Photos: Klaus Kneist, Noah Haxel, Robin Schmitt, Julian Mittelstädt (Post production)