Bergamo, May 2017. During this year’s Giro Cervélo officially launched their new R5 and R3 road bikes and gave us the exclusive opportunity to test ride the new Cervélo R5 on Italian tarmac. Forthcoming in their ambitions, these new bikes mark an evolution for Cervélo: ‘The road hasn’t changed, the game has.’

Set up in Canada in 1995 by industry stalwarts Phil White and Gerard Vroomen, the Toronto-based brand Cervélo are arguably the most aero-focused road bike producers out there. Not only have they witnessed significant success on the back of the various bike designs that they’ve ushered into the industry, they’ve also launched trends and honed in on data. Their performances are all quantified, tested and fine-tuned in wind tunnels and labs, and it’s no secret that it thrives on watts and vast engineering know-how. But times are changing, and as an innovative high-end brand, the Canadian team no longer wants to be exclusively defined by their aero standards, but also by channeling the sensation and emotion of riding. It’s because of this their new goal is to redefine the classic road bike.

Cervélo R5 – what’s a classic road bike?

We discussed in an article the meaning of ‘True Luxury’; and for us road bikes go much deeper than just how stiff they are, the build spec and their price. Quality depends on how it rides – or rather, how the rider perceives how it rides. Bikes aren’t just a tool for getting around, they’re also a partner for your mountain escapes or cobbled epics, keeping you company come rain or shine. Consequently, Cervélo have curated their new R collection to focus on three key elements to improve the riding experience.

1. Comfort, and what does it even mean?

If comfort automatically chimes with ‘soft and slow’, then think again: comfort is entirely individual, and can be related to physics of the bike like the tire pressure, flex in the seatpost or in-built dampening in the frame. On a psychological level, it’s about perception and connection with the bike (think handling, balance, braking performance and your position). To tackle the physics, Cervélo created a frame with space for up to 28 mm tires, but in the pursuit of psychological – or individual – comfort, the Canadians have split fit and handling into two solutions.

2. Fit / Geometry: What’s the difference between the Cervélo R5 and the R3?

The Cervélo R5’s headtube is 8mm shorter, meaning the riding position is lower and more aggressive, which has obvious aerodynamic gains. So even if you get the same frame size across the two bikes, the R3 and the R5 will handle differently. The R3 isn’t just supposed to be a more affordable entry-level option either; it’s set to be the ultimate choice for those looking for a more upright position without forsaking a low weight, stiffness and high-end componentry like a Dura-Ace groupset. In short, the latest iteration of the R3 has been well elevated.

The R3 comes with a standard seatpost clamp (unlike the R5’s more complex setup),…
…conventional stem and simpler internally routed cables.

3. Handling

To increase stability, the wheelbase is longer and the bottom bracket is now 4 mm lower than previous models (frame size: 56). There’s also a disc brake model.

The technical details Cervélo R5

  • Integrate seatpost clamp: the main clamp is hidden inside the frame to protect the frame and improve aerodynamics. There’s also a second ‘clamp’ (which doesn’t actually hold the seatpost in place) but acts as a weather seal and a height gauge.
  • Cervélo have developed their own new aero bars with an offset shape. The Di2 cable runs through the stem into the frame. Cleverly they have hidden the junction box in one of the bar end plugs. Nice work!
  • Optional: this handy Barfly Mount has space for a Garmin on your stem.

The Cervelo R5 models in detail

Cervelo R5 Disc Frameset€ 3,799

Model/Groupset Price
Cervelo R5/Dura Ace Di2 9150 € 8,499
Cervelo R5/RED eTap € 8,499
Cervelo R5/Dura Ace 9100 € 6,499
Cervelo R5/Ultegra R8000 € 4,299
Cervelo R5 Frameset € 3,299
Cervelo 5 Disc/Dura Ace Di2 9170 € 8,499
Cervelo R5 Disc/RED eTap € 8,499

R5 Dura Ace Di2 9150

Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9150, 11 speed
Wheels ENVE SES 3.4 for Cervélo
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace 9100
Tires Continental Grand Prix 700 x 25c
Fork Cervélo All-Carbon, Tapered R5 Fork

R5 eTap

Groupset Sram RED eTAP, 11 spd
Wheels Zipp 302
Brakes Sram RED
Tires Continental Grand Prix 700 x 25c
Fork Cervélo All-Carbon, Tapered R5 Fork

R5 Dura Ace 9100

Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace HG901, 11 speed
Wheels Mavic Ksyrium Elite
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace 9100
Tires CMAVIC Yksion UST Pro 700 x 25c
Fork Cervélo All-Carbon, Tapered R5 Fork


R5 Dura Ace Di2 Disc 9170

Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9150, 11 speed
Wheels ENVE SES 3.4 Disc for Cervélo
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace 9170 Hydraulic Disc
Tires Continental Grand Prix 700 x 25c
ForkCervélo All-Carbon, Tapered R5 Fork for Disc

R5 eTap Disc

Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9150, 11 speed
Wheels ENVE SES 3.4 Disc for Cervélo
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace 9170 Hydraulic Disc
Tires Continental Grand Prix 700 x 25c
Fork Cervélo All-Carbon, Tapered R5 Fork for Disc

Size 48 51 54 56 58 61
Top Tube 516 mm 532 mm 548 mm 564 mm 581 mm 598 mm
Chainstay 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm
Seat Tube Angle 73,0° 73,0° 73,0° 73,0° 73,0° 73,0°
Head Tube Angel 71,0° 72,0° 73,0° 73,0° 73,0° 73,0°
Wheelbase 972 mm 974 mm 976 mm 993 mm 1011 mm 1027 mm
Reach 362 mm 371 mm 380 mm 389 mm 399 mm 408 mm
Stack 499 mm 524 mm 548 mm 572 mm 596 mm 620 mm

The Cervelo R3 models in detail

Model/Groupset Price
Cervelo R3/Dura Ace 9100 € 4,799
Cervelo R3/Ultegra Di2 R8050 € 4,499
Cervelo R3/Dura Ace R8000 € 6,499
Cervelo R3 Frameset € 2,000
Cervelo R3 Disc/ Ultegra Di2 R8070 € 4,999
Cervelo R3 Disc/Ultegra R8020 € 3,999
Cervelo R3 Disc Frameset € 2,499

R3 Dura Ace 9100

Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace 9100, 11 speed
Wheels Mavic Aksium Elite 25
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace 9100
Tires Mavic Yksion Pro 700 x 25mm
Fork Cervélo All-Carbon, Tapered R3 Fork

R3 Ultegra Di2 R8050

Groupset Shimano Ultegra Di2 8050, 11 speed
Wheels Mavic Ksyrium Black
Brakes Shimano Ultegra 8000
Tires Mavic Yksion Elite 700 x 25c
Fork Cervélo All-Carbon, Tapered R3 Fork

R3 Ultegra R8000

Groupset Shimano Ultegra 8000, 11 speed
Wheels Mavic Aksium Elite
Brakes Shimano Ultegra 8000
Tires Mavic Yksion Elite Guard 700 x 25c
Fork Cervélo All-Carbon, Tapered R3 Fork


R3 Ultegra Di2 Disc R8070

Groupset Shimano Ultegra Di2 8050, 11 speed
Wheels Mavic Ksyrium Disc CL
Brakes Shimano Ultegra 8070
Tires Mavic Yksion Elite 700 x 25c
Fork Cervélo All-Carbon, Tapered R3 Fork

R3 Ultegra Disc R8020

Groupset Shimano Ultegra 8000, 11 speed
Wheels Mavic Aksium Disc CL
Brakes Shimano Ultegra 8070
Tires Continental Grand Sport Extra SL 700x25c
Fork Cervélo All-Carbon, Tapered R3 Fork

Size 48 51 54 56 58 61
Top Tube 515 mm 531 mm 548 mm 564 mm 581 mm 598 mm
Chainstay 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm
Seat Tube Angle 73,0° 73,0° 73,0° 73,0° 73,0° 73,0°
Head Tube Angel 71,0° 72,0° 73,0° 73,0° 73,0° 73,0°
Wheelbase 971 mm 974 mm 973 mm 993 mm 1011 mm 1027 mm
Reach 360 mm 369 mm 378 mm 387 mm 396 mm 405 mm
Stack 505 mm 530 mm 555 mm 580 mm 605 mm 630 mm

Test Cervélo R5 Dura Ace 9100

Saddle up, clip in and smile: the new R5 didn’t disappoint with super balanced, precise and predictable handling. Responsive on the climbs and confidence-inspiring on the descents, we didn’t once feel uncertain or out of our depths on the R5 despite the less-than-idyllic road surfaces in the mountains near to Bergamo. In terms of the physical comfort, ‘soft and flexible’ were nowhere to be seen – and that’s a good thing with this bike.

Forget the grace of God, the agile yet stable R5 will get you down any descent safely.
There’s probably a panda behind every hairpin in Italy so get ready to brake!
The Mavic Ksyrium Elite UST wheels complemented the Dura-Ace brakes brilliantly, and the 25 mm Mavic Yksion UST Pro tires gripped well.
We thought the revised stem and bar design both felt and looked great, striking a good balance between stiffness and comfort.
Our only reservation comes from the aesthetic kink in the cables of the mechanical Dura-Ace groupset on the R5, which are threaded over the stem before disappearing into the toptube. The Di2 and eTap-equipped models take a much more appealing line.

The bottom line

The R5 is a thoroughbred race bike suited to grand tours: fast, efficient and confidence-inspiring. While this approach to geometry and comfort is the norm for many brands, it’s certainly an evolution for Cervélo and has produced a superb bike. Fast and reliable, the R5 strikes us as a pro choice and for those harboring competitive aspirations. The price might be a sticking point, as it’s aligned with the brand’s usual fare, but the standard components are ideal for heavy use, travel and racing – especially if you don’t have a loyal team mechanic by your side.

For more info head to the Cervelo Website!

Words & Photos: Robin Schmitt