Cervélo wasn’t a brand short of fans before it started sponsoring Jumbo-Visma. Now ubiquitous at the front of almost every major race, the team’s yellow and black bikes spent the summer swarming all three grand tours. However, owners of the firm’s R5 might have felt a slight pang of jealousy when they noticed that the bike ridden by Wout and company didn’t quite match that propped up in their garage.
Now onto its fourth version, this soon to be released R5 remains the firm’s most classical road bike. However, its most recent set of revisions has tailored it even more towards racing in the mountains, something at which it’s already proved quite adept.
Letting the firm’s S5 get one with all the other stuff, this latest R5 is lighter and, surprisingly, a little less stiff. The shuffling of the bike’s priorities is partly a result of feedback from Cervélo’s sponsored riders. While the brand previously sought to keep the R5 close to the platonic ideal of an all-around road bike, this idea of the R5 as a kind of GC machine proved less popular with the team’s racers. Instead wanting a clearer division between bikes for the mountains and bikes for everything else, some riders also found the previous R5 a little too stiff for tour length events.
Up and over
This feedback has seen the R5’s design refocused on making it the very best bike for getting to the top of any given climb and then railing it back down. At the same time, compliance has been upped in the interests of all-day, or, indeed, multiday comfort. Having lighted upon what it believes to be the sweet spot ratio between the headtube and bottom bracket stiffness while working on a separate design, Cervélo went through multiple lay-up designs to apply this to the latest R5. For those taken with these things, apparently, the magic number is a 45% split between headtube and bottom bracket stiffness. Still designed very much as a race bike, these changes got the rubber stamp from Tom Dumoulin and Primoz Roglic, which is always nice to know.
Of course, weight is still the primary concern for any mountain-focused bike. To this end, weight for a medium frame has dropped to 703g, while the fork clocks in at 329g. The bike has also had grams lopped off of its bar, stem, and seatpost. Allowing it to duck under the UCI’s 6.8kg weight limit, the bar and stem also remain separate items (which, given the misery inflicted on me last time I tried to fit a bike with an integrated bar and stem into a travel case, gets a big thumbs up).
Classically good lookingIn a way, this lack of aggressive aeroification goes against prevailing currents. While other firms have often made their climbing bikes half-caffeinated versions of their aero machines, the R5 is less obviously aero. Of course, one of the recent updates has been to bring the cables entirely inside. However, it remains one of the most traditionally profiled bikes in the peloton. Whether this means it gives away a watt or two to its rivals, we couldn’t say. It does have the benefit of leaving the bike looking exceedingly handsome.
Other tweaks include the ability to fit tyres up to 34mm, along with ever so slightly tweaked geometry. Already having visited the top step of the podium alongside Roglic at the culmination of the Vuelta Espana, we have no ETA for the shop floors, but hope to see the R5 available by the end of the year. Available in four builds, these cover Sram’s Red and Force eTap ASX groupsets, along with Shimano’s new 12-speed Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2. All bikes also roll on Reserve carbon wheels with DT hubs. There’s additionally a frameset option, which, for real fanboys, also comes in a Jumbo-Visma paint job. Exhibiting at the upcoming Rouleur Live show 4th-6th November, you’ll be able to get a closer look at the R5.
More information and tickets can be found here.