Cervélo's first budget offering takes a lot of inspiration from its pricier predecessors - but can it live up to the all-round quality we've come to expect from the Canadian brand?
These days there’s a bike built for almost every kind of riding. So it’s a real testament to the Cervélo R2 that you never feel out of place wherever you ride it. That’s mainly thanks to the tried and tested features of its higher-specced predecessors, the R3 and the R5, that have trickled down to make the Canadian company’s most affordable machine to date a real joy to ride.
Cervélo has certainly made a superb job of combining weight, stiffness and aerodynamics with its latest carbon frame. The R2 ‘Squoval’ profile of the tubing reduces flex and drag according to Cervélo, and there was certainly no movement that would suggest otherwise. On top of that, weight-savers like the carbon dropouts mean this circa 1kg frame has got the prowess of a climbing bike to really enhance its all-rounder credentials.
One difference between the frame and its R3 stablemate is the carbon fork. The ‘Mud’, as it’s entitled, originally featured on the pros’ Flanders and Roubaix bikes, but now goes into full production for the first time. It boasts an increased clearance, meaning you can easily fit wider tyres to match your chosen terrain.
As for upgrades, the future-proof cable management means you’ll be able to make a super-smooth transition to an electronic groupset.
An all-white finish with red trim and black decals is clean and elegant, but the real magic is what’s happening underneath. It just feels like a frame that you can’t go wrong with.
So what’s the catch? Well there is none per se, but as you might expect savings need to be made to bring the price down to below £2,000. You’re still getting a fairly decent spec for your money, though.
With the 11-speed Shimano 105 on board, with its ever-reliable smooth and crisp shifting, there’s everything to love. There’s an FSA Gossamer 50/34 chainset married to a 105 11-28 cassette which doesn’t quite complement the groupset as its more attractive 105 counterpart might, but it’s a dependable addition (fitted to Cervélo’s very own BBright bottom bracket) that will cause few issues.
Likewise, there are no 105 brakes here, with FSA providing its Gossamer brakes. Again they were reliable but lacked power — though this was by no means a deal-breaker. The FSA SL-K carbon seatpost is an excellent inclusion, while the 3T cockpit is a trustworthy addition to the responsive and direct front end.
The Shimano wheels felt heavy and sluggish at times. But, as is the trend these days, it seems to be taken for granted that eventually you will want to upgrade your wheels to really make the most of the bike.
Nevertheless the RS010s, despite being the budget choice, were rock solid and faultless over many hard miles on tough surfaces. The 23mm Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres felt sketchy in anything but dry conditions, and the bike definitely felt more confident when fitted with a pair of 25mm all-rounders instead.
Wherever the R2 was ridden, it just felt good. Busy city streets, country roads, the Surrey Hills, it really didn’t matter, you always knew what you’d get with this bike. On the long, flat straights it felt smooth and powerful, just as you’d expect, while it swooped through corners effortlessly. It’s not the most responsive bike out there, though. It lacks a little zip out of corners and up the climbs, but at this price point, that’s hardly a criticism.
Unlike other machines with such pedigree, the R2 has a pretty upright position with its long head tube, which will certainly suit the less race-orientated out there. However, to get a bit lower the stem was easily substituted for something with a bit more drop, which allowed me to get down and put the R2 through its paces.
Bumps and poor road surfaces were damped down and soaked up very well by the fork. Despite the braking power being compromised by costs, descending at speed, even on poor surfaces, inspired plenty of confidence, thanks to the R2’s fine handling.
It has always felt like the prices of Cervélo’s bikes have put them just beyond the point of accessibility for a lot of people, so it’s a welcome to relief to see a sub-2k model. Not only that, it’s got exactly the same frame as the R3, meaning you get the same quality chassis without the thrills and spills that push the price up. It’s highly impressive stuff, and with that kind of frame you’re getting not only a quality bike straight out of the box, but one with definite upgrade potential in the long term.
If you’re looking for a bike that can pull its weight in every situation, then it’s hard to look past the R2. While there are bikes with equivalent or better components out there for less cash, the carbon frame, with its trickle-down technology from the higher-end equivalents and proven race heritage, means you’re paying for a long-term investment with huge upgrade potential. Sure, there’s the odd thing we’d want to change on the R2 sooner rather than later, but it’s more than ready to ride straight off the shelf and excel in sportives, races or just day-to-day riding. It’s been a long time coming waiting for Cervélo to bring a more competitively priced model to market but with the R2, it definitely seems worth the wait.