Gorgeously good looking and lightening fast, the Cervélo R5 is a premium performer that'll have you grinning from ear to ear

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 9

Cervélo R5

Pros:

  • Those great looks
  • Lightening fast
  • Superb handler

Cons:

  • Uncomfortable tyres
  • That price tag

Product:

Cervélo R5 disc

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£7,199.00

The first sniff of the new Cervélo R5 frame came way back in winter of 2017, when it was ridden under Dimension-Data in the Tour of Dubai.

Since then it has taken a stage win at the Giro under Omar Fraile and garnered attention not least of all for its good looks.

When I first rode it back at its launch it wowed me, but I couldn’t wait to throw some deep wheels and disc brakes on it – and now the time has come.

The Cervélo R5 frame

The down tube on the Cervélo R5

Good looking colours

Vibrant in green but sleek with its matte black colour, the new Cervélo R5 is a drop dead gorgeous frame. It’s all straight lines and aggressive angles that makes it look like it’s chomping at the bit to ride fast – and ride fast it does thanks to a whopping re-design.

It’s a long list of developments, the most drastic of which is the drop in the head tube height from the previous model down to 151mm. It’s an adjustment made for the company’s professional riders, according to Cervélo. For reference, that’s both lower than the Specialised Tarmac and the Pinarello Dogma F10.

This is accompanied by a lowering of the bottom bracket, which now has a drop of 72mm and a lengthening of the bike’s wheelbase to 993mm. It’s a triple whammy that makes the bike handle – and look – like a race car.

The shortened head tube on the Cervélo R5

The shortened head tube makes it seriously racy

The frame is also lighter than the previous model, but not to the point of harshness, because Cervélo felt they couldn’t make the wall any thinner without compromising the frame’s quality.

Cervélo R5 specfication

The Formula One geometry is matched by a Formula One specification, headlined by a SRAM Red eTap HRD groupset.

SRAM Red on the Cervélo R5

SRAM Red, a Formula One groupset

The system is a lot different than what people would consider traditional, but it’s not difficult to get to grips with. In fact, it feels very intuitive and I never found myself miss shifting, or even the gears skipping, with each shift met by a reassuring clunk.

While its shifts were faultless, they weren’t exactly lightening fast and there was definitely a lag, especially when compared to Shimano’s Di2 system.

Where it does shine is in its lack of cabling, and thanks to its wireless transmission it’s incredible clean. Happily, the R5 does have an internal routing port on the top tube but it’s right behind the steerer, which makes for an awkward cabling loop.

Disc brakes on the Cervélo R5

Disc brakes and wide tyres make the Cervélo formidably fun

On the whole, it’s a good groupset but it has been hard done by more the more recent release of Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 or even newer Shimano Ultegra Di2.

The disc brakes also don’t have the same feel as the new Shimano ones either. Regardless, they’re still a great match for the bike and they only complement its handling quality.

The Zipp 302 wheels were also a great partner to the frame, and their deep sections really complement the stiffness built into the frame. When Storm Brian came blowing into town, the wheel’s 45mm depth had me doubtfully looking out the window but they proved very stable and capable in the blowy conditions.

Where things came a touch unstuck, though, were the Continental Grand Prix tyres which I found to be very harsh. Swapping them out for some Pirelli PZero Velo 4S made the ride a lot more bearable – and really brought the bike to life.


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Cervélo R5 ride

Its fast looks aren’t let down out on the road and it’s light, stiff and feels direct under power and when it’s going it’s an absolute blast to ride.

Whilst an initially harsh ride, swapping out the tyres made an enormous different to its quality thanks to their whopping 30mm diameter when paired with the Zipp 302 rims. Incidentally, Cervélo says the bike can only fit 28mm but the Pirelli’s fit fine.

Wheels on the Cervélo R5

The Conti tyres let the ride down, but the Zipp wheels were excellent

Wide tyres and disc brakes are a pairing I’ve been banging on about for a while now, and about how much fun they are – and I won’t stop here. The oodles of grip paired with the handling prowess of the R5 makes for an addictively fun ride.

Sweeping Italian hills and slippery British descents have confirmed that going down is truly at the heart of this bike, and its handling quality is the best of any bike I’ve ever ridden. The longer wheel base and the bike’s trail makes it feel very stable and the lower bottom bracket makes flipping the bike into corners enjoyably easy.

Cervélo R5

Racing machine

Cervélo R5 value

At an eye watering £7,199, there is nothing cheap about this Cervélo R5 (the Shimano Di2 model is also the same price).

If electric shifting isn’t your cup of tea, you can bag a Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 equipped model for an equally eye watering £5,500, equipped with a pair of Mavic rims.

However, if you want to get a premium performer that’ll have you grinning from ear to ear– and you’ve got the wallet big enough – then the Cervélo R5 is for you.

Verdict

Fast, formidable and hugely fun to take downhill fast, the Cervélo R5 is a thrill ride, but one that comes at a premium price