Gorgeously good looking and lightening fast, the Cervélo R5 is a premium performer that'll have you grinning from ear to ear
The Cervélo R5 first caused a stir at the Tour of Dubai and since went on to take victories under Omar Fraile at the Giro. It’s this racing pedigree mixed with gorgeous good looks and lightening fast handling that made the Cervélo R5 a sure fire pick for our Coveted Editor’s Choice Awards 2017.
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.
Our test rides in both the mountains of Northern Italy and the lanes of Southern England convinced us that this was a bike that had it all – race car handling, criterium speed and stiffness as well drop dead gorgeous good looks.
Cervélo’s engineers wanted to great a bike that would make riders really feel the ride and explore how a bike can make a rider feel fast and responsive without being uncomfortable. This they aptly named “the psychology of the ride”, and the frame’s carbon layup allows just enough road resonance through to make the ride feel fast and lively, without being jarring.
Pro rider input
The bike’s geometry chart is really a long list of developments that make it an all round more aggressive beast, the most drastic of which is the drop in the head tube height from the previous model down to 151mm – an adjustment made for the company’s professional riders, according to Cervélo. To put that in perspective, that’s lower than both the Specialized Tarmac and the Pinarello Dogma F10.
That head tube lowering partnered with an updated bottom bracket drop of 72mm and a lengthening of the bike’s wheelbase to 993mm makes for a triple whammy that makes the bike handle – and look – like a race car.
The bike’s Formula One geometry is matched by a Formula One specification, and in poll position is the SRAM Red eTap HRD groups. While some might not consider it traditional, it’s not difficult to get to grips with. It’s intuitive and didn’t miss shift or skip gears, with each change met by a reassuring clunk. Thanks to its wireless transmission it’s also a beautifully clean setup that won’t leave you fishing around in internal ports or replacing worn cables.
It does feel a little dated when compared to Shimano’s Dura-Ace R9150 groupset, or even the newer Ultegra model, but happily for the same price you can get an R5 equipped with either of them.
Room to spare
The Zipp 302 wheels offer a great partnership, and their deep sections really complement the stiffness built in to the frame. We did find the Continental Grand Prix tyres to be a touch too hard for our liking. But it’s an easy fix, and swapping in some Pirelli PZero velo 4S tyres really brought the bike to life.
Even better, the wide rim on the Zipp’s blew the tyres up to a whopping 30mm (with room to spare), making for a luxuriously smooth ride.
Grinning from ear to ear
In fact, big tyres and disc brakes is one of our favourite trends in road cycling. The added width gave oodles of grip and the disc brakes complemented the bike’s handling prowess, making for an addictively fun ride.
In fact, the handling quality of the bike is the best I’ve ever ridden. The longer wheel base and the bike’s angles makes it feel very stable and the lower bottom bracket makes flipping the bike into corners enjoyably easy.
Fast on the flats and and even faster on the descents, the Cervélo R5 is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. The long list of geometry changes have brought the bike from the back of the pack where it once resided to the leader of the group.