By Simon Smythe published
Vos is a seven-time CX world champion while Van Aert has won the title three times and, says Cervélo, “World champion riders need world champs-worthy bikes.”
According to Cervélo, it started from a clean slate and turned the two Jumbo-Visma riders’ preferences and requirements into a bike that’s already captured two World Cup wins.
Cervélo says the R5-CX draws much of its performance and design from the roadgoing R5, but there are some key differences. The Canadian brand says the handling and fit are unique to this model, and are based on Van Aert and Vos’s input.
The bottom bracket is positioned about 11mm higher than that of the road R5 to speed up handling and assist in clearing obstacles, while very interestingly the BB itself is threaded into the frame.
While the new R5 road bike was launched to critical acclaim - getting five stars from us - some did question Cervélo's continued use of its BBRight press-fit bottom bracket. Other brands, including Specialized with its latest Tarmac SL7, have gone back to threaded.
Cervélo explains that a threaded design is more durable for a bike that’s going to be regularly powerwashed and that will be regularly stripped down.
The brand says the R5-CX uses standard T47 cups that are threaded into its own BBRight asymmetric shell.
Meanwhile the R5-CX uses the same D-shaped seatpost as the road R5. We found this seatpost added a large amount of compliance when we reviewed the R5, so this sounds like a good move. The cyclo-cross bike, however, gets a double clamp to eliminate any chance of seatpost slippage. It’s not as elegant as the road R5’s neatly hidden wedge but the belt-and-braces approach is essential for bigger impacts.
Just like the road R5, the CX bike is electronic groupset compatible only with all cables routed internally - something Cervélo says will help stop water and grit ingress.
There will be four sizes - two less than the road R5 - with 51, 54, 56 and 58 covered off when the production bike launches. At the moment the fast-tracked sizes for Vos and Van Aert are 51 and 56.
As for the geometry, the stack heights of the R5-CX are lower than those of the R5 while the reach is the same. The cross bike gets a steeper seat angle and shallower head angle than the road bike, while the R5-CX has a longer wheelbase to allow for extra tyre clearance.
There's no pricing information as yet.
The R5-CX isn’t Cervélo's first cyclo-cross bike: in 2007, it made two R3 Cross frames for Jonathan Page, who rode it to become the first American to stand on a World Cup cyclo-cross podium. That frame never made it into production and, according to Cervélo, a proper CX bike has stayed in the ‘if we only had time’ bucket in engineering planning meetings until now.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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