- Great looking
- Great ride quality – both fast but comfortable
- Wide tyres and good wheels
- 11-34 cassette won't be for everyone
- Expensive compared to competitors
Price as reviewed:
The Cervélo Caledonia-5 is a brand new range from the Canadian brand that is seeking to find a blend between performance and endurance and my Ultegra Di2 option sits in a range of five models.
The bike’s heritage lies in Cervélo’s C-series, an out-and-0ut endurance bike that was born at a burgeoning time for all-road as a discipline. Cut to 2020 and the C-Series has faded away but the Caledonia range takes its place, albeit with a greater focus on performance. Both professionally – Team Sunweb raced this bike across the classics (those that happened, anyway) – but also at an amateur level. Cervélo wants this to be a bike for all day rides and mad adventures.
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Cervélo Caledonia-5: Frame and geometry
The new frame is suitably Cervélo and it bears the hallmarks of the Canadian brand that’s known for aerodynamics. In fact, the frame looks a lot like Cervélo’s S3 model because it was created from the brand’s tube library, a centre of previously tested shapes and design that Cervélo knows works.
The result is a familiar design, and the junction between fork and head tube is similarly sculpted to the S3, as is that high top tube and the dropped seat stays. There’s a performance pedigree to the design that belies the bike’s ‘endurance’ label and as Cervélo told me at the bike’s launch, it wouldn’t be Cervélo without aerodynamics featuring in some way, even if it’s not the focus of the build.
Cervélo has tweaked its carbon fibre to add comfort to the ride, although the majority of the bike’s plush ride comes from the bike’s wider tyres (room for 35mm) more than anything else. Cervélo didn’t want to add any “gimmicks” – elastomers or flex zones – that might compromise the frame or add unnecessary weight. You could call it traditional, but in the Caledonia-5’s case, it works and they weren’t noticeably absent on any of my rides.
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In terms of stiffness, the bike slots neatly between the Aspero and the R and S-Series models, although that’s not easy to quantify when riding, but the bike felt plenty stiff for all of my efforts. It’s a similar story with the bike’s geometry, and the Caledonia-5 is 5-10mm longer in its wheelbase than the R-Series. It also has a lower bottom bracket (bb drop 74mm), and a degree slacker head angle (72 degrees) and increased fork trail over the Cervélo R3. On the whole the Caledonia-5 is both longer and slacker than the Specialized Roubaix, a bike typically considered a market leader in the hybrid endurance/performance category.
Cervélo has offered a lot of options in terms of fit, shipping the bike with two different lengths of bearing cap which allows you alter the stack measurement by either 7mm or 22mm without using spacers. In effect, that allows you to run the bike as slammed as an R3 or as tall as a Cervélo C3.
There are also hidden fender mounts for Cervélo’s own mudguards that are due soon, which is a nice touch if you’re the type that rides their premium carbon frame rain or shine.
A new name to road cycling is Reserve, a brand which provides the wheels for this test bike. Those into their mountain biking will know them as Santa Cruz’s in-house wheel offering, but what they may not know is that Santa Cruz and Cervélo share a parent company and Reserve makes it debut on the road aboard the Caledonia-5. In fact, the Caledonia-5 range offers a curious selection of wheels more generally across the range, including DT Swiss, Reserve, Zipp as well as Enve. Such a wide offering is rare within a model family.
However, back to Reserve; their 35mm depth is perfect for the type of riding that the Caledonia encourages and crucially, they don’t feel out of their depth when riding at speed, and it was nice riding a set of wheels that’d you don’t feel like you’d need to upgrade (a previous gripe I’ve had with Cervélo bikes).
They’re tubeless ready and have a wide 21mm internal rim width which sat my Vittoria Rubino Pro 30mm about 2mm wider than claimed. That’s certainly no bad thing, and the frame has clearance for up to 35mm tyres. Above all else, Reserve has built a reputation on reliability and ease of service and as such these wheels come with standard spokes and external nipples.
This Shimano Ultegra Di2 model Caledonia-5 and all models above it have completely integrated cables – a neat part of the bike’s performances aesthetic. Fortunately, the front end remains easy to work on thanks to Cervélo’s AB09 bar, which runs the cables in a channel underneath rather than internally, making for easy access and crucially, fewer swear words. That, and the use of split spacers, makes for an easy bike to live with.
As I’ve previously mentioned, this test model uses Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 disc groupset (there are no rim brake models of the Caledonia) and it’s very good. There’s rarely much to say about groupsets that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before, but Cervélo has done something a bit different here. It’s partnered a 52/36 crankset with a 11-34 cassette. Depending on your type of riding, I think you’ll either love it or loathe it. It’s designed to give you both top ends; a 52-11 ratio for flat group efforts and a near 1:1 for steep hills after a long day, or days, loaded with bags. The larger jumps in gears won’t suit those after the perfect cadence on the road.
I rode the Caledonia-5 a lot in the summer, a time of year when I’d usually spend most of my time aboard my Specialized S-Works Tarmac. You see, I’d usually consider the summer the time for my ‘best’ bike; my most aggressive, performance orientated ride. But this summer I didn’t, and I didn’t miss it, either. I was simply getting everything I needed from the Caledonia-5.
Of course, if you’re a professional racer then you might still favour a slammed Cervélo R5 but I’m not that and ‘performance’ as a word doesn’t mean the same thing to me. Instead, performance for me is riding 200+kms in a day or experimenting with new routes, or bike packing across a whole week. The more I thought about it, the more I realised the Caledonia-5 was exactly what I needed.
On the road, the carbon frame was plenty fast enough for my hardest efforts and it felt responsive, much like high end carbon frames I’d ridden before. That said, its geometry does set it apart from more performance focused bikes.
The extra length added stability to rides and confidence on descents, and the taller head tube certainly put me in a more comfortable position, but swapping back to my Tarmac I did notice the difference between the two bikes. Despite that, the Caledonia-5 was never out of its depth on even fast paced group rides and I set new Richmond Park PBs aboard this bike.
As previously mentioned, some riders might like to swap in a smaller cassette and I can’t say there were many rides where I felt the need for a 34, but seeing as it was there, I was happy to use it.
The wide Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres are certainly mile munchers but not necessarily the most comfortable. I experienced no punctures in my entire time using them, but for the summer months I’d consider speccing something a bit more supple like the 28mm Vittoria Corsa tubeless tyres.
I was able to offset their clattery nature by reducing the volume, settling around 70psi front and rear. On the whole however, I’m sold on the use of wide tyres for even the sporty months and I’d not go back to less than 28mm in the future.
Cervélo Caledonia-5: Value
Cervélo has always sat at the pointy end of prices, and the Caledonia-5 is no different costing a Gucci £5799. The performance is great, although the value is compromised slightly by the Vittoria Rubino Pro (I’d have preferred the Corsa models at this price). Below this model sits a mechanical Ultegra option for £5299 or, if you’re feeling extra-specially flush you can get a SRAM Force eTap AXS model for £6399.
In contrast, you could pick up a Specialized Roubaix Expert with an equivalent groupset for £4750, although they come with aluminium DT Swiss wheels rather than carbon Reserve options.
If you boiled it down to its base principles, the Cervélo Caledonia-5 is an endurance bike. It has more upright geometry, it's more stable and it has wider tyres. But that doesn't make it slow, and when you ride it you also find it to be a multi-faceted performance bike and a truly do-it-all machine.
Frame: Cervélo All-Carbon
Fork: Tapered Caledonia-5 Fork
Wheels: Reserve 35mm
Tyres: Vittoria Rubino Pro
Groupset: Shimano Ultegra Di2, 53/36, 11-34
Saddle: Prologo Dimension TiRox
Handlebar: Cervélo AB09
Stem: Cervélo ST32 Alloy
Seatpost: Cervélo SP16 Carbon D-Post