2018 Cervelo R5 Review

2018 Cervelo R5 Review

Every great feature has been made better.

The new 2018 R Series bikes have arrived! Mechanical Dura Ace, Di2, and eTap rim versions are trickling in, with disc versions soon to follow. We were concerned Cervelo might fix something that wasn't broken, but the result is that they just improved on one of the greatest bikes ever. That sounds pretty bold, but anyone who has been in our store knows that the R5 has been one of our favorites, and a customer favorite, for years. In many ways, it's our "benchmark bike.." Click here for our review of the previous R5.

 

A quick overview of the models offered, to date:

-- R5 Frame, Fork, and Seatpost - $3500 USD

-- w/Shimano Ultegra R8000 Mechanical (new) - $5000

-- R5 Shimano Dura Ace 9100 Mechanical - $7000

-- R5 Shimano Dura Ace Di2 9150 Rim Brake - $7760

-- R5 Shimano SRAM eTap Rim Brake - $9000

-- R5 Shimano Dura Ace Di2 9170 Disc - $7760

-- R5 Shimano SRAM eTap Hydro Disc - $9500

Call us or email us to discuss pricing and delivery dates.

 

The Quick Summary

It's been made stiffer (much stiffer) in areas where that makes sense, like the headtube, fork, and bottom bracket, but the seatpost and seatstays have been made thinner, and more compliant. In fact, the flex in newly shaped seatpost is pretty wild to see in action. The downtube is noticeably bigger, and more aero, along with the bottom bracket. The seat stays and seat tube junction is wider and beefed up. Cable routing is tidy, with nothing overly exposed, and the colors are pretty refreshing. When we first saw pictures, we didn't know what to think about the Dimension Data Green, but in person, it's quite nice looking.

 

Geometry has changed slightly with all the frames being about 8mm lower in stack than the previous versions. This is a welcome change and helps solve some of the "in between sizes" issues. Don't freak out, this will not affect anyone's fit. An extra spacer added or removed is the only difference. 51cm and smaller bikes come with a zero setback post. 54cm and larger have a 25mm setback post.

 

The Ride

I've now been able to get about 300 miles of solid riding on a 56cm 9150 Di2 bike in the hills of North Carolina. Long climbs, short steep climbs, rollers, and even some good gravel roads make up our test ground here. Pavement varies from crackled 30 year old roads, to nice smooth asphalt, and everything in between.

 

Cervelo has definitely upped the game for the R5. It is MUCH stiffer than the older R5 in the headtube, fork, and bottom bracket areas. Honestly, it may be one of the stiffer front ends that I'm aware of, when out of the saddle. In the saddle, the front end provides a little more road feedback than the older R5, but it's welcome. The handling has definitely improved, and I'd say this bike could very easily be an outstanding crit bike for anyone, but on 40+ mph descents, the new R5 is very stable. The Colnago C60 is my benchmark bike for high speed descending, and the R5 is right there with it. It's just much lighter, so it accelerates quicker.

 

In the saddle, it's still the same great R5 of past. The compliance of the seatstays, along with the Kamm tail/Flatback seatpost (FSA 2-bolt head), provide an unbelievable amount of give. When you sit on it in the shop, it's almost bouncy, but once you start riding, you don't feel any bounce. With the stock Fizik Antares saddle, on the setback post, and at 7.5 cm of setback off the nose, I'm square in the middle of the rails. Looks like I could slide it back to about 9.5cm or forward to about 6cm. With my preferred Selle SMP, I will require a zero setback post, but those are available from Cervelo as an aftermarket option. Edit - Swapped the setback post for a zero setback post and I'm pleased to say that the ride quality didn't change much at all, and there is still plenty of fore/aft adjustment.

 

It shouldn't be a surprise, given that this is Cervelo's Paris-Roubaix bike, but on gravel roads the R5 performs beautifully. So much so, in fact, that if I could get a 32mm tire with just a hit of tread on it, I'd consider using this as my gravel bike in place of my OPEN U.P.

 

Components

I'll leave the review of the new Shimano Di2 9150 stuff for a separate post, but in short, it's great. Slight tweaks to the levers and the hoods have made it more comfortable in the hands. The stock handlebars and stem might be the nicest OEM combination of any bike we sell. In fact, this is probably my new bar for every bike I build. Excellent ergonomics and super stiff. The drilling for Di2 wires is perfectly placed and all wiring, if you use the new bar end junction box, is completely hidden. For some reason, the bar feels like a smaller diameter at the drops, but that might just be the bar tape. I'm going to double wrap them and see what that does, but it may just be that I'm used to slightly thicker tape.

 

The Enve 3.4 SES wheels that come as stock are amazing, with a braking surface that works better IN THE RAIN than most alloy wheels WHEN DRY. These are $2700 wheels, normally. It does jack the price of the complete bike a good amount over some sh!t Ksyrium Aksiums, but it's nice to pull a bike out of the box and have a brand new top shelf pair of wheels on it. This is, quite honestly, probably the only bike that I have jumped on out of the box and would not need to change a single thing. I can hear it now . . . "But I already have nice wheels . . . ." Yeah, but I'd be willing to bet that your wheels aren't as nice as the new Enves. Keep these. Sell your old ones. New stuff is better. Especially when it is actually better.

 

Out of the box, the R5 comes with Continental GP 4000s tires in 25mm width. Given the amount of tire clearance with the frame, and on the Enve rims, I'm pretty sure tires up to about 30mm could be installed. A 32mm CX tire might not work, but it's something we will have to try. 

 

Finally, the green has definitely grown on me and now I really like it. I really wasn't sure about it from the photos, but now that I'm seeing it from different angles, I really like it.

 R5 in da hills
 Cervelo R5 Seat Junction
 
 
 2018 Cervelo R5 Geometry

Tell us what you think. Good review? Bad review? Are we utter morons? Leave a comment.

  1. Ward Bates Ward Bates

    @Ramon,
    Hi. The bottom bracket is BBright on all. However, the actual bearing cups you will install, or are installed, are specific to the crank that will be used.

    From the BBright Tech Site:
    BBright™ uses a 79mm wide bottom bracket shell, while traditional bottom brackets are 68 (or 70) mm wide. BBright™ leaves the left bearing about where it is in external bearing bottom bracket systems, but replaces the external aluminum cup with the wider bottom bracket shell for more frame stiffness.

    This page shows what bottom bracket you need, depending on what crank you would like to install: http://www.bbright.net/i/whybbright/slide15.png

  2. Ward Bates Ward Bates

    @Joe,
    Well, we have them in stock, so why don't you tell us what you'd like to pay and then we can mix and match from there.

  3. Ward Bates Ward Bates

    @Rafael - I haven't had a chance to put anything larger than 28s on there, but I'm positive most 30s will fit. 32s are still iffy, depending on the tread pattern and the internal width of the rim.

  4. Ward Bates Ward Bates

    Tracy,
    Thanks for reading. I think you are referring to the reports of the R5ca's top tube cracking when people sat on them at lights, etc. None of that with this frame.

  5. joe englert joe englert

    We test rode a new r5 just yesterday and LOVED it. I WANT ONE!!! I have the 2017 model and love it and now I want the new one...I do like the threaded BB and the green one is the one for me...make me an offer I can't refuse

  6. Ramón Cabo Ramón Cabo

    The bottom bracket for Shimano group is bbright. Look the picture in the article.
    But the bottom bracket for Sram eTap is bb30 PF or bbright??
    On website Cervelo geometry is not clear.
    Thanks.

  7. Ward Bates Ward Bates

    I stand corrected. I went back and double checked the geometry for the new vs the old, and it is consistently lower in stack, across all the sizes. I'm not sure how I misread that, but I definitely got it backwards. Thank you for reading, and for pointing that out.

  8. Ramón Cabo Alvarez Ramón Cabo Alvarez

    You said: "Geometry has changed slightly with the 48 and 51cm bikes being about 5mm taller at the headtube than the old R bikes."
    I think it's a mistake. The old R5 (2016) head tube 108mm and the new R5 2018 head tube 83mm.
    R5 2016 stack 50.5cm and the R5 2018 stack 49.9cm.
    There is the difference.

  9. Ward Bates Ward Bates

    Hugues,
    The bike is great all around. Climbing, it definitely shines. It's still super light at 14.1 lbs with the Enve 3.4s, which are not light wheels. The additional front end stiffness really is noticeable over the older version, especially when out of the saddle.

    On the flats, this has always been one of my favorite bikes. Give me the R5 with a set of deep aero wheels and I will take that over a super aero frame, anyday. Yes, I know you sacrifice a few "wind tunnel watts" with the "non-aero" R5, but the comfort and ability to stay on the saddle and keep the power applied, instead of getting bounced around, more than makes up for that, I think. I put non-aero in quotes because if you look at the new R5 closely, it actually has a lot of similarities with the S3, an aero bike. The downtubes are very similar, the top tube is not much different, and although the seatpost is not a teardrop on the R5, it's a Kamm tail, which still has a very nice aero profile in the real world.

  10. Hugues M Hugues M

    Hey, Thanks nice review...how about climbing with the new R5 and high pace on flat road ?

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