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2016 Cervelo R5 Review

2016 Cervelo R5 Review

By: Ward Bates Tell us what you think. Good review? Bad review? Are we utter morons? Leave a comment. : 2

However many years ago, Cervelo reps walked into our store and wanted to talk to us about Winter Park Cycles selling Cervelo. It was probably 2011, I think. The original S3 had been phased out and the S5 was just starting production. Cervelo, in our minds, was an “aero” brand. They had the Soloist prior to the S3, and the P series was THE bike, if you were a time trialist or a triathlete.


We as a shop, got excited about the best “aero bike company in the game,” and filled our store with S5s, S2s, P2s and P3s. No R5s or R3s. We live in pancake flat Florida, and our biggest “hill” is like 1km long. We don’t need “climber’s bikes.” Hell, we weren’t even going to stock the R series bikes, because we didn’t think our customers would go for them.


I, personally, got excited about the S5, but quickly learned it wasn’t the best for US road racing (the original S5, not the current S5). It handled like crap, had a noodle for a fork, and felt like a jackhammer on your ass over rougher roads. We were under the belief that “we” need bikes that go as fast as possible on a dead flat, dead straight road. As I type that, I realize that’s exactly what the S5 was supposed to do. However, you do need to turn, eventually. And you do need to stand up over a rise, or sprint, eventually. That’s where the S5 disappointed.


Everyone always asked, “Have you gotten on an R5, yet?” I had not. I’m not sure what prompted me to finally build one, but I did. And my first ride on it was a “holy shit experience,” and to this day, I have not ridden a bike that does everything as well as the R5. It’s not aero in terms of the S5, but with its Squoval tubes, there is actually a bit of Kamm tail design going on. It will not win wind tunnel tests, but I’m a firm believer that the fastest bike is the one that YOU can ride the most. The more you ride, the stronger you get. And a bike that allows you to ride day in and day out without feeling beat up is going to end up being your fastest bike. Test it. When you are comfortable and not getting bounced around, you’ll ride more, and further. Eventually, that pays off.


The R5 is the bike you can ride day in and day out. I don’t know how they did it, but Cervelo has engineered a bike that is light as piss (13 lb builds are not uncommon), handles so neutral, and has snap when out of the saddle, but is the smoothest bike I know of when in the saddle. It’s a steel or ti bike that does everything better than steel or titanium. Something that I have noticed since I made the R5 my main bike is that I no longer get saddle sores, and I have very little chafing, in general. I think this has to do with how smooth the R5’s ride is when in the saddle. It’s not a dead bike, by any means. In fact, it’s very lively feeling, but it does such a fantastic job of killing road vibrations that I really think it is the reason I’m not getting chafing.


The R series bikes have taller headtube, and a slightly shorter reach than most other brands. It’s definitely not a “long and low” design like some of the Euro brands., so customers sometimes think this means a “relaxed fit.” I’m not sure about that. What I find is that I can either use a 54 cm frame with 2 cm of spacers under the stem, or I can ride a 56 cm frame with the stem slammed and 1 cm shorter. The fit is identical. If you want that Pro look with no spacers under your stem, then the R5 is going to get you closer to that. For me, I prefer the 54 cm with a few spacers, because the 54 has a 2 cm shorter wheelbase than the 56, and the 54 handles just a touch quicker.


For me, the R5 is my benchmark, and baseline, bike. I always keep one built and I find myself always gravitating towards it. I’ve yet to find a bike that I enjoy day in/day out as much, and I find myself wanting to ride more when the R5 is my daily ride. As I said previously,  aero or not, the fastest bike will be the one that you can ride the most. For me, that’s the R5. It’s simply a beautifully designed bike and I hope it remains in the Cervelo line for years to come.


Tell us what you think. Good review? Bad review? Are we utter morons? Leave a comment. (2)

Posted on 2016-12-12 17:11:14
I am in 100% agreement with this review. I switched from the Scott FOIL to the Cervelo R5 and have never ridden a better "all around" bike in my 25+ years of riding/racing.
Posted on 2016-09-09 13:02:32
R5 is by far, the best bike ever. Awesome review!
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