Okay so I've been on the Cervelo R3 long enough. It's review time. To keep it simple I've broken this review into three sections. Handling, components & final thoughts.
Quick note: stock wheels (Fulcrum Racing 5.5) were not part of the review. I had to put the Mavic's on!
The R3 is race handling inspired. Super responsive but not in the twitchy sense. Well balanced comes to mind. I am really impressed with the stiffness of the front end. I like to climb out of the saddle and noticed this immediately. The stiff front end is also great for steering and sprinting. Whether stomping up a short punchy climb or bombing a technical descent I feel comfortable on the R3. This makes me want to push the limits even more. I've been testing cornering characteristics at the local crit series. The R3 corners on rails. Total confidence. The short wheelbase and stiff front end allows me to make micro corrections in the blink of an eye. Keep in mind all my talk of stiffness and responsiveness is married to a incredibly smooth ride. How smooth? How about 3 victories at Paris-Roubaix (six podiums). Opinion:
Fantastic all around performance.
The bike is spec'd out nicely but let's get this out of the way. I have had a lot of questions about Ultegra Di2 (electronic) shifting. The ups:
shifting is precise. Soooo precise. You will never need new cables and housing. Holding down the shift button allows you to scroll up and down the rear cogs. The brake hoods are really comfortable. Adjusting the derailleur while riding has never been easier. Oh, super cool sound effect when shifting the front mech. The downs:
Weight. About a 90 +/- grams compared to Ultegra mechanical. Electronic is more expensive. Final say:
Ultegra Di2 is nice but more of a luxury than substantial performance gain in road cycling. I see electronic shifting being more advantageous in cyclocross or mountain biking.
Ultegra brakes are far more powerful then SRAM Rival (previous set up). I mean FAR.
Shallow reach FSA bars. I did not think I would like them. But they are great. A nice transition between bar and brake hoods. The drops are really comfortable. Making for an easy reach to the levers.
The flat(ish) anatomic uppers are great. They might be the most comfortable bars I have ever used. The Lizard Skins bar tape is excellent. Especially for a heavy sweater in July. The tape continues to be tacky even with sweat drenched gloves.
Aesthetic appeal. The gloss black, trimmed out blue paint scheme has garnered more compliments then anything I've ridden. Dear Cervelo, more of this please. Danka!
Subtle blue trim.
I particularly like the blue on the inside of the fork.
Can't really say much about the ROTOR cranks. It works. The weight is standard. I don't like the graphics. A little too busy for me. No issues with the mid-compact gearing.
Size doesn't matter, BBright? This might make you believe otherwise.
The Cervelo R3 is an all around performer. Both racer & recreational riders will appreciate the quick handling of this bicycle. You get a sense that the power transfer is direct and efficient. That sensation is married to an overall smooth ride that is most noticeable on
chipseal surfaces. Both racer & recreational riders will appreciate the smooth ride quality. I really like the stiff front end and the responsiveness (jump) when romping up short punchy climbs. To sum it up, the well rounded performance is fantastic. It is safe to say that this is a great purchase for a wide range of riders and skill levels. Probably why it's been the Editors' Choice at Bicycling.com two years in a row. Ultegra Di2 adds a nice touch of luxury. I might save some coin by going with the mechanical group but if you have it go for the Ultegra Di2 and pimp your ride. I can't say enough about the aesthetic appeal. Cervelo is just one of those iconic brands always associated with the top shelf. The paint scheme is dope and like I said more compliments on that then anything else. I really appreciate when a product fulfills what they are saying about it on paper. The R3 meets and exceeds my expectations. This is true of Cervelo products in general. They stick to the numbers and mean what they say. Go test ride one at The Bike Route today!
Here is what's new for the 2014 Cervelo R3
- sub 1000g frame (size 56)
- 24% increase in stiffness at the head tube
- 8% increase in stiffness (it was already top of it's class) at the bottom bracket
- reduced drag by 7 watts compared to previous R3
- 63% increase in aesthetic appeal in new paint scheme (okay, that's my add)
Price: $5000 (Ultegra Di2), $3750 (Ultegra mechanical)