Friday, July 11, 2014

Product Review: Cervelo R3 (Long Term)

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.

Final Thoughts
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 cobbles 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 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) 
More info: The Bike Route or Cervelo. Also see my intial review click here


Randy Jackson said...

Did you test ride the S3 for comparison?

Robin G said...

Not yet, but one of my teammates is riding the S3 is really high on the blend of ride quality and aerodynamics. He's a number cruncher so really appreciates the 'free watts'. This Saturday talk to Steve Three Happy Cows guy on the S3. He will be more than happy to fill you in.

Philip Baker said...

Thanks a lot Robin, I already wanted an R3, and you have only fueled the fire. Does the R3 have quite a bit higher head tube than bikes you've had in the past, I noticed that you weren't running any spacers?

Robin G said...

Philip, the head tube is taller on the Cervelo which for most people is a good thing. I had the stem slammed on my C-dale as well. I don't mind being up a little higher. It's actually very comfortable. The taller head tube can be offset with a longer stem. The R3 is a great all around performer and a great choice. I ride a 54 and you are welcome to test ride it.

Anonymous said...

Great review! I recently bought a 2014 R3 and changed the tires to 25 mm Continental GP 4000 s II and the front tire rubs the fork. What tire do you suggest? I just ordered ENVE 3.4 wheels for an upgrade. What tire do you recommand? THX Louis

Robin G said...

Thanks! I think the wide rim technology is the main cause of 25c tires rubbing. I have run 25c Gatorskins and 25c (more like 24c) Mavic Griplinks on standard width Mavic wheels (pictured in the review) without rubbing. As far as what tires to run. Hard to say. It really needs to fit with what you are doing. Racing/training. The Mavic Griplinks perform great but wear out quickly. More of race tire. So if you are looking for a wider race tire I would suggest the Mavic Griplinks in 25c.

Jordi said...

Hi Robin,

what's the total weight of the bike with this configuration?


Will said...

Stiffness, responsiveness and smoothness in one bike. Excellent.

Anonymous said...


Do you know the length of the crank arms? This is a 54cm frame, right?


Robin G said...

That is correct 54cm frame. 172.5 crank arms.

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