PRODUCT REVIEWS

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!

Handling
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.

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




Cervelo R3: First Impressions


Initial thoughts on the Cervelo R3 are starting to pour in but let me back up first and start from the beginning. I am 5'8", 155lbs, ride a size 54 & happily married. Previous bike is a Cannondale CAAD 10 (aluminium) with SRAM Rival. I've been on aluminium for 10 years with some one-off super long rides on high end carbon frames. I actually really like the CAAD 10. For the dollar it's one of the best bikes you can buy. Just when you thought you had me pegged as a Cannondale man I go and sweep the rug out from under ya! Enter...2014 Cervelo R3 with Di2 Ultegra (same hoops). Let's start with the fit. The R3 geometry is not the same. I don't want to bore you with numbers so I'll just say the head tube is taller and the wheelbase is shorter. Worried about transferring fit? Don't be. The fellas at The Bike Route are super PRO.

Have you seen this bike fit jig at TBR?

In the bike fit galaxy the bottom bracket is the sun.

Saddle height, tilt & distance in relation to bottom bracket. Check.

Tip of saddle to handlebar. Check.

My measurements. Check.

Had to swap out to a straight post since I run a neutral (no setback) saddle position.

 The reach is almost dialed but because of the taller head tube the drop is a little shy.

BAM! Dialed within millimeters. 

I've been getting a lot of questions about the new steed. I hope this short term and the forth coming long term review will be able to answer them. If not, shoot me an email or leave a comment. So...the first word that pops into my mind is...wait for it...muted. That's right, muted. Not sound though, road vibration. I liken it to when I put on Continental Gatorskins (25c) and run super low pressures during the winter riding season. The old bike was noticeably more comfortable after making the switch. This spring I actually considered racing with the hefty Gatorskins because of the improved comfort. The wider, durable tires at super low pressures absorbed discrepancies in the road. Now I have the same characteristics but the frame is doing the absorbing. All that to say this bike feels smooth. Very smooooooth. But at 155 lbs muting road vibration has never been a big concern. Lighter riders can get away with bikes that are more rigid. What I am most interested in, is the following: How does the bike feel when I stand up out of the saddle and sprint up a short punchy climb? How does the bike feel when I wind-up for that city limit sprint? When you dive into a corner at 40+ how much confidence do I have in what's underneath me?

Initially I can say that the the Cervelo R3 has passed my at first glance questions with flying colors but the interesting thing is I have so many other impressions from areas I did not previously consider. So...how does the bike respond when throwing down on a short punchy climb? Instantaneously. There is a distinct sharpness to how the bike jumps when I jump. How does the bike respond when I wind-up to sprint? Well, at one point I felt the rear wheel pop up slightly. That's how connected the bike feels when I move. Very cool. What about bombing descents with technical turns? I have 100% confidence and that brings me to the front end of this bike. The front end really jumped out at me. It feels stiffer, more sure. This must be part of where that precision and responsiveness feel comes from. Particularly when sprinting out of the saddle. Okay...I'm talking about stiffness this, stiffness that, blah blah blah I know...but KEEP IN MIND the bike is super smooth all the same. Nothing new, right? Crabone fibre works. You don't say. Well, I've been on some super high end carbon frames on long rides (100+ miles) and could not tell enough of difference to be wowed. Sure, better, but no wow factor, just better. The R3 has some wow factor but lets not get carried away. I need more miles to have a complete perspective. Stay tuned...

Want to know what has changed with 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
  • 63% increase in aesthetic appeal in new paint scheme (okay, that's my add) 

Evil Eye Halfrim Pro: A Review


You don't ride a bike without them. Sunglasses might as well be a chain, tire or saddle. Okay you don't actually need them to ride. But when was the last time you rode without them? Probably forgot'em, right. I recently had the opportunity to review the Evil Eye Halfrim Pro by adidas. I'll cut the quick. They could be the nicest sunglasses to ever perch upon my sniffer. After field testing riding with them for about 3 weeks I came away more than impressed. Two categories really jumped out at me. Function & lens clarity.

Profile.

They come in two sizes. This is the S (small). Designed to wrap and protect.

Function

 I have never worn sunglasses with such adjust-ability.The nose piece adjusts to be more/less wide with the double snap bridge. This allows the glasses to either sit closer and lower or higher and away from the face. If you are a sweater like me that is significant.

Have you ever wished your glasses fit a little different while riding in the drops? The arms tilt up or down from neutral adjusting the tilt of the lenses. Again another brilliant design to personalize fit.

Straight forward lens change design. See the adidas logo.

Slide it back and...

done!

The Halfrim Pro comes with two lenses. The amber is one of my favorites because it's so versatile.

Check out the frame material above the lenses. It does two things for me. #1 reduces sweat build up on the lenses. I can go for a much longer time without sweat/salt build up. #2 I don't feel wind on my eyes keeping them moist & protected. For someone who sweats annoyingly too much #1 is huge. 

The final test. A biggie. Do they hook up well with my helmet (GIRO). YES! I can plug'em in and lean forward without fear. Ever take a nature break and lean forward only to watch your sunglasses fall out into...well ahh..the area..where you..ahh..they hook up well and stay hooked up. 

Clarity

I'll be brief. The first thing I noticed when I put them on is my vision was more precise, even better. It was akin to needing glasses and finally getting some. Very sharp. Whatever voodoo technology is built into the lenses really works. You can go here to find out about the science behind the lenses.

Whoa, you don't see that very often these days. Made in China Austria.

Final thoughts 

The Evil Eye Halfrim Pro screams of German design with a huge emphasis on function and fit. It just so happens that they look super cool to. My first ride with them netted my first complement. Okay so looking cool is a sidebar, right? We all know PRO style is a part of cycling culture. Ha! You laugh at me. Well let me ask you two questions. Do you shave your legs? Why? Okay...PRO style is a part of cycling culture. The Evil Eye Halfrim Pro's are top-shelf and in my opinion worth the coin if you are someone who loves PRO style sunglasses. Keep in mind you are not getting glasses that only look cool but there is a heap of functional design packed in as well. I only scratched the surface with this review. A big thanks to my friend who works closely with adidas and asked me to review this product for him.  

Cost
$160-$230

Where can I find them? Surprisingly not many local bike shops carry the adidas range. They have a larger presence in the running scene.

Locally
Rush Running http://www.rushrunning.com/index.html
Fleet Feet http://www.fleetfeetfayetteville.com/

On-the-line
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/adidas-evil-eye-halfrim-pro/dp/B004NXZ5SC
Wiggle http://www.wiggle.com/adidas-evil-eye-halfrim-pro-sunglasses/

I pretty much look like this guy if you were wondering.


STRAVA Premium: A Review

I wrote a post a while back asking if STRAVA premium membership was worth the coin. I've been a premium member for about a month. So, what does $4.92 a month get you? I've been really enjoying two features thus far.

Route Builder is way more pleasant to use then Mapmyride. The map is not cluttered with advertisements and uses the entire screen as opposed to a tiny portion of the screen. Navigation in general is easier and intuitive. 

Once you build a route you save them in My Routes and can share them. Super helpful as a ride organizer. I've always liked maps.

The other feature is in the new Training section. I just discovered THESUFFERFEST videos. 

Indoor cycling is the new reality this winter.

I totally dislike indoor cycling but THESUFFERFEST videos make it a little better.

One hour in the Fight Club.

I find the videos easy to follow.

 Purposeful.

Humorous.

Real race footage makes a HUGE difference. World Championships.

The distractions are welcome. 

Clawed my way up to Cadel's wheel.

This was a tough section. Gnarly crosswinds but super scenic errrr not.

Digging deep now. Looking back to see the carnage.

I actually started laughing. Then I threw myself into the teeth of Tony's wheel.

Just when you think the bunch is settling.

The videos are great and I can honestly say one hour went by pretty quick.

Heat Map is interesting. I'm not sure of it's usefulness yet. It shows your most frequented routes in varying colors. Apparently I spend a lot of time commuting to work.

My initial opinion...it's worth the coin if you ride or run a lot and you like data. I haven't even tapped into power or heart rate data yet. I 'm looking forward to exploring more of what premium membership has to offer. If you have a feature that you really like please comment below. I would love to know what to checkout next.


1x10 Conversion: A Review

Spotted: New prototype shifter? Electronic? Nah...just a bell. Absolutely essential for navigating the Razorback Greenway. So where's your front shifter?

MRP chain guide for 1x10 set up.

I have always appreciated the mountain bike side of the cycling industry. Seems like these companies are always tinkering and innovating. These innovations eventually trickle into all parts of the sport. Take disc brakes for example. I wouldn't ride a mtb without them. You see them now in cyclocross and I am pretty sure they will make their way to the road in a couple years. I love what SRAM is doing with their XX1 group. 1x11 is way cool. I've been running 1x10 for about a year or so. It's super easy to convert. All you need is a chain guide like the one in the pic above. MRP makes a good one. Why 1x10? A couple years ago I noticed that I never used the little chain ring so why not get rid of it. After removing the chain ring, derailleur and shifter you shed almost one pound. That's significant and practically free.  All that to say the gear geek inside of me loves to tinker.

Random tree over the trail pics.

The new section rocks!

Serfas Lights: A Review

It is a cool northern breeze, shorter days, incredible sunsets and brilliant colors falling to the ground. It is pumpkin patches, college football, the smell of the grill and tons of porch time. It is the same coffee you always drink in the morning but for some reason it tastes better with chill in the air. It is arm warmers, knee warmers, DeFeet gloves and shoe covers.  It is your jersey pockets filling up as the sun gets higher in the sky. It is one of the sweetest times to be outside.


Fall is here and the cold temps and lack of light presents more challenges to pedal turners. TBR night rides will be starting soon. It's time to dust of the lights and pull out your cold weather gear. Riding at night is a lot of fun and in the same breath I highly recommend limiting your risks as much as possible. I see a lot of cyclists in the bunch riding with dinky taillights for example. Folks...when  it comes to safety at night spend the extra coin and get something bright.

The Serfas Thunderbolt taillight is one of the best taillights on the market. With 35 whopping lumens, this little guy packs a punch. What do you get for $45.00? 35 lumens, 4 settings, 3 hours of light on high blink, 9 hours on low blink and it's rechargeable. But the most reassuring thing is knowing that whoever is behind will know that you are there.

It easily attaches to multiple locations on your frame or seat post. This is a ‘best bang for the buck’ item for me.

Serfas TSL 500 is great. Comes with a handlebar mount and helmet mount. I run the 500 on my bars and the 250 on my helmet. 

Helmet mount.

Becomes handheld compact flashlight.

I love multi use gadgets. This light is perfect for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking or as a general flashlight around the house. Why is this a layup? It's a ton brighter then any conventional flashlight, super compact, rechargeable and can be used in almost any nighttime application. So let your light shine bright and don't let darkness slow you down!