Cervélo R5 Dura-Ace Di2 review

Fast, lightweight Canadian race rig

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £6,599.00 RRP | AUD $10,500.00 | USD $6,800.00

Our review

The R5 remains one of the all-time great race machines – and a true superbike that you can live with and ride all day, every day
Buy if, You want a truly sublime bike that’s fit to race yet perfect to ride all-day, every day
Pros: Top quality handling, smoothness and comfort
Cons: Very good wheels – but do they really belong on a £6599 bike?
Skip to view product specifications

Cervélo’s range has always been split between its aero-optimised S-Series road machines and lightweight Grand Tour-proven R-Series bikes. For 2016 the Dimension Data pros are onboard the R5 for the Tour de France’s high passes and gruelling ascents.

Advertisement

Lightning fast and responsive ride

The R5 shares its design with Cervélo’s range-topping RCA, so you get the same blend of low weight and aerodynamics, even though it’s not technically an aero bike. On the road the R5 wows you straightaway, with the lightness of the chassis immediately apparent as soon as you start to turn the pedals in anger.

The Rotor chainset has 52/36 rings, a pairing that’s gaining popularity
The Rotor crankset has 52/36 rings, a pairing that’s gaining popularity
Robert Smith

It’s a well-balanced and responsive ride – lightning-quick to turn, you can also accurately weave it through crowds or navigate sharp descending corners without any drama. We tried our best to ride this bike hard to its limits, but the only thing holding it back was our nerve.

Cervélo was a pioneer of oversized chainstays, and here the drivetrain stiffness is astonishing for such a lightweight bike. Cervélo’s patented BBright bottom bracket shell is solid and gives you the feeling that none of your pedalling efforts are lost. The company worked closely with Spain’s Rotor on BBright, so it’s no surprise to see its CNC’ed 3D+ chainset here, which worked seamlessly with Shimano Di2.

The thin seatstays and slender 27.2mm seatpost help to reduce road buzz, and though we haven’t always been fans of Fizik’s flat, slim Antares saddle, on the R5 it didn’t give our testers any undue grief.

Classy spec, though arguably wheels could be even better

The Dimension Data team riders may well get the new hydraulic Uno groupset from sponsor Rotor, whereas the rest of us will have to ‘make do’ with Shimano’s top-of-the-range Dura-Ace electronic Di2, which was spot on every time, as per usual. In its pro-ready 52/36 setup the Rotor rings are paired with a tight 11-25 cassette, and we really appreciated the small jumps between sprockets, which helped us to easily maintain a smooth cadence. The flipside is that on our test route’s steepest climbs we’d have liked an extra tooth or two on the largest sprockets.

The small jumps between sprockets helped us to easily maintain a smooth cadence
The small jumps between sprockets helped us to easily maintain a smooth cadence
Robert Smith

The Dura-Ace brakes are every bit as good as the gearing. With their progressive power and smoothness at the lever, they can only really be beaten by the best hydraulic setups. And when mated to the alloy braking surface of the HED Ardennes Plus LT wheels they offer secure stopping in all conditions.

The build quality of the HED wheels is beyond reproach, the hubs are smooth and at 1564g they’re also reasonably light. Coupled with Continental’s classy Grand Prix 25mm tyres you’ll get comfort though not at the expense of speed. But it’s worth noting that some ‘cheaper’ superbikes come with snazzier rolling stock –  Focus’s Izalco Max has Zipp Firecrest 303s, which cost twice as much, for example.

As you’d expect on a bike of this calibre, the finishing kit is all carbon, including an FSA Di2-specific seatpost and an FSA cockpit that we really appreciated. The ovalised tops and compact hooks both provide comfortable handholds, the carbon remaining stiff while also neutralising vibrations.

Advertisement

But for a bike this rapid, we’d recommend forgetting the tops and the hoods – you’ll want to be riding in the drops as much as you can.

Product Specifications

Product

Name R5 Dura-Ace Di2
Brand Cervelo

Available Sizes 48cm 51cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 61cm
Saddle Fizik Antares
Wheelbase (cm) 98.5
Top Tube (cm) 55
Standover Height (cm) 82
Seat Tube (cm) 50
Chainstays (cm) 40.5
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 28.5
Wheelset HED Ardennes Plus LT, 24.5mm deep rim, 18 spokes front, 24 spokes rear
Weight (kg) 6.73
Trail 5.6
Stem FSA OS-99 CSI 110mm
Shifters Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Seatpost FSA K-Force
Seat Angle 73
Rear Wheel Weight 1470
Bottom Bracket PF30
Rear Tyre Prix 700x25mm
Rear Derailleur Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Headset Type FSA
Head Angle 73.5
Handlebar FSA K-Force Compact 40cm
Front Wheel Weight 1070
Front Tyre Prix 700x25mm
Frame Material Cervélo All-Carbon
Fork Offset 4.3
Fork Cervélo All-Carbon, tapered R5
Cranks Rotor 3D+ 172.5mm 52/36
Chain Shimano
Cassette Shimano CS9000 11-28
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace
Frame size tested 56cm