2018 Cervelo R5 Disc brake race road bike

After 30 months of testing and back and forth with Team Dimension Data riders, Cervelo has released all-new R5 and R3 road bikes that brings them up to the modern rider’s standards for comfort and performance. Cervelo being Cervelo, they also had to make them lighter, and with new Squoval Max tube shaping, stiffer and more aero.

For the top level R5 race bikes, they adjusted geometry to bring the front end lower for racier handling, and the R3 maintains its traditional (but still race ready) geometry. Both models also get disc brake options, which bump overall system stiffness even more thanks to thru axles…

2018 Cervelo R5 race road bike

The R5 drops stack height by 8mm to put the rider in a more aggressive aero position. This is complemented by a 44g drag reduction across the frameset, coming from a new integrated (but still two-piece) bar and stem, the new Squoval tube shaping and fork, and a new seatpost.

To improve rider comfort, they increased tire clearance to fit up to 28mm wide tires. Handling improvements come from an overall lower system center of gravity. The BB goes really low with a massive 72mm of drop, and with a lower stack height up front, the rider’s lower on the bike.

By the numbers, the non-disc bike has 21% stiffer headtube and 15% BB sections. The disc brake model 18% and 26% stiffer at the same spots, respectively. With all of these changes, they managed to drop frame weight, though they’re not making any specific weight claims for the R5.

2018 Cervelo R3 road bike details and tech

The R3, however, is supposedly 10% lighter than the prior rim brake R3, and the disc brake model is 16% lighter. It boasts a 17g drag reduction over the prior model, lacking the aero cockpit and fork of the R5.

2018 Cervelo R3 road bike details and tech

Both disc brake versions use a new thru axle design that engages with a mere 1/4 turn and lever flip, with graphics on the frame and lever to illustrate usage.

At present, only top level models are on offer, with the R5 getting SRAM eTap / Zipp 302 or Dura-Ace Di2 / ENVE 4.3 builds for $9,000, including one SRAM equipped disc brake model. The R3 has a Dura-Ace 9100 mechanical / Mavic Aksium Elite build for $5,000, with disc brake versions to come.



  1. Kudos to keeping the R3 geometry set. One of the few race bikes that doesn’t go too low on stack (at least in my 56 size). I know everyone different, but its nice as most other bikes will push 15-20mm lower stacks heights.

    • I second this. Really cool of Cervelo to acknowledge that there are top-tier racers wanting all the race day advantages that they can get, but there are also those who want to be competitive, but who would prefer a *slightly* less aggressive geo. Kudos.

      • “Kudos to keeping the R3 Geometry”. Sorry but it’s not the case.

        Previous R3 Head lenght for a mid-size (54) : 148. R3 2018 : 133 (so quite low)..and 128 for R5 2018 !

        I still don’t understand that kind on frame set up, exept for pro tour users…

        On my side, i will move to Trek H2, or Colanogo (they are offering 12 different sizes), but with some regrets…

        • Hi Romain,
          The head tube lengths have changed because we changed the fork length for more tire clearance. The frame stack and reach have stayed the same in the R3. Head tube lengths are not an indicator of frame stack, so always refer to frame stack for fitting purposes.

          • Yes, true.

            But my concern is about the drop down value saddle / handelbar .

            For example, with :

            – Seat height : 75cm –
            – Drop Value 7cm,

            How much spacers I have to put below my stem to get the good drop…in compliance with security standards regarding fork pivot?

            Do you get my point ?


        • Look at the stack! The fork length increased so the stack is the same on the R3 even though the headtube is technically shorter.

      • Agree with the sentiment certainly

        Just wanted to check you meant “what a heresy!”, or are you a cockney Englishman – “what an ‘eresy!” ?

    • I’m surprised by the low BB on the R5. Racers, the main demographic that wants the lower head tube the R5 offers, typically need to pedal through corners. I ride 172.5mm cranks with Speedplay pedals, so clearance may or may not be a problem. But a taller guy with longer cranks and different pedals might have a problem.

      It’s nice that the geometry suits you, Jbikes, but I disagree that most other comparable bikes are lower than the R3. I have the original R3 (54 cm) with zero spacers and a -17-degree stem, and the bar height is just right for me. I won’t buy a newer R3 not because I disdain the higher stack but because I can’t get my current position with Cervelo’s current geometry. Head tubes generally grew about 20 mm a few years ago, and now I have trouble finding a bike that appeals to me with a low enough head tube.

      The current Madone is the first Trek I’ve lusted after since the original 5500 back in 1992. When they finally release a disc-brake version, I’ll probably buy one. But their low-head tube geometry option is only available in their most expensive model, effectively charging me an extra $1000 to get the fit I need. What kills me is that I might end up paying for it.

      I realize “race” bikes with tall head tubes are what sells. But a less-flexible rider can fit on my frame with a different stem or some spacers, but I can’t fit on a tall-head-tube frame without some odd compromises.

      • In my size, almost all 56cm bike will run a stack of around 560mm.

        My long legs, short torso make the saddle to bar drop excessive, but I realize my geometry is not normal. For example my saddle height is routinely 1.5″-2″ higher than all my friends of the same height

        • Yeah; that makes sense. And the geometry that suits you is pretty popular…maybe I’m the one whose geometry is not normal.

      • Be careful not to go on head tube length alone. Use stack/reach for comparison (this also accounts for BB drop). Two big reasons for that length figure changing are integrated headsets and shorter fork axle/crown dimensions. You may actually find the Trek H2 fit to your liking, especially with the Madone’s head spacer arrangement.

        As the owner of a current Madone, I can say all the hype is real…

      • It actually varies by size. The smallest R5 sizes get 74mm drop and the biggest get 69mm. This accounts for variations in crank length and besides people run larger tires these days so it makes sense to lower things slightly.

        FWIW I have raced a bike with 75mm BB drop and 175mm cranks in crits and never had any issues.

  2. Stove pipe down tube, too much space to front wheel, ugly mechanical cable routing in the toptube, seatpost clamp bulge – sorry, but nope. 🙁

  3. My favorite part of this bike is the lower 72mm BB drop. Bikes over the years kept raising BB drop to the 67-70mm range plus steepened head tube angles and made them too twitchy at high speed for me. My Argon 18 Nitrogen Pro reverses that and is super stable. I’m glad this bike at least partly goes in that direction too. Good to have options.

  4. I am not a racer but I ride with a very aggressive geometry. Most current pro bikes are just too upright for me. Are pros not that flexible? Being only 5’7″ I would be riding a size 51 with this new R5 but unfortunately I would need to extend the size 51 top tube to 565mm with a 130mm x -17 degree stem. This means I need the short head tube of the size 51 and the long top tube of size 56. This sounds crazy but all of my custom bikes have a 100mm head tube and 565mm top tube with a bottom bracket drop of 50mm (yes very high). I need at least 200mm of bar to saddle drop to ride comfortably. Nonetheless, I have the money to spend on some of these off the shelf race bikes but unfortunately none of them fit. These new R5 series are going in the right direction but they need to be more aggressive. Make the size 51 with a top tube length of at least 550mm and a bottom bracket drop of at least 60mm and I will buy at least two framesets in a heartbeat. BTW, I am not a fan of a low bottom bracket drop. It is so outdated thinking.

    • Manufacturers will never make production bikes with the geometry you’d like because it is so far outside the norm.

      Low BB’s are outdated thinking? You might be outside the norm there, too.

      • Cross bikes aren’t even that high anymore!!! There are preferences, and being used to really terrible geometry. Just give a lower BB bike more time and you’ll see the light…even 65mm!!!
        At your height, with that BB drop and preferred head tube length? You’re either way too low(and used to it), or you have extremely abnormally short legs and/or a very very long humerus bone…or your arms are locked out and you’re only thinking that drop is doing you any good.

  5. Bikerumor can call it “massive”, but in reality 72mm BB drop is rather unremarkable for road bikes. Though it is lower than the S5 and other/older Cervelo models, Trek and Specialized also use 72mm drop for most of their performance road bikes….other than the unusual 80mm on the Trek Domane and 78mm on the Roubaix, which is partially negated by the larger tyres one might expect to run on such “endurance” road bikes. That being said, I don’t really think that BB drop has a dominating effect on a bike’s handling characteristics. My 4 road bikes have between 58 and 72mm drop. The one with the highest BB is actually the most stable, not because high bottom brackets are more stable but because 2-4mm difference just doesn’t mean that much compared to other factors like wheels, steering geometry, etc.

  6. Yeah it would be unrealistic to expect a mass producer to make such a bike that fits me. Since Cervelo is dedicating the new R5 for aggressive position riders, it could have done more, as shortening the head tube alone may not be enough. Besides, lower the BB at the same timewill basically offset a shorter head tube.

    Okay now for the BB drop, it has little or nothing at all to drive the handling of a bike.It is a general misconception that lowering the BB will lower the CG, which in turn would provide a more stable handling. The center of gravity (CG) of a rider/bike in motion is not constant, as it will shift continuously due to the change of terrain and the position and weight distribution of the rider. In another word, it could be all over the map. The BB height will only do one thing, which is to set the height of the saddle relatively. As I said, I ride with a BB drop of 50mm on a custom road bike, which I feel very stable and solid (compared to my Moots at 70 mm drop), as I bomb down a steep hill at 30-50 mph frequently without any negative effect. I usually get a good laugh when I see these bike makers emphasizing their new model bikes with a lower BB position, like it is a good thing for most riders.

    Now for the handling and responsiveness of a bike, it has more to do with the front end of the bike. The geometry is a smaller part of the equation, which is another big general misconception, as most people would be concentrating on this aspect alone and nothing else. The weight distribution of a rider has a lot more todo with the handling of a bike than the geometry does, as the position of the rider is a big driving factor. The front-end control components also play a major role, as the resonances of the fork, handlebars, stem, etc. all affect the handling and responsiveness of a ride. Even the amount of pre-load of the headset has some effect in this regard. Nowadays, weight is everything, as these front end components are getting lighter and flexier, and you have to wonder why some bikes do not response solidly. It seems like the bike industry is filled with a bunch of d*mbass experts and most people are buying into their non-sense theories.

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