Cervélo R3 Review

by Eran Preble

[Ed. Note] Eran has been racing for the University of Delaware club cycling team for the last two years. He’s notched 7 wins in this time and a plethora of podium finishes. He has significant experience in the industry as a bike shop employee and has developed a keen eye for good investments (or in his words: “screaming deals”). You can find him on Strava.

The Basics

  • Model: Cervélo R3
  • Year: 2011
  • Groupset: Sram Rival
  • Miles Ridden: 8,500
  • Weight: 15lbs 6oz (7.0 kg)

Ride Quality

Ride quality is one of the main reasons I chose to buy my R3 just over a year ago. Along with the R3 I test rode a Cannondale CAAD10 and a Specialized Tarmac SL3. Both the CAAD10 and the Tarmac felt like my old Allez: rough. The ride quality of the R3 is just amazing, I’ve spent 6+ plus hours in the saddle multiple times and have never felt like my body was beat up afterwards.

Reliability

Overall, I would say the R3 has been pretty reliable and very durable. I have crashed mutliple times this summer and the frame has held up very well, no issues there. My crashes have resulted in having to replace my front and rear derailluers, which is too be expected given how hard I’ve crashed. The one piece that just doesnt seem to be up to snuff is the derailluer hanger. I understand that this piece is supposed to be soft and a fail safe to protect the frame but the number of times I’ve had to replace it has been outrageous.

Issues

I did have a warranty issue with the frame. The cable stops on the downtube are riveted to the frame using aluminum rivets. Both stops actually started pulling out of the frame, this is a known issue so cervelo quickly shipped out some stainless steel rivets and Garrison’s cyclery replaced them promptly, no issues since then.

Overall Feel

This is a bike that is built to do everything and do everything well! The supreme ride quality makes it an incredible bike for everyday training while the excellent stiffness make it equally at home in the mountains or on a tight crit course.

The bike loves to accelerate! If I were to compare it to my Litespeed C3 I would say the Litespeed makes the fast parts faster and the slow parts slower, the Cervélo does the exact opposite. It is certainly no aero bike in terms of frame design or rider positioning so when the speeds get really fast you feel the need to tuck in behind a kind teammate, but when the road kicks upwards the r3 flies.

A comment about the geometry: the headtube is a bit tall. Cervélo says tall a headtube and less spacers are stiffer than a short headtube and lots of spacers. This is true, but I love me some drop so I found my self with the stem completely slammed and at -17 degrees (during the racing season) and was still looking for some more drop. For 95 out of 100 people this will not be an issue but for my taste I would have liked a shorter headtube or at least a zero stack headset.

Worth It?

The MSRP on this bike when I bought it was $3200. If I had to pay $3200 dollars for this bike I wouldn’t have bought it, but thankfully I didn’t have to. It certainly is a great bike but Cervélo does not bring great value to the table with their bikes. They like to skimp on the wheels in an effort to keep cost down although it seems like those extra bucks just go in their pockets (that is trickle down economics for you).

The bike is a very solid complete build with the only shortcomings being the saddle, which most people would replace regardless of the bike, and the wheels. If you already have a nice set of wheels and you can haggle a bit with your LBS this is a really solid choice, if you have to pay the sticker price you might want to start test riding some other bikes.

Current Setup:

  • Groupset: Sram Rival
  • Crank: Sram s975 Quarq, (stock: Sram s900 – compact)
  • Wheels: Stan’s No Tubes Alpha 340 Pro , (stock: Fulcrum Racing 7′s)
  • Saddle: Specialized Romin (stock: fi’zi:k Arione)
  • Handlebars: 3T Rutundo (stock: 3T Ergonova)

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