Rocky Moun­tain El­e­ment 990 RSL BC Edi­tion BIKE TEST

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - by Paul Newitt

Cervelo first un­veiled their R se­ries in 2005 un­der the CSC squad of Bjarne Riis. Through sev­eral re-de­signs and test pi­lots from Fabian Can­cel­lara to Mark Cavendish, the Cana­dian com­pany con­tin­ues to im­press.

The new R3 and R5 bi­cy­cles have placed an em­pha­sis on fit, han­dling and com­fort – and th­ese were the im­pe­tus be­hind the much an­tic­i­pated changes.

The racier and more ex­otic R5 that was first de­buted un­der the Di­men­sion Data squad at the 2017 Tour of Dubai has had its head tube low­ered af­ter feed­back from the team about get­ting low and aero­dy­namic on their race bikes. In fact, of the two size 56s that Pedal was lucky enough to get hold of, the head tube on the R5 was 8mm shorter than the older ver­sion.

Both frame­sets have ex­pe­ri­enced some changes in hopes of im­prov­ing the han­dling. The wheel­base has ac­tu­ally been length­ened and the bot­tom bracket was low­ered 72mm, giv­ing the frames an in­creased trail of 57mm. This will al­low the frames to ac­com­mo­date the pop­u­lar 28mm tires – an ad­just­ment from Cervelo that came from wheel man­u­fac­tur­ing data that con­firmed in­creased aero­dy­nam­ics with wider tires.

As we touched on prior, the R5 is the race model and had been de­signed for speed and per­for­mance. Toronto’s own Gra­ham Shrive, a Cervelo en­gi­neer, felt that the car­bon Squo­val tube-shaped walls (think square and oval tubes com­bined) could not be thin­ner, so the weight of the frame re­mains the same – per­haps that’s why they re­fer to it as the Squo­val Max. The tubes have been re-de­signed to for­tify cross­sec­tions and to squeeze ev­ery ounce of per­for­mance out of what is left. The dif­fer­ence is a 21% in­crease in tor­sional stiff­ness, along with a 13% in­crease in the bot­tom bracket stiff­ness and an over­all 10% lighter weight over­all on the rim model and 16% on the disc model.

Yet it is the R3 that has been gar­ner­ing a lot of at­ten­tion lately as the ride is boast­ing some qual­i­ties that many are happy to re­port. Fo­cus­ing on weight and the stiff­ness-to-weight ra­tio, the R3 is now as light as the old R5. Us­ing the same Squo­val tube shape while also be­ing able to ac­com­mo­date a 28mm tire, the R3 has a higher stack height up front and a lower stand-over height with ex­tra toe clear­ance at the ped­als. Th­ese changes make it a more com­fort­able ride with ex­cep­tional per­for­mance. The R3 also boasts a 4% stiffer head tube and 4% stiffer bot­tom bracket.

The R3 and R5 frames have both had some trick al­ter­ations to aug­ment the over­all prod­uct. An in­te­grated chain-stay pro­tec­tor has been de­signed to al­le­vi­ate chain suck. A ca­ble man­age­ment plat­form on the down­tube (which is as wide as the UCI will al­low) will be able to ac­com­mo­date all fu­ture de­railleur and brake sys­tems. The R5 has spring-loaded thru axles (Rapid Axle Tech­nol­ogy) on all mod­els while the R3 has it on the disc model only.

One dif­fer­ence to note in the two frames is the seat col­lar. The R3 uti­lizes the tra­di­tional seat col­lar while the R5 in­tro­duces new tech­nol­ogy with an in­te­grated hid­den seat clamp.

The R5 has been get­ting most of the at­ten­tion on the race scene as Cervelo touts it as the stiffest rim brake-equipped road frame it has ever pro­duced. It also ar­rives with an in­te­grated cock­pit set-up that in­tro­duces new AB06 bars with space for the Di2 junc­tion box in­side, and it’s more com­fort­able and aero­dy­namic than its pre­de­ces­sor. Add in the CS26 car­bon stem that also al­lows for in­ter­nal Di2 rout­ing and you have a very clean sight line from the top tube.

Pedal Mag­a­zine’s Cerve­los both ar­rived dressed in Shi­mano’s 11-speed me­chan­i­cal Dura Ace 9100 gruppo. The ma­jor dif­fer­ence, straight away, was the wheelset they were spec’d with. The R5 has a Mavic Kys­rium Elite pack­age while the R3 houses the Mavic Ak­sium wheelset.

Ex­cited to test both at the same time, I couldn’t re­sist throw­ing a leg over the R5 first. Sleek and stealthy, the R5 is as smooth as any high-end car­bon ma­chine in terms of track­ing straight. With its pur­ported new pro fit, sta­ble and re­spon­sive han­dling, and un­ri­valled stiff­ness, the test was sure to be fun.

Stand­ing up and test­ing the stiff­ness is un­par­al­leled. The bike jumps at ev­ery watt you throw at the driv­e­train. Ab­so­lutely no lat­eral flex, and any such feel­ings on steep in­clines was via the wheelset and com­po­nen­try. It han­dles in­cred­i­bly smoothly through tight cor­ners, giv­ing a con­trolled feel­ing of con­fi­dence. Un­der se­vere brak­ing, the front end per­forms ad­mirably as it soaks up the torque and again tracks very straight and smooth.

We an­tic­i­pated the ride to be smooth and fast as the pro rid­ers had pressed Cervelo to lower their bikes and make them as fast as pos­si­ble. With the re­fined geom­e­try and sub­tle changes to the frame­set, the bike has pro­gressed into a smooth but quickly adapt­able ride. Stomp­ing up some short, steep in­clines, the bike snaps for­ward and is quick to im­press.

Longer rides of three to four hours were not a prob­lem as long as the bike is di­aled in. With a stem length that is per­fect, your favourite sad­dle and com­fort­able shoes makes a huge dif­fer­ence on a high-end, in­cred­i­bly stiff ride like this.

Al­ready win­ning stages in the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France un­der Ed­vald Bos­san Ha­gan, the jury is “in” with re­gards to the per­for­mance and com­pe­tency of this renowned bike.

The R3 test was an en­tirely dif­fer­ent feel that main­tained Cervelo’s renowned race-fit geom­e­try. Fo­cused on its stiff­ness-to-weight ra­tio, the R3 frame is said to be lighter, stiffer and more aero­dy­namic than its pre­de­ces­sor – and the ride proved it.

This bike has an in­cred­i­bly com­fort­able feel with re­spect to damp­en­ing and over­all ride qual­ity. Geom­e­try and pro-fit en­gi­neer­ing have plenty to do with cre­at­ing this ef­fect and rid­ers from novice to pro will be able to feel it.

Per­for­mance is ab­so­lutely there as the R3 han­dles ev­ery­thing I threw at it from sharp cor­ner­ing to quick ac­cel­er­a­tions on climbs. The Dura Ace gruppo has a lot to do with in­spired per­for­mance, but the shift­ing, shift­ing un­der pres­sure, brak­ing and brak­ing un­der pres­sure were ex­cep­tional. Track­ing through cor­ners and longer de­scents was a plea­sure as ev­ery­thing works so nicely in uni­son.

As the bike cer­tainly checks all the im­por­tant boxes, I was left scratch­ing my head why it would be spec’d with a Mavic Ak­sium wheelset. If there is room for im­prove­ment on such an ac­com­plished ride, it def­i­nitely would be an up­grade to the wheelset.

Avail­able in both rim and disc brake ver­sions by the end of 2017, in mul­ti­ple build and price op­tions, the colours re­main stealthy matte black/green for the R5 and an at­trac­tive blue/red for the R3.

Com­po­nents $6,500 Weight Price n/a Shi­mano 9100, 11-speed Dura-Ace Cervélo Frame/Fork All-Car­bon, Ta­pered R3 Fork Geom­e­try Head tube 73°, Seat-tube 73° Sizes 48, 51, 54, 56, 58, 61 Com­ments Supris­ingly in­cred­i­ble ride CERVELO R3

Price Shi­mano Com­po­nents $9,000 Weight n/a Dura-Ace 9100, Frame/Fork 11-speed Cervélo Ta­pered All-Car­bon, R5 Fork Geom­e­try Head tube 73°, Seat-tube 73° Sizes 48, 51, 54, 56, 58, 61 Com­ments Ul­ti­mate race bike CERVELO R5

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