by Ian Stalker
It is said that Mallorca proves beyond reasonable doubt that God was indeed a cyclist, the much anticipated Cervelo R5 may well have been his chosen bike for the journey if the hype is proven to be correct. We find out whether a bike that cost so much to develop and stands on the sales floor at £5200 without modification can warrant such a high price tag?
The day started as do many in the Mediterranean with a 3.30 am alarm call for a 6 am flight from Newcastle to the beautiful island of Mallorca. My trip was to be our very first outing of Cervelo’s latest offering, the R5. Cervelo certainly have a lot to live up too, the frame was a derivative of the mighty RCA which Cervelo say offers a lighter, stiffer bike whilst reducing aero drag by 7.4 watts, Cervelo don’t offer this as an ‘aero’ bike merely hinting at its credentials in this area, together with future proofing internal cabling and wider tyre options for those looking to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving marketplace that now exists.
Arriving at our home for the next few days we excitedly assembled the bike by midday emerging into the sunshine for our first warm up ride, Puerto Pollenca to Cap Formentor.
The R5 has certainly got presence, no sooner than we had got outside our hotel, dropping in the bike room keys, the receptionist came out staring at the R5 as he explained he had recently taken on the Cobra, the most feared of Mallorca’s many rides, pleading for a ride of the bike his hands held clasped together! We all like to think our bikes are good but this is not something I was expecting and it was not to be the last approach I had on the visually stunning bike!
Our bike had some modifications, notably the wheels were upgraded to a set of the latest Cosmic 40C wheels, a clincher but full wrap Carbon style together with 22 speed Dura-Ace.
The moment you pull away on the Cervelo you get a good feeling, the bike setup is one that simply works, maneuverability is from a thought to change in direction seamlessly, the bike is an extension of you and the Cervelo seems just that bit better a fit than most I am used too, the stiffness which can come with a potential price tag of a poor ride is nowhere to be seen, the fact is that the R5 seems to be more comfortable a ride than my previous mount which was noted to be ‘heavy but forgiving’.
Our first attack was straight up to circa 1000 feet lift out of Puerto Pollenca where the bike climbed better than anything else I have been privileged to ride. The R5 seemed to make an ok rider into someone who was very capable, the bike just flew uphill’s and that was only to be the beginning, this bikes party piece was certainly the downhill sections!
Once we came to the top of the first climb I descended back down to sea level with some caution as it was my first decent and it always pays to get a feel of things but I need not have worried, this bike was very easy to handle, in fact this is where the R5 was showing its true pedigree. The R5 was made for fast downhill’s in my opinion, maybe not deliberately but in fact she is fantastic in her poise giving great feedback to the rider.
>Once on the decent I was also careful as full carbon wheels can certainly build up heat but the latest technology from the Cosmic 40C’s, aluminum is used to act as a heat sink under the carbon, gave a composed, strong controllable braking with no problems that I encountered. People who are familiar with this run will know, unusually for Mallorca, the road surface changes to a much more English B road surface after the first decent but the Cervelo was well up to the challenge offering me the most comfortable seat in the house and one I was very pleased to be on.
For a super light frame the R5 offers an unexpectedly comfortable ride, I was not sure what to expect here but buyers should be in for a delightful surprise in this department.
The handling of the R5 is impeccable, you quickly find that she is truly responsive when needs be without any dramas. I found myself resting my hands on the handlebars rather than holding them, my normal poise, for much of the ride as the bike was offering no resistance to my demands! If there is a better handling bike on the market than the R5 then it is going to have to be very very good indeed as this bike was truly a dream ride in this department.
The climb just kept heading skywards and so many times I remember thinking how lucky I was to be riding the R5, it just kept on putting a smile all over my face!
Most riders I guess will have a sing on their rides, apologies if I turn out to be the only one as it seems very normal to me anyway, I made up a new verse to an age old classic and it goes something like this: ‘up, up and away on my beautiful, my beautiful Cervelo’ and, unfortunately for my co riders, I think the repeat button was pressed on my song list?
Corny? Perhaps, but I tell you now this bike just makes you want to go uphill’s! It really is just an amazing mix of lightness, geometry and stiffness, particularly in the bottom bracket, creating a package which works, and well at that.
We eventually reached the lighthouse at the top of the climb which allowed us to ponder the bikes together with a wild mountain goat helping itself to all of the leftovers, great country Mallorca! I was certainly very pleased to be riding the Cervelo and was eager to attack the reverse run, one which would allow me to let the R5 open up as my confidence levels were at an all time high in the bike.
The first serious downhill was still on rougher roads but this was easy meat for the R5, fast, positive, full of feedback, just some of the many feeling I had on the bike which were only set to improve once we climbed back up to the last decent into Puerto Pollenca as this road was of normal superb Mallorcan quality.
The bike was simply alive, I felt in complete control at speeds I normally would be far more cautious, it descends like nothing I have ever seen, the confidence it awards you with is simply stunning, this bike is a true gem.
We pulled back into Puerto Pollenca after a lovely afternoon where we simply could not help but smile, thank you Cervelo for giving us this almighty bike, it is truly an awesome machine in just about every way!
So, the big question I suppose you are all thinking about, is it worth its hefty price tag? I have thought about this since my return and the answer is simple, if you are in the fortunate position to be able to afford one of these machines and you are looking for a bike that will reward your every movement whilst flattering your abilities, whatever your level, then don’t even think about it, just get into your local dealer, that would be a YES then!
If money is too tight then wait for these to come onto the second hand market and bag the bargain they undoubtedly will be.