Takeaway: Raced all summer by the stars of Cervélo sponsored Jumbo-Visma pro tour team, the long awaited redesign to the R5 is finally ready for the world to ride. It was worth the wait. The R5 is not groundbreaking in its design, but it is a highly competent road racing and all-day ride machine. It won't make you into Wout, Marianne, or Sepp overnight, but you will sure have fun trying.

    • Light and lively while climbing, stable and composed on descents.
    • Stunning lime/black paint job turns heads.
    • Full SRAM Force eTap AXS 12-speed drivetrain.
    • Race day details including carbon wheels, power meter, and GoPro mounts.

Price: $8,400 (tested), $5,000 (frameset)
Weight: 16.7lbs (58cm)

Cervélo Cervélo R5 Force eTap AXS

Cervélo R5 Force eTap AXS

Cervélo Cervélo R5 Force eTap AXS


Cervélo R5 Force eTap AXS Build Details

Style: Road Race
Wheel Size: 700c
Fork: Cervélo All-Carbon, Tapered R5 Fork, 12x100mm thru-axle, flat mount disc
Frame: Cervélo Carbon, internal cable routing, 12x142mm thru-axle, flat mount disc, integrated seatpost binder
Drivetrain: SRAM Force eTap AXS 12-speed
Crankset: SRAM Force AXS, 48/35T with Power Meter
Cassette: SRAM Force XG1270, 10-33T, 12-speed
Brakes: SRAM Force Hydraulic Disc, 160mm (front & rear) Paceline rotors
Wheels: Front: Reserve 34 rim, Zipp 76 hub/Rear: Reserve 37 rim, Zipp 176 XDR hub, Tubeless Ready, Centerlock
Tires: Vittoria Corsa TLR G2.0, 700 x 25c, Tubeless Ready
Saddle: Prologo Scratch M5 PAS TiRox
Seatpost: Cervélo SP24 Carbon Aero Post
Handlebar: Cervélo HB13 Carbon
Stem: Cervélo ST31 Carbon
Accessories: Cervélo Faceplate Front Computer/Accessory Mount, Cervélo Rear Accessory Mount

Cervélo's all new R5 was in development for over two years, first breaking cover under some of the brand's top pros during some 2021 European spring classics races. However, it wasn't until the 2021 Tour de France that fans and riders alike began to buzz about the bike's impending release. First Wout van Aert raced the new platform up Mont Ventoux twice for the win on stage 11, and then again—just a few days later—American Sepp Kuss climbed to stage 15 victory on board the frame. This is when we all had a feeling this bike was going to be worth the wait.

108th tour de france 2021 stage 15
Sepp Kuss winning stage 15 of the 2021 Tour de France.
Chris Graythen//Getty Images

The R5 family of bikes are all equipped with race ready builds out of the box; two with SRAM wireless groups and two with all new Shimano wired-less parts spec. All four complete bikes share the same frameset and cockpit, and all builds ship with Reserve 34/37 tubeless carbon rims. The two SRAM spec bikes also come stock with power meters.

Pricing for the complete line-up is:

  • Shimano DuraAce di2 12-speed - $12,000
  • Shimano Ultegra di2 12-speed - $8,700
  • SRAM Red eTap AXS 12-speed - $12,000
  • SRAM Force eTap AXS 12-speed - $8,400
  • Frameset - $5,000

Color choices are Five Black on all models, or the beautiful Lime/Black on our test bike for Ultegra and Force models. The frameset is available in Five Black, Lime/Black, or in a Jumbo-Visma Replica livery.

SRAM and Shimano DuraAce spec bikes are planned for availability at time of launch, with Ultegra spec bikes to follow in the coming months.

cervelo r5
Cervélo R5 Jumbo-Visma Replica

The R5 doesn't break the mold, and that in itself seems groundbreaking. In an age when every new road race frame launched is billed as being the 'most aero', 'most lightweight', or 'most stiff' bike in the peloton, a bike that isn't necessarily any of these things is a refreshing change.

The Cervélo product team readily admits that the Jumbo-Visma professional team were their main customer when developing the new R5 platform. The previous R5 had been in the market for several years, thus giving Cervélo's engineers plenty of time to collect data and mull over feedback from riders. Instead of attacking Jumbo-Visma's needs for a GC (General Classification) contending, mountain stage winning-capable frame by starting completely from scratch, the engineers retained the best parts of the old R5 (geometry and handling), sampled heavily from the Caledonia-5 (hidden cables and cockpit), and then spent the bulk of their time honing ride quality and tweaking the details when cooking up the new R5.

cervelo r5
Trevor Raab

Aerodynamics were not the focus of the R5, but neither was overall stiffness. This bike will not suit time trialists or sprinters well (Cervélo makes the P5 and S5 for those needs). The R5 is tuned for long, demanding days in the saddle and getting riders to the top of grueling climbs.

Whilst the Cervélo product team did not see lightweight as the primary objective of the R5, the frame is still a rather light at 703 grams (claimed). This shaves an approximate 130g off the previous generation R5. The new R5 fork comes in at 329g, bringing the frameset weight in just over 1 kilogram.

When comparing the geometry of the old R5 side-by-side to the new version, you will be hard pressed to find many significant differences in the numbers. Virtually all measurements on the new frame are within a millimeter or two of the previous generation. The biggest change is increased headtube length—though stack measurement remains untouched—in order to accommodate a more radically slopped top tube.

cervelo r5 geometry
Cervélo R5 Geometry Chart

The biggest change, both aesthetically and functionally, between the old and new R5 come from the internal cable system. Similar to the internal cable management of the Caledonia-5 and Aspero-5 models, the R5's brake hoses (there are no shift wires on the new builds) route into the stem and then into the frame's headtube. On top of the cleaner look to the hidden cables, this also helps to reduce drag by 25g.

cervelo aspero 5

The only downside to this system is that the R5 uses a proprietary steerer tube interface requires a Cervélo specific stem. If you are the type of ride who likes to fiddle with your stem length, get good at bleeding your brakes or become close friends with the mechanics at your local bike shop.

Aside from the addition of Aero Cable Management, cleaned up seat stay/seat tube juncture, sloped top tube, and some slight aero profiling around the fork crown, the biggest visual statement on the R5 is tire clearance. Unsurprisingly for a bike in 2021, the R5 has tons of clearance for a road bike. Even though the tires on the bike are marked 25C, they measure out to over 28mm when set-up tubeless and aired up to 65psi. (And since Cervélo's media literature tempted me to do so, I even threw a pair of cyclocross wheels onto the R5. It fit Challenge Grifos, measuring in at 34mm, with room to spare.)

cervelo r5
Trevor Raab

On my first couple of rides on the R5, I couldn't quite figure out what to make of the bike. The bike was certainly light and lively, but I couldn't seem to get my position dialed in. I originally planned to race the bike in a weekend criterium series to close out my road racing season, but I wasn't yet feeling confident enough on the bike, nor was I wanting to potentially damage the beautiful paint if I got caught up in a crash. This was a bike that I needed time to warm up to, and I am glad I did because the R5 turned out to be a really good bike.

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cervelo r5
Trevor Raab

Once I got the R5 out on some longer rides, and got my fit on the bike sorted, I quickly fell in love with it beyond the sparkling paint and top notch parts spec. The R5 is a bike that feels more comfortable the longer into a ride you get. With race frames on the market becoming increasingly stiff (whether purposefully or as a byproduct of the extra aerodynamic features on bikes), finding a purpose built race bike that can be ridden by mere mortals on longer rides seems rare.

Geometry on the R5 is overall pretty conventional, not straying from the category norms all that dramatically. This results in predictable handling and a calm demeanor out on the road. The R5 holds a line well through corners, not requiring too much extra input or correction. Though I did find the R5 to have a less front end stiffness than some stiffer, more aero designed bikes. This just required some extra thought on steeper, higher speed descents.

cervelo r5
Trevor Raab

Being an elite level road race bike, the R5 is most at home on smooth tarmac. But not every road is going to be perfect and fresh. Riding the R5 on sections of milled pavement and light gravel the ride quality and feel stayed comfortable, with the tubeless tires and carbon cockpit helping to dampen much of the vibration. Only on a stretch of washed out road from some recent flash flooding did the R5 feel out of its comfort zone.

It took me a couple rides to get my fit on the bike to where I was comfortable. Part of the reason for this I chalk up to the higher stack measurement when compared to other bikes in the category. If you like your bikes with a little more stack, but also appreciate that slamthatstem look to your bike, you will be happy with the R5. If however, you like a bike with a super low front end, be sure to look over the geometry numbers closely as Cervélo does not offer their carbon stem in lower rise options.

cervelo r5
Slammed stem on the R5.
Trevor Raab

By no means can I be categorized as someone who enjoys climbing a bike, but the R5 soon had me seeking out local roads and Strava segments with double digit gradients. The combination of lightweight, good geometry, and sufficiently low gear range helped make my uphill grinds a bit easier, and dare I say, even pleasant. The slightly taller stack measurement that initially had me chasing fit proved to position me well for climbing, keeping me a little more upright and my weight centered on the bike.

cervelo r5
Trevor Raab

The new Cervélo R5 took a while longer to get to market due to the complexities of global supply chain problems across all industries, but it turned out to be well worth the wait. The R5 has the palmarès of major race wins, is lightweight but with sensible spec, and best of all ride very well. If you are after a great road race bike, or just a race-inspired bike for those long days with plenty of elevation gain, the R5 should be on your short list to ride.

Cervelo R5 Gallery
cervelo r5
Headshot of Tara Seplavy
Tara Seplavy
Deputy Editor

As Deputy Editor, Tara Seplavy leads Bicycling’s product test team; after having previously led product development and sourcing for multiple bike brands, run World Championship winning mountain bike teams, wrenched at renowned bicycle shops in Brooklyn, raced everything from criteriums to downhill, and ridden bikes on six different continents (landing herself in hospital emergency rooms in four countries and counting). Based in Easton, Pennsylvania, Tara spends tons of time on the road and trail testing products. A familiar face at cyclocross races, crits, and bike parks in the Mid Atlantic and New England, on weekends she can often be found racing for the New York City-based CRCA/KruisCX team. When not riding a bike, or talking about them, Tara listens to a lot of ska, punk, and emo music, and consumes too much social media.