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Cervelo R2 review

Cervelo R2 105
24 Aug 2016
Verdict:

The Cervelo R2 is supposed to be a sportive bike but we found the geometry and ride of this 105 equipped model screamed race bike.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,999
For 
Stiff and light
Against 
Not as comfortable as expected

Cervélo has two ranges of road bikes, the R Series and the S Series. The S Series is the aero offering, while the R Series consists of more classic road racing bikes. The R2 tested here is the latest generation of the bike that Stuart O’Grady rode to success in Paris-Roubaix back in 2007, and brings this lightweight platform to a previously unseen price point, below £2k. The heart of this bike is the lightweight frame but with Shimano’s excellent and affordable 105 groupset, it should be able to shine.

The frame

Cervelo R2 squoval downtube

The asymmetric BBright bottom bracket allows the left-hand chainstay to be built up for added stiffness.

R Series frames are built to be light, and Cervélo claims that the 56cm R2 frame weighs less than1kg. Impressive stuff, but then so is some of the other technology Cervélo has thrown at this bike.It actually uses the same frame as the more expensive R3, which itself is 24% stiffer at the head tube than the previous generation R3 (it now has a tapered 1.375 to 1.125in steerer) – it uses squared- off oval tubes (Cervélo calls them ‘Squoval’) to achieve a level of aerodynamics unheard of among most lightweight bikes. Cervélo reckons these tubes save 7w compared to the previous R3, even more against other bikes. It’s clear on first inspection just how much thought has gone into the frame, like the squared-off seat tube, ultra-thin seat stays or asymmetric BBright bottom bracket, which allows the left-hand chainstay to be built up for added stiffness.

Cervelo R2 bottom bracket

The geometry chart tells youa lot about Cervélo’s racing pedigree – with a super-steep 73.2 degree head angle, the shortest wheelbase of any 54cm bike we’ve tested at 967mm and a short 146mm head tube – it’s all about ‘fast’ handling and riding in a low, aggressive position. Cervélo talks a lot about stack and reach measurements in its literature, which means the bikes grow longer and taller with each size jump – something that isn’t always the case with other brands. That’s good, especially for smaller riders, but it does create some oddities – for example, our 54cm tester actually has a shorter front-centre (measured from BB to centre of front hub) than the 51cm bike, thanks to a steeper head angle and a fork with 10mm less offset. That keeps the wheelbase tight but meant we suffered toe overlap, which was an issue for us at low speeds and traffic lights (not what this bike is designed for, but where many of us spend a lot of our time).

Components

Cervelo R2 crankset

Components are a mix of Shimano 105 and FSA (above); the Squoval tubes achieve aerodynamic levels unhead of among most lightweight bikes.

Cervélo specs a wide mix of components on the R2, but the backbone is Shimano 105. Elsewhere, FSA provides a BBright specific chainset with 50/34 rings as well as FSA Gossamer brakes, which perform adequately, especially after a bedding-in period. The bars and stem come from 3T, the stem being 100mm long and the bars 42cm wide. The seatpost is the carbon SLK model from FSA. Its 27.2mm diameter helps with additional compliance. 

Wheels

Cervelo R2 seatstays

Shimano RS010 wheels are cheap, but none the worse for it. The freehub engages confidently every time you power away from the lights, they’re stiff and the braking surface is machined for reassuringly powerful slowing down. What they’re not, though, is light, so they’re likely to be the first part of this bike you’ll want to upgrade for race days. The Rubino Pros performed well, gripping confidently on dry descents and not flatting when we hit rough and gravelly tarmac. The 23mm tyres mean the R2 isn’t the most comfortable bike we’ve ridden.

The ride

The geometry of the R2 had us scratching our heads. We’d always thought of it as Cervélo’s sportive-style bike, lightweight, stable and comfortable. But with its short wheelbase, steep head angle and tight back end, everything about it screams ‘race bike’. Our first outing on the R2 was a hilly solo ride into Essex. It rode well uphill, both in and out of the saddle, and was quickly up to speed as soon as the road flattened out. It wasn’t as comfortable as expected though, and the fork felt incredibly stiff in comparison to the rear. Point the R2 downhill and that stiffness, plus the short, racy wheelbase, makes it feel twitchy.

Cervelo R2 review

It was on the second ride that the R2 really began to make sense. We headed out with the local chaingang, and in a tightly formed paceline, charging through and off at 45kmh, the tight wheelbase and steep head angle have a purpose – they allow you to tuck in incredibly tightly behind the rider in front to maximise the effect of drafting. On that ride, we scored a handful of Strava PBs, proving that when you start chomping on the 3T handlebars in a tight racing-style bunch, the R2 is very, very fast. But that’s our issue with the R2: it’s a race bike, pure and simple. If you’re a sportive rider who regularly pushes for miles, there are bikes out there with longer wheelbases that are less punishing of mistakes. If your idea of fun is pinning a number on and racing at 40kmh for an hour at a time, the R2 is a steal.

Frame

Stiff and light with aero tubing and racy geometry - 8/10

Components

A mix of 105, good value FSA and 3T finishing kit - 8/10

Wheels

Cheap, stiff and reliable wheels, decent tyres - 7/10

The ride

Not as comfy as expected but great in a chaingang - 8/10

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 548mm 546mm
Seat Tube (ST) 518mm
Down Tube (DT) 591mm
Fork Length (FL) 373mm
Head Tube (HT) 148mm 146mm
Head Angle (HA) 73.1 73.2
Seat Angle (SA) 73 73.1
Wheelbase (WB) 967mm
BB drop (BB) 68mm 73mm

Spec

Cervelo R2 10
Frame Cervelo All-Carbon, Tapered R2 Fork
Groupset Shimano 105, 11-speed
Brakes FSA Gossamer Pro
Chainset FSA Gossamer Pro, 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-28
Bars 3T Ergonova
Stem 3T Arx
Seatpost FSA SLK
Wheels Shimano RS010
Tyres Vittoria Rubino Pro, 23c
Saddle Selle Royal Seta
Contact cervelo.com

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