Cervélo’s roots are in the pursuit of speed, its range of road bikes epitomised by the likes of the aerodynamic S5 and the super light R5, and its long association with professional racing which has helped it to develop its road bikes over the years.
Bucking this trend, the all-new C5 (pictured above) and C3 hasn’t been designed for racing or indeed bred from a race development programme. Instead, the new bike marks a change of direction for the company, with disc brakes, wide tyre clearance and geometry intended for endurance comfort.
The endurance road bike market is buoyant in the UK. Models like Cannondale’s Synapse and Giant’s Defy are popular with non-racing cyclists that still want the speed and performance of a race bike but appreciate a bit more comfort, provided by the relaxed geometry, wider and tyres and frame features.
The endurance bike is also evolving, with ever wider tyres and disc brakes becoming defining features. It’s no surprise that the C5 features disc brakes; there’s a clear demand from the cyclists buying these bikes that they want the better braking performance and aren’t concerned by all the issues associated with the rolling out of discs in the professional peloton, so the C5 is only available with disc brakes.
Cervélo says the C Series is designed to offer the “sweet spot between an aggressive racing bike and the so-called gravel grinders - delivering the perfect bike for those who are in fit for the long haul, but don't want to wrestle with a heavy and lumbering touring, gravel or cyclocross bike.”
Despite not being designed for racing or based on feedback from a racing team, Cervélo is keen to stress that the new bike benefits from the “decades of engineering expertise and experience” that the company boasts.
The range consists of five models. There three C3 bikes starting at £3,899 and then at the top there are two C5 models, the £6,199 version pictured here, and a Dura-Ace Di2 model costing £7,499.
The pictured bike is built up with a mechanical Dura-Ace groupset with RS805 hydraulic discs, a Rotor 3D+ chainset, HED Ardennes Plus LT Disc wheels with 28mm Continental Grand Prix tyres, and Fizik handlebar and FSA carbon seatpost, handlebar and stem. Complete weight is 7.51kg (16.5lb), making it one of the lighest disc-equipped endurance bikes we've yet had in for review.
The C5 and C3 are essentially the same. The C5 is the more expensive of the two due to a higher grade of carbon fibre and the weight reduction this provides - the frame weighs a claimed 850g for a size 56cm, making it one of the lightest disc-equipped endurance frames on the market (Giant claims 900g for its Defy Advanced Disc).
The frame features the familiar Squoval 2 rounded square down tube from the R5 road bike, though the profile has been tweaked to provide more vertical compliance, useful in a bike designed to provide a comfortable ride. A tapered head tube and Cervélo’s own BBright bottom bracket increases stiffness, the later extends the BB shell by 11mm on the non-driveside which allows the corresponding chainstay to be enlarged.
Free of a brake bridge, the seat stays are extremely slender and are bowed from the seat tube to the carbon fibre dropouts, intended to provide comfort boosting deflection. They’re asymmetric, with the non-driveside seatstay extending further to provide clearance for the rear disc caliper. They also join the seat tube well below the top tube junction. The fork is all carbon fibre and is actually manufactured in the US, and is claimed by Cervélo to “balance lateral stiffness with comforting vertical compliance.”
Providing some measure of the intended riding, the down tube is fitted with a “rock guard," a section of plastic attached to the lower section of the down tube. It’s designed to protect the area from rock strikes if taking the bike on gravel tracks.
All cables are internally routed with modular cable ports, future-proofing the bike against any new groupset releases. Cervélo has embraced the flat mount standard and thru-axles, the latter an increasingly common feature on disc road bikes, especially those not designed for racing. A 15mm thru-axle is used at the front, a 142x12mm at the rear.
There’s space for up to 32mm tyres (a fair bit wider than the aforementioned Synapse and Defy), and clearance for mudguards with hidden eyelets.
The C5 is pitched as an endurance road bike, so that means a more relaxed geometry than you’d get on a road bike. A closer look at the geometry for the size 56cm on test shows an 180mm head tube, 71.5-degree head angle and 73-degree seat, 565mm top tube, 75mm bottom bracket drop, and a 595mm stack and 382mm reach.
To give those numbers some context, compared to a 56cm Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc, the Cervélo C5 has a longer wheelbase, slacker head angle, shorter head tube and shorter reach (due to the slacker head angle) lower stack height. Along with a lower bottom bracket, it’s all designed to provide extra comfort and stability over a race bike.
David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.