Cervelo lifts the covers off its new R5-CX cyclo-cross bike
Designed for - and with - Wout van Aert and Marianne Vos, the R5-CX gets a threaded BB, integrated cockpit and is compatible with electronic groupsets only
Cervélo has today unveiled the latest bike in its lineup, officially bolstering its range to 10 models and expanding its coverage into a new discipline: cyclo-cross. It has lifted the covers off the R5-CX, a race-tuned 'cross bike designed for - and with input from - Marianne Vos and Wout van Aert.
When Cervélo joined forces with Jumbo-Visma at the start of the 2021 campaign, it immediately faced a problem. Despite now sponsoring two of the best cyclo-cross racers in the world, it didn't have a bike for them to use. Among the hoards of WorldTour-capable road and time trial bikes such as the S5, Caledonia, R5 and P5, the brand didn't have a 'cross bike. Its only off-road capable bike at the time was the Áspero gravel bike.
To immediately solve this problem, Cervélo bought the fleet of cyclo-cross bikes from the team's former sponsor, Bianchi, and resprayed them in team-appropriate black and yellow, but its engineers were quickly tasked with a more permanent solution. The R5-CX is the fruit of that labour. It comes just a few months after the launch of the brand's lightweight, road-going R5, and it clearly shares much of the same design inspiration.
The new bike has already seen plenty of mud beneath the Jumbo-Visma duo and will continue to be raced throughout the winter season. It will be available to the public as of Summer 2022, and it will come in just four sizes: 51cm, 54cm, 56cm and 58cm.
Unsurprisingly, when compared to the road-going R5, it gets a number of concessions towards its off-road intentions. The first of which comes in the form of adjusted geometry. Maintaining the same reach, each of the four sizes is given a lower stack height, with longer chainstays and a slightly longer wheelbase for off-road stability. The bottom bracket is 11mm higher, too, to aid handling and object clearance.
Understandably, Cervélo also claims an increase in tyre clearance, but the exact width has been given in a unit of measurement that's new to us. To quote the press release, Cervélo says "there's gobs of clearance for gobs of mud". We're still trying to work out how many millimetres there are per gob.
Specification-wise, Cervélo has also made the switch to a threaded bottom bracket, but with a novel solution that Cervélo believes will meld the best of BBRight and T47. To achieve this, Cervélo has retained the asymmetric cups of BBRight - which it says helps to achieve weight reduction and stiffness increases elsewhere - but threaded them into a T47-sized hole, with standard inboard and outboard T47 cups.
As has been the theme for bikes launched in 2021, the R5-CX gets fully integrated cabling, which we're a little surprised to see on a 'cross bike, given all the increased maintenance that comes with it. This is no entry-level grassroots 'cross bike though, and that much is even further cemented by the bike's inability to accept mechanical groupsets. Owners will be limited to using electronic or wireless drivetrains only.
Finally on the spec front is the choice of seatpost design. A specific request from Van Aert and Vos was that the R5-CX retains the D-shaped seatpost, something which Cervélo has duly delivered. Cervélo says that not only did this enable an increase in compliance, but more importantly to the duo was that it ensures the saddle will remain straight in the event of a crash.
It's not Cervélo's first rodeo in 'cross. The brand faced a similar problem in 2007 when sponsoring American Jonathan Page. However, this will be the first 'cross bike in the brand's line-up, since the 'R3 Cross' it supplied to Page never made it to production.
Pricing is yet to be announced.
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As the Tech Editor here at Cyclingnews, Josh leads on content relating to all-things tech, including bikes, kit and components in order to cover product launches and curate our world-class buying guides, reviews and deals. Alongside this, his love for WorldTour racing and eagle eyes mean he's often breaking tech stories from the pro peloton too.
On the bike, 30-year-old Josh has been riding and racing since his early teens. He started out racing cross country when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s and has never looked back. He's always training for the next big event and is keen to get his hands on the newest tech to help. He enjoys a good long ride on road or gravel, but he's most alive when he's elbow-to-elbow in a local criterium.