Future bikes - the Cervelo R5CX cyclocross bike

October 16, 2021

Future bikes - the Cervelo R5CX cyclocross bike

More details have emerged about the new Cervelo R5CX - it's gone from a prototype being tested by Marianne Vos and Wout van Aert, to a production model expected to be ready for consumers in Summer 2022.

Despite years producing top-end race machines and sponsoring various pro teams, Cervelo has never manufactured a cyclocross machine for sale to the public - until now. We've already seen the prototype machine raced by Marianne Vos at the start of the 2021 season, and with Wout van Aert planning to start his 2021/22 'cross season the weekend of December 4-5, he should be riding the R5CX as well, giving us another look at the new model in action. 

Here's what's new in Cervelo's latest plus release, plus read further below for what we knew already:

  • It uses a unique bottom bracket which is a hybrid of the T47 threaded and BBright designs
  • It's very light - around 1,300 grams for a frame and fork, depending on size.
  • Electronic shifting only - no routing or options for mechanical drivetrains
  • Comes in 51, 54, 56, 58cm options. Sorry short and tall people.
  • Features a D-shaped seatpost (instead of round). This has the benefit of making it impossible to knock the saddle off-center in a crash. Riders are sometimes seen tapping the saddle back to center in 'cross, following a tumble.
  • Frames and complete bikes will be offered, but the complete bike spec has not yet been announced
  • No mounts for racks, fenders, bento box, bottles under the down tube, fork-mounted bottles, and so on that we've seen from other brands that have embraced long distance gravel riding.
  • The unusual "double seatpost clamps" setup where two distinct clamps are used, one grabbing around the frame and another around the post, appear to be a final production item as well. 

Generally, from these specs we see that Cervelo designed a pure cyclocross race bike, not a "gravel" machine that also works for 'cross. Gravel is great - but's it's also great to see a brand invest in a 100%-focused cyclocross machine meant for racing.

Cervelo R5CX: pre-release info

When the 2021/22 cyclocross World Cup opened at Waterloo, Wisconsin, Marianne Vos narrowly snatched victory from world champ Lucinda Brand.

Eagle-eyed viewers noted something different: what seemed to be the latest version of a new, unreleased Cervelo cyclocross model dubbed the R5CX. Wout van Aert (Vos' Jumbo-Visma teammate) has also been previously spotted on some development bikes that could be revisions of a similar model.

For the first time, we've learned it has a name, the R5CX. The R5CX clearly draws its name from Cervelo's existing R5 road bike, labeled the "stage race" model, featuring a 700-ish gram carbon frame and aero tubes.

Cervelo R5CX specifications

This is obviously subject to change as the release date gets closer, but Vos' bike has these features:

  • Geometry claimed to be "identical to the R5 road bike, but with room for wider tires" - if true, that would be an odd design decision. Perhaps we'll learn more about the geometry specifics as the R5CX gets closer to launch. If this bike is purpose-built for Vos and van Aert's needs and with their input, expect a more typical BB height, chainstay length and wheelbase to other CX bikes.
  • Only a single bottle cage on the seat tube, leaving the down tube clear for easy 'cross carrying.
  • Completely hidden cables routed through an integrated stem and handlebar. A mechanic's nightmare, perhaps, but super clean visually and great for cross with no cables to snag or catch.

The prototype R5CX spotted under Vos is easily spotted in the bunch with a black frame and distinctive, glossy yellow fork that lines up with the Jumbo-Visma livery.

Background

The R5CX isn't Cervelo's first entry into drop-bar, off-road bikes. In 2019 Joris Nieuwenhuis (Team Sunweb) rode the Cervelo Aspero - a model touted as a "gravel bike", at the highest level of cyclocross. Results? Mixed. A mechanic had to use a special eccentric bottom bracket in an attempt to create more ground clearance, due to the large BB drop on the Aspero, compared with a traditional 'cross bike. It didn't attract much attention, perhaps because Nieuwenhuis didn't get the results he might have hoped for - if he'd been winning the bike would have been much more visible.

To me, the Aspero looks a lot like every other carbon gravel bike these days, with dropped seatstays that meet the seat tube halfway between the BB and seat cluster, a lowered chainstay that creates additional clearance for wider tires and room for the front derailleur cage, and a big, beefy downtube complemented by aero tube shapes. Meh. While there's nothing wrong with those features, they are shared by an awful lot of competitors.

When Team Jumbo-Visma (Wout van Aert, Marianne Vos) switched from Bianchi to Cervelo as a bike sponsor, van Aert and Vos were temporarily left bikeless. Prior to that change, back when Bianchi was still the sponsor, van Aert sported a Zolder painted up in Bianchi's classic, recognizable celeste color. They then continued to ride (at least temporarily) Bianchi Zolder cyclocross bikes painted up in Jumbo-Visma colors, so the change wasn't obvious, even though the team's relationship with Bianchi had ended and Cervelo was now the brand-correct sponsor.

De-badged bikes are common in pro cycling, for example, Lance Armstrong famously rode a Litespeed time trial bike with Trek stickers on it during the 1999 Tour de France. This type of "deception" is relatively common as riders must remain sponsor-correct even when there isn't an appropriate bike in their sponsor's line-up.

Regardless of model, someone at Jumbo-Visma is thorough. The R5CX ridden by Vos recently, and the Bianchi Zolder underneath van Aert last year, have both been photographed with "double" seatpost clamps, one holding the post in place, and a second clamped around the post, (but not the frame) likely in an attempt to stop the post from sinking into the frame under aggressive cyclocross remounts. Even $10,000+ superbikes aren't perfect, and it's interesting to see the special touches pro mechanics make to ensure race day goes smoothly.

Watch for the release of the Cervelo R5CX, perhaps in 2022

Vos and van Aert will likely continue to ride R5CX prototypes while the design is refined throughout the 2021/22 cyclocross season. Look for a release to the public, probably in 2022.

 



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