2011 Cervelo R Series Bikes-What's New?

’11 Cervelo R Series Bikes – What is New

Overview: For the first time in five years, Cervelo revamped their R series offerings significantly in 2011. The R5 (which replaces the R3 SL) and the R3 utilize redesigned framesets, incorporating  technology and design from the limited production R5ca, while the RS has been given a new component package and a notably lower price.


Cervelo R5 and R3

For 2011, the R5 and R3 show three areas of notable change and improvement:

1.  Tapered Fork/Headtube:

The R5 and R3 now have headtubes that incorporate 1-1/8th inch upper bearings and  1-3/8th inch lower bearings and use a new fork design with a tapered steerer tube. The oversized lower bearing  enhances the front end stiffness of the bike and improves handling. Cervelo even experimented with an 1-1/2 inch lower bearing to maximize stiffness, but felt it made the front end too stiff and did not provide the optimal ride qualities they were after.

2. New Geometry:

One thing that did not change for 2011 is that Cervelo, thankfully, stayed true to their 73 degree seat tube angle across the full range of sizes with the new geometry. Cervelo remains the only company in the industry doing this and it really makes the reach dimensions on their frames make sense and eliminates the sizing overlap between sizes within a model that plagues many brands.

So, what did change?  The R5 and R3 have updated versions of Cervelo’s reach-based geometry, these updates are designed to fit a wider range of athletes and we believe that Cervelo has succeeded in this intent. Compared to the previous generation R3, the headtube is slightly longer in most sizes; depending on the frame size, headtube lengths have increased from 8mm in the smaller sizes to a full 25mm of additional length in the largest size (61cm).   With the exception of the RS, Cervelo’s R series of bike have always been limited by the fact that they were very low. This change in headtube length allows for a handlebar position that is more reasonable for a wider range of riders to be safely achieved without compromising the ability to set-up significant drop for those riders whose position allows. The net result of this change is that versatility in fit is markedly improved and thus the new R bikes are going to fit more riders well.

The other geometry adjustment for 2011 Cervelo R3 and R5 bikes is a change in headtube angle for the smaller size frames.   In order to minimize toe overlap on smaller sized bikes, without compromising handling characteristics, Cervelo figured out size specific headtube angle, fork rake and chainstay lengths.  A nice “detail” that has trickled down from custom bike makers to more production bikes lately.


3.  BBright™ bottom bracket/frame shape:

From a technology standpoint, Cervelo’s BBright may be the most significant change to the R series bikes. BBright™ was designed to be the lightest and stiffest system incorporating the newer press-fit style bottom bracket concept. This system is found on the Rca, R5, and R3.

You may be asking yourself,  “Do we really need another bottom bracket standard?”. The short answer is, “No, we do not need another bottom bracket standard.”. The longer answer is that Cervelo’s BBright™  is not so much a bottom bracket standard as it is a new approach to lower triangle frame design.   BBright™  isn’t just designed to improve the crank interface, but is designed to allow for ride and stiffness improvements throughout the drivetrain and rear triangle.  Most developments in bottom bracket design have come from a desire to improve that specific component, but the folks at Cervelo determined that to really optimize the performance of the bottom bracket area, the frame must be taken into consideration as well.

BBright™ is the only bottom bracket standard that allows an oversized bottom bracket axle (30mm diameter) and oversized chainstays, seat and down tubes (11mm wider).  This combination of dimensions offers excellent structural efficiency of the crank and frame system without limiting component selection options in the process.

Here is how it works:

Because the drivetrain takes up extra mechanical space and puts limitations on the right side of the bike at the drivetrain, extra room has always been found on the left side of the bike.  Previously, no one had ever done much with this extra space, it was considered a price that had to be paid for crank symmetry. Cervelo realized that the extra space was actually an opportunity to widen the bearing stance and increase lateral and torsional rigidity in the drivetrain.  BBright™ places the left side bearing 11 mm further from the center of the frame and this allows the frame members to grow on the non-driveside of the bike.  The result is an improvement in lateral stiffness and drivetrain response.

The image on the left shows typical tube sizes possible with a standard 68mm BB. The image on the right shows frame tubes 11mm wider in this area. Wider frame tubes increase the mechanical properties of the frame laterally, increasing stiffness and decreasing weight.

The new BBright™ system has been developed to improve the structural efficiency of the frame/bottom bracket/crank system and the concept behind it is sound as bigger is usually more rigid.


For 2011, the RS returns utilizing the same race-proven plush riding frameset as 2010, but with a new component specification and a significantly lower price!  The RS frame features slightly taller headtubes and chainstays  than the rest of the R series bikes and provides  a versatile geometry that fits a wide range of riding positions well while offering all of the performance you would expect from a Cervelo.  The RS in 2010 was Ultegra equipped and ran $3600, but for 2011 the frame stays the same and the spec goes to SRAM’s very solid Rival group and the price came down a huge $1000 to just $2600 (before Fit Werx’ fitting credits!). The new lower price for 2011 makes the RS an unprecedented value for a bike that has won some of the most demanding races in the world and has been almost universally praised for its ride and fit.

If you have questions on Cervelo bikes or any other product we carry, please just call of email.  Remember, if you have been fit at Fit Werx before, we keep your information on file and can use it at anytime to find out whether a new Cervelo R series bike is a good match for you!

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