Out of the Cervélo range, our choice was the C3, a somewhat different machine from the brand that’s best known for its aerodynamic time-trial and road options. Of course, those aero credentials are still there in the form of the mildly tweaked Squoval IPC tubes that, as the name suggests, blend wind tunnel-derived shapes with square and oval tubes. IPC, meanwhile, points to a slightly more compliant ride suited to an all-day riding style.
With this knowledge of Cervélo’s intentions in mind, we headed out to get some miles in and were pleasantly surprised. You’ll hopefully spot in the photos just how thin and curved the asymmetric seatstays are. Almost spindly, they offer added flex, and therefore comfort, while supporting the chainstay.
The use of a 12 mm bolt-thru axle helps facilitate this as it ties the rear stays together beautifully. Out on the road, this combination makes for a direct-drive feel, with little to no flex when powering along. When a bump comes along, however, you know all about it as there’s certainly a level of movement. A couple of times it even had us checking the rear tire for a flat. A slightly stiffer feel is offered at the front with a good level of communication about grip levels as well as positive and accurate direction changes.
Own branded Cervélo, seatpost, stem and bars help keep the price down and allow everything to be tied in for a harmonious, if not terribly sexy, look. It’s great to have the benefits of a carbon seatpost at this price, while the short shallow nature of the bars proved popular with our testers. As did the bar-end plug charging point for the Di2 electronic shifting, it’s just so much cleaner, although it could have been more so with the internal routing of the e-tube wire.
Fitted with DT Swiss E1800 wheels that are 32 mm deep and feature the company’s highly regarded pawl ratchet, which we found noticeably noisy. And while there’s no doubting the reliability of them, we also felt like they held the bike back a little, and would be high on our upgrade list if funds allow.
Comfort – Easily the most comfortable bike here.
Handling – Consistent and reliable handling breeds confidence in the saddle.
Headtube length – If you’re after a slightly higher front end, the C3 has one.
Not so good
Paint job – Matt finish quickly shows marks, while a white BB is just silly!
Wheels – Work well but feel like they hold things back.
E-tube – The front end is crying out to have internal Di2 cabling.
A more conventional sportive offering, this nevertheless brings something different to this test, with its higher front end and greater focus on comfort. A really reliable geometry offers security rather than pizzazz – which ultimately, we found translated to joy at the end of a tough ride.
Size/Weight: 58 cm/8.2 kg
Frame: Cervélo Squoval IPC carbon, Cervélo All-Carbon C3 fork
Groupset: Shimano R8070 Ultegra Di2
Brakes: Shimano R8070 Ultegra
Chainset: Shimano R8000 Ultegra 50/34
Cassette: Shimano R8000 11-30
Bars/Stem: Cervélo Ultra Light Alloy
Saddle: Fizik AntaresVS
Seatpost: Cervélo Carbon SP19
Wheels/Tires: DT Swiss E1800 32 Disc/ Continental GP, 28 mm