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When Cervélo saw that the UCI was set to permit disc-brake bikes in mass-start road races, they knew that the bike they wanted to adapt for discs was the R3 Frameset. It’s a classic road frame with tubing profiles well-suited for both the speed of racing on smooth roads and the punishment of cobblestones.
Adapting a frameset for disc brakes isn’t as simple as just adding mounts on the left chainstay and left fork leg. Material has to be added for the different stresses that discs create. For Cervélo, it also meant that could remove material because other stresses would no longer be an issue. With the fork, they removed the hole for the center bolt and added intake and exit ports for the front brake line. The brake mounting is via Shimano’s Flat-Mount design and is designed to work with 140-160mm rotors. They also shifted to a 12mm thru-axle. The rear end was a bit more complicated. Luckily, they had their own bottom bracket standard already in place to help them. BBright allows Cervélo to widen the points at which the bottom bracket and chainstays join. This means they didn’t need to lengthen the chainstays in order to accommodate the extra 5mm of hub width that a rear rotor requires. They went further. They beefed up the chainstays because of the brake mounting points on the left side. This allowed them to slim the seat stays further and remove the brake bridge. And the left one is curved a bit more than the right to properly tuck in the rear brake on the stay. Finally, they added a 12mm thru-axle, and a floating derailleur hanger which aligns more perfectly more easily as the thru-axle is snugged. All together, these changes to the rear triangle increase bottom bracket stiffness by 35% while still having plenty of vertical comfort. 25mm tires fit, so if you’re looking to crush some stones, the bike will ride great there, too.
Another benefit of all this design work is the ability to run a normally-dished rear wheel. Cervélo’s offset is at the crank, so any normally-dished rear wheel will fit.
Otherwise, this is pretty much a normal R3. Weight is basically the same. The tubing profiles are still Squoval 3, so you’re getting the benefit of both slim tubes that ride well and as much aerodynamic tweaking of those tubes possible. The bike still has a 27.2mm round seatpost, and future-proof cable routing, for both mechanical and electronic shifting. If you go electronic, the battery goes in the seatpost.
After the lay-up of carbon and the molding, Cervélo also worked on fit. It’s something they’re proud of, as they came up with a frame sizing system that progresses in a linear fashion in terms of both stack and reach through the size run. To do this, they studied databases of body dimensions. They don't offer different men's and women's models because their sizing allows for people to pretty easily determine what size they need by looking at the stack and reach dimensions. When combined with a sloping top tube, each frame can accommodate a fairly wide range of body sizes. This way, the short torsoed, and long, the flexible and the stiff can find a size that fits well.
The Cervélo R3 disc makes none of the compromises common in transitioning to rotor-stopping calipers. The result is a great riding bike that is at home at the races as it is in Gran Fondos and simply riding hard.