The Cervélo C3 is designed to achieve greater comfort on long routes and roads where the road surface is in poor condition. This is thanks to a higher height of the steering pipe, longer pods, a 28mm covers since it has disc brakes.
Cervélo uses a combination of circular and square structures – Squaval – in order to achieve a balance between stiffness, weight and aerodynamics, since square shapes resist bending better, while round shapes support torsion better. The rear triangle is in one piece and the curved braces increase the stiffness of the rear and bottom bracket, while the through axles improve the lateral stiffness in the fork, specific to the disc. The longer pods provide balance in the handling of the front and increase the slack of the tire to 32mm, providing space for a standard fender and support.
This is the theory but what about in practice. Would you notice that extra comfort of having a higher direction, less aggressive angles, a lower bottom bracket, longer sheaths, wider covers -of 28mm- and about the disc brakes? To answer these questions we did our own test.
Aesthetically, the bike is quite beautiful, even though this is my own personal point of view. The colour combination is quite well thought out; the black, bright red and burgundy are all striking and elegant at the same time. The paint finish and details are to a high standard and fall in accordance with what we all expect from a bike of this calibre.
The test unit is a size 51 with a 70º steering angle, 420mm sheaths and a 138mm steering head. A racing or climbing bike in size 51 would have a greater steering angle, shorter sheaths of 400-410mm and a steering pipe also shorter than about 120mm.
How do these parameters affect the behaviour of the bike? A smaller angle makes the steering less nervous to the movements because the forks are more forward and the axis of the wheel moves away from the vertical, long pods make the bike more noble and calm to sudden movements and a high steering pipe makes us have a bigger stack (height from the bottom bracket to the top of the steering head), which will lead to a more upright and comfortable riding position.
As soon as you get on the bike you will notice how comfortable it is, that is because the handlebar is higher than on a bike geared up for racing. The handlebar is super compact and the grip is very natural.
When the bike starts to roll, the greatest width of the tires can be seen. The 28mm is quite noticeable. If the asphalt is good you will wonder why you want wider tires, but when the asphalt becomes rough you will appreciate the extra width. When you go over broken asphalt, you will notice a continuous vibration but you will not have the sensation that you are putting your life in danger. The width of the cover combined with the lower inflation pressure -6bar was the pressure I used front and back-act as a good bump damper.
Comfort also contributes fine and curved struts, which mitigate the transfer of vibration from the rear wheel to the saddle. On the other hand, the vibrations that come from the front wheel to the handlebar are also much lower but still noticeable. If you have good handlebar tape you will lessen the bump sensation no matter how bad the asphalt is.
This bike is also ready to have a mudguard mounted and if you change the covers for ones with drawings you could even make cyclocros with it. I could not resist the temptation to test this bike off-road.
The Cervélo C3 is not a super light bike but it does move with quite a lot of agility. It is a bike that is easy to drive and I have to admit it does pick up speed easily and quickly. This with Mavic Aksium Allroad CL wheels that are not light but they are designed for hard use. Even so, the C3 is a pleasant surprise.
Rolling with this bike is easy, like I said before it is very comfortable, it is stable and behaves quite well and with strong winds, it is quite manageable. I was not able to test it with crosswinds, which are the ones that cause the most problems to cyclists, but the bike seems like it may behave quite well under these circumstances.
The braking control of the bike is beyond a doubt. The Shimano SM-RT800 brakes with 160mm discs provide excellent braking power and it is difficult to make them block. At first, the touch is strange, giving the sensation that they do not stop, but when you get used to them you discover that they always stop when you want and where. Only one but, on several occasions after stopping, if I stood up the disc rubbed with the front pads. This is something that usually happens with the new pads and in this case, this was a brand new bike that I was testing. As always I’m left without trying them in the wet, but it’s what happens when you live in the Canary Island, it rains very little, and if you try the bike in the south, the chances of rain are even lower.
The Shimano Ultegra mechanical groupset has an impeccable performance. Improvements with each new series that the Japanese bring out thanks to the fact that they are inheriting the technologies of the Dura Ace group. Now the levers are not as bulky as in the first versions for hydraulic brake, but even so, they are thicker than those of the normal mechanical group or the Di2, to house the hydraulic part, and they are not so ergonomic. The changes are precise and the travel of the short levers. With good maintenance, we will have a group for many years.