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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Background
After four years of cycling I finally started doing group rides this April, with the "friendly pace" group, and was promptly getting dropped on every single hill. One of the riders suggested my steel frame Bianchi Brava may be at least part of the reason. I rode a demo Tarmac Expert on our next ride and went from last in the pack to mid-front. Loved the Tarmac, perfect fit, stiff but comfortable, and could haul fast over hills I had never before been able to climb without stopping. Figured it is time for an upgrade, and thought the Tarmac was amazing, but I have always wanted a Cervelo R3.

Yesterday
The local Cervelo shop built up an R3 54cm so I could test ride before purchasing. My Brava is a 55cm. I brought in my Brava and they set the R3 up as close as possible. After about 5 miles I knew 2 things:
1. Fast and stiff, I wanted to love it so much but,
2. My wrists/hands were killing me.

The seat was all the way forward on the post and they had already put a shorter stem on the bike, but said to get the fit right I would need a zero setback post and to switch to an 80mm stem.

The Real Question
I know fit on a bike is paramount, so should I be concerned about having to change so much out of the box in order to make the fit of a frame work for me?

I am 5'8" female, so I have a shorter torso but not that short, and have never had an issue fitting on a mans frame before, but something here felt different.

Any thoughts are appreciated, since I really wanted to love everything about the R3, but don't want to make an expensive decision I will regret down the line.
 

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A Cervelo R3 is a Cervelo R3, regardless of the seatpost or stem that is on it. I don't think that changing those out would be that drastic of a change. I'm not a pro, but I assume that pros would change those out to get the right fit. Cervelo uses a 3T stem and an FSA seatpost, so you could probably get the appropriate versions for the Cervelo if that is important to you. Hopefully your LBS will swap them out for free.

Perhaps you could test it again with the components that fit, or you could go try out some other brands and see if something fits you better. I think above all you should find a bike that fits you.
 

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Sounds to me like you need to demo a 51. Every bike needs the seat and stem adjusted, but when you get to extremes on those 2 things, it's time to try a different size, IMO. It might not change the size you end up at, but for that much money, you should check.
 
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If I were you, I'd side step the Cervelo altogether. I would instead, focus upon companies that design road bikes with women's bodies specifically in mind. Companies like Trek, Giant, Jamis, and Raleigh, have contributed much in terms of R & D, with respect to women. Therefore, you might give them a thought for their consideration. I would therefore recommend, the Raleigh Capri 3, the Jamis Xenith Endura Comp Femme, the Trek WSD Madone 4.5, and the Giant Avail Composite Series.
 

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I just googled the geometry and that 54 has a 54.8 top tube and a 73 degree seat tube (73 means it's sort of on the layed back end whereas a 74 or 75 would have you more forward).

Without knowing your measurments, flexibility and prefered riding position my opinion is useless but I think the bike is too be for you. Need for an 80 stem and no setback post would seem to support that.

I'm also 5' 8" but a male, so I probably have a longer torso and shorter legs than you, and the bike would definitely be too big for me. Useable, but bigger than perfect.
I would definitely try the 52. And if they don't have a 52 that might be a clue as to why they are trying to tweak you onto a 54 which they do have.

Good luck. Don't do anything you're not 100% comfortable with.
 

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After four years of cycling I finally started doing group rides this April, with the "friendly pace" group, and was promptly getting dropped on every single hill. One of the riders suggested my steel frame Bianchi Brava may be at least part of the reason. I rode a demo Tarmac Expert on our next ride and went from last in the pack to mid-front.
Was the gear range the same on both bikes? I'd venture to guess that the Tarmac was geared differently, which accounted for your miraculous hill improvement. With the right gears you probably could've achieved the same on your Bianchi.

The local Cervelo shop built up an R3 54cm so I could test ride before purchasing. My Brava is a 55cm.
Sizes are not standardized from one brand to another. Even though 55cm, the Brava could actually be smaller than the Cervelo. You'd have to look carefully at the complete geometry of both. At 5'8" it's possible you're in between sizes. 54/55 is probably at the upper end for your height.

Sounds to me like you need to demo a 52. Every bike needs the seat and stem adjusted, but when you get to extremes on those 2 things, it's time to try a different size, IMO. It might not change the size you end up at, but for that much money, you should check.
I'm with this. Give a 52 a try. If the 55cm is wrong, no amount of tweaking will make it right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I was planning to test a Trek Madone, as there is an LBS that carries Trek, and possibly a Cannondale Supersix at another LBS. I have never been too big on Giant, but one shop near me carries them. None of the shops in my area stock Jamis or Raleigh.

I have mostly avoided WSD bikes for a few reasons:
1. Not to sound overly superficial, but I hate the fact that companies seem to think all females want pink/purple/light blue and cheesy feminine model names emblazoned in flowery script font.
2. The few WSD bikes I have looked at seem to come with lower spec components for more money.
3. I fall at the top of the WSD sizing and am heavy - 190lbs, some fat yes, also a lot of muscle.

Not sure if I should try to let go of some of the superficial and try WSD. Several shops have said my size and proportions mean I could go either way and be fine, but again, what is the motive there?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Thanks Jay for the insight on sizing.

They definitely do not have a 52cm in the R3. The closest they have is a 51cm in the S2, but it probably has totally different geometry, so would not be a great comparison.

I think another shop has a 52, but they are a lot further away. Still, given the cost you're right, I will make the trip to test a 52cm because at this point I am not 100% or even 75% comfortable.

edit:
As to flexibility, I'm very flexible, i.e. can touch both palms flat to the floor when bending at the waist. I do not know how aggressive my riding position is, but the Tarmac was not too aggressive, if that helps. The only measurements I have, other than my height, is my inseam is 32in.
 

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I have mostly avoided WSD bikes for a few reasons:
1. Not to sound overly superficial, but I hate the fact that companies seem to think all females want pink/purple/light blue and cheesy feminine model names emblazoned in flowery script font.
Or as the bike industry says - shrink it, and pink it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Was the gear range the same on both bikes? I'd venture to guess that the Tarmac was geared differently, which accounted for your miraculous hill improvement. With the right gears you probably could've achieved the same on your Bianchi.
The Tarmac was a compact double 50/34 with a 12-27 cassette, so the easiest gear (34 and 27) was 33.5 gear inches.

My Bianchi is a triple 50/39/30 with a 12-25 cassette, so the easiest gear (30 and 25) is 31.9 gear inches.

While I did use all the gearing on the Tarmac I was about 2-3mph faster on the climbs despite running less overall gearing, at least as BikeCalc.com calculates in gear inches. Where I felt the difference came from was stiffness - the Tarmac seemed to transfer every watt directly into propelling me up the hills.

I love my Bianchi and would definitely upgrade the components if I thought I could achieve the same, or similar, improvement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If the tarmac was a perfect fit, why are you beating yourself up trying to get on a cervelo that makes you miserable?
Excellent question.
The R3 is a 2012 at a significant discount - so it's tempting.
The R3 is sort of my "bike unicorn" a la "Gone in 60 Seconds" - you always wanted it and it was never attainable.

Basically, they are not rational reasons.

My only rational thought at this point is money - If I go for a Tarmac I want the Expert and it pushes my budget.
 

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I think you'd need a 52 if you want a Cervelo. I'm a 6' guy and I ride a 56 Cervelo. Shop is just trying to dump something not optimal for you. Nothing worse than a bike that's too big - will never be comfortable.
 

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Maybe you should go to some LBS that sells Kestrel. Test ride all of the Kestrel models available. Next, record the sizes that appear to fit you. Next, checkout the Kestrel Evoke SL @ $1900, the Evoke 1.0 @ $2600, and the Talon Road @ $1700.
 

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Pretty sure that's too big for you by quite a bit. The S2 might be about right, actually.
 

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Thanks Jay for the insight on sizing.

They definitely do not have a 52cm in the R3. The closest they have is a 51cm in the S2, but it probably has totally different geometry, so would not be a great comparison.

I think another shop has a 52, but they are a lot further away. Still, given the cost you're right, I will make the trip to test a 52cm because at this point I am not 100% or even 75% comfortable.
I think the S2 and R3 geometry is actually not very different, it's all on their website though. I bet you'd love that 51 S2 - I prefer it to the R3 personally. Don't let people scare you into thinking it's uncomfortable - mine is the most comfortable bike I have.
 
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