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2018 Cervelo C3 Disc Review

By Bruce Lin


The Cervelo C3 Disc is an endurance road bike designed to smooth out bumps and handle mixed road surfaces like rough tarmac, dirt, gravel, and cobbles. It makes long distance rides easier, more comfortable, and faster.

Cervelo C3 Disc Highlights

  • Cervelo Squoval Carbon Tubing
  • Endurance Specific Geometry
  • Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8000 Drivetrain
  • Shimano Ultegra Hydraulic Disc Brakes
  • Clearance for 32mm Tires
  • Mavic Aksium Allroad Disc Wheels

Cervelo C3 Disc Details

Cervelo has a reputation for building ultra-light and super fast road and TT bikes, and with their endurance C Series, they wanted to bring that expertise to the world of endurance road bikes. The C3 Disc (and its higher-end sibling, the C5) has all the stability, comfort, and compliance expected of an endurance-focused bike, but it doesn't feel soggy under power. Instead, it's able to maintain a snap and liveliness closer in spirit to its road racing cousins. The geometry shows the key hallmarks of endurance oriented design, a lower bottom bracket, longer chainstays and wheelbase, a slightly taller headtube, and a bit more fork rake. This lets the rider sit more “in” the frame and cruise comfortably while also handling rough road surfaces with more confidence. Cervelo adds their spin to the frame with their trademark Squoval tubing, which combines square and oval shapes to maximize stiffness, especially where tubes meet the wide BBright bottom bracket, while still offering compliance over bumps and cracks. Of course, it also has Cervelo’s signature pencil-thin seat tubes.

Shifting and pedaling are handled by Shimano’s excellent Ultegra Di2 groupset, which provides crisp and precise electronic shifting. It comes equipped with an 11-30 cassette but has the potential to run a wider range 11-34 cassette, which will provide a super low 1-to-1 climbing gear with the compact 50/34 cranks. The Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes provide excellent stopping power, feel, and modulation, especially when riding on dirt and gravel surfaces. The bike comes with Mavic Aksium Allroad Disc wheels and 28mm tires, and the frame has more clearance to run up to 32mm tires. This gives the rider ample tire options for everything from fast road riding to light gravel riding. Running a larger tire increases the compliance of the C3’s already very comfortable frame, making road imperfections nearly disappear when riding, and extended rides on dirt and gravel possible.

Rider Types

  • Endurance road riders
  • Mixed surface to light gravel riders
  • Riders who want a compliant bike that doesn't give up speed

The Cervelo C3 Disc is the type of bike that fits in perfectly at rough endurance road events, especially ones that tackle mixed surfaces like the famed Paris-Roubaix and similar races. It’ll provide more than enough compliance and comfort for the vast majority of riders looking for a bike that can absorb impacts and take a beating, but it still reacts quickly to pedaling and handling inputs. Only racers and those who need an ultra-responsive race bike for pure road events or rides will really need a bike with steeper geometry. Otherwise, it comfortably covers a wide range of riding from fast road racing to ultra long distance cruising.

Thanks to the compliance, tire clearance, and disc brakes it can even handle a good amount of dirt and gravel riding, pushing it slightly into the all-road category. The C3, however, isn’t comparable to a dedicated gravel bike which will have much more tire clearance, more relaxed geometry, and lower gearing. The C3 is definitely more of a road machine with ample mixed surface capability for when your rides take you far away down uncharted roads that would force lesser road bikes to turn around. 


Bruce is a writer who loves getting his bikes dirty, trying new tech, and riding tough trails that make him suffer for hours at a time. 


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