Cervélo’s R3 is something of a king of the cobbles. In fact, a rider aboard an R-series bike has been on every Paris-Roubaix podium since its debut in 2006. That includes three wins on the bike thanks to Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O’Grady and Johan Vansummeren.
Damon Rinard is Cervélo’s senior advanced research and design engineer. He explained why some riders, including Sep Vanmarcke, use the bike in races before Roubaix:
“The Cervélo R3 Mud frames we supplied to the [Garmin-Barracudea] team are stock R3s except for a few millimeters here and there, all for tire clearance. Technically, a stock R3 would work in dry conditions, but in case of rain we want a little extra clearance between tire and frame (hence the “Mud” moniker – ed.). Since weather is fairly uncertain until a few days before, the team chooses to ride the Muds in the weeks prior so they’re on familiar bikes in case race day turns out to be wet.”
Each of the special Mud frames is handmade in Toronto at Vroomen.White.Design by Robert Pike, one of Cervélo’s design engineers. Pike supplied Garmin with similarly altered R3’s last year. The previous version of the R3 also got this treatment in 2010 and in 2009 Cervélo tweaked its RS model, now out of production.
The front triangles are entirely stock. Changes are made to fork and rear chainstays to increase tire clearance in case of bad weather conditions.
The Mud fork has the same axle-to-crown length, but the brake hole is positioned higher on the crown to keep the caliper from clogging. The “crotch” of the fork, the underside of the crown, is also higher and the fork blades are spaced further apart.
Both the seatstays and chainstays are widened for increased tire/debris clearance. The chainstays are also lengthened by five millimeters. That’s not really for a longer wheelbase, but instead to accommodate the increased height of wider tires.
Everything else on the bike remains the same: bottom bracket height, fork offset, frame geometry and stack and reach. Even the carbon layup is the same as a stock R3.
Cervélo’s engineers experimented in the past with oversized seat tubes and seatposts, but feedback from Cervélo team riders led them to keep the smaller, more flexible size.
Rinard added that changing too much isn’t necessary, saying, “Keeping everything the same makes sense, because we’ve had great success with the R-series.”