Cervelo R3 MUD – 12.78 lbs of fast gravel riding

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by sedluk

I recently posted a gallery picture of my cross bike. It is a 14.28 lbs of true cross bike with cantilever brakes. I normally keep 34mm tires on that bike, I have a set of Vittoria XN 32mm 290 (the older silver) tires that measure 29mm that I use on more typical nicely groomed gravel roads. I find that the 29mm tires are fine for most gravel roads. This bike was inspired by riding on some of those gravel roads. I found that most of our gravel road rides to not require a full cross bike but need more than a road bike. While there is an increasing interest in Roubaix bikes, the selection of frames seems kind of limited. I was able to get my hands on a Cervelo R3 MUD. I normally ride a 51cm and would prefer a 51cm frameset. But as I understand things, last year the Cervelo team did not have any of their smaller riders in the classics on 51cm frames and I don’t think they made any. As I understand it there were only two size 54cm MUD frames sold to the public and even that was a fluke. I normally use a 100mm stem on my 51cm, so here I went with a 90mm stem and the reach is almost identical. I used a shorter bearing cover and did not use any spacers below the stem and ended up with the handlebars only a few mm higher than my 51cm bikes. So the fit is very close, the wheelbase is longer. I would still prefer to get my hands on a 51cm MUD frame, this year Raymond Kreder was spotted on a Cervelo 51cm MUD. Special thanks to FairWheelBike for helping out with the brakes and other details.

Cervelo R3 MUD 54cm
Carbonsports Lightweight Obermayer Wheels
Tufo D28 Tubular Tires
Ax Lightness Stem 90mm
Ax Lightness Daedalus L1 seatpost
Ax Lightness Ax4100 42cm handlebar
Ax Lightness Crank 110mm Praxis 50/34
THM Fibula Brakes
Powercordz and Prime housing Shifting
Campy Brake housing & cables
2013 SR13 levers & drivetrain 11-29 hybrid cassette
Antares 00 saddle
THM BBright BB
Ward Spindles with X2 kit
Arundel Mandible cages
Tune U20 skewers
Veloflyte Carbon Bar Plugs
Extralite UltraStar 2 and Tune cap


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by plpete

Looks great! I like your photos too. Simple, well lit and nicely set up.

Just wondering, do you have multiple sets of the AX Lightness parts, wheels and etc or did you reuse them from your previous bike?

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by justkeepedaling

Wow, how did you get a Mud? Is there anything on the bike that specifically identifies it? The longer chainstays are obvious.

Why the Tufo tires and not Dugast or FMB?

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by btompkins0112

Wow....that's awesome. It is obvious the frame is a touch too big, but it doesn't look too bad.

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by tonytourist

Quite the rare bike :unbelievable:
I still think you need to post a picture of your fleet, it would be impressive! :shock:

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by SteveFromNY

tonytourist wrote:Quite the rare bike :unbelievable:
I still think you need to post a picture of your fleet, it would be impressive! :shock:


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by Getter


You can run -17?

You have a pic of the fork and rear stays?

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by sedluk

Tire choice is a little more difficult that you might think. While you might be able to fit a smooth 30mm tire without rubbing on the brakes. There would be no room for dirt and definitely no room the mud.

I would guess that the pros are using something like 25mm tires with only a little tread and using this bike for the ability to run in the mud.

I am interested in something a little different. I am primarily interested in dry gravel roads. If the roads will be muddy then I will use the cross bike.

So I prefer a larger tire without much tread. Dugast makes some great supple tires, I have a few sitting around that rarely ever get any use. They are fantastic riding tires with a whole assortment of fantastic tread designs. They only make a model or two in 28mm and they have treads for mud. They are too big for this bike. They make a couple 27mm tires for road, fantastic for pro riders who do not need any protection from glass and nails because they have a sag following them along with team mates to pull them back to the peloton. I may try some but I am really looking for a larger tire.

The Tufo D28 has a little more protection against flats, it even has side wall protection. But when mounted on the Lightweight wheels it is right at the limit of what I can use with the THM brakes. I have to make sure that when I mount the tire on the wheel that it is evenly stretched and that there are no high spots or it will rub on the insides of the brakes. You would be surprised at how important it is to mount these larger tires carefully. This in never a problem with something like a Gatorskin. You just pull it on and never worry about it. Some of the larger Dugast tires can be much larger in areas that are not stretched properly on the wheel. The older Vittoria XN 32mm tires with 290 TPI are much smaller than the 32mm of the latest model. They are another tire that seems like it will work, it also has Kevlar. They are getting hard to get, interestingly the Tufo D28 is not sold in the US from the best I can tell. I had to get mine from Germany.

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by michel2

Fmb makes roubaix pro, wich ment to offer extra protection in 27 mm
Not to highjack your storty but i would a set of nemises in my bikes but im wondering if tubelars are goung to take the fun out of riddin ?

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by Geoff

Ok, that's nice. Fantastic frame. Dust those Tufos for a nice Dugast seta 25 or FMB's. You will be much happier.

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by TOflat

Sedluk, ever since I joined this board I've always been floored by your builds. This continues that trend. As posted before, you need to do a walk-through of the fleet!

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by sedluk

Here is my thinking on tire choices. You pick your tires based on the course that you are going to ride. You pick your tires first, then the bike to put them on.

Most of us have our favorite road tires that work well for our local rides that we do each week. We ride different roads, some of us weigh more/less and we have different weightings to different tradeoffs.

For nicely paved roads many of these decisions are pretty easy. But for gravel roads, there is a lot more to consider. Gravel roads vary a lot and rider differences, like how well someone descends and if they are going to catch up on the flats becomes more important.

I think the FMB Roubaix Pro 27mm is a great example of this. Fantastic for some things, truly awful for other things.

Last week I did a ride called the Amish Country Roubaix. Some friends of mine pre rode the course which is smart. I did not pre ride the course but asked what they thought. One Pro Mtb friend said that he was using 1.8 inch tires on his 29er Mtb. He knows my strengths and weakness and given the dry conditions suggested that I ride at least my 32mm diamond tread.

About 15 miles into the course we hit a loose gravel hill with a 20% grade that slowly levels off with a total elevation of 200+ ft. We had three guys off the front with a group of maybe 20 chasing. We probably lost 8 guys on that hill because they lost traction and had to run with their bikes up this loose gravel hill in their cleats while finding it difficult to get back on while starting on a hill. Half of these guys were probably stronger riders but I would never see them again because they made a bad tire choice.

After this hill we hit a nice fast segment of road and with everyone in front of them working together, they never had a chance to regroup, we would never see them again.

One of the guys in the three man break was last seen standing on the side of the road after a long steep descent with rocks as big as railroad ballast littering the road. We did not have to ask him how his day was going, he was far stronger than any of us in the chase group yet he would not be on a podium due to his poor choice in tires. He might as well been riding FMB Roubaix Pro 27mm. Not only do you need the correct tire, you have to have the correct pressure. Before the ride everyone is warming up and asking what tire and pressure are you using.

With deep sharp gravel, side wall protection is very important. Your tire will sink into the gravel and the sharp gravel will cut a silk or soft cotton sidewall very quickly. Very bad news if you are flying down a gravel hill at 35 mph just trying to keep your bike upright.

The FMB Roubaix tires are fantastic for what they are designed for, flying over rounded cobblestones like a magic carpet. The courses are generally free of broken glass and the sidewalls only see occasional abrasion, not deep cutting gravel. They might be fine in sand and nice rounded glacial till like you might find on a national park trail.

My point in not to disparage any one tire or another. My point is that on gravel, if you pick the wrong tire for a given course you will not be in the lead group. We want the other guy to pick the wrong tire for the course.

I do not know what condition the roads were in for this year’s Battenkill. But FMB Roubaix 25mm tires might have been a good guess. Now here is the problem. You drive 4-10 hours to get there before you see the course. Then you see that it just rained the day before and you want the 27mm FMB Roubaix tires. Not a problem because you have wheels with 25mm, 27mm and some 24mm tires, you just put 27mm tires on your bike. But the 27mm only fit on your Roubaix bike and it was a good thing you brought both your Roubaix bike and your road bike. Now you can see why these Pro teams have trucks full of equipment.

Now some guys figure that they will just take tires off their rims and put a different tubular on if they need to change. This is a total mess with the FMB Roubaix tires because they are so fragile. If you pull a little too hard when taking them off the tape will rip a little, and it does not take much. The next time you try to glue them on a wheel you will be able to tell where the tape ripped a little. The tire will look like a clown balloon where the clown squeezed the balloon. Now every guy has a different solution, use Tufo tape, don’t glue them on so securely, be more careful taking them off.

That’s fine, my point is that there is a reason they only sell a few of these tires each year.

All that and then there is rim choice. I think that I have come to the conclusion that for bigger tires, say 28mm, I will have to go with a different wheelset. The Lightweight wheels have the brake track a little too high for these tires. The clearance is just not enough, I will spend some time trying out the Madfiber wheels which have a lower brake track and see how the larger tires fit.

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by Epic-o

How many Obermayer wheelsets have you got?

Nice bike BTW

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by GT56

curious to know about the spacing on the seatstays near the brake caliper - is this larger than a non-mud frame ?

i am asking because with regular R frames this is quite tight disallowing the use of 25 mm tires on wider rims


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by dereksmalls

I would say that's the lightest R3 Mud around without a doubt. Awesome kit out on it. Did you have your brake lever QRs open in the photo? Could you post up shots of the fork, seat and chain clearance at all?

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