When it comes to road racing bikes, there can be a fine line between responsive and stable and twitchy and sketchy. Some pro-level race bikes will deliver ultra-fast handling under the capable hands of a pro rider, but put the rest of us into “white knuckle zone.” Luckily, the Fezzari Fore CR5 is decidedly responsive, yet still stable and comfortable for long days in the saddle.
2017 Fezzari Fore CR5 Features:
- Fezzari’s lightest carbon frameset featuring tube-to-tube construction
- Complete Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 drivetrain
- Reynolds Assault carbon clinchers (new 2018 model year variety)
- FSA K-Force carbon seatpost and handlebars
- Lifetime warranty – view details
- Weight: 14.9 lbs (53cm, actual)
- MSRP: $4999
Race-worthy direct to your doorstep
Fezzari has been around for over 11 years and is one of today’s leading direct-to-consumer bike brands. Based in Utah, Fezzari has stepped things up in the past couple of seasons with updated brand aesthetics and a wide variety of high-end bikes. A staple in the line for a few years, the top-shelf Fore CR5 road bike is capable enough to go toe-to-toe with all the usual suspects on the market.
Coming in at $4999, the Fore CR5 is significantly less than a comparably-equipped bike from the big brands. As of posting, here are some comparisons: Specialized Tarmac Pro is $6000, Trek Emonda SLR 8 is $6499, Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Dura-Ace 2 is $5699. Is a big-name brand really worth that much extra? Well, admittedly, road bikers are a vain bunch, however, after riding the CR5 first-hand, I’m a fan and would gladly pocket several grand and ride the Fezzari.
If you are looking for a race-worthy bike, the Fore CR5 is just that. It features an aggressive geometry that’s on par with other race frames on the market. The carbon frame uses a mixture of the best materials available and uses a Tube2Tube construction process instead of a monocoque design that most bikes use. Fezzari claims this allows them to deliver a lighter, stiffer and more comfortable frameset. The top-shelf kit features Shimano’s new Dura-Ace R9100 groupset, Reynolds Assault SLG carbon wheels and an FSA cockpit.
To get the CR5 set up, I sent Fezzari my fit measurements. They outfitted me with a 53cm frame which features a 55cm top tube. I did have to settle for a little more aggressive saddle-to-bar drop than usual, but I was able to mostly mitigate that by rotating the bars upwards just a touch.
As far as fit goes, Fezzari has two options: use their 23-Point Custom Setup Program or send them your fit measurements. For both road and mountain bikes, you don’t even select a size during checkout but instead they will outfit you with the proper size for your body shape and riding style. As mentioned, I did have to settle for a little more aggressive setup, but as the miles passed, everything felt quite comfortable and natural.
The CR5 frameset is just under 900 grams at 53cm and has only received cosmetic updates since 2015. But, the cosmetic updates really do make this bike look downright sexy.
All around the Wasatch
Like all test bikes, I ride them for several months on a variety of familiar terrain. From climbing Utah’s Alpine Loop to sprinting up a few punchy climbs, the Fore CR5 was put to the test. Instantly, I found the CR5 to feel natural and comfortable both in and out of the saddle. Handling is responsive and on-par with other race bikes I’ve ridden. Not having spent a ton of miles on tube-to-tube carbon frames in the past, this one felt nothing short of spectacular and certainly as stiff and comfortable as I’d expect from an all-rounder.
With a WorldTour-capable build, the CR5 delivers crisp shifts via the Dura-Ace R9100 groupset and fast acceleration from the updated-for-2018 Reynolds Assault SLG wheelset. Step on the gas and this bike responds. More specifically, when rolling along at a comfortable 18 mph, for example, it’s easy to shift and accelerate to 20+ mph without much effort. That uncanny ability to step on the gas when needed is one of the CR5’s greatest attributes.
The CR5 delivers a muted ride on the constant chatter of chipseal that’s so common here in Utah. You can feel the road well with the Assault wheels and Schwable One 25 mm tires, but chatter is minimized. Rougher road surfaces or potholes will quickly remind you that this is a race bike, not a comfort machine. But, the ride quality remains as good as the best all-rounders I’ve tested.
As far as handling goes, the tall bottom bracket makes for a nimble player when the roads demand. And, surprisingly, the entire package yields a stable and natural descender — something that completely blew me away. High-speed descents were controlled and comfortable — never twitchy. Crosswinds did little to faze the 41mm deep Assaults and their addition really makes this bike sing.
Climbing is a delight on the Fore CR5 with both seated and standing efforts rewarded with straight tracking and excellent power transfer. At 14.9 lbs, this one hits the UCI weight limits, but it’s neither registered with the UCI nor currently ridden at that level of competition. You and I shouldn’t care, but I am surprised that it isn’t just a touch lighter. That said, it climbs effortlessly and responds when pushed.
Rounding out the kit
As my first test aboard the new Shimano Dura-Ace R9100, consider me impressed. As far as mechanical groupsets are concerned, there’s little doubt that R9100 is the best on the market. Shifts are responsive and fast across all gear combinations with instant engagement. Mine was outfitted with a mid-compact crankset and 11-30t cassette, which is just perfect for aggressive riding in the Wasatch. I had plenty of high and low gears to tackle every climb and bomb every descent on my list.
For 2018, Reynolds updated their Assault SLG wheelset and I have been lucky enough to test them here. The primary updates include a touch more vertical compliance and an updated brake track. The brake track delivered quality, predictable braking in dry conditions and surprisingly-good braking in wet conditions. You do experience some degradation when wet, but it’s not as bad as inferior carbon clinchers. Also, these roll quite fast and my roll-to-stop tests yielded results on par with the best wheels I’ve tested. Again, Fezzari was quite brilliant to spec these wheels on the CR5 as they make this bike even better.
- Superb performance on par with the best all-rounders
- Bonkers build kit at this price
- Really confident descender that loves mountain roads
- Mutes road chatter quite well
- Responds at speed
- Lifetime warranty is uncommon with carbon, but you get one here
- Must buy sight-unseen (unless you come to Utah), but they do offer a 30-day “Love it or Return It” guarantee
- No braze-on front derailleur
- Questionable resale value
The Bottom Line: Fezzari Fore CR5
Without question, the Fore CR5 is one fine all-rounder. I can’t find anything truly negative about this bike and it wasn’t for lack of trying. We’re talking a high-quality ride with excellent responsiveness and comfortable, nimble handling. And, with a finishing kit worthy of the WorldTour, there’s nothing you would even want to upgrade.
Buy Now: Visit Fezzari.com
Without question, the Fezzari Fore CR5 is a great value in the sea of all-rounder road bikes. Highlights include a responsive yet stable ride, a killer parts spec and sexy good looks. Direct-to-consumer is alive and well and Fezzari has been leading that charge for quite awhile.