Tour Goodies: Cervelo

You had to figure that the Canadian manufacturer that was single-handedly responsible for the creation of the aero road bike segment would apply their ultra-high-end manufacturing technology found in their R5 to their aero design. The answer to that un-asked question is both yes and no.

Behold the S5.

The first, most apparent aspect of the bike’s appearance is that it appears to be the sloping top-tube love child of the S3 and P4. And that’s not far off the mark. Though it looks familiar, the S5 required all new molds to be cut. The folks at Cervelo say it’s their most aerodynamic road bike design so far. It’ll save 36.8 seconds over 40k, almost a second per kilometer, 92 grams of drag and 9.2 watts. They are just different ways of saying the bike is purported to give you free speed.

You want something more impressive? It weighs in at 990 grams. The “it” is the frame, fork, paint and derailleur hangers. That’s sub-kilo for frame and fork. But they say it’s not a noodle; they claim testing show it is 12 percent stiffer than the S3. They didn’t happen to mention if that was in torsion or in the vertical plane.

So what’s it handle like? The bike features the same geometry and sizing found in the R3. That’s six sizes with handling proven to work in the world’s most challenging races. Special steps were taken in the design to accommodate items like water bottles and brakes into the aerodynamics, eliminating the need for proprietary brakes or water bottles.

Naturally, this bike won’t be cheap, or widely available, but it won’t be quite as expensive as the R5. The S5 with Dura-Ace Di2 will go for $9000; with SRAM Red it’ll be $7500; with Ultegra Di2 it’ll be $6000 and with regular Ultegra it’ll be $4800. I’m looking forward to a chance to actually ride one. I’m hearing it’s not supposed to be harsh the way the SLC-SL was; I’m curious to see if they succeeded. It’ll be quite a victory if they did.

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  1. Souleur

    i would give a kidney for an S5 and maybe 2 for an R5

    man, Cervelo guys simply know their stuff!

    some bikes come out with the “me too” goods, but the Cervelo’s are truly novel. Given fore-thought by their engineers, purposed, simply the bomb!

  2. grayson

    Was just thinking, this could double as a road bike and TT bike? I’ve been wondering when manufacturers were going to start using more TT aero tech on road bikes ever since I saw the Transition sworks in 07 or 08.

    1. Author

      Grayson: For races like Qatar where you take only one bike, the S5 is the perfect answer. TT frame design has evolved enough that you can’t really just slap some aero bars on it and use it for a TT bike. Generally speaking, head tubes and top tubes are shorter on TT bikes.

  3. LD

    I love how Cervelo eschew’s marketing trends like BB this-and-that, tapered head tubes, blah, blah. They are first and foremost engineers. What they really need is a great branding person who can come up with stunning paint jobs to match.

    1. Author

      LD: It’s hard to say they haven’t gone in for any of that stuff. They do, in fact, use a tapered head tube and fork steerer. Also, they use their own, proprietary, asymmetric BB design they call BB Right, attempting to sidestep the BB30 argument with their own answer. They get some credit for original thinking, but they can’t really be said to be going their own way entirely. They’ve got an eye on the competition at all times. That said, they continue to be one of the leaders in carbon frame design and construction.

  4. naisan

    @Padraig I believe 990g for the frame only, *not* including the fork. Can you re-check this?

    Cvervelos forks usually weight at least 280-350g, so if the weight includes the fork, then we’re syaing the frame weighs in at 700g?

    If so, then WOW. ..

    Since the S3 was 1050, I’d expect 100g savings, but 350g savings? That’s a lot to ask?

    1. Author

      Naisan: It’s 990g for frame only. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s difficult to make a skinny, aero frame stiff in torsion. I mean, it’s just stupidly difficult. Riders want the same stiffness they experience with a bike like the R3 or R5 and the only way to get there is with more material. Also, it features internally routed cables and the cable guides add weight.

      The upshot? An aero bike weighing 990g is one hell of an achievement.

  5. naisan

    @Padraig – OK if it doesn’t include the fork, do you want to correct the copy in the article above? It specifically says it includes the fork.

    1. Author

      Pardon. The original copy I received does indicate frame AND fork. I was in a post-nap fog earlier when I typed that and didn’t double-check the materials. Sorry about the confusion.

  6. naisan

    Sorry to belabor the point, but I just checked again with the cervelo forum and saw several posts from Damon Rinard and Matt (the Cervelo webmaster). Here is the real dirt on this frameset:
    * there are 3 “editions” of this s5 model (s5, s5 team, and s5 vwd per
    * the lightest edition (VWD), which retails for $5900 for the bare frame, will be 990g for the frame, paint, and hardware (NOT including the fork) per the whitepaper and here:

    I have not seen any weights for the other models yet, but there are some hints that the vwd has the same weight savings as a r5ca does to a r5 to a r3, so the team and regular editions may be significatnly heavier.

  7. randomactsofcycling

    I have been riding an R5 (the regular version, not the California) for the last 5 months and am very happy with it. I have had ‘high-end’ carbon frames before and I have to say the Cervelo took a little getting used to but the more I ride it the more I appreciate just how good it is. I can also say it works very well with Campagnolo. No one ever mentions Campy in relation to Cervelo!
    There’s no doubt in my mind that the engineers at Cervelo triumph over the Marketing Department but there is certainly a canny Marketer positioning the credibility of the brand.

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