Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 10


  • Light
  • Stiff
  • Fast


  • None


Cervelo S5 VWD


Price as reviewed:


Our most anticipated bike from last year turned out to be more than a little difficult to get hold of. We had the S5 Team bike for only a couple of weeks, as it was in high demand. Now, though, we’ve been given a bit longer to play with its big brother, the S5 VWD.

Using the same mould as the other S5s, but a different carbon layup, the VWD (Vroomen White Design) is not only the company’s signature model but also its lightest and stiffest aerodynamic road frame to date.

>>> Cervelo Bikes: S-Series, R-Series, P-Series, T-Series and C-Series explained 

Nattily dressed
Our S5 is doubling up as our test bike for Shimano’s new 9000 mechanical groupset, so came appropriately built with Dura Ace 11-speed C35 wheels, a Pro stem and Zipp aero bars. But as the VWD is available only as a frameset, you’ll be able to dress it any way you like.

Every aerodynamic road bike we’ve ever tested has embodied a compromise: the ride suffers as a result of the tubes having been made slippery in the wind. It’s the inevitable consequence of narrow, yet deep tubes (meaning they flex under twisting loads and kick you over bumps). It’ll probably come as no surprise that Cervélo, having been making aero bikes for 16 years, is the least compromised.

Said to save up to 30 watts over a ‘standard’ road bike, it’s clearly fast. On the road, those watts are noticeable; the improvement is similar to replacing your normal box-section wheels with a set of 60mm rims. Thanks to the 15 per cent increase in stiffness, the VWD isn’t the compromise of previous aero road bikes and the 56cm frame weighs under a kilogram.

You’ll want to have a second look at the geometry before ordering, as we found the head tube to be on the long side when compared to other 58cm race bikes, whereas the top tube came up shorter.


Do we like the Cervélo, then? Yes, but you probably anticipated that - we've long been fans of aero bikes. Without a doubt, the S5 is a step forwards in terms of being more aerodynamic than its predecessors. It's also better in terms of comfort and resistance to twisting, making it the best-handling too.Price quoted is for frameset only


Frame:Cervélo full carbon fibre
Group Set:Shimano Dura Ace 9000
Size Range:48, 51, 54, 56, 58, 61cm
Size Tested:58cm
Weight:7.2kg (15.87lbs)
  • thomas walk

    Ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. Rode one from shop, front end sloppy and lacking surity on fast decents. Much better around bikes out there with better balance of aero/handling/acceleration/lightness. Anyone thonking buying a cervelo get a r5 or get a different brand imo

  • Andy Bond

    I bought the S5 VWD 2012 frameset following the theft of a number of bikes. I already have an R3 Team which is a great climbing bike and wonderfully light and comfortable so aero seemed the way to go. I built the bike up with Dura Ace 9000 group and Zipp 303 FC clinchers. Its a bit heavier than the R3 but its definitely a faster bike. Many reviews imply that the S5 is unconfortable but its pretty marginal and my longest ride was on the S5 doing the London Surrey 100 which was a very quick ride. Almost all my fastest times have been on the S5 apart from a couple of KOMs in Scotland on longish climbs or a recent ascent of Mont Ventoux for which the R3 is a better choice partly due to the compact chainset compared to the standard 53 39 I have on the S5 VWD. I recogne a 36 inner ring would probably be the best compromise for making the S5 a bit more climbing friendly. If you want to go faster the S5 does what it claims.

  • Roy

    I have been riding the bike for 15 months now, and 99% are on very bad roads. Most of my rides are on the short side (40 miles) or less, but have done several long rides with a lot of climbing. I also have a Roubaix SL4 and Tarmac SL3, that I ride equally. Objectively, the S5 is faster than a standard road bike. My position is the same on all 3 bikes, and have ridden some of same routes upwards of 50 times. Most of my PRs, on Strava, were on the S5. When I ride with faster people, I am happy to be on the S5 so that I can keep up a little better.
    As for ride quality, the Roubaix with Zipp 303 FC clinchers is no more comfortable than the S5 with Shimano c24s. What that means is that wheel choice and tires have more to do with comfort than the frame. I can’t get my S5 as comfortable as my Roubaix, but these are opposite ends of the spectrum.
    The handling of the bike is quite good. It descends well, but not as well as the bikes like the Tarmac, by a very slight margin. The shorter wheelbase than the Roubaix makes it better descender than the Roubaix (for me). Flex during climbing or sprints is not noticeable. I weigh 170 lbs and my 5 second power is 1325. If you put out more power or weigh more, your results could vary from mine.
    A big downside of this bike, that I dont see mentioned in reviews, is tire clearance. The bike has very little clearance between frame and tires. When you hit large bumps, the fork flexes enough for the tire to rub the down tube, which causes slight wear. Dirt that sticks to the rear tire will hit the frame also causing wear. Due to this, my frame shows more wear than my other frames. It isn’t the end of the world but is annoying.
    The reviews from people that have ONE ride on this bike are absolutely useless. It serves as a disservice for those looking at these reviews for purchase decisions.
    What you will get with the S5 is a bike that is a few seconds faster at some expense in comfort compared to Endurance bikes.
    If I was asked if I would recommend this bike to a friend, I would say yes. That being typed, if you don’t care that you beat your Friends on certain routes, or don’t race, there may be better bikes out there for you. Also, while some say the bike is ugly, people that see the bike often like it. The new paint job is better than the 2012.

  • Yorik

    This is an awful design, if may make the bike more aero but it is such a faff that it really put me off the bike at the outset. Then we come onto the ride quality. I rode the bike with Cosmic Carbon wheels and also tried with Campag Eurus wheels but that did not help.

  • Colin Urey

    I have been riding a Cervelo Soloist for the past 7 years and have loved riding this bike. I decided to update and have now just purchased a 2013 S5 with di2, wheels are Dura Ace C35. This is the most amazing bike to ride, responsive, comfortable and faster everywhere over the Soloist. The bike looks great and seems to attract a lot of attention. I have still got my Soloist for wet days however the S5 is light years ahead so I might just put the Soloist on a trainer.

  • Lawrence Moore

    I have recently purchased a “basic” S5 frame set, upon which I have put my beloved Zipp 404s and Campag kit. I agree with the previous readers, that this is a fast but less comfortable bike than a lot of other options. It depends upon what sort of riding you want to do.

    I am not blessed with the youth or talent to trouble “proper” racing, but I like sportives and training with friends and the S5 simply feels faster than my previous ride. Yes, it also feels less comfortable, but on smoother surfaces, there isn’t anything else upon which I would rather perch my carcass!

    I also love building custom bikes and trying out different frame styles. I know the “proper” racers out there will scream “overkill” (and maybe a few more things) about riding a Cervelo with 404s in Sportive-land. The truth is, the building of the bike and riding the result is where I find the joy in this great sport. The S5 was an obvious must-build project worth saving up for. I don’t regret it!

    The key thing for me was to ensure a proper fit, which my LBS ensured I got. Good fit and position compensates for a lot of the ills of a hard ride, in my book. The other thing is saddle choice. That, for me, makes a huge difference. I transpalnted my San Marco SKN from my previous velo as I can’t find a new one anywhere (btw if anyone knows where I can get one, I’d be very grateful for the info!).

    Overall, I’d describe the ride as hard, rather than uncomfortable, but I don’t think it will be a good choice for a ride through the Arenberg forest! For speed, though, it is a great purchase…even into moderate climbs.

    It is less compromised than any other aero bikes I’ve tried, and the admiring glances/jealous glares are a great addition to the fun.

    It is super stiff and holds speed well when the road flicks up after a shallow descent.cIt is an acquired taste in the looks stakes, but then, it isn’t a beauty contest and many great bikes just look a little dull to me (Super Six Evo for example)

    I wouldn’t rush into buying one and I’d recommend a proper bike fit and test ride. There are still some decent roads out there, and if you want to ride them quicker than you ever have before, there are far worse choices you can make than this Vroomen White design.

  • Marek Siwicki

    About a year or so ago now I brought the S5 team frameset. Looked like a nice bit of kit and I quite fancied trying out a more aero bike.

    After spending a good hour or so getting the seat tube adjusted to the right height I was ready for my first ride. I am not kidding you when I say that the seat tube adjustment on this bike is horrendous. I am 6ft 5ins tall and therefore need a good bit of seat tube, getting this thing to move is not much fun.

    On the first ride, the seat tube slipped a bit and so I therefore had to go through the routine of trying to get the seat tube back up again. There is a fiddly triangle screw thing which you need to get into a hold to hold the tube in place. Again, getting the adjustment of the tube was really hard, you have to rock the thing backwards and forwards, I got more of a workout moving the tube than I did riding the bike. This is an awful design, if may make the bike more aero but it is such a faff that it really put me off the bike at the outset.

    Then we come onto the ride quality. I rode the bike with Cosmic Carbon wheels and also tried with Campag Eurus wheels but that did not help. This bike is ridiculously stiff. Now normally you read about how great it is to have a stiff bike, I can tell you this is far too stiff for a ride around the roads of the UK. The bike is so uncomfortable that I was coming back after 100km rides feeling like I had been beaten up. Truly a horrible bike to ride, you get bounced all over the place.

    It does feel fast though, but the comfort factor fails badly. Nasty nasty ride.

    Then something happened to the bottom bracket shell area, I am not sure what happened but it got a little gap formed or something and had to be sent back. Thankfully, and I am really thankful of this, the shop that I brought it from sent it back to Cervelo and after about 6 months I ended up getting my money back for the frame. THANK YOU GOD.

    I am now riding an amazing Colnago instead which is different league. I do have a Cervelo R3 which I think is actually a great bike, but this S5 thing is a monster and you have to be nuts to buy this as a road bike in the UK. It will knock you to pieces and you will end up hating the thing. Sorry Cervelo but this one aint for the UK.

  • Jace Provo

    There are three things we fight: inertia, gravity and aerodynamic drag. Having an S5 is just faster. I rode a pretty nice bike before; an Orbea Orca with full Dura Ace kit and Zipp 404s with a power tap. I can tell you that this bike adds speed. I have added more aero components as well. Aero bottle, aero Q rings, Zipp 404s and the 3T Zefiro handle bar. Now i pull the pack versus wheel suck. This is not just my feeling. It shows on my power meter too. I also find it is easier in the pack, with cross winds and with a tail wind. I have had many comments about how much stronger I ride lately. I know its the bike.

    Please don’t believe in aero. Makes life for those like me a little easier and makes us seem a little stronger.