The new Cervélo S5 is finally here. And its existence has been one of the worst kept secrets in cycling.
Despite only being officially launched today, the aero race bike already has quite the palmares to its name thanks to the exploits of the all-conquering Jumbo-Visma team.
Ridden by freshly-minted Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard (opens in new tab) and his compadres, it’s seemingly been at the sharp end of this season’s racing since Wout van Aert piloted it to victory in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad back in February. The dominance of the Dutch WorldTour outfit has meant the updated S5 has had nowhere to hide.
Having been in plain sight for three weeks at Le Tour, we can now take a closer look at the changes and specifications, rather than resorting to playing detective with action shots and screengrabs.
Perhaps the most obvious changes compared to the outgoing S5 are the new tube shapes. They caught our eye early in the season (opens in new tab) and the release confirms that the frame’s aero profiles have been deepened, a product of the relaxing of UCI regulations. This is most noticeable at the head tube and bottom bracket area, and is a trend seen on other recently released aero bikes, such as Trek’s updated Madone (opens in new tab).
Elsewhere the trailing edges of the tubes are more aggressively shaped, while the rear dropouts have been simplified a little due to the frame being compatible with electronic groupsets only.
Modern thinking is all pervasive. The S5’s tyre clearance has been increased, now allowing for up to 34mm widths. Proven to be more aerodynamic, wider tyres are best matched with wider wheels and Cervélo has updated its Reserve wheels with this in mind.
The Reserve 52/63 (the numbers representing the rim depth, with 52mm on the front and 63mm on the rear) is said to perform better in the wind than the previous set. Cervélo says it developed a rim shape that “stalls less dramatically at greater yaw angles”. What this means in real terms is even when the angle of the wind direction widens in relation to your direction of motion, the wheels are designed to remain stable. The result, Cervélo claims, is a pair of wheels that are over 5 watts faster than the old ones.
We’ve seen plenty of Van Aert this season, with his Herculean efforts at the Tour de France (opens in new tab) resulting in one green jersey, three stage wins and the almost universal acclaim of fans and fellow pros alike. It means that we’ve seen lots of the latest version of the S5’s eye-catching v-stem too.
Like much of the bike, the stem’s redesign is on trend, created to be simpler to adjust. One of the downsides to improving front end aerodynamics was that the clean aesthetics of an integrated cockpit usually hid a labyrinth of cables and hoses alongside shims and spacers that were a real faff should you want to tweak your stem or clean your headset. Cervélo has done away with what it described as the “intensive” swapping out process of the old S5’s stem and made attaining a new position far easier. All the required spacers come with the bike and there’s now only one bolt-length, regardless of your chosen stack height.
The handlebars have also been overhauled. Not only do they sport a new shape - Cervélo says they’re more comfortable and create a “perfectly flat bar-to-hood transition” - their position can also be tilted between 0 and 5 degrees thanks to a new two-bolt interface. The pared-back design also has the benefit of reducing the system’s weight by a little over 50g. In fact, Cervélo says the bike’s overall weight is lower than the previous model's.
The seapost is now offered in a stock size that comes with a 15mm offset. However, fans of the 25mm offset post used on the outgoing S5 will be pleased to know that it’s forward compatible. Cervélo will also offer a 400mm long, 25mm offset in the new design, presumably available for purchase separately from the bike.
So what do all these redesigned elements mean for the new S5’s geometry? Taking a 54cm frame size, the stack height is 542mm, while the reach is 384mm. The head tube and seat tube angles are both 73 degrees. Chainstay length is 405mm across sizes, with the wheelbase of the 54cm measuring 975mm. In essence, these are a set of numbers that you’d expect to see on a contemporary aero race bike that places a premium on going fast on flatter terrain, while still offering sharp and precise handling.
For comparison, the new Trek Madone, also in a 54cm, has the same stack height and head tube angle, with slightly longer stays that helps lengthen the wheelbase to 981mm. Likewise, Specialized’s flagship race bike, the Tarmac SL7, has similar numbers to the new S5, with a 54cm frame having a 73 degree head tube angle, a 978mm wheelbase and a reach of 387mm, with a slightly lower stack of 534mm.
The new S5 is available as both a frameset as well as a complete bike, with several build options. The top-tier offerings are built using Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and SRAM Red eTap AXS groupsets and the new Reserve 52/63 wheels. You’ll also be able to buy the S5 with both Ultegra Di2 and SRAM Force eTap, with both builds also coming with Reserve hoops.
As for colours, the Dura-Ace specced model comes in what Cervélo calls Five Black, which is a matt black frame with a gloss black fork, while the SRAM Red bike is offered in a Sapphire and Ice combination. Both the Ultegra and Force-equipped bikes are available in both colourways, with the frame only option also coming in a bright ‘Tiger Eye’ red.
Naturally, as a pro-level bike the S5 doesn’t come cheap. The SRAM Red model retails at £12,999, while the Dura-Ace equivalent is £12,500. Both the Force and the Ultegra specced bikes are under £10,000; £9,599 and £9,1999 respectively. If you want to create your own dream build, the frameset retails at £5,499.
For more information visit cervelo.com (opens in new tab)
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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.