Cervélo S5 review
The new aero updated Cervélo S5 is a true racing machine and I feel it's 10 times better than the previous version
One of the best bikes I've ridden this year. It's super fast, compliant and futuristic looking. Don't be put off by the bar and stem, it's easy to work with an adjust.
A bike that looks to be more at home in a Sci-fi film than on the road is the new and greatly improved, Cervelo S5. We've included it in this years Editor's Choice as its a super fast racing machine, that is compliant with a modern take on what aero is, and we love it.
Launched very late on in 2018 for 2019 was the very Star Trekesk Cervélo S5, which has made a number of improvements over its previous version. The last version was very much outdated from its launch back in 2014, owning to its development with rim brakes around a 23mm tyres. As we all know, things have moved on significantly since then with disc brakes taking over, which in turn has allowed tyres to go wider.
So now the new bike joins the large array of aero dedicated road bikes with disc brakes, wider tyres, in this case 28c and a radical new design in the stem and handelbar.
What Cervelo has done what it should have done with the previous version but also has improved aerodynamics (5.5watts over the previous version) using its out there V shape handlebar and stem design, claiming it is faster than a tradition shaped bar and stem. Cervelo say that this is pretty close to maxing out the aerodynamic efficiency in the current UCI regulations. With those updates and a new geometry the S5 has become what it always should have been, a mighty rocket ship, and with those handlebars it looks like one too!
As we’ve seen, a great deal of the aerodynamic leg work has been done at the front end of the new S5, but that doesn’t mean Cervélo shied away from the rest of the frame, it’s just less visually pronounced. Changes have been made on the rear, including a newly designed seat post and newly shaped seat stays, including where they meet the seat tube.
The first thing we have to address is the new handlebar and stem. It really does look like something out of Star Trek and I was a little worried about it. However, it is comfortable, easy to work with and gives adjustment as you would get with any other handlebar.
It is the result of many hour of aero testing according to Cervélo and this design was found to be the fastest through the air compared to any other bar and stem combination. It is that big v-shaped gap that allows the air to move much more cleanly through that area, instead of being disrupted like a conventional setup would. Not only that but Cervévlo's research shows that the air was quicker to re-attach to the top tube and smoother around the riders legs, thus meaning overall there was less drag.
Cable routing as well as adjustment was a consideration here too. Whilst electric cables are easy to route, mechanical can struggle to be efficient with tight bends, this design helps that, according to Cervélo.
Slammed, like I have it here, the Cervélo S5 has the same stack as the old S5 when it had the same negative six degree stem attached. That means in a size 54cm, again like I have here, smaller riders can fit it probably better than the normal size you would ride. The stem itself allows for 5mm increments of spacers and at the bar an extra 2.5mm of adjust is possible too, along with some tilt adjustment, thankfully.
Not only that but Cervélo has improved on performance and at the request of many, increased stiffness by 25 per cent around the bottom bracket and 13 per cent around the headtube, much needed.
The new bike has an excellent ride quality, which has been lacking with Cervélo's aero range. It's evidently fast too! The handling of the S5 mirrors the razor sharp handling of the R5, making it one of the best descending aero bikes I’ve ridden.
The dropped bottom bracket had the exact same affect, making it feel like you’re sitting in the bike rather than on top of it. It’s easy to flip it over in corners and lean into them. The extended trail makes the bike hold its line no matter the corner, never wavering from where you point it. I guess this suits the fact that I fit on a 54cm much better than I would a traditional 54cm.
It’s worth repeating: don’t be fooled by the rise on the stem, the Cervélo S5 is an aggressive bike, and riding with the bars slammed on my test bike I could feel it how it was eager and ready to nip into a gap in the bunch if I needed it to. It’s not that it’s uncomfortable, it’s just aggressive, and the ride is actually very compliant; no doubt helped by the slightly wider tyres. After all, if you find the bike too aggressive there’s always the Cervélo S3 you can ride which has 16mm more stack.
I wasn't totally sure this bike would be a bike I could live with. On face value it looks too aggressive and hard to work on but that is far from the truth. It simple, easy to understand, and really is a logical design.
Cervélo has done a great job and I'd go as far to say that it is one of the best aero bikes on the market, especially if the aero claims are to be believed.
New Cervelo S5: Prices and specs
Cervélo S5 Disc Dura Ace Di2 £9,699
Cervélo S5 Disc Red eTap £9,299
Cervélo S5 Disc Ultegra Di2 £6,999
Cervélo S5 Disc Ultegra £4,899
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