The New Benchmark Cervelo S5 – Leading the Tour…


Going into Stage 8, Thor Hushovd finds himself leading the overall General Category standings of the 2011 Tour de France.   While Thor is a strong rider in his own right, it is hard to think that his new Cervelo S5 has not played a notable supporting role in how yellow found its way onto his shoulders this year (and an even bigger role in helping him keep it for so long).  The early stages of the Tour reward energy conservation and powerful sprinting on some long and fast days.  The new Cervelo S5 is not only likely the most aero road bike one can buy, but it is no slouch in the stiffness/responsiveness category; it is a very potent race platform.

Let’s briefly explore some of the main improvements built into the S5:

Fit/Geometry: This one is not getting a ton of press yet, but it should as it is one of the improvements that actually makes the S5 a viable option for more riders.   The previous generation Cervelo S3 was arguably the best production aero road frame on the market when it came to ride quality and performance, but the reality is that the geometry did not work well for a number of riders.   The new S5 uses the same geometry improvements we saw in the ’11 R3 (less reach and more stack on most sizes) and the reality is that it will fit a wider range of riders well.  The new geometry opens the Cervelo S5 up to a whole new group of riders while eliminating few to none that fit well on a S series Cervelo in the past.   As a bonus, the new seatpost design includes the versatility to run a setback seat position or a zero setback option with the stock seatpost.   A lot of people need a zero setback post, so the new design is welcome.

Aerodynamics: While the S3 was one of the prettier bikes to lay eyes on, the Cervelo S5 has a more angular and sharper feel to it – it is all business.   Cervelo claims up to a 30 watt decrease in drag with the S5 over a traditional road frame.    While this sounds like an almost ludicrous savings, our own Dean Phillips has demonstrated with his own testing (and the associated results in competition) that equipment details (primarily aerodynamic) can gain 30 watts, even on a rider who already has solid aerodynamic fundamentals ironed out.   Comparing least aero to most aero frames, 30 watts out of a frame is possible and the S5 does offer additional aero improvement over the already very established S3.   These gains are made primarily through trickle over technology from the P4 in the shape of a deeper fairing based seatstay seat tube juncture and revised headtube and fork design.

Laterally Stiffer Drivetrain: The S5 has greater torsional stiffness than the S3 in the bottom bracket due to the over-sized asymmetric BBRight system that has proven itself in the R3 and R5 this year.   We haven’t had one to test, but Cervelo says the S5 is 12% stiffer than the S3 and that makes sense.    The S5 will not be quite as forgiving as the S3 was, but it is not harsh riding and still is one of the smoother riding aero road frames on the market.

Lighter: The S3 was pretty darn light for an aero tubed road frame, but the new S5 is a claimed 80 grams lighter.

Di2 Ready: The frame has the mounts needed to mount Shimano’s Di2 electronic groups as cleanly as possible.

Price: Standard S5 framesets start at $3000 and complete bikes start at $3800.   There will also be lighter and laterally stiffer Team version and a top of the line VWD (Vroomen-White Design) version of the Cervelo S5 available.

Shipping of Cervelo S5 units will be starting in just a few weeks and we are taking pre-orders/reservations now, so call or email if you want to talk about getting one of the first of this landmark bike.


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