Cervelo unveiled the S5, their brand new aero road bike, just this week and it might represent the most advanced road bicycle ever produced. Its versatility as a do-it-all road and triathlon weapon might make it one of the best bikes for triathletes and cyclists. Geoff Nenninger was one of the first to test ride it.
Written by: Geoff Nenninger
The S5 is the successor to the throne as arguably the best aero road bike that the S3 had previously occupied. Considering Cervelo arguably invented the aero road bike category, many were waiting eagerly to see what they would come up with next. We had the opportunity to try an S5 in the Colorado high-country to see for ourselves if it would live up to Cervelo’s lofty reputation.
The S5 is not simply an evolution of the S3. The engineers at Cervelo are never ones to rest on their laurels, and they went back to the drawing board to come up with many features that are now incorporated into the S5, which has been in development for quite some time. When looking at the lines of the S5, it is clear that it shares many design elements found on the P4, it’s triathlon-bike cousin. Particularly innovative is the use of a dropped down tube, which helps to smooth air flowing back past the fork crown. A fully faired rear wheel is another feature of the S5 not seen on many other road bikes. The shoulder-style seat stays are also inspired by the P4.
While the P4 has an integrated rear brake just below the bottom bracket, the S5 uses a standard rear brake (our test bike was equipped with SRAM Red calipers). Also, the shoulder-style stays, which are slightly wider than those found on the P4, have the effect of shielding the rear brake caliper from the wind. Likely the most obvious feature borrowed from the P4 is the two-position post, which is literally the P4’s UCI-legal seat post. This two-position post is one reason the S5 might be a very attractive bike for triathletes: It allows for a forward riding position often not easily accomplished on more traditional road bikes (but a long-standing tradition of forward thinking at Cervelo [pun intended]).
We decided to test the S5 on the Stage 3 Time Trial course of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. This course starts in world-famous Vail Village and begins flat and fast before the road turns upward for a challenging and steep uphill 3 mile climb. This seemed the perfect place to experience the best of what the S5 has to offer: Straight line speed with climbing chops to match.
Cervelo claims the aero benefits of the S5 will save a rider 30 watts over a more traditional road bike (9 watts over the S3). Rolling out of downtown Vail, it felt like the bike just wants to go fast. While sitting in a group of cyclists seemed to take less energy, the S5 really shined is when I took it out in the wind on it’s own. You can really feel it just cut through the air.