A speedy aero roadster: the Cervelo S5

For those looking for an aerodynamic road bike for draft-legal racing, extremely hilly tri events, or for road racing and training, Cervelo's new S5 is well worth a look.

| October 24, 2018 | GEAR

Cervelo\'s new S5.

Cervelo's new S5.

Photo >Nils Flieshardt

Aerodynamics pioneer Cervélo brought one of the brand new S5 models to the Ironman Expo in Kona, Hawaii. We could not resist it, of course, and tried the top-of-the-line model on Ali'i Drive – heading south, first, where it didn’t take us long to find some climbs – which we had to come down, too. Why was that important for the test? Because earlier aero frames tended to be susceptible to side winds, or experienced some shakiness during high-speed descents. We also wanted to try out the S5’s disc brakes, which, even during a fast descent at 60 km/h felt good.

One of the most striking features of the S5 is the modular handlebar and stem.

One of the most striking features of the S5 is the modular handlebar and stem.

Photo >Nils Flieshardt

When it comes to the fine details, the Cervélo S5 has lots to differentiated it from its competitors. The most striking feature is the modular handlebar and stem unit which ends flush with the top tube and, in addition to the aerodynamic advantages, also offers allows you to lay all the cables inside and out of the wind. Cervélo will soon be adding its own clip-ons for this handlebar, too. One interesting detail is that the computer mount is located in front of the handlebars, not tucked out of the wind. It is in a great position to be able to see your data, though. The bayonet fork allows for adjustment of the handlebar height and inclination via spacers.

The innovative quick release axel included with the S5.

The innovative quick release axel included with the S5.

Photo >Nils Flieshardt

Like all racing bikes with disc brakes, the S 5 comes with quick release axles. However, Cervélo has come up with a unique innovation - opening the quick release and a quick 90 degree turn is all you need to do to release the wheel. It’s a clever detail, especially when you’re trying to fix a flat in a hurry.

Photo >Nils Flieshardt

When it comes to the frame, Cervélo pulls out all the stops. The down tube varies in shape and orientation to provide excellent strength and aerodynamics where required. There’s a cut out near the front wheel to keep the wheel close to the frame for an aero advantage. The top end of the top tube looks more like what you’d see in a pure triathlon bike, again helping with aerodynamics. The closer you get to the bottom bracket, the down tube gets thicker and thicker, providing more rigidity. This offers a practical advantage, too, hiding a water bottle from the wind.

Our test ride was one of the top versions of the S5, built with SRAM’s RED eTap components and hydraulically brakes, DT Swiss ARC 1450 wheels, 25 mm Continental GP 4000S II tires and a PAS Dimension TiRox saddle from Prologo. That will set you back a cool 11,000€ or US$12,000. There are five different build options for the S5, with the frameset price starting at US$5,500.

In short, the engineers from the Canadian company did a damn good job. Everything from the frame and cockpit to all the specs on the S5 are top notch. The stiff and sturdy frame remains extremely stable even at high speeds. The cockpit feels good in your hands and all the components work wonderfully with each other.