Cervelo S5 Aero Road Bike – Unboxed, Weighed & First Rides

Cervelo S5 Team aero road bike review photos and actual weights

When the Cervelo S5 first stepped on the scene, the numbers looked good but I wasn’t stoked about the looks. Now that’s it’s sitting in our office, I have to admit, my tune’s changed a bit. Perhaps it’s just familiarity, or perhaps it’s seeing all of the other aero road bikes that have popped up lately, but it’s growing on me more and more every day. It doesn’t hurt that it rides pretty well.

When it first arrived, our review model had seen some rough love, so it sat for a week while we waited on missing/broken parts to arrive to make it rideable. Now, two weeks after its rehab, I’ve put about 220 miles on it. Per usual, it’s also been on the scale and photo’d, so click on through to see the details and some first impressions…

CERVELO S5 ACTUAL WEIGHTS

Cervelo S5 Team Aero Road Bike actual weight and detail photos with ride review

Out of the box, the size 58 Team edition weighs in at 7.02kg (15lbs 7oz).

Cervelo S5 Team Aero Road Bike actual weight and detail photos with ride review

With Speedplay pedals, a carbon water bottle cage and seat bag with tool, tire lever, tube, CO2 filler & canister, it comes in at a rideable weight of 7.60kg (16lbs 13oz).

CERVELO S5 TEAM FRAME

The S5 comes in two frame options, the regular and the VWD (Vroomen White Design). The regular frame is sold as a regular frameset with their FK26 SL fork (~400g) or the Team frameset with an FK26 UL (~350g) fork. Complete bike builds are available with both setups as well. The base frame is claimed at around 1,300g. The Team frame comes in around 60g lighter.

The VWD uses some of the gram chopping lessons learned developing the Project California R5 and sheds about 270g from the Team S5 frameset, putting it under 1,000g (claimed). The VWD frameset gets the UL fork, too. This version of the frame is only now starting to ship, although it’s been planned and designed since July when the bike was announced.

Cervelo’s service rep David Byers, who provide the weights listed here, is quick to point that they don’t claim exact weights due to the nature of composites. All frames are going to have variances, so these weights are all “ballpark”.

The bike we received to test is the Team frame with UL fork, but the build kit it came with isn’t a standard option. Ours is spec’d with Mavic Cosmic SR carbon aero wheels with Vittoria Rubino Pro tires, SRAM Red group, 3T alloy stem and carbon handlebar. The seatpost is proprietary to the frame (and included with it) and has a Fizik Arione mounted up. Fizik bar tape rounds out the package. The rear wheel is held on with a DT Swiss RWS skewer, but we put our own Mavic skewer on the front because that one was AWOL when the bike arrived.

FRAME & AERO DETAILS

Cervelo S5 Team Aero Road Bike actual weight and detail photos with ride review

On a group ride, one of my buddies commented “That frame just disappears under you” when he was riding directly behind me. There’s no doubt, it has an incredibly thin frontal profile. The steerer tube is straight 1-1/8″, keeping things very narrow, with only slight bulges at the top and bottom to accommodate the internal headset bearings and keep things stiff.

Cervelo S5 Team Aero Road Bike actual weight and detail photos with ride review

Up front, the head tube is fairly tall, but the height is exaggerated by the “dropped downtube” design. Cervelo says this minimizes the gap between the fork and front tire and the frame, which reduces turbulence and drag. The fork’s legs are fairly thin and shallow (front to back), but it seems plenty stiff. The crown is very nicely integrated into the frame.

Cervelo S5 Team Aero Road Bike actual weight and detail photos with ride review

Shift cables hug the stem and drop into the frame directly behind it, running behind the steerer and into the downtube. The rear brake cable runs into the top tube at the front and pops out just before the seatpost.

Cervelo S5 Team Aero Road Bike actual weight and detail photos with ride review

The seat tube has a curved backside that hugs the profile of rear tire. The gap gets slightly larger as it goes down, and the bike uses traditional dropouts, so there’s no adjusting it.

The downtube is designed to be aero even with water bottles. Since the bike is designed to be the ultimate road bike, it couldn’t make the same usability concessions a TT bike does, which means they new riders want to use water bottles. To address this, the flattened shape at the bottle mounts helps smooth air flow over the bottle better than air running around a tube then hitting another tube (downtube to water bottle). The most aero set up is one bottle mounted on the lower pair of downtube mounts. Next best is the top pair, then a traditional double bottle set up using the mounts on the seat tube, too.

Cervelo S5 Team Aero Road Bike actual weight and detail photos with ride review

The bottom bracket junction is thick. It’s designed around their BBright asymmetric design, which pushes the bottom bracket shell 11mm further out on the non-drive side. This extra real estate makes the entire section stiffer, and Cervelo maximizes this by making the non-drive chainstay quite a bit thicker than the drive side.

Cervelo S5 Team Aero Road Bike actual weight and detail photos with ride review

From the front and above, it’s glaringly off center. BBright frames require BBright cranksets, which have 11mm longer spindles than normal and straighter non-drive crank arms. More info on that at BBright.net. Fortunately, SRAM, Campagnolo, Rotor and FSA make compatible cranksets, and Shimano cranks will fit with an adapter.

Cervelo S5 Team Aero Road Bike actual weight and detail photos with ride review

Before getting the bike in, Cervelo’s PR man Mark Riedy asked probably 20 times “Are you sure you need a 58? That’s a really big bike.” Yes, indeed, the 58 fits my 6’2″ frame really well, but after seeing the original set up, I understand his concern.

The seatpost offers two positions, spaced almost 4cm apart center to center. The bike came in with it in the rear position, giving it an effective top tube of about 620mm. That’s long. Cervelo’s geometry chart, though, is based on the front position, listing the ETT at 581mm, which feels just right after moving the seat to the front clamp. As you can see, there’s plenty of room to slide the saddle forward, which makes the S5 a good all around road bike/race bike for triathletes not wanting to commit to a full on TT/Triathlon bike. And for those between sizes or that just like a more laid back position, that option is there. In the front position, it has the standard 73º seat tube angle. Byer says they don’t claim a second, alternate seat angle, instead saying that the rear position equates to about a 35mm offset post. It feels like more than that.

Cervelo S5 Team Aero Road Bike actual weight and detail photos with ride review

While the non-drive chain stay is far thicker at the BB, the drive side gets wider as it nears the cassette. Byer says this is for two reasons. First, there are some aero considerations. But the bigger reason is putting as much material as possible to keep things stiff without interfering with the spokes. Since the driveside wheel dish is usually flatter, they can bring the stay in a bit further.

Cervelo S5 Team aero road bike rear brake

The seatstays jut out to hide the rear brake from the wind. Because of this design, there’s no standard brake bridge for the rear brake to mount to. Instead, it mounts to a small metal insert that’s then bolted to the frame above the brake’s pivot. They use a similar design on their P3 TT bike.

Not shown, the S5 frames are both mechanical and Di2/electronic ready out of the box. Battery hole mounts are located on the bottom of the non-drive chainstay, and there are small holes on the bottom of the bottom bracket for wiring to enter and exit. The rear derailleur cable exit at the back of the stay has a rubber grommet that removes to facilitate wiring, and a small sticker just behind the stem and cable holes is for wires.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

My first two rides were with the saddle in the rear position. I wasn’t able to get comfortable and didn’t feel very powerful. I typically ride with my saddle more forward anyway.

After fixing that, the bike felt quite good on subsequent rides. Giving the handlebar the shimmy test showed a bit of flex at the top, but it definitely doesn’t translate into sloppy handling. In fact, I can drive this bike hard and fast into corners and it reacts immediately. The head angle on the 58 is 73.5º. That steep angle translates into very quick handling, but it also means the bike reacts to every body movement, particularly if your hands are off the bar. Given that they immediately put this bike under Garmin riders as soon as it was launched (and with great race results, too), there’s no doubt this bike is made with racers in mind, and the handling bears that out.

Interestingly, the bike came with a 50/34 chainring combo, but the gearing feels bigger than the 53/39 I have on my own bike. I have no answer for this yet, and I haven’t been back on my bike since this came in. That’s where the long term testing comes in.

I can say that I was able to hang on the 70 mile Sunday group ride much better than usual. I certainly haven’t been training any more, so I’m inclined to give some credit to the bike.

One of the more interesting things about hopping on the S5 is the way it feels when standing up and cranking. If you’ve ever ridden a triathlon bike, it’s kind of like that. Somehow it just feels like the tubes are tall and ultra stiff, and it’s a bit weird compared to a standard road bike. Not bad, just different, and takes a bit of getting used to.

All that said, I’m really enjoying the S5 and am looking forward to several hundred more miles on it…and hopefully a little side-to-side comparison with the R3/R5, too. Stay tuned…

Comments

dave - 11/17/11 - 5:10pm

>> I can say that I was able to hang on the 70 mile Sunday group ride much better than usual.

Placebo effect. We’ve all seen this on club rides when someone gets a new rig and suddenly rides better than ever before.

Psychology is incredibly important for performance. If a $6000 bike is what it takes to get you psyched to perform, so be it.

Chris - 11/17/11 - 5:27pm

Fugly, it weighs 7.02kg.
Made just plain ridiculous with use of a seat bag, it weighs 7.60kg.

Actually, you have proved you can have a bike that does not look worse with a seat bag.
Interesting to think what it would take to make this bike look worse.

Gillis - 11/17/11 - 5:57pm

A saddle bag? Really? You’re not following the rules: http://www.velominati.com/blog/the-rules/#29

Maple Leafs - 11/17/11 - 6:38pm

I want to get an S3, and not an S5 next year.
Anyone know if Cervelo is phasing out the S3 (will it be still available for 2012)?

Maple Leafs - 11/17/11 - 6:40pm

Tyler,
Do you like those Mavic Cosmic aero wheels? How do they compare to Zipps 404s (I am assuming that you have tested the Zipps)?

martini - 11/17/11 - 6:44pm

Cervelo does ugly really, really well.

Nytro - 11/17/11 - 7:00pm

Maple Leafs, the S3 is gone for 2012/

bill - 11/17/11 - 8:48pm

How do you get rid of one of the best bikes in the world s3

mkrs - 11/18/11 - 2:02am

@Chris

The bike is already so fugly that it makes no difference whether it has a saddle bag attached or not.

Just to make it clear: I’m not saying it’s a bad bike (as I honestly believe that Cervelo is one of the world’s best manufacturers), I’m just commenting the looks.

BTW the bike is quite useless in real life – hit a pothole and forget you’ll get home safely. The rear wheel cutout has so little tolerance that even the minimal amount of play in the rear wheel is going to ruin your ride. I understand that this is purely a racer’s bike, but for me – thanks a lot, I’ll stay with a more traditional setup.

evilZ - 11/18/11 - 3:02am

Tyler, what saddlebag is that? I have a MTB with similar seatpost (Yeti ASRc) and have trouble finding a bag that fits. Thanks

Jdog - 11/18/11 - 7:33am

These guys know how to do it. Make the ugliest and most expensive bike they can and the sheep line up to drink. Thank you Cervelo, you and Ed Hardy make it easier to determine character from a distance. FUGLY

dgaddis - 11/18/11 - 7:49am

As much as I hate to jump aboard the Hatertrain, I have to agree – that thing is hideous.

Chase - 11/18/11 - 10:02am

Makes the Specialized Venge look like Kate Moss.

The thing should’ve been mercifully killed at birth.

Craig - 11/18/11 - 4:03pm

It is commonly misunderstood that BBRight requires an 11mm longer bottom bracket axle. This is incorrect. BBRight systems simply do away with the left side 11mm spacer that is normally required when using a standard BB30 crankset in a BB30 or Pressfit 30 frame. BBRight therefore uses a standard BB30 crankset but only requires the spacer on the drive side, not the non drive side.

Tyler (Editor) - 11/19/11 - 9:10am

Craig, the second FAQ on the BBright.net website says the spindle is 11mm longer, which is what I based that statement on:

http://BBright.net/faq.aspx

Peter - 11/19/11 - 1:52pm

Im fairly sure bbright is the same axle standard as the new bb386 used on the new wilier zero point seven, it’s just it uses a spacer on the drive side rather than having the frame fill out to take up the gap. So that is to say it uses a shimano hollowtech 2 width as demonstrated by shimano chainsets fitting with a step down adapter yet it has the larger 30mm axle as with bb30, press fit 30 and bb386. This is only based on my knowledge of fitting actual chainsets to actual bikes with my own hands though.

The Rude Awakener - 11/20/11 - 6:03am

the number of people who buy this is directly proportional to the number of suckers who believe it will save them 30 real world watts

bob - 11/20/11 - 7:15am

Here’s a first impression – “It’s had a big whack with the ugly stick since it looks hideous”. Marketing wise I guess it will attract attention. If I am putting down my hard earned cash I’d be looking at their competitors’ aero road bike offerings, ie maybe the Felt since it’s not so hard on the eyes.

I just had another look. Yup, still ugly.

bill - 11/21/11 - 4:07am

no s3 for 2012 , had to go with a dogma ,sound like a move like nflix stock down 200

Jeff - 11/21/11 - 9:38pm

I think we can declare the “ugliest bike for 2012 contest”, over now.

Brandon - 11/22/11 - 11:33am

UGLIEST bike in that price range. Graphics are crap, geo is crap. Your 73 degree seat tube angle DOESN’T work for everyone!

G Richard Kreuter - 11/25/11 - 10:36am

The bike looks good in it’s SUPERSTAND!

SURF_DOPE - 12/02/11 - 8:31pm

This bike is a functional and aesthetic masterpiece. If you don’t see the timeless beauty of the design or the masterful engineering of the mechanicals, you are a hopeless Philistine. As for potholes and real world rideability, if you live in some pothole-encrusted Dogpatch, you should stick with your 1978 Schwinn Varsity and not even consider a world class racing bike like this Cervelo.

John - 12/30/11 - 2:17pm

Absolutely beautiful.
Just a real shame that the jealousy has to surface publicly and bash the success of others.

Yeahaaa!!!_ - 01/01/12 - 8:48pm

Goddang that thing is ugly. Go Venge!!!

MTN - 02/01/12 - 9:20pm

All you guys commenting on how ugly the S5 is what bikes do you ride
I ride a S3 and am waiting for my new S5 VWD and if you have bothered to look at the S5 in the flesh it’s
Not as ugly as you describe

MikeE - 02/09/12 - 12:40am

Trialling a new S5 VWD Team. It is fantastic to ride. When you see the bike up close it is a thing of beauty. The aero on this bike is ridiculous. It is made to go fast. With Garmin Cervelo winning Qatar team trial on this bike a few days ago my mind is just about made up to buy it. No way this bike is ugly

BarbL - 03/17/12 - 2:19pm

Have one. Love it. Not worried about fugly or whatever. It is quick and responsive.

Carlo - 03/20/12 - 5:16am

Pictures do not do this bike justice, this is no joke. Just like some cars do not photo well this bike doesn’t either but in reality, in the flesh the S5 looks much better, trust me. Somethings age well with time and this bike is it. In fact if no one else has one in your peloton then even better, it’s all about individuality these days ; )

didier - 04/06/12 - 11:36pm

This S5 is the lightest frame ever delivered to me. I just paid for a Cervelo S5 frame a month ago, and I was told by lbs that according to their computer, There would not be anything before the end of august 2012 ( 6 months or more who knows…). I e-mailed David Byer who is supposed to work at the Cervelo customer service to ask if he would confirm that date but never got an answer ( he might be on vacation). I’d hate to think of using CS in a litigation case. So far, this frame weighs nothing at all. This physical process is called sublimation where a solid goes directly to a gas state…
That probably make Cervelo S5 the fastest bike ever. Seriously, are these frame produced yet or are they just for the Garmin Team and demos? I still would like this mythical velo if its not just pure air.

For the “light weight” folks, I think it would be cheaper to get the vwd version at $2k more.But what is the price of those light scary carbon wheels anyway to bring the weight down. Also, you would have a better spectrum of wheels to use.

didier - 04/07/12 - 7:37pm

Seriously,
I had the S5 team ultegra version 54cm weighed in front of me at local LBS , and it was 17.3 # without the pedals and cage. For me , it was good enough because I had previously tried that bike on hills and flats I know very well (7% to 10% gradient ). I have a Scott CR1 team 54cm equipped with Sram red and HED Ardennes ( which weighs 17# with pedals and bottle cage). We have lots of hills in Marin County but the idea is to conserve energy on the long flats with an aero bike before attacking these hills. ( my personal experience in order to stay with a steady group of riders is to hide behind on the flats ) I have been riding a lot with a triathlete friend on her Orbea Ordu which weighs way much more than a S5 , and can tell you that after 60 miles she keeps a very solid powerful stride and tackles the hills with a consistent power (by the way, I also use an aero bar on the Scott when I ride with her). Yes, I would also put an aerobar for the occasions adding another 430gr. Totally worth it!!
Remember you can opt for a Rotor 3D+ crank and save about 200g ( and loose another $700) and go with red if you have it already. Very expensive Wheels would be the only way to bring the S5 team to the 15#. so you can have it all with this bike if you absolutely need to. Again, I would get the VWD if weight matters that much for you.

Kyle Field - 10/14/12 - 9:51am

didier – 17# is not light in my book. I have a 2010 S2 size 56, dura ace 7900, Reynolds forty-six, Selle Italia, Look carbon pedals, 3T bars/stem and it weighs 15.3lbs WITH pedals.

Re: to you comment to get the VWD frame, it a $5K frame/fork…you could easily get the Team edition and make it light, unless of course money is no object the go for it.

SuperDave - 05/14/13 - 8:43pm

Kyle,

That’s a bit relative. With a 1356g frame weight I don’t think you can overcome that mass to bring the Team edition into the “light” category at least not what most would consider light for $$/gram.

-SD

Jay - 05/16/13 - 2:48pm

Is this the team frame or the vwd? As this Is a super light build. Most team editions around 16.5 for 56cm

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