RIDING A CERVELO S5 DISC
What would a mountain biker from the Rocky Mountains know about riding one of the world’s fastest aero road bikes, the modern Cervelo S5? As it turns out, although riding mountain bikes is still one of my passions, when I moved to South Florida in 2008, I knew road cycling would likely dominate my riding time. I knew nailing down the right road bike that would fit my riding style and fulfill my cycling needs would be an experience just as it is for you. We all want what’s best for us while riding on the road. When we find the right bike we instantly know.
Finding a comfortable road bike that both spins up fast and holds its speed well is a task in itself. Let’s add to the list of ingredients: World Tour sprinter required stiffness and breakaway specialist aerodynamics plus superb handling. Just for kicks let’s also add that it must be stunning to stare at (for hours). It offers it all for me and for many thousands of road cyclists including pro riders currently riding the S5 such as Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss or Team Jumbo Visma. Did I mention Primož Roglič? Odds are if you are reading this you know who these pro bike racers are and the races they’ve won riding on team issue Cervelo S5 bikes.
YEAH, OK, BUT WHAT DOES THE S5 RIDE LIKE?
Smaller riders will appreciate the much of the new frame geometry developments to the disc brake only equipped S5. Cervelo created the new frame with a lower bottom bracket height and changed the trail of the head tube for individual sized frames to add comfort and handling characteristics similar to the R5. It’s genius, really!
The S5 rides so incredibly well I beam with roadie joy when fellow riders on their slick road bikes ask me, “Hey, what’s it like riding that new S5?” It rides superbly in every aspect of road cycling. It glides with ease and it appreciates all the power you can generate to make that rear wheel spin faster! It rockets off the line and carves corners offering me feedback that screams “trust me!”
WHAT’S GOING ON THERE WITH THAT INTEGRATED BAR AND STEM?
“These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise!” The two-piece proprietary bar and stem, which is adjustable with varying stem lengths from 90mm to 130mm, or bar widths from 38cm to 44cm, including spacers in 5mm increments to 30mm to adjust stem height, as well as the bar’s hand held angle with different degrees of nifty wedges. There is no steer tube integrated with the artificial double crown fork. Instead, it’s hollow inside with a threaded tensioner and is quite a feat of engineering and thought along with help from 3T. Hidden inside this uniquely clean looking, very aero, and thoughtful cockpit platform are all the cables and any wiring. It is delightfully stiff and yet it offers all-day riding comfort while providing less drag than standard bar and stem combos.
The Cervelo S5 has a new carbon lay-up which both increases stiffness yet also decreases weight. A painted 56cm frame weighs a mere 975g while stiffening the S5 Disc 25% at the bottom bracket and 13% at the headtube. Captain Kirk and Mr. Scott ought to like that! Was that a smirk from Spock? Another enterprising new characteristic to the S5 is the addition of flat-mounts for the disc brake calipers and 12mm thru-axles front and rear stiffening up the frame and allowing engineers to shave unneeded material from the entire frame.
OKAY, BUT WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE IF YOU COULD?
1) I would change the press fit bottom bracket to a threaded bottom bracket instantly. All carbon bikes can be noisy at times no matter who manufactured the frame. If I had my way, I’d have my S5 bottom bracket manufactured with threads in the shell. Thankfully, many manufacturers are advancing the reintroduction of threaded bottom bracket shells into their carbon frames. This topic is all debatable so I’ll just sweep that conundrum under the rug and pedal on with furious fun!
2) I would redesign the integrated fork. While riding the S5 I have never been hindered by the new design whatsoever, but it is something I would surely have design engineers rethink and, perhaps, improve upon.
Before owning my first Cervelo S5 rim brake bike, I was riding a 2014 R5. Eventually, due to envy and curiosity, I bought a 2016 S5 frameset and built it up with (lovely) Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 (mechanical), Qaurq power with Dura-Ace 53/39 chainrings, 11-25 cassette, rim brakes and shift/levers rolling on Enve 4.5, Enve stem and FSA carbon K-Force bar (very stiff and light). At that time, just as today, riding mechanical shifting seemed to fit my personality and style. My R5 was, and still is, built very much the same.
I upgraded to the 2019 S5 Disc frameset and Enve 5.6 disc rims with new Dura-Ace shifters and levers because of, and for, the disc brakes and the much improved frame. Cervelo’s manufactured builds are all fantastic and should suit even the most picky road riders.
Should you find yourself owning and riding an S5, you will be riding so fast you, too, if only briefly, will imagine you’re Wout van Aert!