Updating a legend
I have spent a reasonable amount of time on the Cervelo S5, which is the iconic aero road bike. However the bike I was most keen to ride was the R5 which is their flagship stage racing bike. The R5 needs little introduction, having dominated the Pro Tour since its launch. For 2017 it has been completely redesigned, and is launched as a caliper and a Disc version for the first time
I rode the eTap caliper version; which comes with SRAM etap, Cervelo's own bar, stem and post and Zipp 302 wheels. A very compelling package for £7199.
For the same price you can get the DI2 version with Enve 3.4s - and comparing the price of the individual items I believe the Di2 build is the better buy. It really depends on if you are a Di2 or an eTap fan
Whatever spec you buy you will own a peach of a bike. It's the perfect stage racing bike. Cervelo have accomplished the very impressive task of improving a legendary bike is almost every metric (both tangible and intangible).It looks great, is light, stiff and rides beautifully. And Cervelo have made aero gains as well. Its deeply impressive stuff. You are aware you are riding a bike designed by engineers at the very top of their game
A handsome beast
The bike to my eyes looks stunning in the flesh. The tube shaping is very dramatic; and it looks squat and purposeful. The eTap version is Black/Fluro and the the fluro highlights really pop against the matt black.
More aggressive geo
The R5 is 8mm lower, and 2mm longer in a 56 than vefore. The BB is also 4mm lower. All of this is sure to please the Pro riders who will race on this bike for a living. Us mortals get the benefit as well though; on my rides with it it felt wonderfully well balanced.
Lighter and stiffer
It will not surprise you to hear that Cervelo claim the new R5 is both lighter and stiffer than before. new R5 rim brake model is 21% stiffer at the bottom bracket and 13% at the head tube. The weight of the caliper frame is a claimed 850g (which is very impressive in isolation but does lag behind the superlight Emonda SLR) and 831g for the disc brake version. Not a typo - the disc brake frame is actually lighter.
Like the excellent new Tarmac, Cervelo has made some aero gains on its classic stage race bike. The S5 is still Cervelo's aero road platform. But the R5 has a few clever features in tube shaping and the proprietary seatpost that mean it loses 44gms of drag vs previous version
The big trend over the last couple of years has been the wide rim/wide tyre movement. The easiest way to see when a bike was designed is to see how wide tyres it can take, and if its less than 27mm then chances are the frame design is 'old'... The last Gen R5 could only take a 25mm tyre, the new model ups that to 28mm, so its bang on trend.
How does it ride?
In the three weeks I have had the bike, I have ridden it extensively and loved every ride together. Its just a classic stage race bike - and does everything well. As light as you will ever need, and as stiff as you will ever need. But that's minor praise; as at this level all bikes should hit that...
What was most impressive was the ride quality and the handling - it was a bike that you would set off on a 2hr ride and come back 4 hrs later. I can imagine this bike on a European sportive would be an absolute weapon.
Cornering and descending is a joy, handling is super precise.
How does it compare to the new S-Works Tarmac that I love? Its hard to answer; I will need more time to compare them back to back. I think its very close though - these are probably the two most impressive bikes I have ridden in 2017. The main winner is us riders - the standard of bikes is now astonishingly high and the big boys are slugging it out to ever improve them to our benefit.
I have always wanted to try a Cervelo S5 - and now I get to! Here's my first impressions...Read more