By Matt Pacocha
There are two bikes in the Cervélo TestTeam stable here at the Amgen Tour of California. The S2 and S3 are new aero road models and are available to consumers in 2009 and what the team is currently racing. Interestingly, none of the riders are using Cervélo’s R3 frame. Even Carlos Sastre, a R3 holdout, is competing on an aerodynamic road bike.
The S3 and S2 models differ by way of design and material. The S2 is the evolution of the Soloist Carbon, while the S3 is a brand new model that incorporates higher modulus carbon and thinner seatstays, similar to those found on the R3 models.
Team GC front man Sastre and star sprinter Thor Hushovd are riding the new S3. Cervélo says that frame offers a slightly softer ride than the workhorse S2, which the remainder of Cervélo’s AToC team is riding. Cervélo says the redesigned rear triangle of this bike offers a more compliant ride than the S2, but also improves aerodynamics. The S3’s rear seatstays are as thin as those found on the R3, but oriented on a different plane and with a refined aerodynamic shape. All of this new design makes the S3 Cervélo’s lightest, most aerodynamic and most compliant aero road bike the manufacturer has ever produced. The new names are simply to simplify.
“We decided to rationalize the product line and make the naming a little bit more consistent so people can understand it better,” said Phil White, co-founder of Cervélo and co-owner of the team. “We just changed it to S1, 2, 3; that makes it easy.”
Sastre had historically stuck by the R3 because it offers more comfort than the brand’s aero models. Now with the S3 he is able to capitalize on the aero advantage without sacrificing comfort for his back, which has presented a problem for the rider throughout his career.
Hushovd, on the other hand, had never ridden a Cervélo until he signed with the TestTeam. He ended up choosing the S3 after riding all of the brand’s models. It’s simply the one he liked best, according to Cervélo reps. His choice illustrates the prowess of Cervélo’s carbon engineering, proving that a light, aero shaped bike can also be stiff enough for a world class sprinter.
Cervélo’s workhorse moniker still falls on the S2, which has seen minor improvements from its previous Soloist SLC iteration. The most noticeable is the internal routing for the bike’s shifter cables. Like the S3, the cables on the latest version of the S2 enter the top tube just behind its junction with the headtube, which makes it quite hard to differentiate between the two models at first glance.
“Initially the S2s didn’t (incorporate the top tube cable routing) but then as we did it we rolled them in with the new cable routing as well,” said White.
The TestTeam chooses an eclectic mix of components. The cockpits are a mix of 3T bars and stems, mostly the ARX stem, and Rotundo carbon handlebar models. The S2 and S3 frames rely on a proprietary aero shaped seat post, which is made by Cervélo.
The team happily chooses Shimano’s older Dura-Ace 7800 transmission and sees no reason to jump on the new 7900 components.
“We’re not running the new Shimano,” said White. “We’re buying it, so it’s best for us to pick something that’s proven and we know well and then phase it in as we understand it better.”
The team is sponsored by the Spanish component manufacturer Rotor for use of its cranks and chainrings. As often is the case at the first big race of the year, delivery of the product is an issue. Rotor is also dealing with a product recall of its Agilis EVO crank, and is scrambling to provide both consumers and the team with replacement cranks.
“They’re trying to support both consumers and us,” said White. “They just don’t have the quantity of product available. They bought us SRAM cranks as an interim measure until all the cranks are replaced for us.”
The team does have three or four sets of new Agilis cranks, and Sastre is one of the riders currently using them. If you remember, he won last year’s Tour de France using Rotor’s Q-Rings chainrings. Rotor’s crank is worthy of note for its extreme light weight, Quarc Cinco power meter-compatibility and SAAB self-aligning bottom bracket with CeramicSpeed ceramic bearings. You’ve also probably seen images of a new Rotor crank; Rotor and the team are currently testing it in training. White says that crank will likely be proven and in competition by early summer.
The TestTeam continues Cervélo’s relationship with Zipp and the team has access to all of the wheel manufacturer’s models. Here at AToC all of the riders are using the standard 2009 404 with the new 88 and 188 front and rear hubs.
It will be interesting to see how the bikes the TestTeam is on here at AToC differ from the grand tours later this year.