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Road Gear

Cervélo subtly updates the S5 aero bike

Wout van Aert rode the refined bike to the green jersey at the Tour de France.

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It’s an iteration, not an evolution. A new generation Cervélo S5 aero bike is here, and you’d be forgiven for not really noticing it had changed, even as it was ridden in plain sight to the green jersey by Wout van Aert in the Tour de France. 

It’s something of an antithesis to the also recently released new generation Trek Madone, a completely overhauled design complete with cantilevered seat mast. But just because the S5’s changes are subtle doesn’t mean they aren’t significant. 

As you might expect for the latest flagship aero bike from the brand largely responsible for introducing this category to the pro peloton, the new S5 has gotten faster. At the same time it is also lighter, and perhaps most importantly, has become simpler to make adjustments to. 

Easier to work on — Mechanics rejoice

Of all the things that an aero bike can become better at — speedier, increased tire clearance, greater compliance, among many other factors — one of the most exciting has to be simplification. As aero bikes have become more integrated and grown further afield of what Eddy Merckx in his prime would have recognized as a bike, so too has their complexity, especially when it comes to adjusting the handlebars or stem.

The S5 is reversing that trend and Cervélo is making easier adjustability a key selling point of the new bike. Anyone who has spent much time tinkering with modern road bikes will be overjoyed with this development. 

The previous S5 had stack specific bolts to secure the proprietary stem in place. Now there’s just one bolt length and the bike comes with every spacer you might need. Attaching the handlebars to the stem is now simpler as well. 

In the process of updating the cockpit, Cervélo has also included some comfort-oriented improvements. Shims helped adjust the handlebars in the previous generation. Now two bolts attaching the bars to the stem allow for five degrees of rotational adjustability.

Redesigning the fork has helped Cervélo with this simplification of the front end. And the best part? By making the design simpler, Cervélo has also shaved 53 grams from the bike. 

At the seatpost, Cervélo has kept the same design but now makes a 15mm offset post the standard option versus a 25mm offset in the previous generation. That post will still be an available option. 

A faster aero bike, how about that?

The top priority for an aero bike is speed, so any update naturally has to come with a boost in this department — or at the very least keep things as good as before. The S5 takes full advantage of UCI frame regulations to eke out even more speed from a similar overall profile as before. 

The headtube and bottom bracket are both lengthened to maximize aero benefit. The aero profiles of the other tube shapes have been slightly updated as well, with some featuring sharper corners. And for a minor aero benefit, the front derailleur mount is removable should you choose to go 1x. 

Switching the S5 to electronic shifting only has also meant slight updates to the bike, including a new dropout design. 

All in, Cervélo claims it has reduced drag by 65 grams, or about 7 watts.

Optimized around wheels co-developed with Reserve

One of the other increases in speed comes optimizing the frame for wheels Cervélo has developed with Reserve, the 52 and 63. These wheels feature a wide 24mm and 25mm internal rim and take 28mm tires or larger (the new S5 accepts up to 34mm tires). The wheels have been designed to be more stable in turbulent wind conditions, conferring better control to the rider. The wheel combo replaces the Reserve 50/65 combination as the standard S5 build option.

Builds and pricing

The new S5 is available in three frame colors and four groupsets.

The S5 is available built up with Shimano Dura-Ace or SRAM Red eTap AXS for $13,000. A Force eTap AXS or Ultegra build will set you back $9,000. It is also available as a frameset that includes the cockpit and seatpost for $5,500. 

It’s available in five frame sizes: 48, 51, 54, 56 and 58. There are also three frame colorways to choose from: a red frame/black fork, sapphire frame/white fork, and dark gray frame/black fork. 

More info: cervelo.com