It looks very much like the old Cervélo S5, and it is just as radical, filling wins in both the under-23 World Cup and the Tour of Flanders with Marianne Vos.
It’s only a testament to how radical and fast the previous Cervélo S5 was, not to how little has changed with the new bike.
The S5 bike is a testament to the power of design and engineering, as the great Marianne Vos won the Tour de France Femmes on it.
Many consider Vos to be one of the best cyclists of all time due to her life-long career, and she is widely considered to be very fit and strong.
With two wins at Tour de France this season off the new bike, it was able to beat out its competitors including winning a stage at the Men’s Tour.
The newest version of the S5 maintains Cervélo’s iconic design. With the split “bullmoose-style” frame, seat tube enveloping the rear wheel, front dow tube cut out to improve aerodynamic efficiency, and frame tubes deeper than before, the new S5 is one of the fastest bikes made.
The updated regulations released by UCI in 2020 have allowed Cervélo to optimize the design for its performance. This bike has achieved an increased top speed by about 7 watts due to these new regulations.
If you compare images of the new and old S5 side-by-side, you can see these changes in the deeper head tube, a taller bottom bracket area, and the larger compensation triangle near the seat post clamp area.
If you look even closer, you can spot a subtle change to the trailing edge of the head tube as well as down tubes.
While the new frame is slightly lighter thanks to a new fork and handlebar design, the bike gained weight with the addition of deeper tubes. Still, it’s quite a weight to carry around.
My test sample came with SRAM Force eTap, the Reserve 52/63 wheelset, and weighed 18.2 pounds without pedals.
For reference, last year’s test sample with SRAM Force eTap and another set of more lightweight wheels was around one and half pounds lighter in size 58cm.
Cervélo has completely integrated their new handlebar into the front end during manufacturing, in the process reducing a number of costly and time-consuming steps associated with servicing.
Unfortunately, now that the S5 is only compatible with electronic groupsets, this makes it ineligible for some riders who would have been happy to upgrade their parts.
It’s not a huge surprise given that high-end road bikes and groupsets are currently trending in markets around the world, but it’s still a bummer for riders who enjoy mechanical shifting or want to switch up old parts on new frames.
The Cervélo S5 surprised me by having room for up to 34mm (measured) tires. The frame is tailored toward the Reserve 52/63 wheels and includes 28mm Vitoria Corsa tires inflated to just about 31mm. According to Cervélo, this setup saves almost 5 watts; more importantly, it makes the bike feel a little softer.
The bike does not look elaborate, and I’ve heard mixed opinions about the S5’s style. While there are some things about it that don’t wow me, the unique V-stem is aesthetically pleasing to me as it is something new and different than anything else out there on the market.
The S5 is not a perfect bike—the frame is too stiff for an off-roader, and it’s tires are way too soft for good traction on road. However, as you ride faster, all these imperfections become minor inconveniences, and the S5 starts to feel more and more fast.
The bike is stable without being dull in corners and climbs easily to maintain speed. The bicycle takes a big step forward when riding downhill makes you feel like you just hit super-warp. This reflects why bikes like the S5 dominate in the road race category.
The S5 is a speedy bike. It’s fast-looking and it makes noises that sound like it’s going fast (woosh-woosh). It has the stiffness and jumpiness of a high-performance race bike.
From the second you get on your bike, you can tell that it was built for speed. Every pedal stroke turns into forward momentum with ruthless efficiency, it just doesn’t allow itself to slow down.
It offers the most benefit from its outstanding aerodynamics and power transfer when the topography or your legs permit as much speed as possible.
In real-world terms, it meant that I had to change my braking point on several local descents because the S5 was consistently several miles per hour faster than my usual go-to bike (which is decidedly more traditional).
The S5 still shines on climbs, because it has exceptional power transfer. On climbs up to 5%, the bike feels almost as quick as on flat ground. Once gradients are more than 8%, the S5 loses some of its pep.
The bike was most noticeable in terms of changes in rhythm, such as when following an attack or otherwise trying to accelerate up a steep climb.
Switching from a lighter set of wheels made it feel more agile on steeper climbs, but it also dulled its speed everywhere else.
Even when coming out of a corner too fast, I was able to use the S5’s precise and direct handling to keep it planted and in control. With the voluminous tires providing massive traction, the bike felt steady and very easy to manage through each of my corners.
The S5 felt a bit twitchy when riding below 20 mph. While turning around in a parking lot, it seemed as if the steering stop at the head tube sometimes caught me by surprise.
The S5 prioritized rider comfort, giving riders a ride that never left them injured after long-distance adventures. The V-stem, massive fork, and deep aero seat post create a stiff front end, providing incredible support for the bike.
For tires after gravel roads, the S5 comfortably accommodated riders with its new tire clearance and stock tire.
With a wider tire set, the S5 has the comfort and ride quality of the all-road type bike. It certainly is not an all-around bike, but it has durability for everyday riding.
The Cervélo S5 Aero Road Bike is a mix between medium and high-end features. It has low rolling resistance, a responsive ride, and the larger tires contribute to comfort offered by this bike.
Reasearch showed it wasn’t necessary for wider tire clearance to be faster in an urban setting.