Saturday, July 23, 2011

VIDEO: Cervelo's S5 2012 Aero Road Bicycle: Even More Free Speed

My road-racing bicycle is a 2007 Cervelo Soloist Carbon aero road bike. I almost didn't buy it because I wasn't convinced it would be any faster than my previous fastest bike, my 1999 Litespeed Vortex, with a 6Al/4V-titanium frame. I thought that bicycle weight trumped aerodynamics, and the Cervelo's massively oversize and wing-shaped down tube, plus the aero head tube and bottom bracket intersections would obviously add weight. I thought that would slow me down.

Just a couple of weeks ago, in fact, I had the following post-race conversation with a former pro roadie. Said he (after borrowing my bike to get over to registration, since his bike was already packed in his trunk), "Your Cervelo rides nice. How much does it weigh?" "16.8 pounds, I replied." "That's not light," he shot back.

True, and his S-Works Specialized machine is probably two pounds lighter than my Cervelo. But, what anyone who rides one of these Cervelos knows, and what I have found out on it, is that those extra pounds mean nothing when you have a bike that cheats the wind like this Cervelo does.

You feel this in a paceline in having to brake all the time because the draft pulls you more quickly into the riders ahead. On descents the bike keeps accelerating to the extent that it can be unnerving. You have to get used to it.

But the Cervelo really hits its stride when you're alone, off the front, trying to make a breakaway stick. While I don't have any real proof besides some long, successful breakaways, I am convinced that you can go faster on the Cervelo than on a non-aero bike and that it's saving you energy with every pedal stroke. And, that's a real confidence-builder when your nose is on the stem, you're trying to shut out the pain in your legs and fighting to keep your speed where it needs to be to beat the pack to the line.

Because I'm such a big fan of Cervelo and aero road bikes (seems like everyone's come out with one now that they've been accepted), I thought I'd share Cervelo's video about their new aero racer, the S5. If you watched the Tour de France, you saw Thor Hushovd win a couple of stages on his.

A couple of interesting Thor stats suggest what an amazing bike it is. Thor weighs 180 pounds (82 kilograms) and is known as a sprinter, yet he won a mountainous stage on his S5. And - I can't imagine riding this fast - he hit 69mph (111kph) on one of the descents!

Keep in mind that early aero frames (steel aero frames and even aero components, such as Shimano's Dura-Ace AX group, were around back in the early 1980s), were typically too flexible laterally for powerful sprinters like Thor. But with Cervelo's design, you get aerodynamic and power-transfer superiority. Plus, while you have more weight to haul up the hills, as long as the climb isn't steep enough to slow you down too much, you still benefit from the frame's stiffness and aerodynamics.

Now here's Cervelo's video about the S5, that you can now buy at your Cervelo retailer. That's my friend Damon Rinard in the beginning. He used to live in Santa Cruz when he worked for Kestrel helping design their frames. Smart guy.

If you receive my blog posts in your email you probably won't see the video in your email. You can watch it at this link:

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