Fans of classic frame shapes will probably struggle with the looks of Cervélo’s S5 model. And yet, the message is clear: ‘screw the rules, we want speed!’. But does the Cervélo just look fast? To find out we put the S5 through its paces.

This bike is part of a previous group test. Here you’ll find the latest GRAN FONDO race bike group test.

Cervelo S5 | 7.57 kg | € 10,999

The moment we pulled the Cervélo S5 out of its box a murmur went through the entire office. The radical style of the bike is both unique and polarising and has split opinions from the very beginning. Thank god our colleagues at our MTB sister-magazine don’t have a clue 😉 … we’ll just keep celebrating the massive logo, futuristic cockpit and the tucked frame design all by ourselves.

Everything on this bike is so different. Love it or hate it, the look alone is very polarising. Personally, we love the badass aero style!

We especially like the design of the faired fork, which is hinged at either end of the head tube. The attachment has some similarities to a dual crown fork like on a mountain bike, though the mixed carbon/aluminium construction here is nigh on seamless, with the whole front end looking like it is carved from a single block. But such a degree of perfection doesn’t come without its problems: according to some rumours, mechanics are having troubles assembling exactly this part of the bike… luckily we don’t have to worry about this today. The harmonious choice of components includes a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9170 groupset and ENVE SES Disc 5.6 wheels, lovingly combined with an in-house SP20 seat post and Cervélo cockpit. With Continental’s GP 4000 S II tires and a Bar Fly Garmin mount the bike weighs in at 7.57 kg in size 56. If you want to take the Cervélo home with you, you have to write a cheque out for over € 10,999 first.

The Cervélo S5 in detail

Drivetrain Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9170 2 x 11
Gearing 52/36T und 11–30T
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace BR-9170 160/160 mm
Seatpost Cervélo SP20 20 mm Setback
Stem Cervélo CS28 V-Stem 120 mm
Handlebars Cervélo AB08 420 mm
Wheels ENVE SES 5,6 Disc
Tires Continental GP 4000 SII 25C

Perfect implementation
Despite the mix of materials, the transition between the frame and the fully-integrated cockpit is very harmonious. Cables? Which cables?
Two is better than one
The headtube of the Cervélo follows the concept of double-crown mountain bike forks.
Despite the burly bottom bracket area, the torsional stiffness in the rear-end can’t match the super stiff front. At least there’s enough room to squeeze in a Di2 battery.
You can put the bottle cage in different positions.

The geometry of the Cervélo S5

Size 48 51 54 56 58
Seat tube 480 mm 510 mm 540 mm 560 mm 580 mm
Top tube 513 mm 535 mm 550 mm 565 mm 581 mm
Head tube 71 mm 112 mm 134 mm 155 mm 182 mm
Head angle 71.0° 72.0° 72.0° 73.5° 73.5°
Seat angle 73° 73° 73° 73° 73°
Chainstay 405 mm 405 mm 405 mm 405 mm 405 mm
BB Drop 72.5 mm 72.5 mm 70.0 mm 70.0 mm 67.5 mm
Wheelbase 973 mm 974 mm 975 mm 982 mm 999 mm
Reach 367 mm 376 mm 384 mm 392 mm 401 mm
Stack 496 mm 519 mm 542 mm 565 mm 588 mm

The Cervélo S5 in test

As long as you stay seated the Cervélo S5 is extremely efficient when accelerating and climbing. But once you get out of the saddle for sprinting, the lateral stiffness in the rear-end can’t quite match the extremely stiff front. The Cervélo copes very well with speed. The compact riding position allows for consistent pressure on the front wheel and, together with the stiff frame, ensures precise and direct handling.

Tuning tip Tires with cotton carcass for more comfort and better grip
Helmet POC Ventral SPIN | Glasses Oakley Wind Jacket | Jersey ASSOS Mille GT Summer LS | Bibs ASSOS T.Équipe Evo | Socks FINGERSCROSSED HELL YEAH | Shoes Specialized S-Works 7

Despite being very sensitive to steering inputs, the S5 remains predictable even in tight corners, provided you’re riding on smooth tarmac. Considering that its short wheelbase of 982 mm – the shortest in the test field in fact – puts the Cervélo on the agile end of the handling scale, the S5’s straight-line tracking is absolutely fine. Unfortunately, the aerodynamic design of the frame comes at the expense of comfort.

The degree of compliance in the frame and seat post is minimal and,
together with the stiff ENVE wheels and direct front-end, causes the tires to lose grip on rougher surfaces. This means that if you carry too much speed into bumpy corners you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. In these scenarios experienced riders will benefit from the direct handling of the bike to make quick and playful corrections. Beginners, on the other hand, will struggle to handle the extraordinary speed of the Canadian rocket.


The Cervélo S5 is unreasonable. Unreasonably fast and unreasonably direct. Experienced racers will enjoy riding this loose cannon and carving corners on it, no matter how tight they are. But if you’re still a bit wet behind the ears you have to get used to the sheer speed of the bike first. As a thoroughbred racer, the S5 belongs on a spotless race-track surface. And what about the style? We’ve dubbed it the marmite-racer, you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it! Meanwhile, we raise our glasses to the Cervélo S5!


  • High level of integration
  • Very direct handling
  • Badass aero-look


  • Mismatched front/rear-end lateral-stiffness
  • Lack of comfort

Fore more info head to:

This bike is part of a previous group test. Here you’ll find the latest GRAN FONDO race bike group test.

All bikes in test: Argonaut Road Bike | Basso Diamante SV 2019 | Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc | BMC Timemachine Road 01 TWO | Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 9.0 | EXEPT Allroad Classic | FOCUS IZALCO MAX 9.8 | MERIDA REACTO DISC TEAM-E | Specialized S-Works Tarmac Disc SL6 Disc | Trek Madone SLR 9 Disc

This article is from GRAN FONDO issue #011

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Words: Photos: Valentin Rühl