Bike review: 2019 Cervélo S5 – part 2, the workshop
It takes a lot of effort to create a minimalistic looking bike. Cervélo has completely redesigned the front of the S5 to make it even more sexy… but how does it come together in the workshop? We documented the process at Park Bikes.
Remember the olden days when handlebars were fastened to a bike with a stem that simply slid over the steerer of the forks? Oh man, that was so pre-2018! Cervélo may not be the first to integrate forks with a frame but the brand has redeveloped the cockpit of its aero road bike, the S5. And even mechanics confess: it makes life easier.
Okay, it looks complicated but that doesn’t mean that the proprietary system involves a lot of effort in the workshop. Chris Barlin of Park Bikes in Sydney’s Olympic Park says the S5 is a much easier build than other bikes with system integration.
Yes, there are hidden cables. Yes, there’s a two-pronged stem that gets requisite elevation for riders of all sizes from shims. Yes, there are considerations required before setting to work on a bike… but no, it’s not an overly complex build.
For years, hour upon hour was wasted in at RIDE HQ while mechanics fiddled and fussed around with complex hidden cabling but the S5 was a breeze for Barlin to build.
– To watch part 2 of our Cervélo S5 review, click the link below. –
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– Click here to see part 1: the unboxing. –
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Barlin had built a few of the new S5 before RIDE Media arrived with a box of its own, complete with the latest Cervélo and a SRAM Red eTap ensemble. He had worked out the details of cabling… for a Shimano Di2 build and put a few bikes on the showroom floor, but that was before he had to match bike to rider.
The challenge presented to the mechanic on the day of RIDE’s visit to Park Bikes was that he had to consider the size of the ‘customer’, me (although it is a test bike – not, alas, my bike).
Armed with my basic bike fit measurements – saddle height, saddle setback, handlebar height – the S5 was put together in a basic build and then we calculated the adjustments required to get the fit just right: 10mm was added to the height of the handlebars (two shims, thanks) and then the bars were tilted 2.5 degrees.
Cervélo had provided the additional elements required for dealers to match bike to customer. Barlin was happy enough to work with the different concepts and ensure that, only two hours after arriving, I left the shop with a bike that measured (almost) the same as what I’m used to riding.
Note: There was a minor compromise on handlebar height, 10mm shorter than my bike; we could have matched the S5 exactly but I opted to drop a little lower for the purpose of this test – and because it’s an aero bike…
After over 20 years of testing bikes, I’m accustomed to making compromises on position. Not every bike is going to fit the rider exactly as they’d like but the S5 came in pretty close. In time, it could be that I’ll tilt the handlebars another 2.5 degrees further back – or perhaps I’ll adjust to a more ‘neutral’ position… I’ll wait to see how it all fits once I’m on the road.
It looks great and although I’m yet to ride it, the process of watching it get put together has made me feel as though I know it well already. The road awaits…
These YouTube episodes aren’t quick glimpses of what it was like to ride around the block while rushing from one company to the next at a trade show. They are long, detailed packages that are created to provide as much information about a bike as possible. Just shy of 15 minutes, there’s enough time to settle down with a beer and listen to what the mechanic is telling you about his experience.
There are also a few anecdotes told, ones that have been collected over the years… eg. the story about why Sean Yates would require a special, customised handlebar if he were to ride the new Cervélo S5. (You know his preferred riding position? Hoods way down? Well, I’ve asked him about that and I explain it in part two of the S5 review.)
*Cervélo S5, as tested: AUD$14,000.
Please note: there is an error in the video of part 1, stating a retail price of $14,500 – that is the cost of a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 version with disc brakes.
Stories always emerge when you put a few people together in a workshop with a fine piece of cycling equipment. Barlin was a joy to work with and, even though we only met on the morning of the shoot, we have already agreed to use his services for other bike builds in the future.
Everything was made even easier by the generosity of Park Shop’s owner, Nash Kent, and Cervélo Australia’s MD, Graeme Moffett, who both assisted wherever possible to make this review come together with a minimum of fuss.
And, finally, could we give three cheers to the man behind the camera for this series of reviews, Andrew McClymont. He’s worked in TV for years, has loved cycling for a long time, and now he’s back racing again… as a BMX dad and with a third place in his age group at the NSW state titles. He’s got a great beard but an even better eye for detail.
Working with these guys reminds me how much fun it is to review bikes, beautiful bikes with lots of innovation and plenty of stories in them.
There are a few more episodes yet to come but I hope you enjoy watching the second instalment… while I set to work on editing the third. There’s a lot to consider but I’m at your disposal if you have any further questions.
Thanks for watching.