Starting in 1995 Gerard Vroomen and Phil White applied innovation, engineering and Computer Aided Design to create bicycles for the best riders in the world. They chose the name Cervelo through combining the Italian word for brain, and French word for bicycle, and quickly became one of the most progressive manufacturers in the industry. Their engineering-focused design has gained Cervelo a reputation for offering some of the most aerodynamic and lightest bicycles on the market.
Their realization that that the majority of a rider’s power goes towards moving air informed the design of the first Cervelo triathlon bike. After that Cervelo quickly realized the potential for improving the performance of road bikes through advanced aerodynamics. This potential was quickly put to the test by professional racers with great results. And since their introduction nearly every bike manufacturer has followed suit offering up wind-cheating road machines. For 2017 we will see the addition of S3d, disc-equipped aero-road bike, to their high-end aero lineup.
Where the S3 truly shines is in it’s ride quality. With a few manufacturers coming in close behind, the Cervelo S5 may be the most aero road bike on the market. However a lot of these top-end aero road bikes suffer from being overly vertically stiff. This results in a harsh, wooden ride quality; something that might be acceptable for short, high intensity racing but it is not what the average rider may hope for from their bike. In contrast the Cervelo S3 provides a livelier, more compliant feel without losing any of the torsional stiffness. This results in a bike that will be more comfortable after hours in the saddle. To achieve this Cervelo coupled the narrow, flat seatstays of it’s famed R-series bikes to the S3’s shallower airfoils and manufactured the bike using lower modulus carbon fiber.
Along with superior aerodynamics, Cervelo has also applied their engineering expertise to the development of stronger and lighter carbon fiber layups in each new frame design. In doing so they can create a race bike that is stiff at the bottom bracket while offering vibration-taming vertical compliance for a nicer ride. Instead of calling out “high modulus” carbon fiber or other non-standardized buzzwords, Cervelo claims that they engineer with the correct carbon fiber to get the most out of any given design. Their bikes back this claim with an exceptional ride quality and race winning pedigree.
Here in Utah it’s hard to spend a day in the saddle without doing at least 1000 feet of climbing, and often we find ourselves doing thousands more. Although there are certainly lighter bikes on the market, the benefits of this weight loss are likely less than most expect. The S3 is a reasonably trim bike (coming in at 16.82lb for a Di2 equipped 56cm bike, a scant 0.26lb heavier than a similarly equipped R3). Coupled with its aero advantage (a benefit on all but the steepest climbs) and amazing ride quality, the Cervelo S3 is certainly a top contender at the shop for the best bike in this price range. With their more budget friendly S2 that serves up almost all the positives of the S3 or the flat-land destroying S5, Cervelo has an aero bike to fit any rider’s needs and budget. However for those who still can’t wrap their heads around the non-traditional tube shapes or simply want the lightest bike they can afford, Cervelo’s R-series bikes clearly stand out in the line.