The Cervelo Soloist Road Bike Has Returned
If you’re a bit of a Cervelo truther, you likely recognize the name. At the time, the 2002 Soloist brought the idea of aerodynamic efficiency to the masses - first to the WorldTour and later to the road market - and started a revolution that comes full circle with the all-new Cervelo Soloist.
The new Cervelo Soloist brings aero efficiency to the masses once again but does so differently. No longer a pros-centric bike, the new Soloist has been designed for the week-in, week-out competitive cyclist. Just a bit lighter than the aero Cervelo S5 and far more aero than the climber’s centric S5 with a whole bunch of features that make the bike easy to work on and travel with. In short, its a promising road bike, one we think will be the go-to for many Cervelo devotees.
A Bit of Soloist History
Cervelo was born from an analytical approach to how to make bikes go faster. Airfoil tube shapes were faster according to wind tunnels and computational fluid dynamics - or CFD - and so Cervelo pursued those shapes to make a faster bike. The original Soloist was one of the first bikes to receive these details. Dramatically shaped tubes, a dropped top tube, and a whole lot of weld smoothing made the bike fast; so fast that the original aluminum Soloist can be called one of the few aluminum road bikes to see success against carbon fiber road bikes. In more ways than one, Cervelo’s analytical approach made the Soloist a standout in the competition.
However, the Soloist wasn’t just a single-minded road bike. By using custom-made aluminum tubes rather than off-the-shelf variations from other manufacturers, Cervelo was able to make the bikes aerodynamically quick. But by using anodizing rather than paint, Cervelo was able to keep frame weights as low as the competitive steel frames of the time. The cherry on top was it's success on cobbled road races through its time, one of the few aero-optimized frames to achieve that success. Aero, light, and reasonably comfortable; the Soloist did it all, just as the new one seeks to do today.
Cervelo Soloist Details
There are a few bits to what makes the Soloist more user-oriented than something like the S5 or even the R5. The first bit is the inclusion of mostly internal cable routing. Cervelo routed the hoses and cables inside the frame through the headset cap for aerodynamics, but rather than using a stem that hides cables away like the R5, it uses a standard stem. The clear advantage is that it is easier to swap bars or a stem for a home mechanic and to do so without having to bleed brakes or undo any shift cables or wires. it also opens the rider up to their choice of bar or stem, unlike that of the R5 or S5 who are locked into Cervelo’s gear.
Of course, if you wanted to, Cervelo says the new Soloist works with Cervelo’s existing fully-internal cable routing stems and handlebars. An FSA ACR two-piece handlebar and stem should work neatly too and offer increased adjustability. Either way, the optionality is a nice touch and one that makes home repair a bit easier.
Alongside that bend toward ease of use is the inclusion of a threaded bottom bracket. Being that this is Cervelo, they didn’t just go with a standard BSA bottom bracket. Rather, it uses what is a threaded version of Cervelo’s BBRight system. Called BBRighT-47, it uses a standard T47 bottom bracket cup on each side. This makes it easier to swap bottom brackets in the future and should offer more compatibility with accessories than their standard press-fit bottom brackets.
Tube shapes tend to strike an aero balance between R5 and S5, going for a slight aero shaping around the downtube and fork. An aero seatpost is found here too, striking the difference between aero and comfort. Cervelo says the Soloist started around the seatpost. It is an example of what the bike exemplifies as a whole: lighter than S5, faster than R5. But that seatpost is accentuated by truncated aero tube profiles, dropped seat stays, and the inclusion of a nearly horizontal top tube. Gotta look fast to be fast.
A Soloist frame is said to weigh 919 painted, or about 250g lighter than a Cervelo S5 and 170g heavier than an R5. Cervelo claims a 34mm tire clearance as well as frame compatibility with mechanical or electronic shifting alike.
Cervelo Soloist Geometry and Fit
In short, the Soloist shares its geometry with the R5. That brings the bike in line with its racey aspirations. Key bits to know are that the 73-degree head and seat angles, 57.3 mm trail figure (consistent across all sizes), and 72mm bottom bracket drop indicate a bike that is agile and quick, but with decent high-speed stability. This is even in conjunction with the 410mm chainstays and a wheelbase that is slightly longer than anticipated for a racey road bike, but within mm of wheelbases from other racey bikes like the Cannondale Supersix EVO.
One interesting bit to note is that Cervelo’s insistence to use 73-degree seat angles across all sizes means that smaller riders will want to check to ensure they can get their saddle where they need it before buying.
Expect predictable (if a bit quick) handling with few admissions for ride quality or smoothness. That’s okay with us, especially if you’re just trying to go fast.
Soloist Builds (and Our Best Pick)
Cervelo offers the new Soloist road bike with six build options as well as a frameset. The builds start with two mechanical options courtesy of Shimano 105 and Shimano Ultegra. The 105 mechanical model shares the same frame as the top-spec Force AXS build with carbon wheels.
All models feature aggressive gearing, aggressive Selle Italia Model X SuperFlow saddles, and tubeless-compatible wheels. Considering the premise of this bike is to be the workhorse bike for the week-in, week-out racer, or aspiring cyclist, our pick would be the Soloist 105 Di2. It is based around the new Shimano 105 Di2 12 speed electronic drivetrain, and accentuates it with an alloy Fulcrum Racing 600 wheelset, alloy Cervelo bar and stem, and a carbon Cervelo SP27 seatpost.
The new Cervelo Soloist is kind of that ‘just right’ combination of lightweight and aerodynamic for folks. It isn’t too heavy for canyon riding, and its aero admissions mean it is fast on the flats too. Expect the Soloist to be stiff and relatively unforgiving, but the Soloist isn’t meant to be anything more than what it promises to be: a user-friendly, fast, and honest road bike for folks who aren’t looking for anything more.
Want a Cervelo Soloist road bike? Find it in stock at Contender Bicycles, or contact us with any questions.