As noted in our post regarding our first look at the new Shimano GRX groupset, gravel bikes are here to stay. This is especially clear when a company like Cervelo, which typically concerns themselves with tarmac-specific speed, builds themselves a no-nonsense gravel bike without the usual flourishes their other bikes might have. Instead, the new Cervelo Aspero gravel bike has just one focus: go fast.
The Cervelo name is synonymous with speed, and that carries over to the Aspero. Much of the tubing is reminiscent of what one would find on the Cervelo R5 race bike, with characteristic rounded-off squares that tie the bike in with Cervelo’s traditional race bikes. There’s no talk of vertical compliance here. And vibration damping? Cervelo points riders to clearance for a 700 x 42c or 650 x 49 b tire for those looking for extra comfort.
The theme of road bike quickness extends to the bike’s feature set. Compared to much of the competition, there is not a ton here: three bottle cage mounts and a hidden bento box mount on the top tube are par for the course. There’s also flexibility for 1x and 2x drivetrains, internal cable routing for both mechanical and electronic setups, and a bottom bracket protector for baby rock dings. There really isn’t anything weird or out of the ordinary; no proprietary seatpost, no proprietary handlebars, no engineered pivot points. Cervelo likes to say that the Aspero is stripped down with none of the fat of other bikes, but it’s feature set brings it closer to wide-tire road bike options like the OPEN U.P. all-road bike
The Aspero isn’t about the features though, but rather frame geometry, and more specifically trail; CyclingTips has perhaps the best explanation of trail online. But in essence, trail plays a large role in how stable a bike can feel at speed and how quick it might handle in low-speed situations. And while headtube angle and fork offset dictate trail, tire size can also play a role in trail figures. And because the Aspero is designed to fit a wide range of tires, Cervelo saw fit to ensure the bike handled the same regardless of tire size.
That’s where the “TrailMixer” comes into play. The Trail Mixer is a fork insert that alters the wheel’s position horizontal fore and aft by 5 mm. Flip it to the back for smaller tires, and use the front position for wider tires; either way, you’re promised the appropriate trail number that ensures proper handling, which Cervelo changes according to frame size. Cervelo also sought to extend the bike’s front-center length, taking some weight off of the front wheel, making the bike’s handling lighter at speed, without the sluggishness that can come with a slack head angle. It’s a trick we’ve seen on a number of gravel bikes, but one that allows the riders to really go all out under imperfect surfaces.
The Aspero is light, as you’d expect from a Cervelo, at 1110 grams with hardware in a size 56 cm. This number is a touch heavier compared to the OPEN U.P./U.P.P.E.R., 3T Exploro, or Allied Allroad, but not a huge difference in a complete build. The Aspero frameset is about the weight of a midrange carbon disc road bike, and it has fit measurements like that of a carbon disc road bike, with reach and stack numbers that lay firmly on the long and low side of the spectrum. A comfort-oriented gravel cruiser this bike is not.
Cervelo makes a big deal about the Aspero being made specifically as a gravel race bike made for riders looking for “unapologetic speed”. There is not any one standout gimmick, but a focus on cutting the fat around the edges in the name of speed stands out among other gravel bikes.
We have the Cervelo Aspero gravel bike in the shop! Come by the shop to check it out, give us a call during business hours, or send us an email any time to firstname.lastname@example.org.