A new love: Cervelo

After months of deliberation and literal/metaphorical tyre-kicking, I’ve finally bought a new bicycle.  Unusually for me, I resisted all manner of used bike deals and temptations (both online and off) and actually bought a new one. From a proper, bricks & mortar shop. Unheard-of for me, but there you go. Time reveals all sides to a coin.  Ok, I did pick up a slighly used SRAM Force groupset on-line to switch out for the bike’s standard Rival one but essentially, I bought a complete new bike, fresh out of the box.

Why a Cervelo?  Well, mostly just because I like them.  I like their design, their engineering, their approach.  I like lots of the guys who ride for their pro team.  Hard to explain but I just like them. The model I chose is an S5 which is interesting fit between traditional road bike and a TimeTrial (TT) geometry.  This means that the rear wheel is stuffed up under the seat post, allowing the seat tube to be a few degrees more upright than usual. It rides like a standard road bike – the Garmin Barracuda pro team use S5’s as their standard bike – but it can also do a nice turn as a time-trial bike if you want to change things up.  The seat post has a reversing function which, when combined with some aerobars, can allow you to sit that bit further forward and cheat the wind a little bit more. Helpful, that. 

Cheating the wind is a bit of an obsession with road cyclists and triathletes.  Less of an issue for mountainbikers, of course (let’s discuss that another time…) but if you’re just pounding down the tarmac it inevitably occupies your thoughts. Never mind the countless online forums (hello, www.slowtwitch.comwww.bikeforums.net) where you can obsess about yaw rates and drag coeffcients all day long. Estimates are that once you’re riding above 30km/h, upwards of 80% of your effort is pushing the wind. Thus, cheat the wind and you’ll gain speed/distance for the same effort.  For a Saab fan, it brings a smile to my face every time I hear people discuss this magic combination: aero.  The S5 is aero. Along with Specialized’s Venge (co-development with Mclaren F1), the S5 is apparently the most aerodynamically efficient road bike around.  Aero.  Invisible, free and yet so hard to find.

Weight is of course, a whole other world that cyclists LOVE to to obsess about.  Must be one of the few products in the world where the more you pay, the less you get.  Carbon fibre, hmmmmm.  Perhaps I’m a cynic and I can see it as a wonderfully marketable aspect of the love of cycling – it’s so simple and tangible to weigh things – but it’s fascinating, nonetheless.  Mind you, the professionals don’t always seem to sing from the same hymn book and will often have bikes well above the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) minimum limit of 6.9kg.  Aero bikes, interestingly, are often not the lightest bikes and so it’s a weigh-up between the two components. 

For a hacker like me, who frankly could lose a lot of weight and become a lot more aero before I should reasonably expect the same of my bicycle, it’s mostly academic but nevertheless irresistible.  It’s a lot of fun to have a nice bike, after all.  

Anyway, after a long hiatus while I was without a road bike over the course of summer (I sold my LOOK unexpectedly in December)  I’m back on the road and enjoying it more than ever.  I’m no threat to Cadel Evans or Thor Hushovd but I’m having a blast. 

Post Script:

Strange name, Cervelo; took me years to work out its meaning. Cer: cerebral or brain. Intellect. Velo: from the original French velocipede, for bicycle. 

Thus: Cervelo – the intelligent bicycle.  Now, that’s a pretty lofty claim which could possibly be staked by many, many bicycle manufacturers but it’s as original and catchy as much as it is meaningful.  Whatever….seeing it on the roof of my 9-3 Sportcombi brought back some memories of watching pro bike races a few years ago in 2008 when Saab had a prominent role as the vehicles for the Mavic neutral service course guys. 

Ahh, those were the days.