It’s been the year of the aero bike – or, more specifically, the disc-equipped aero bike. The fastest bikes in the professional peloton are now not only slipperier than ever, but they’re also designed to slow down just as fast.
We’ve seen aero launches from the likes of Trek, Specialized, BMC and Cannondale in 2018; now Cervélo has got in on the act, with the brand new S5 taking pride of place on the Canadian company’s stand at the Rouleur Classic.
It’s impossible to miss, thanks to the extreme cockpit design. The V-shaped stem is designed to reduce drag across the front of the bike by allowing air to pass smoothly through the stem’s twin spars, rather than being forced around a tradition stem. Despite the radical design, Cervélo’s engineers have still sought to maintain real-world adjustability – you can add up to 30mm of spacers to the base of the stem, with another 2.5mm of wriggle room where the handlebar meets the stem.
All this, combined with revised tube profiles from front to back, results in a 42g drag reduction over the previous S5, equating to a claimed 5.5 watt saving. Aerodynamics aren’t everything, however, with the latest wind-cheating releases across the industry aimed at addressing some of the imbalances of early aero road bikes, particularly regarding stiffness and comfort.
Cervélo says the S5 is 25 per cent stiffer at the bottom bracket and 13 per cent stiffer at the headtube, with that additional front-end rigidity coming thanks to the radical fork design, which does away with a conventional steerer tube and replaces it with a threaded rod sandwiching the top and bottom of the headtube. Comfort, meanwhile, is taken care of by a revised carbon layup and room for 28mm tyres.
The Cervélo was undoubtedly one of the show-stoppers of the Rouleur Classic, but Cannondale, LOOK and Litespeed were also among the brands displaying new machines.
Starting with Cannondale and another disc-equipped aero bike, the SystemSix. You might have spotted the EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale team (that’s still a mouthful, even this far into the season) riding the SystemSix through the second half of the year.
The SystemSix is designed as a complete package, from the frame’s truncated airfoil profiles through to the integrated cockpit and deep-section wheels from Knot, Cannondale’s in-house componentry brand. That results in what Cannondale is calling the fastest aero bike on the market. We can’t vouch for that, but it sure looks rapid.
Meanwhile, the Topstone is also new from Cannondale and jumps on another of cycling’s trends – gravel. The aluminium frame has clearance for 42mm rubber on 700c rims, though you can run 650b hoops to squeeze an even bigger tyre in there. You’ll also find plenty of mounting points for luggage and bottles, making this a bike fit for adventure.
The LOOK 795 Blade RS was launched just last month and is yet another aero road bike, though this time there’s also a rim brake option as well as a disc-equipped model.
The bike is said to produce five per cent less drag than the previous 795 but the bowed, bridgeless seatstays, dubbed ‘Smooth Sword’ by LOOK, intend to improve the vibration dampening qualities of the bike, without impacting on the stiffness required of an aero machine.
Finally, let’s swap carbon fibre for titanium and the Litespeed T1 SL Disc. Titanium is, well, timeless but Litespeed has stretched the performance capabilities of the material here, resulting in a frame that weighs just 995g.
That’s lighter than a lot of carbon frames and the T1 is also said to have the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio of any titanium chassis. Add disc brakes into the mix and you have a bike that combines drop-dead gorgeous looks with cutting-edge performance.