New Cervelo S5 hiding in plain sight?

A raft of updates to Cervelo's S5 seemingly made possible by the UCI's recent tech rule revisions.

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As we compiled our team bikes of the 2022 men’s World Tour feature last week, we contacted every World Tour team for images of this year’s rigs. One bike we didn’t get a team-supplied photo of was Jumbo-Visma’s Cervelo S5 Disc. We had the studio photos of the bike provided for last year’s feature, but that bike had the outgoing Dura-Ace R9100 Di2 groupset. Jumbo-Visma is using the new Dura-Ace R9200 12 speed Di2 for 2022, and we wanted a photo of the bike with that groupset. Luckily, we found a nice side-on shot of Pascal Eenkhoorn at the recent Volta ao Algarve on his new R9200-equipped Cervelo S5, but that included an expected bonus: that bike appears to be a new S5 for 2022, not a carryover 2021 model. 

Eenkhoorn’s S5 frame features a raft of subtle updates, and it appears Cervelo has had the new S5 ready for release and hiding in plain sight under many of the Jumbo-Visma riders. The new frame appears to make use of the recently relaxed UCI rules on tube dimensions to presumably further improve the aero frame’s aerodynamics, including a deeper-profile head tube. To better understand the subtle updates on the new frame, we decided to run a comparison of Wout Van Aert’s 2021 S5 vs the new S5 he powered to victory in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this weekend. 

When the UCI relaxed its technical regulations, it amalgamated the road and TT bike rules, with many speculating this might lead to time trial design cues finding their way on to road aero bikes. Starting with the front of the new bike — let’s go ahead and call it the 2022 Cervelo S5 — Cervelo has opted for a much deeper head tube, reminiscent of those seen on TT bikes. A deeper head tube design is known to help in smoothing and reattaching the airflow as it deflects around and passes over the front of the bike. Previously, Cervelo had exploited what could be considered a loophole to achieve a similar effect in the previous S5 frame and fork. Cervelo opted for an external fork steerer design on the S5, which runs up the outside of the head tube, as opposed to through the head tube as with most bikes, and sandwiches the head tube top and bottom. The design allowed Cervelo to maximise the depth of the head tube, and effectively extend that depth with the nose-cone-like external steerer, without infringing the UCI regulations.

However, the recent relaxation in the UCI rules now permits “compensation triangles”. “[With the compensation triangles], you get an opportunity there to create more surface area and generate a little more lift and better flow attachment over that part of the bike,” Cervelo’s former head of engineering, Graham Shrive, told CyclingTips tech editor Dave Rome when the UCI’s new rules leaked. With the new 2022 S5, Cervelo has seemingly maximised the head tube depth as per the new regulations and for a double whammy effect, Cervelo has stuck with its depth increasing external steerer design.

Many S5 fans will be hoping Cervelo has also addressed its internal fork travel limiter design, which was said to damage the head tube interior on the current S5, but we’ll have to wait and see on that.

The front end of Van Aert’s new S5 2022 (left) and the current/outgoing S5 on the (right)

The S5 aero profiled handlebars mount directly to the fork steerer with an opinion dividing V-shaped twin arm design, which flows directly into the head tube for an almost time trial bike-like aerodynamic design. The stem houses all the internal cable routing and is said to tidy the airflow behind the stem, and it certainly looks fast. Cervelo offers various stem lengths and angles and from the photos, we have seen there are no obvious differences between the 2021 and 2022 bars.

Another view of the front end of the new S5 2022 (left), this time under Pascal Eenkhoorn and the current S5 on the (right) in a studio image from our bikes of the 2021 World Tour feature.

The fork perhaps shows signs of some other small updates. In the comparison of Eenkhoorn’s bike and the studio image of last year’s bike above, we can see what appears to be an ever-so-slightly more forward aero profile to the front of the fork as it transitions from the lower crown to the external steerer. The update is subtle, but looking at the much straighter fork-to-steerer transition on the 2021 bike, it is noticeable and seemingly leans on the design of the current Cervelo P5 external steerer. Furthermore, on both Van Aert’s bike and Eenkhoorn’s, we can see the lower crown seems to have grown deeper to match that deeper head tube.

As highlighted by Jack Harfield in the comments below, the new fork appears to be a one-piece carbon steerer sandwiching the head tube, replacing the two-piece aluminium topper and carbon external steerer on the current S5.

Head on, the updates are more noticeable. Admittedly the photo of the 2021 bike is from a slightly different angle, but still the new steerer appears narrower throughout and most notably as it transitions into the fork legs at the lower crown.

A head-on view of of Van Aert’s new S5 2022 (left) and the current S5 on the (right)

Both the top tube and the down tube appear almost identical in the images we have. Moving back through the frame, the next most visible update is perhaps the redesigned top tube-to-seat tube junction. The new bikes feature a much larger transition area, again leaning on the UCI’s decision to permit compensation triangles on road bikes. It seems Cervelo has gone after that extra performance gain with the new S5, incorporating a bridge/compensation triangle into the new and larger seat clamp area.

The rear of of Van Aert’s new S5 2022 (left) and the current S5 on the (right), note the updates in the bottom bracket, seat stay, and seat clamp area.

The seat tube may also feature some new profiling, especially at the junction with the seat stays. The seat stays seem to exit the seat tube at a sharper angle, but this is much less certain with the photos we currently have. What we can be certain of is a much taller bottom bracket complex on the new frame. A taller bottom bracket again improves aerodynamics in a similar way to the head tube and top tube compensation triangles. Similar bottom bracket depths are regularly featured in time trial bike design. In addition to aerodynamic gains, the bulkier bottom bracket likely increases stiffness.

Moving back through the chainstays, the next noticeable update is the rear dropouts. Firstly and most obviously, the Di2 wires now exit the frame above and behind the thru-axle drop-outs, as opposed to in front and almost level with the drop-outs on the outgoing frame. The seatstays themselves may have slimmed down somewhat, although this could be a trick of the light. What we can be certain of is a redesign of the junction area as the seat stays run into the rear dropout. A curved lower section of the seat stay exiting almost vertically from the rear drop-out is replaced with a straight and more sharply angled new seat stay.

A side-on view of Eenkhoorn new S5 2022 (left) and the current S5 on the (right)

The new frame appears to feature a UCI prototype logo, although we couldn’t find a photo clear enough to confirm this. One thing for certain, the new S5 certainly looks like it is close to a production-ready bike. We have reached out to Cervelo for comment on the new frame, and we will bring you that as we have it.

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