This week, Cervélo launched the ZHT-5, the brand’s first official mountain bike. Why get into the mountain bike market after 25 years in road and triathlon? Well, the brand’s riders asked for it. Specifically, Cervélo’s WorldTour squad, Team Jumbo-Visma, and its Dutch XCO champ, Milan Vader.
The ZHT-5 was scheduled to break cover earlier this year until Vader was seriously injured in a crash on the road at Itzulia Basque Country. The Dutch rider is already back on the bike and working towards the World Cup’s 2023 debut in Valkenburg, The Netherlands in May, 2023, so Cervélo decided it was time to unleash its hardtail.
ZHT-5: A racer’s race bike
The Canadian-founded brand’s first mountain bike is unabashedly a race bike. The brand’s engineers push the cross country hardtail to a very low weight of 907 grams for a Medium. That’s not the lightest on the market, but it’s no one would ever call it heavy. Cervélo says the ‘extra’ weight balances the need for a “super stiff mountain bike design” that will turn every watt into forward motion.
Design on the ZHT-5 is, as you would expect from a road brand, very clean. Full internal cable routing enters the frame through the head tube, instead of the side of the frame. That gives a sleek look and saves Cervélo from having to add extra holes in the frame. There’s room for a dropper post, though neither versions on offer come stock with one. A threaded bottom bracket helps balance the added maintenance of the cable routing, making for easy bottom bracket servicing after wet weather races – or during winter training.
Geometry of the ZHT-5 is very race-focused. There are some hints of modern design, like dropper routing and clearance for 2.4″ tires. But the rest of the bike hones in on efficiency and cross country-specific speed. As Cervélo puts it, it’s for riders who “have the skills to tame today’s technical courses without the benefit of a shock.” The head angle is a sporty 69-degrees, reach is a climbing-friendly 457-mm (size Large), and the seat angle sits at an endurance-friendly 74-degrees. In an era where most brands are focused on pushing the extreme end of XC geometry, Cervélo fine-tunes proven numbers to make a bike that any racer will be immediately comfortable on. As Cervélo calls it, “rationally progressive geometry.”
Cervelo ZHT-5 models and pricing
Cervélo offers two builds on the ZHT-5, in four sizes each from S-XL.
An XX1 AXS build uses SRAM’s top-end wireless drivetrain, RockShox SID SL Ultimate 100-mm travel fork and SRAM Level Ultimate brakes. Reserve carbon fibre weels are from Cervélo’s sister brand, Santa Cruz, while Race Face provides the Next SL 740-mm wide bar. The ZHT-5 XX1 AXS starts at $11,500.
The ZHT-5 GX Eagle AXS build almost halves that cost, at $6,100. It comes with the GX version of SRAM’s wireless drivetrain, RockShox SID SL Select 100-mm travel fork, Race Face ARC Offset rims laced to e*thirteen TRS Race hubs, Race Face Aeffect alloy bars and stem, and SRAM Level TL brakes.