Roosters crowing and the sun against the side of my canvas tent woke me up. It was December, and I was glamping in Napa Valley, Calif., where Cervélo was launching its new C series bike. “During the past three years, we were really focused on learning how road bikes are being used outside of racing, how we could apply what we know about high-performance bikes and how we could offer something tailored specifically to this segment. In the past decade, we’ve seen a massive increase in the number of gran fondos and sportives registered globally. Road cycling is no longer all about slammed stems, 23-mm tires, wattage numbers and smooth roads; it’s about going where the riding is beautiful,” said Cervélo product manager Phil Spearman.
Cervélo is known for its light, aero and fast road bikes. With the C5, Cervélo set out with a different set of targets. With the bike’s slackened head tube and longer wheelbase, the C5 took a few miles to get used to. After I had ridden a few climbs and sweeping descents, I started to adjust my position. I found sliding back on the saddle put me in the best position to help really commit and lean into corners.
Don’t let the slackened geometry and disc brakes make you think this bike is anything but pure Cervélo. The company applied the same level of carbon-fibre know-how you find in their flagship race bikes. It really shows when you point the front wheel uphill and start to climb. The C5 frame comes in at 850 g, which is currently the lightest endurance bike on the market. Power is transferred nicely to the rear wheel while standing and climbing through the Rotor crank and Cervélo’s BBright bottom bracket, which sits low to improve handling.
Shimano’s 11-speed Dura-Ace Di2 took care of the shifting, while the Hed Ardennes Plus LT disc wheels helped to smooth out some of the harsher Napa roads. The C5 fork comes out of Cervélo’s Project California composite R&D facility. With a much slimmer and minimalist looking thru axle compared to competitors and internal brake-hose routing, the fork helps keep things on track when you’re at speed and the road turns rough.
The FSA cockpit keeps the build light and really helps take advantage of the stiff front end. When rocking the bike and pulling on the bars climbing, I found the C5 made it easy to keep the pedals turning. With plenty of clearance for 28c tires, fender mounts, and carbon armour on the down tube and drive-side chainstay, the C5 is equipped to handle any road.