For the past few years I’ve been happily riding my trusty Planet X Superlight Pro. Whilst the geometry and the feel is comfortable I’ve thought about the need for a ride that is a little more aggressive to better cope with time trial style riding needed for triathlon.
Being used to riding carbon I wasn’t sure about moving to what is generally considered a step backward to aluminium. However, whilst carbon has it’s merits, lower-end frame sets do not necessarily possess all the structural and behavioural features that a high-end carbon setup demonstrates. For this reason I was interested to explore the Cervelo S1, an aluminium frame with a winning history and phenomenal reputation for speed, made by Canadian bike designer and manufacturer, Cervelo.
Many of the favourable write-ups talk of the stiffness, aero-dynamic properties and sheer power offered by the frame. All very appealing qualities for my specific purpose. The brand philosophy also seemed to focus very much on a combination of ideas to create faster bikes. The brand has successful presence within major pro riding teams and quite frankly there’s something very desirable about the brand. I was bought in and began hunting down a suitable used model.
I managed to find a great 2009 example in fantastic condition, so bought it and built it using the components from my Planet X. The results can be seen below.
I was keen to build it up ahead of the Barcelona Triathlon (October 2011), which I did. However, I didn’t have the opportunity to take the bike out for a full test ride ahead of the event, but instead needed to disassemble it, pack it and fly it to Spain then reassemble it, again. The first time I would ride it in anger would be during the race itself, so I made sure she was setup appropriately ahead of racking.
When it eventually came to the bike leg the first thing I noticed was the fit, the main reason for changing the setup in the first place. The bike felt immediately comfortable and the geometry and riding position suited to speed. I was surprised at how easily I was able to accelerate and maintain a fast pace right from the go. One of the unique features of the Barcelona Triathlon bike leg is that drafting is allowed, making for an interesting, if not slightly edgy race.
Riding through the field in search of suitably paced riders to work with was tricky. I was tagging onto the back of trains and finding the ride easy with plenty of speed to give. Leading out I would find myself riding ahead away from the train I had just joined. On lap 3 of 4 I found a group who I could work with. Taking turns to lead out we were able to maintain an average 40 kph on a course full of 90 and 180 turns. The straights were phenomenally fast and felt rock steady.
I was particularly impressed with the performance of the bike tracking around corners and more so on hills. One of the few sweeping gentle inclines on the course felt effortless as if an extra gear had been applied. The stiffness and sheer power transmission was felt on every pedal stroke, every bit of effort rewarded with more speed.
Final time on the 40 Km bike leg was 01:02:39, which by my standards is a PB by a long way and well up there with the elite field on the same race. I can’t recommend this frame set enough.
Looking forward to my next race.