With a redesigned S-Series we talk to Philip Spearman, Product Education at Cervélo. In this third article we discover the differences between the S3 and S5, who each bike is for and how you should choose the bike that’s right for you.
Insight Zone: How do the S3 and S5 differ?
Cervélo: In 2014 we first started to distinguish our bikes from a stiffness and fit perspective. Previous to this, with the first S5 in 2011/12, all of our bikes had the same handling and fit geometry. As a consumer it was simply a case of walking into a store and deciding if you wanted a bike with square or pointy tubes and how much money you had. We didn’t think this was an especially valid way to choose a bike!
You have to give people a chance to ride what they like, not what we tell them they should be riding. The S3 is now what refer to as our standard geometry and is the one that most people know Cervelo for. It’s been consistent with the R3 and S3 throughout their existence. The S5 is lower at the front end, the stack height is lower by 16mm, and is a function of that consumer who wants a much more aggressive position. The S5 is also a stiffer and lighter platform than the S3.
Insight Zone: Who are these two bikes aimed at?
Cervélo: The original scope for the S3 was a “journeyman’s race bike”. It was a bike that you could train on, race on and generally ride hard day after day. The S5 is really the pinnacle of what we can do with aero work, with an absolute focus on performance and speed.
We’ve always used a narrower seat-stay on the S3, it has a softer look and the stiffness numbers are a bit lower. So, for that rider focussing on long sportives and big days in the saddle, the S3, also with a higher hand position, is probably more suited. Although you can get the same position on an S5, it’s really aimed at a criterium racer or a rider who’s main focus is pure speed. The S3 is more for the rider who’s less focused on the victory and more about the riding experience.
Insight Zone: What advice would you give about the choosing the right bike?
Cervélo: Our advice is to ride them and to choose the one that you like. A good dealer should try and gain a real insight into the type of riding you do. Do you ride alone? Do you ride with friends? Do you pedal through corners? Are you lining up to race? These are far more important questions that how much money do you have.
Here at Cervélo, for example, we love the fact that Tyler Farrar chose to ride an S3 and that the pro team this year used a lot of R3’s in the Classics. This says to us that the bikes genuinely feel different to ride and to different riders. They’re not just riding a bike based on what they’ve been told its best suited for.
You should take the opportunity to ride a range of bikes and make a decision on how that bike feels to you. Your bike has to meet your needs. If for example you’re a nervous descender, a fast handling bike probably isn’t for you. If you live and predominately ride somewhere flat, this isn’t so much of an issue. Above all though, you have to take the time to get out and ride the bikes before buying.