Bicycle manufacturers' encouraging claims about their frames' aero performance often fall on deaf ears as far as the general cycling public is concerned – after all, ten seconds here or there over 40km probably won't have much impact on whether or not you get home by dark.
But for a top sprinter like Tyler Farrar, small differences in aerodynamic drag can have a major impact when traveling at top speeds of around 70km/h (43.5mph). At that rate, aerodynamic drag is the most significant force opposing forward motion and half a wheel comprises a time difference of just 0.002s or so – or in other words, the difference between winning and second place, which to him is obviously a very big deal.
Farrar had passed over Felt's aero road bike option last season but has made the transition in 2011 with the switch to Cervélo bikes. An evolution of the earlier Soloist Carbon and SLC-SL machines, Farrar's new Cervélo S3 looks to offer the slippery profile to cut through the wind but also the stiffness required to harness the American's considerable power.
In many ways, Farrar's new S3 is somewhat of a hybrid of Cervélo's R-series and aero platforms, blending aero-profile shapes in the head tube, seat tube, down tube, and seat stays along with the excellent drivetrain efficiency and comfort of the R.
To keep frontal area low, though, the S3 sticks with a straight 1 1/8" steerer and hourglass-profile head tube. Clever internal cable routing feeds the derailleur lines into the top tube behind the stem where the air is already turbulent.
Despite all that surface area, claimed frame weight is still just 1,050g.
The recent team sponsor reshuffling also finds Farrar on SRAM instead of Shimano componentry, including the company's top-end Red group, with team-issue graphics on the carbon fibre DoubleTap levers and a steel cage on the front derailleur instead of the standard titanium one.
As do most pro road riders we've seen, Farrar is also using the quieter-running PG-1070 cassette instead of SRAM's lighter – and tricker – PG-1090 PowerDome model. Rotor steps in with its meaty 3D machined alloy crank and round chainrings though, and both are connected with an SRM power measuring chainring spider.
Aside from the new brake hoods however, the rest of the 'touch points' on the bike are conveniently carried over from Farrar's previous setups. Still present are the fi'zi:k Pavé saddle, 3T bar and stem, and Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL pedals (albeit the new carbon fibre ones). Mavic continues on as the team wheel sponsor, too.
Camelbak and Arundel again provide the water bottles and cages respectively, and of course, Garmin's latest Edge 800 touchscreen GPS computer is perched atop the stem.
Total weight as pictured – and as quoted by team mechanic Kris Withington – is 6.80kg (14.99lb) on the nose.