Cervélo's S5 aero road bike debut was hardly spotless. While touted as an ultra-aero machine, its numbers-driven design, P4-esque seat tube, and awkwardly proportioned front end also lit up the forums with less-than-flattering commentary. The naysayers are apparently in the minority, however, as Garmin-Cervélo's new S5 has handily won the Best Team Bike category in this year's Cyclingnews Reader Poll with a commanding margin and an unprecedented seventh straight victory for the Canadian company.
By definition, aesthetics are subjective but ultimately the S5 is meant to be a race bike and Cervélo engineers were more concerned with decreasing wind resistance – after all, Garmin-Cervélo riders are more concerned with how their team comes across the finish line than how their bikes look rolling down the road.
As a result, the nearly upright seat tube is offset rearward and closely follows the rear wheel, the compact seat stays are spaced further apart, the down tube is dropped nearly in contact with the front wheel, and the visually tall, teardrop-shaped head tube surrounds a straight 1 1/8in steerer instead of a more structurally advantageous tapered one.
Designers even factored bottle placement into the aero equation and naturally, cable routing is fully internal.
Big tube sections where they count, continued lay-up refinement, and Cervélo's BBright bottom bracket design supposedly yield a 12 percent boost in stiffness over the S3 and the top-end S5 VWD frame variant is even pretty light at a claimed 990g – in other words, a winning formula in our Reader Poll.
Aerodynamic benefits are difficult to validate and nearly impossible to feel out on the road but readers are clearly smitten with the idea regardless with the HTC-Highroad Specialized S-Works Venge coming in a strong second. Specialized was late to the all-out aero road bike game but the company has quickly staked a claim for itself with the striking Venge.
More conventionally styled than the S5, the Venge employs the usual bag of aero tricks that includes deep tube sections, a matching teardrop-shaped seatpost, internal cable routing. In total, Specialized claims the Venge will save its rider 23W of effort at 45km/h versus the company's own Tarmac SL3 while still being impressively light at right around a kilogram for a bare frame.
Key riders such as Mark Cavendish got an extra ace in the hole with the ultra-exclusive McLaren version, which uses the same shape but additional composite know-how from the heralded automaker for slightly lighter weight but also some extra stiffness, too – exactly what the doctor ordered when feverishly sprinting for the finish line.
Pinarello proves it's not "aero or nothing", though, with its unmistakably curvaceous and unapologetically asymmetrical Dogma 2 as supplied to the Sky team rounding out the top three. Key changes from the previous version include a more aggressively tapered front end, a bigger down tube and more heavily reinforced fork crown, and a more pronounced asymmetry throughout. Pinarello says the updates yield a six percent improvement in stiffness over the previous Dogma plus 30g of weight reduction but readers simply say it's one of their favorites for 2011.
2011 Best Team Bike:
1. Garmin-Cervélo Cervélo S5 7,391 (34.2%)
2. HTC-Highroad Specialized S-Works Venge 4,578 (21.2%)
3. Sky Professional Cycling Team Pinarello Dogma 2 2,160 (10.0%)
4. Leopard-Trek Trek Madone 6.9 SSL 1,811 (8.4%)
5. Liquigas-Cannondale Cannondale SuperSixEvo 1,594 (7.4%)
6. BMC Racing Team BMC Impec 1,347 (6.2%)
7. Europcar Colnago C59 1,302 (6.0%)
8. Omega Pharma-Lotto Canyon Aeroad CF 599 (2.8%)
9. Rabobank Giant TCR Advanced SL 523 (2.4%)
10. Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team Ridley Noah FB 329 (1.5%)