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.
Complete bike specifications
Frame: Cervélo S3, 56cm
Fork: 3T Funda Team
Headset: FSA Orbit IS-2 Carbon
Stem: 3T ARX-Team, 120mm x -6°
Handlebars: 3T Ergonova Pro
Front brake: SRAM Red
Rear brake: SRAM Red
Brake levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
Front derailleur: SRAM Red w/ steel cage
Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
Shift levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
Cassette: SRAM PG-1070
Chain: SRAM PC-1091
Crankset: SRM PowerMeter Rotor 3D Standard, 53/39T
Bottom bracket: Rotor
Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL PD-7900
Wheelset: Mavic Ksyrium Elite
Front tyre: Mavic Yksion Powerlink, 700x23c
Rear tyre: Mavic Yksion Powerlink, 700x23c
Saddle: fi'zi:k Pavé CX
Seat post: Cervélo Aero SL
Bottle cages: Arundel Mandible
Computer: Garmin Edge 800
Other accessories: Rotor Chain Catcher
Rider's height: 1.83m (6'0")
Rider's weight: 74kg (163lb)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 765mm
Saddle setback (ask mechanic): 70mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 535mm
Seat tube length, c-c: 475mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 750mm
Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical): 90mm
Head tube length: 160mm
Top tube length: 565mm
Total bicycle weight: 6.80kg (14.99lb) as quoted by mechanic