Cervelo S3 Ultegra review$4,000.00

The S3 gets a makeover with comfort in mind

BikeRadar score4.5/5Find prices on Bicycle Blue Book

On its launch in 2008, the original S3 was perhaps the most advanced aero road bike ever, proving its speed potential by being ridden to a world championship victory by Norwegian Thor Hushovd. This latest incarnation brings it right up to date again.

    Its new FK42 fork has a tapered steerer and larger clearance for 25mm tires, and the aerofoil shaped down tube has been increased in size and now incorporates interchangeable internal cable stops so the bike can be run with standard cable or electronic drivetrains. It feels rock solid – while early aero bikes tended to feel less reactive than their standard road stablemates, this much more substantial front end means it doesn’t twist or flex under hard sprints and its command of the line through fast corners is simply brilliant.

    The frame can handle mechanical, electronic or hydraulic cabling:
    The frame can handle mechanical, electronic or hydraulic cabling:

    The frame can handle mechanical, electronic or hydraulic cabling

    Perhaps the biggest change, though, is at the back. The original was undoubtedly a quick machine, but comfort wasn’t top of its agenda. The new S3 takes its rear end from the state-of-the-art RCA frame with its super-slender stays. This heavy slimming adds plenty of comfort, with buzz reduced to a murmur, helped by the classy Fizik Antares saddle – though the ride quality would be further improved by 25mm tires (come on Cervélo, you’ve designed the bike to take them, so let’s have them!). Mavic’s Yksions are decent rubber, but they are slender for 23s.

    Gearing is spot-on for a fast road machine with a nod to the sportive or endurance rider, combining a 52/36 crankset with a close 11-25 cassette at the back. The latest Ultegra uses the same design as Shimano’s flagship Dura-Ace, performing just as flawlessly, and aside from the finish and a titanium bolt or two you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference.

    The 52/36 and 11-25 combo provides a versatile gearing range:
    The 52/36 and 11-25 combo provides a versatile gearing range:

    The 52/36 and 11-25 combo provides a versatile gearing range

    The alloy aero Mavic Cosmic Elite S wheels are well built and rock solid. As a package including tires and tubes they weigh 2,380g so aren’t the lightest, but although it has to be said the S3 would fly on higher quality aero wheels, it’s still respectable in this standard guise.

    You're getting an exceptional aero bike here, with a simply wonderful frame. Cervélo has taken a design that was showing its age and infused it with everything it has learned since. The S3 handles better, it’s more comfortable and the chassis is lighter. It also competes on every level with the likes of Giant’s Propel, Felt’s AR and Specialized’s Venge, and would easily be a five-star bike with better wheels. As it stands, though, this is one seriously rapid ride that we’ll certainly miss once it leaves our office.

    This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

    Warren Rossiter

    Senior Technical Editor
    Approaching two decades of testing bikes, Warren can be found on a daily basis riding and exploring the road and off roads of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain in the UK. That's when he's not travelling the world to test the latest kit, components and bikes.
    • Age: 44
    • Height: 188cm / 6'2''
    • Weight: 92kg / 203lb
    • Waist: 86cm / 34in
    • Chest: 112cm / 44in
    • Discipline: Road
    • Preferred Terrain: Big, fast descents and rough surfaces like cobbles or strada bianca
    • Current Bikes: Decade Tripster ATR, Dedacciai Temarario, Cannondale Synapse, BMC Granfondo Disc Di2, Genesis Day One CX, Parlee Z Zero Custom, Storck Scenario Comp Custom, DMR Trailstar, Bianchi Pista, Cube SUV 29er e-bike
    • Dream Bike: Bianchi Oltre Disc, Bianchi Specialissima, Cannondale Slate, Buffalo Bike
    • Beer of Choice: Brew Dog Punk IPA
    • Location: Wiltshire, UK

    Related Articles

    Back to top