Originally called the Soloist, the Cervélo S2 frame has been around for a few years, but this is the first time it’s been available as a complete bike. Some of the frame’s design details have proved themselves to be ahead of the curve, though a few are also beginning to show their age.
Highs: Show the S2 a flat open road and let rip for wonderfully efficient performance
Lows: Surely it’s overdue a bottom bracket and steerer tube update
Buy if: You appreciate a classic and much imitated design that can still perform
Designed to present the smallest frontal profile to the air, the S2’s tall, slim head tube bulges only for the headset bearings. But unlike steerer tubes on most modern performance frames, this one isn’t tapered.
The straight-bladed fork legs closely follow the angle of the spokes to the narrow crown, behind which the wing-like, 80x29mm down tube attaches to much of the head tube and sweeps down to bulge like a giant water droplet that encapsulates the older-style BSA bottom bracket. The external cups of this are at odds with the aero shaping, interrupting the flow from the bottom bracket along the big, boxy chainstays.
The aerofoil section seat tube is topped with a matching profile carbon seatpost featuring about 20mm of fore and aft adjustment, and the Selle Royal Seta saddle is surprisingly comfortable, a definite bonus.
The cockpit comprises a 3T aluminium ARX stem and Ergonova bar with compact drops and subtle wing-shaped tops, onto which are bolted Shimano 105 shifters. Fitting 105 components and an FSA Gossamer compact chainset helps keep the overall price down, though some might consider the Shimano R500 wheelset a step too far.
The wheels are pedestrian at best and really kill momentum over rolling roads or sustained climbs. Swapping them out, the S2 instantly becomes sportier (more young teenager than reluctant grandparent), proving that the frame still has plenty to offer.
Cervélo s2: Neil Godwin/Future Publishing
For a frame with such a considerable profile, the S2 is surprisingly forgiving over rough roads, and has a natural inclination to glide along in a straight line. It still reacts well to steering flicks, although it’s happier carving elegant lines through corners than being hustled and heaved.
It climbs well too, but favours faster terrain where its design comes into its own. There’s little evidence of lateral flex in the slender frame, although the front end suffers a little when mashing large gears, but power transfer is good.
There’s still a certain cachet that comes with owning a Cervélo, and if you appreciate groundbreaking design but can live without the most up-to-date features, the S2 might be for you. Even though it’s heavier than much of the competition, the frame can certainly still cut it, but if you’re going racing then those wheels will probably have to go.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.