So with nervous excitement on Saturday morning I took off to Endeavour Cycles in Gymea (the Sutherland Shire of Sydney) to get the final sizing and fit for my Cervelo S3. George who owns the store and seems to be hooked in with every cyclist and triathlete in the Shire welcomed me and set up my new steed on the trainer to finalise adjustments. I will write about that experience in another post. After an hour with George, I walked out of the store with a new bike which I am aptly going to name the “Speed Steed”.
It was raining during the day in Sydney, and so I strapped my new bike onto the roof racks and headed home. The first ride on the new machine would have to wait till Sunday. This was a good thing because it gave me the opportunity to add a few of my personal adjustments.
Making it Mine
Learning from a lot of the mistakes I made in owning my first road bike, my 2009 Trek Madone 4.7, I took to work making all the necessary adjustments for my first ride. Hopefully a couple of these points may help others.
- Removal of all the manufacturer stickers about dimensions and safety warnings. I know what size it is, and I know to look at the online manual to see what I need to do. This is cosmetic.
- Protecting the frame in key positions. This was a mistake that I made on my old bike, only to learn from it when it was too late. I put tape on the frame on either side of the head tube to block cable rub from the derailleur and rear brake cables. The cables are internally routed, so they are packed tight against the frame. I also put tape on the seat tube on the non-drive side where I keep my bike pump for emergency tire repair. It is important to rub the frame down with alcohol first before applying the tape.
- Installation of the bottle cages and pump frame mount. These were transferred from my old bike onto the new one, bit of grease on the bolts for waterproofing and no more than firm hand tightening.
- Installation of Garmin mount. The K-Edge unit that I had on the old bike is a pretty good setup. Two key points to be aware of; i) torque wrench to tighten no more than 5.5Nm and ii) Garmin is flush in line with the bars to reduce wind resistance.
- Installation of the front light mount. I am no a pro, so when I ride in the early morning or evening, the light is essential. I have a Specialized Flux light, bright but big unit, so I tucked it in close under the Garmin.
- Installation of the bell. Yes, it is now law in the great state of NSW that all bikes must have a bell. Never mind the fact that at over 40kph no car is going to hear you ring your bell, nor should you be moving your hands off the bars to “ring your bell”. Safety first?
The saddle bag was packed with a couple of tubes, tyre levers, couple of gas canisters, and a multi-tool. So to christen the wheels, the only thing that was left was to fill the bidons and boot up.
So How Does It Ride?
Three words – fast, stiff, and aero! I am not in the best riding condition at the moment with a persistent chest bug inherited from little Kiki (who brought it back from the centre for disease control – otherwise known as daycare), but it was not going to stop me from putting the hammer down.
This new bike is very efficient in turning every pedal stroke into power on the road. I hadn’t even swapped over my Shimano Dura-Ace C24 carbon laminate clinchers onto the bike and it was very zippy off the mark. I took it for a spin in Centennial Park, and saw three riders ahead of me on one of the false flats that goes up at 2%. A couple of big turns out of the saddle and wham I was up at speed – and IT FELT GREAT!
The stiffness takes some getting used to, and to be honest I thought it was a bit of a marketing gimmick from the Cervelo, “18% increase in the bottom bracket over the previous model”. But it really is something else, and hard to describe. The bike frame doesn’t laterally “wobble” underneath you on each pedal stroke and the energy you put in goes to where it belongs.
The slipperiness of the frame is also surprising. I noticed it when I sat up on a flat section after an average effort. When I looked down at the Garmin, instead of rolling at 23kph I was up at 28kph. I was very attentive to how the bike felt through the air. What was telling was that it was difficult to notice.
I think I definitely have to swap over to 25mm tyres, which may not be a bad thing. From everything I have read 25mm is faster than 23mm, going against the long held wisdom of the skinny rubber. But the reason is not speed but more comfort on the rough Sydney roads.
The speed steed will definitely take some getting used to, but at least I will do it with a smile on my face. The advances in bike technology from 7 years ago for a mid level race bike are pretty amazing and I will have to write a comparison post to explain all subtle changes. Withall said and done, I can’t wait to ride it again!