2011 Cervelo S3 Review
Cervelo is known worldwide for its cutting edge technology and top of the line performance. The S3 is no exception. I tested the S3, which was equipped with the SRAM Red groupo, Zipp's 404 tubular wheel set, Fi'zi:k's Arione saddle and Rotor cranks.
and out of the saddle jumps. After a good warm-up I hit the first corner at about 20 mph. The S3 cornered like a dream and it seemed effortless to turn the handlebars and steer tube. Feeling confident I decided to push up the pace a little so I hit a number of corners at 30 mph plus, I didn't feel any pushing or skipping like you can sometimes experience when cornering at high speeds.
I threw in some out-of-the-saddle stomps to thrill the onlookers; I found the bike really jumped forward when I stood on the pedals. I also made it a point to rock the bike laterally to see what that felt like. The S3 was very smooth laterally. It seemed to take all the power I was giving it and distributed it evenly to where it was needed. I've said this before, I'm not a sprinter, but I felt like I could be one with the S3 under me. Team Garmin-Cervelo's Thor Hushovd became World Champion on the Cervelo S3, which should vouch for the S3's great performance in pro road cycling sprints.
On my next ride I was going to see how the S3 performed on long climbs and on long, fast descents. The climb I rode is a monster, 2.5 miles long at an average grade of 8.5%. I usually start the climb conservatively knowing that it gets more difficult as you approach the summit, so I did the same this time. I varied my riding style from in the saddle to out of the saddle numerous times during the climb. The major thing I noticed during the climb was that the S3 was not as responsive as it was during the interval session or the out of the saddle stomps on my crit course. The S3 seemed a little sluggish and it didn't seem to jump forward when I put power into the pedals even when I stood on them. Maybe it was me as I neared the top of the 8.5% grade. I wasn't too disappointed because I knew the really fun part of the ride was ahead of me. The descent down from the mountain!
This is a whopper of a descent. More than 2.5 miles long with grades from 5% to 15% with a couple of lazy corners. I was going to find out real quickly how the S3 handled itself at high speeds. I hit the descent as I always do pedaling up to about 20 mph. Before I knew it I was going 45, my speed topped out at 54 mph about half way down. I was really impressed with how the Cervelo S3 descended. The first part of the descent is about 15% for about ½ of a mile and then the grade slowly falls off to 5% the further down you go. The S3 handled like a dream, not a bit of frame chatter or head tube shaking. I was worried about how the cross winds would affect the S3 on the descent but the wind was relatively calm.