First Look review: Cervelo is reviving a soloist

When launching a new bike, the bike industry has an outdated playbook. The brands will talk about how the bike has been developed in response to demand from professional riders or the demands of a particular race. They will promote the professional team’s involvement in the development process, then highlight how the new bike was tested in prototype at the highest level for design validation. But with their latest release, Soloist, Cervelo is upfront about the fact that it’s not exactly Jumbo Visma’s Pro riders. The professionals in the current Cervelo team have their choice of All of the Aero S5 or the Lightweight R5According to the ritual of the day. No, the new Soloist is made more for us regular riders, who still want to move fast even if we don’t have a professional contract.

You might remember the original Soloist bassist, who was taken over by CSC in the early to mid-2000s to plenty of stage and race victories. But arguably the original Soloist’s true claim to fame was that it was the bike most responsible for introducing and promoting the road bike idea. A major turnaround in the development of the road bike. Although he has an old name, this new soloist has very little in common with his predecessor. It’s a brand new bike.

OG’s soloist, led by CSC’s Evan Basso. (Cerruti)

Create a new road

The genesis of the new Soloist actually dates back to late 2018, before the design of the current R5 and S5 was finalized, when Cervelo was researching the roadmap for their lineup. Until that time, Cervelo (like many other brands) had always started with a top-tier bike, finalized that design, and then built more valuable versions based on the top model using affordable carbon fiber materials, streamlined placement, and Other cost-saving measures to reach price points. However, Cervelo director of engineering Scott Roy, along with director of product management Maria Benson, pushed for a new development path, one that gave middle-class models their own purpose-built design, rather than top-level adaptation. the reason? Design freedom.

As Roy says, adapting the design across multiple levels puts constraints on what one can do, “Objectively speaking, it’s very hard to do, you end up with a worse bike. If you start with an initial sketch, like the R5, and you think there won’t be Not only a level 5 product but you also worry about having to do a lower level product, there are things you can’t do early in the design process.” In other words, Roy asserts that trying to adopt one design for multiple price points, means that compromises have to be made. By following separate development paths, he freed the design team to pursue the best solution for each bike.

The new Soloist was built for the everyday rider, rather than adapted from the R5 and S5 built for professionals, but what exactly does that mean? For Cervelo, that means the bike has to be very aerodynamic, lightweight and easy to work on. After all, most of us will only have one road bike, we don’t have the luxury of choosing from a fleet that matches today’s demands, and we certainly don’t have a mechanic team on hand to keep them running and deal with any issues. The ability to balance these sometimes conflicting goals is one of the advantages of the Soloist’s clean sheet design, rather than a disassembled version of the S5 or R5 with a cheaper order throw.

With these three contradictory goals, a lot of work came. “something like that Caledonia For example, we were able to take a lot of things we learned from Aspero. Because this was a completely new starting point…the tube shapes we finished with, unique to this bike.”

I started with a seat

According to Roy, “When we started the soloist project in earnest, we put pen to paper, the thing we started with was the bench seat. We needed a new one.” Roy and his team weren’t able to use the D-shaped seat from the R5 because that wouldn’t be fast enough. And they can’t embrace the S5’s functionality, not necessarily because they couldn’t make it light enough, but the shape of the seat and the depth of the chord associated with it, defines most of the rest of the bike, and that would be heavy. “The seat tube itself should accommodate the seat base at that depth. So if you’re using an S5 shape, the seat post and seat tube should automatically be that deep, then to balance that with going down the tube, that should match now.”

Seatpost drove much of the Cervelo Soloist design. (Photo by Nick Iwanishin)

“We went through 30-35 repetitions of the bench base in the chord and shape section,” Roy recounts. The place we were happy with, and then we did a few iterations of it physically, put it in the tunnel, and then got into the shape we were comfortable with. Once we had that, we were able to work with our design team to determine “we need a large area of ​​this surface to match flight performance, and I want it to be about this, to get to the target weight we were expecting”.

Marrying a lightweight Aero

As for the Soloist’s weight and weight goal, Cervelo was aiming to find a middle ground between the S5 and the R5, they tried to put in as much Aero performance for S5 In the soloist, while retaining the greatest amount of Lightweight and premium ride for the R5 as possible.

Like previous Cervelo bikes, the Soloist was tested using Dave Z foam in a wind tunnel. (courtesy Servillo)

The aero cues on the new Soloist are clear, the head tube depth, compensation triangles in the top tube/seat tube fork, and the filled area in the bottom bracket are all at the UCI limit. Even the bench seats have a subtle oval shape to them.

In actual numbers, Roy tells me the Soloist has about 190g more drag than the current S5, and it’s one of the most aerodynamically efficient designs out there currently. The 190-gram aero kick at 30 mph (48 km/h) that Cervelo tested with the solo V, translates to a difference of about 22 watts, which is pretty significant. At the more realistic low to mid 30 km/h speed that most of us average, this gap will narrow to somewhere between 10 – 15 watts. Compared to the R5, the Soloist is another 126 grams of pull faster, or about 14 watts less at 48 km/h.

The weight is also between the R5 and the S5. The declared weight of the Soloist frame comes in at 919g and the fork is 374g for a size 56 plated. That’s 261 grams heavier than the R5, but still 154 grams lighter than the S5. My 48cm test bike, in stock configuration without pedals or bottle cages, weighs 7.71kg.

Arguably, the feel of the ride is just as important as weight and air. It’s also the only area where a soloist hasn’t forged his own way, Roy said a soloist “is very similar to the R5, and that’s what we based it on.” Cervelo modeled the Soloist’s geometry and stiffness on the R5-winning round, the stack and reach are identical once you account for the headphone top cap, and the bottom bracket stiffness is about the same, although the Soloist head tube is a bit stiffer. “So, if you’re a Cervelo customer, you already have an idea of ​​how it’s going, how it’s going to feel.”

Passenger Friendly Design Options

To make it easier to coexist with the Soloist, the cables run out of the rails and stem all the way to the top cover of the headphone. The stock stem has a small clip that keeps the cables closed, keeping everything visually tidy and clean. Although the fork has D-shaped routing for internal cable routing, the Soloist can take any standard tape assembly you want to run. Which is a big plus, as the test bike is a little small for me, and I needed a longer leg than stock fit. I easily managed to grab a leg in the right from several he kept for such occasions, and put it on a soloist. Don’t look for a specific proprietary trunk, or troubles with trim hoses and brake bleeds. In another indication of offering the end user an option, the new Soloist can ride mechanical drive trains. This new headphone top cover is also backward compatible with R5 And the raw 5giving owners of those bikes a potentially wider choice of bars and sides for their own setup.

The cables stay out of the tape and exit the Cervelo Soloist. (Photo by Nick Iwanishin)

At the bottom, the Soloist features a threaded bottom bracket, again to simplify maintenance. It’s a T47 threaded BB, but with a flavor unique to Cervelo BBright. Cervelo has always used the asymmetrical BBright in a press-fit format on his bikes. This latest version of the T47 from BBright, simply means that the bearings are internal on the non-motor side, and external on the drive side. Otherwise, it will take standard T47 threaded BB parts, and replacement BB will be available from Cervelo and its dealers.

Tire clearance is generous, the new bike is officially rated to accept up to 34mm. More than enough to take this bike to places that weren’t really meant for it.

First Riding Impressions

I’ve owned a soloist for a little over a week, and I’ve put in about 400 miles on it in that time. The first impression of the Soloist is that it’s stiff, it’s a racing bike after all, but that stiffness matches well between front and rear. Coming into a corner, the bike feels cohesive, one-piece, and no surprises. More importantly, it’s not tough enough for a soloist to be unstable or unable to catch his lines through bumpy chatter corners. Paired with well-honed racing geometry, that solid feel, with handling is responsive and straightforward, it goes exactly where you point it, when you point it. If you’ve ever ridden an R5, this will be familiar.

The soloist is not inconvenient for a longer ride. I took it on a longer 140km ride with some light cobblestone dirt roads, and the Soloist was very fun, quick on the pavement, while very capable on dirt roads, surprisingly. Much of the credit goes to the Reserve wheels, where they are 25mm wider internally, and the Vittoria Rubino Pro’s 28mm tires measure 31mm. Cervelo teamed up with Reserve on their road-wheel line, the wheels are stable in the wind, competitively lightweight, revs quickly and conform to no tubes. Soloist owners won’t be looking for a wheel upgrade anytime soon.

If you are looking for a straighter, more comfortable all-day cruiser, with more stability, Caledonia It might be a better option. But if you’re looking for something with sharper handling for racing or fast group riding, the Soloist might be just the ticket. Scott Roy of Cervelo thinks the soloist is “a more aggressive, more solid Caledonia 5”, and I agree with him. At least you think Soloist is just for weekend warriors, know that the race has been, since the beginning of the year, under the Jumbo Visma development team.

The original Soloist was so important to the development of the bike, that it led to its entry into the aerodynamic category. With the new Soloist, Cervelo has created a winning combination of aerodynamic, lightweight and passenger features. I think a new soloist lives up to his pedigree.

CAD MSRP

Soloist Ultegra Di2 $8500.00
Solo Power eTap AXS $8500.00
eTap AXS soloist $6500.00
Solo 105 Di2 $6500.00
Soloist Ultegra 5400.00 dollars
105- The Musician $4,250.00
solo frames set $3400.00

Cervelo soloist now available at Cervelo dealers, more at cervelo.com