Cervélo Aspero-5 Force eTap AXS 1 Disc £8,199 | 8.3kg
CYCLING WEEKLY|September 16, 2021
Rupert Radley takes the rough with the smooth on a boutique gravel bike whose dazzling paintjob conceals a design DNA dedicated to speed
Rupert Radley
PROS

GORGEOUS LOOKSHIGH-END SPEC

FAST RIDE QUALITY

CONS

STIFF FOR LONG OFF-ROAD DAYS

MORE SUITED T O W I D E - OPEN GRAVEL THAN TECHY SINGLETRACK

It’s more common to find gravel bikes marketed as do-it-all machines, capable of everything from multi-day bike-packing trips to offbeat, off-road adventures than it is to find them touting increased aerodynamics and a lower weight.

However, in Cervélo’s words the Aspero-5, launched earlier in 2021, is a bike designed to “haul ass, not cargo” and is unashamedly marketed as a racing bike for off-road roadies.

Frame

This design is a melting pot of tube shapes that are distinctively ‘Cervélo’ and drawn from the likes of the Cervélo Caledonia, R3 and S5 – all pedigree bikes in their own right.

Although it hasn’t changed in its looks since the Aspero’s first appearance back in 2019, Cervélo says the Aspero-5 is 32 grams of drag more aerodynamic and weighs 10% less.

While the brand claims there have been savings via the frame’s tube shaping, most of the effiiencies are the result of completely integrated cable routing.

The bike’s geometry continues the story of a chassis built for off-road riding but tuned for going fast. The Aspero-5 has a relatively steep head angle of 72°. That’s half a degree steeper than the Specialized Diverge but a wheelbase of 1,027mm in a size large is a fair whack shorter than the equivalent Specialized model. This makes it punchy and fast but a touch less stable at high speed.

The top tube length of our size large measures 575mm as opposed to the standard 560mm. Partnered with the slightly longer reach of the SR AM eTap hoods, this extra reach was the first thing I noticed when jumping aboard. I’d actually swap in a shorter stem which would allow for greater comfort and shore up the bike’s handling, too.

Cervélo’s TrailMixer system, a switchable dropout that tweaks the fork’s position by 5mm, remains from the original Aspero, allowing you to run either a 700c wheel or a 650b wheel with a chunkier tyre without altering the geometry. Like the former, the bike can accommodate 45mm tyres but that increases to 50mm when in 650b form.

Components

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