I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading on the four main Cervélo frame series. At first, I was baffled. There are four series, and two of them are obvious, the T and P. T is for Track, like what Chris Hoy does. If you don’t know who Chris Hoy is, I’m very, very disappointed with you. Go stand in the corner.
The other obvious series is the P, which is for triathlons / time-trials. Now, at first glance, the untrained eye might not see much difference aside from a pair of tri bars on the front. Believe me, there is a big difference between the body position on a time trial frame to that on a more normal road bike frame. You are much more hunched, with your body more parallel with the ground. It’s not comfortable, and it’s less safe when you’re using the tri bars. Realistically, unless you really know that you need a tri bike, you avoid the P series too.
Which leaves the R and the S series. Road and Aero, respectively. What’s the difference? Well, there’s not a gigantic difference, and you could get either bike and ride it around without looking like a total tit. However, there are differences.
The R series is lighter, whereas the S series is more aerodynamic. The R series is more comfortable, while the S series looks like something from the future.
Which do you go for? I can only think personal preference plays the largest part. I originally thought I’d go for an S frame since it looks utterly awesome, but the comfort factor and the weight issue swung me the other way. But you may be completely different.
You also have to be aware of the price. These things are not cheap. Prices for the R3, for example, come in at a minimum of £2,000. But that’s just the frameset. This does not include any groupset or wheels, which are by far the most expensive missing parts. Nor does it have all the other bits and bobs. Like a seat, or handlebars, cables, stem, tyres, pump, bottle cages, bottles… the list goes on. At current prices, if you wanted to set yourself up with a groupset that was comparable to the frame, you’d have to go for a Shimano 105 at the very least, and realistically you’d want Ultegras. Or if SRAM is more your thing, then SRAM Rival minimum, Force is better.
So ultimately, if you see £2K for a Cervélo, that’s the frame, and you should double it at a minimum for everything else. As for which series, start off reading about the R and S series, unless you know you need a time trial bike, or you’re the next Jason Kenny. Don’t know him either? /me shakes his head