If you’re new to triathlons, the name Cervèlo may be new to you. Cervèlo was founded in 1995 for the purpose of making the best time trial bikes possible. Rather than simply adding aero handlebars to an existing frame design, they completely rethought the geometry of the machine. Some of their early ideas were pretty wild. For instance, check out this photo of one of their first production models.
Cervèlo immediately gained recognition as a serious competitor in the time trial field. The bike leg of a triathlon is basically a time trial, so Cervèlo was soon seen on the podium at many pro-level triathlons as well.
The Cervèlo bikes you’ll see at major championships (Ivan Basso, Tour de France anyone?) come with carbon fiber frames, ultralight components, and a hefty price tag. But Cervèlo is a Canadian company and Canadians are, by and large, blue-collar people. They don’t want to be exclusive for exclusive’s sake. I mean, you don’t think that Alan Thicke has a gold refrigerator, do you? Sure, he could afford the gold refrigerator, but it just wouldn’t sit well with Alan, even if it would put him in the MTV Cribs Hall of Fame.
That, my friends, is why Cervèlo has created the Dual series.
Can you say low profile?
The frame of the Dual 10 offers an aerodynamic profile using Cervèlo’s signature “Smartwall” design. What that means is the tubes are reinforced at certain points and thinner at others, which is supposed to keep things light and responsive. The aerodynamic profile is achieved by making tubes that are essentially shaped like airplane wings.
The frame also features shortened chainstays, which keep your center of gravity toward the rear. This is important when you’re in the aero position because having too much weight forward will make the handling twitchy.
The parts spec includes a complete Shimano Ultegra drive train and other goodies like FSA cranks, Velomax wheels, and VisionTech handlebars with aerobar clip-ons. Add to that a carbon fiber fork, internally routed cables, and a reversible seatpost, and this bike can easily stand up to bikes that cost twice as much. The complete parts spec is at the bottom of this review if you want to know all of it.
The ProductDual 10 Tri Bike The MakerCervèlo (www.cervelo.com) The Price$1,699.00The Rating (4.75/5) The SkinnyAre smiles aerodynamic? This could very well be the perfect bike for almost any triathlete, but it’s definitely a must have for anyone who’s ready for their first tri bike.
Dual 10 Tri Bike
Are smiles aerodynamic? This could very well be the perfect bike for almost any triathlete, but it’s definitely a must have for anyone who’s ready for their first tri bike.
It only takes one look at the Dual 10 to know that it’s ready to race. From the side, you can see that the bike is longer and lower to the ground than a traditional road bike. The frameset is sculpted, the front fork is bladed and aerodynamic, and the handlebars are flat and sleek. The seat tube mimics the shape of the frame, cutting the wind further.
The bike is outfitted in royal blue and black with white lettering, which is a conservative but attractive look, sort of like Shania Twain before she married Mutt Lange and started exposing her midriff on a daily basis.
I tested a 61cm frame, which is the largest Cervèlo makes. On all but the smallest frames, Cervèlo uses 700cc wheels (only the 48cm Dual comes with 650cc wheels). Their website explains why. The rims held true even after several harsh pot holes and the tubes held the road nicely. I didn’t ride the bike in any seriously wet weather (it’s Los Angeles in the summer, after all), but I didn’t feel sketchy going through wet gutters or slick painted sections of road.
Should something so fast look so pretty?
I normally like to spend some time on installation in my reviews, but I’m going to pass on this one. Yes, I put this bike together myself, but most people really shouldn’t try it. If you really want to know why, email me and I’ll happily recount all the fun I had. If you buy a bike from a good bike shop, they’ll assemble and set it up for you as part of the sales price anyway.
On the Road
The second I got on this bike I was in love. It fit me like a glove and it carried speed like a champion. My normal cruising speed on a flat road is just under 20 mph. On the Dual, it immediately rose to around 23 mph. After some time on the bike, I was able to hold 25 or 26 mph without any extra effort. Sure, my bike is a bit outdated (an understatement), but the increase in speed was remarkable. Only Ben Johnson could have found a way to make me faster in a shorter time period.
So now that we’re good friends, let me tell you a little secret: I am a wimp when it comes to speed. As the speedometer rises, I get a little freaked out. But when I was on the Cervèlo, I found myself pushing harder on the downhills. At even the highest speeds, the bike felt completely stable. In fact, I once hit 48 mph on a fairly busy street and was not the least bit scared. I would have happily paid the speeding ticket I could have received that day, let me tell you.
The Dual 10 doesn’t exactly accelerate like a scared cat, but it gets up to speed nicely and the Shimano Ultegra gearing makes sure that everything is smooth and quiet along the way. Not once in three months of testing did the gearing slip or lag. If I wanted a gear I got it. I also liked that I didn’t notice any flex from the rear triangle under acceleration, which is something I notice a lot on other large frame bikes.
In the early testing stages, I was ready to give the Dual a poor score for climbing ability. Climbing is the only part of cycling that I do marginally well and I couldn’t get this bike to climb at all. But then I adjusted the bike slightly and it made all the difference in the world. Suddenly, a bike that had been sluggish and heavy on an incline felt light and responsive. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Dual is no mountain goat, but it’ll happily get you up and over any grade you may encounter during a triathlon. I even found that on many shorter climbs I could stay in the aero position without sacrificing much power.
The brakes work very well and stayed quiet throughout my testing. I must say that I rarely used the brakes because I was having so much fun trying to go faster, faster, faster, but when I did need them, the brakes responded. The Dia Compe levers aren’t the most sophisticated design, but they have a good hand feel and there wasn’t any slop or play in them.
The FSA cranks held the pedals on the bike. I mean, what can you really say about cranks? Oh, and they are sculpted on the inside to save some weight. I didn’t feel any flex from the cranks, but I never do; so no surprise there. The FSA bottom bracket is splined, which is fast becoming the industry choice over the old tapered square shape. The true test for cranks and bottom brackets is how long they last. If these are anything like other FSA products I’ve owned, you won’t have to worry about replacing them for a long, long time.
The bike handles exceptionally well. I was expecting to have some difficulty cornering in the aero position, but the bike went where I asked it to without any effort. After a few rides, I was much more comfortable leaning into the corners with this bike than I was with any other I’ve ridden. The Dual 10 didn’t wobble at slow speeds and there was no feeling of excess weight on the front of the bike from the aerobars. Sure, you won’t see this bike featured prominently in the next Critical Mass ride, but it will handle any triathlon course you throw at it. [note: If you don’t want to click on the link, Critical Mass is a rowdy bike messenger race through downtown Toronto… see I’m continuing my Canadian theme here.]
Cervèlo uses a Carbon fork to dampen road vibrations and the Smartwall tubing is supposed to help smooth out the ride as well. I don’t know whether it was the frame, the fork, or both, but the poorly paved roads in my area never felt so smooth. I don’t think I’ve been on an aluminum framed bike that felt so supple and I never had to worry about rattles or weird noises; the bike just plain stays quiet.
Plenty of comfy places for your hands here
The VisionTech Aerobars were stable and comfortable. You can’t adjust the placement of the arm rests forward or backward, but they do come with two sizes of risers. The flattened Visiontech handlebars don’t leave much room for your cycle computer but there’s enough. My upper body was completely comfortable in the aero position and the various bars gave me plenty of hand positions to work with throughout a ride.
The seat sucks. Can I say that? I guess I just did. Yes, seats are a personal thing and every one fits everyone differently, but I would recommend changing out the seat. The saddle material is fine and the design is cool and it’s supposed to be a tri-specific saddle with extra padding on the nose, but I found it to be very harsh in places where harsh is an especially bad thing. I’d hoped that it would soften over time, but it really didn’t. You know how you thought Keanu Reeves would get better over time but didn’t? It’s like that.
I also had a little trouble getting the reversible seat post to work right. In the aggressive forward position, adjustment was easy and accurate, with two bolts securely holding the rails. However, when you flip the seat post backward, the thickness of one of the bolts prevents the nose of the seat from sitting parallel to the ground. The nose ends up pointing toward the sky, which makes the reversible seat post useless. Fortunately, since this is a dedicated tri bike, you’re probably going to leave the post in the aggressive forward position anyway, so this problem is not a big deal. Of course, I could just be an idiot, too.
Calling the Cervèlo Dual 10 “entry level” is misleading and completely unfair. It’s sort of like saying the junior suite is an entry level room at the Ritz. It’s still the Ritz, right?
Between the well apportioned parts spec and the amazing frame design, this bike could take any serious competitor to the podium of any race out there. Oh yeah, and it’ll make the rest of us a little bit better too.
Aside from the seat, the bike was 100% comfortable 100% of the time. Long slow rides, short hard rides, bumpy roads, in the aerobars, on the hoods, on a climb, all the time, in a boat, with a goat … Oops, got a little carried away there. I just can’t stress enough how comfortable this bike was. You’d think that a race bike would have to sacrifice comfort for speed, but the Cervèlo really didn’t. The same is true about the handling, which was always spot on and very stable.
All things considered, there really isn’t missing from the Cervèlo Dual 10 (except for pedals, but no high-end bike comes with pedals). It’s light, fast, and lots of fun…kind of like Michael J. Fox.
In fact, I liked the test bike so much that I ended up buying a Cervèlo.
Cervèlo Dual 10 (www.cervelo.com)
Exceptionally fast, good acceleration, very responsive handling, and extremely sure footed.
Very strong for the price. Full Ultegra on the drive train, very respectable everywhere else. House labeled parts are good quality.
Throw the seat on the side of the road and this is the most comfortable bike you may ever ride.
Climbs great for a tri bike. A respectable climber compared to a traditional road bike.
Everything is well coordinated and it all looks good. Mr. Blackwell would approve.
Don’t tell Cervèlo, but this bike should cost a lot more than it does. It is an extremely high performer in all areas.
Random Thoughts That May Only Interest Me
If you’ve never ridden a tri bike, expect to take a few rides to get truly used to it. The design forces you to use slightly different muscles and they need time to adjust.
I did notice that my run times improved after riding the bike. “They” say that a tri bike saves the hamstrings for the run and I’m beginning to believe them.
Cervèlo uses virtual frame sizing, meaning that their “51cm” frame may not measure 51cm. It actually would measure shorter than 51cm. The “51cm” frame should fit someone that would ride a 51cm road bike. As with all bikes, it’s best to test it before buying to make sure it fits your body.
This is my favorite line from Cervèlo’s website: “We apologize in advance if our ads look like they were written by engineers. We figured you would rather read an ad designed by an engineer than ride a bike designed by the marketing department.”
I can’t believe that I made it through an entire article that referenced famous Canadians without once mentioning Pam Anderson, Bryan Adams, or Alanis Morissette. Speaking of which, I was going to make a weight joke in there somewhere, but I couldn’t think of a famously fat Canadian. Are there any? Surely there must be one. It’s the land of Tim Horton’s Donuts after all.
Yes, Critical Mass is originally a San Francisco bike messenger thing, but the 2001 documentary Critical Mass was about the one in Toronto and it worked for this piece.
A Quick Note on Triathlon Bikes
A dedicated tri bike is not for everyone because it’s a highly specialized piece of equipment. If you’re going to be riding in a large pack with all your roadie buddies, a tri bike is not for you. If you’re going to climb over the Rockies every week (Canadian or otherwise), a tri bike is not for you. If you’re going to be riding on busy streets with lots of traffic, a tri bike is not for you. However, if you’re going to be riding on open roads over rolling courses – in other words, most triathlon courses – a tri bike is perfect for you.
The design of a tri bike puts you in the most aerodynamic position possible so that you can carry the highest speed possible with the least amount of energy expenditure. By being in the “aero” position (hands on aerobars, body flat and low), the hamstrings are saved for the run. Therefore, a good tri bike will not only help improve your bike time, but it’ll lead to a better overall finish.
If, after this in depth analysis you’re still not sure if a tri bike is right for you, click here for a good article on the differences between a traditional road bike and a tri bike.
Cervèlo Aero Aluminum
Shimano Dura-Ace 10-Speed Bar Ends
Shimano Ultegra 10-Speed
Dia Compe 188
Cane Creek IS-2 1"
Visiontech Basebar And Clip-On
Cervèlo TT Special
Vittoria Diamante Pro Lite
A Note on the Author: Dominic Lazzaretto has completed eight triathlons (kind of near the front of the age grouper pack) and has competed in dozens of road running races, mountain bike races, and road cycling events. He is one of the official gear reviewers for BeginnerTriathlete.com.