Cervelo turned a full-suspension bike into a no-suspension bike

The team’s new Cervelo already only had 100 mm of travel, but even that was too much for the short track at Nové Město.

Photo: Piper Albrecht.

James Huang
by James Huang 12.05.2023 Photography by
Piper Albrecht
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We only just got details the other day on the new Cervelo ZFS-5 full-suspension cross-country race bike for the Jumbo-Visma squad at the UCI World Cup XC MTB opener in Nové Město, Czech Republic. But what our eagle-eyed photographer saw mounted to the bike in the pits today was most certainly not in the official media kit. 

Replacing the conventional rear shock and swing-link on the bike of Dutch team rider Milan Vader was a solid Y-shaped hunk of machined aluminum. Although clearly lighter than all the hardware it replaced, it’s also clearly intended to eliminate any semblance of rear suspension movement. 

But why on earth would you do something like this? 

It’s hard to say just how much lighter this setup would be than stock, but at least a couple hundred grams seems like a safe guess. Photo: Piper Albrecht.

Keep in mind this was the setup just for Friday’s high-octane XCC short track event, an all-out effort held on an abbreviated version of Sunday’s XCO course that lasts barely twenty minutes. From an equipment standpoint, it’s more important to be light and responsive, and even modest amounts of suspension take a back seat to quickness and drivetrain efficiency. 

A hardtail is therefore often the natural choice for short track, however UCI rules dictate that the same bike be used for both the XCC and XCO events – hence the novel solution Cervelo and Jumbo-Visma have put in place here.

Swapping out the rear shock, swing link, and much of the associated hardware could save as much as 300 g or so, and while the loss of suspension movement is a downside in some ways, keep in mind that movement is often locked out for XCC events, anyway. Moreover, the shape of the carbon fiber seatstays and that aluminum yoke suggests there still might be a hint of vertical flex in the rear end as compared to the Cervelo ZHT-5 hardtail. 

The aluminum yoke also appears to allow for different mounting positions for the seatstays. Vader’s bike is apparently set up in the lower-and-slacker option, but it seems that there’s an option for a taller-and-quicker variant, too. 

Look closely at the lower section of the yoke. See how it’s a lot longer front-to-back than it needs to be? My guess is there are multiple mounting positions available to fine-tune the handling. Photo: Piper Albrecht.

For sure, this almost certainly isn’t something any of us should expect Cervelo to release as an actual consumer product given the peculiarities of UCI World Cup technical rules. But assuming this works well – and that the UCI doesn’t ban it for some reason – I wouldn’t be surprised to see other teams follow suit for later rounds of this World Cup series. 

For more of Escape Collective’s coverage of the UCI World Cup XC round in Nové Město, click here.

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